The Detached

(The following is a narration of true events that took place in the wee hours between 27th and 28th March, 2016.)

27th March, 2016.
Lagos, 10.22pm.

I kept my gaze on my smartphone, waiting for the Airtel network to convert the little spiral lines into a green tick, and send my message across hundreds of kilometres to the heart of the East. It was a late Easter message to Ugochi, with the extra gloss of “I’ve missed you a lot” and “I really want you around”. I didn’t have faith in achieving any kind of positive outcome with those words, but I had nothing to lose by typing them out either.

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Catching Up….Or Not

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Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have had any business in the banking hall that day; i did not operate any account with them, and I had no deposits to make on anyone’s behalf, but the phone dealers across the street had shamelessly failed to get their POS machine functioning properly, so I had to make a withdrawal at the nearest ATM available (yea, ATM, not “ATM machine”)…..but a number of the notes that popped out consisted of “oil money” – literally, stained with palm oil – so i elected to step into the hall and ask for substitute notes. Afterall, the erring papers came from them.

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Words & Bandages (Rejoinder To “Heartbreak Olympics”) by Jennifer Guinevre Obinna

(In case you missed “Heartbreak Olympics”, click here:
https://pensofchi.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/heartbreak-olympics/)

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Sitting across from the latest simpleton trying to
win my love, my thoughts stray to you. After the
first few minutes with this one, i know he won’t
be getting anywhere close to my heart. Then
again, who has, or at least, when last did that happen? I laugh to myself, forgetting for a
minute that i’m having dinner with Jide (or whatever his name is). He has been speaking for a
while, but I don’t get so bothered as to pay attention to lines that used to work five years ago .

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The Nine-To-Five Yearning

 

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12th November, 2015.

 

The Heart (or wherever this meets you),

A Beautiful Soul,

Somewhere in Obalende,

Lagos.

 

Dear Lola,

NOTICE OF SUBSISTING VOID

Please refer to our Whatsapp conversation of 9th November 2015 and previous correspondences on the above subject matter.

It’s another Thursday morning. I know I should be glad; the day even atheists thank God for is few hours away…..but this is not about counting down to the end of a working week, nor is it about getting a two-day reprieve from hell. No, this is more like total disillusion: Mind has joined heart in turning feet away from the office, my laptop is revolting, even the case files feel like they don’t want me to touch them. The boss orders me to retrieve a document from the computer on the table to my right, and as I lay my hand on the keyboard, I suddenly don’t feel like powering up the system, because I know what, or rather, who it reminds me of. Continue reading

Heavy Fingers & Sundry

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Drab, hot Wednesday afternoon. The office case
files provide no excitement, and I am all alone,
with a wallet as flat as my slippers back home
(my tardiness that morning means no going to
court and ultimately no appearance fee), so I
look to my BBM for solace. I am not sure
however of who would be up for a chat, between
the busy ones who won’t check their phones
until 6pm, or the ones changing selfie after selfie
and updating their contacts with their life history.

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Hearts & Kilometres

30th April, 2015.

The Heart,
A Tiny Room,
Somewhere in Lagos.

Dear Kemi,

NOTICE OF SUBSISTING FONDNESS

The above subject matter refers.

So i am seated in this poorly-ventilated bus, seeing out the eight hour of what would ordinarily
have been a six-hour journey. This journey from the nation’s capital back to the South-south has
been anything but smooth. A fallen truck has forced us to take the longer route, and the scarcity
of fuel is being fully exploited by these petrol
stations on the way. The hike in price reflects on
the bus ticket, and when you spend two hours on a
queue twice as long as that which you find at the American Embassy, all because of a few litres, then
Fatigue becomes a close ally.

My music-enabled phone has gone off, and i am forced to listen to a passenger bandy words with
this middle-aged driver over the lack of a functional air-conditioner in the bus. Seated close
by is a lady with quite a mouth on her. She looks 21, but I perceive that she is a lot older. Small body frame, pretty face, firm voice….she reminds
me of a place now distant, and more importantly, she reminds me of you.

I still remember that Tuesday evening when you and the others were shipped from the NYSC
orientation camp to the lodge reserved for corps members. I had been out for most of the day and had just returned, but once
our eyes met, a conversation began, one too free-flowing for two people who had just met. Some of the male corps members tried to gain your attention, but you felt so comfortable with me, even after less than six sentences. The other ladies at the lodge would tease me that night.

I remember how you showed up the following day and asked that I take you into the town to get a
few prescription drugs. Yea, you felt safe with me like that. As Fate would have it, the skies opened its floodgates that night, and we had to take shelter in a wooden enclosure. You complained of how susceptible to cold you were, and luckily I had
my khaki jacket with me, so i gave you to wear. The rain would last for more than two hours, and
within that time interval, I would learn more than a few things about you. I would learn that you
worshipped on Fridays rather than Sundays, that you studied Mass Communication, that you just
got out of a relationship. I played the role of listener and comforter, and the weather was right
to steal a kiss, but I passed that up, not typical of me. There was also the option of convincing you to pass the night at my apartment, but I felt that such a decision would have seemed too awkward on only your first full day in this environment so new to you.

I remember how you called me up days later and together we went shopping for your household items, me playing the role of tour guide as well. You also offered to visit the following day, but I, in a bid to preserve the sanctity of my Sunday turned you down. You would eventually show up the
following weekend though, yea, that weekend where you pulled off a wonderful meal with limited
resources, and where I fought a tough internal
battle to maintain self-control. I was beginning to spend too much time with you. My other female
friends got jealous.

You soon saw through my attempts to woo you however, and contrary to my expectations, ‘no’ was
your response. I still persisted nonetheless, until the day we hung out and you got angry at a waitress. My efforts at calming you down proved abortive, and that day I saw another side of you. A hot-tempered lady is a dangerous one, and I didnt want to risk being at the receiving end of your venom someday,
so i applied the brakes. I also found out that your size belied your years, and that you were older than me, a four-year age gap at that. We still related cordially, but the level of interaction was nothing close to those first few weeks.

I see this lady here in this bus, chatting freely with everyone and being all so outspoken. I feel like
starting a conversation, but except for her long braids, all I see is you, Kemi. I don’t want to perish
from yearning for a walk with you on a cold Lagos evening, so I turn away from this human reminder and seek solace in Chimamanda’s novel
“Americanah”. The thoughts adamantly refuse to clear away, and as the Sun goes to bed on these lonely roads, I want to bring to your notice that I won’t forget those eyes or that voice, that I am still fond of you, that i sorely miss you.

Sincerely,
Me.

Lung-Shot

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1st April, 2014.

Three hours had passed. Patience had never been a virtue for Martin, and that night would not be a starting point to cultivate it. Sweat found its way into his palms as he paced up and down his room, located on the first floor of this five-star hotel which he had chosen for what he perceived to be a special day in his life. He had put everything in place, at least as far as his anxious mind could remember. The wine was in place, the glasses were clean, the candle light had been set, and the tiny box containing the ring had been perfectly concealed. Continue reading

Elusive Skin

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Vintage Monday; long day at the office. Nearly four of your active working hours spent at the mercy of
a female judge who could scream at you for not inhaling your God-given oxygen properly in court (her cynicism is otherworldly; legend has it that
she has dressed down a lawyer to the point where he chose to give up legal practice.) You come back
to the office exhausted, and after some more lengthy paperwork, you close from the office at a time when the Sun has retired to bed.

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You negotiate through the traffic, wondering why the roads are so choked up when it’s not Lagos.
You eventually get home to supper that has long lost its heat. You take a glass of cold water, hoping for a clear head, but the result is the direct opposite. Barely managing to undress, you collapse on your lonely mattress and begin to punch at your
phone’s keys. For some reason, you decide to go through your photos for the 52nd time, and while you have seen them all before, there is one
particular one that makes you stop scrolling. You decide to spare a minute (or longer) to stare at a
lady with a very seductive pout. You can never get enough of this photo. Afterall, it’s Naomi’s face in
it.

It’s been just over two years since you first met Naomi, but if your thoughts were race tracks, she
must have run marathons on them. She is over 180 kilometres away from you though, and in your
case, the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” plays out to perfection.

You didnt like Naomi when you first met her. You had both met at law school, you had heard about
her exploits at the university (she graduated top of her class), she had this “carriage” you couldnt bring yourself to deal with, and you concluded that she was a snob. But you found yourselves in the same (imposed) study group, and like a flower which sprouts out of
concrete, a friendship begins to evolve against your will.

You find out that she used to dance ballet, and on some cold evenings you crave for private dance instructions. The nose which you once felt was too high up in the air is now the prettiest nose ever,
superior even to Cleopatra’s. You watch how she contributes to group discussions, you watch how she answers questions in class, you watch how she studies in the evenings, and one silly feeling
you cant explain keeps popping up. Her focus, her intelligence and her drive inspire you and turn you
on at the same damn time. She reveals that she
supports your favourite team,  Manchester United. You have attained Candy Crush level 5000….

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But she is so out of reach, at least in your opinion. Whether it’s a complex or just plain nervousness, you can’t say, but you just harbour the belief that Naomi can’t be yours. She is so pretty, and you are not sure if you have what it takes to beat the
competition. As far as you are concerned, she is “high maintenance”, and you dont have that financial might just yet. Then again, there is the issue of calendars; Naomi is most likely older than you (well, she attended a state university which experienced
lengthy internal strike actions.) It’s not a big deal for you, but she has a biological clock, and besides,
society has its reservations.

You have put up her photo on Instagram and BBM as your #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) on more than two occasions. You dont mind putting it up as your BBM Display
Picture tonight, but you are in no mood to entertain questions. You look at her pouted lips again; they look like they would taste like sugar,
and you definitely wouldnt mind trying to find that out, probably covered in rain. You come to terms
with reality however, and you sigh in the realisation that you won’t be stroking that hair, that those lips won’t be locking with yours, that you won’t be waking up next to that skin, and that you can only admire and fantasize from a distance (at least for tonight).

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CONTRITION

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(Author’s Note: This is a true story, and personal to the writer. For obvious reasons, names have been changed.)

“No answer.”

That, with the accompanying tone that follows a
call unresponded to, showed that I would not be
getting to speak with Marie anytime soon. I had ignored the “two missed calls” rule, and as a matter of fact it was the sixth time I was dialling
her number that day, not to mention the turbulent
flow of text messages from me to her. It was clear that Marie didn’t want to communicate with me.
She was justified in her decision. I really didnt deserve to be heard, no, not after what I had done to her.

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Raindrops & Reminiscence: Idongesit

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“If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” – Ecclesiastes 4:11

That portion of Scripture jogs through my mind as the rains exhibit relentlessness on this particular night. My nostrils are reeling from the effect of the weather already. I have since concluded that the August Break is a climatic illusion. And no, there is no bodily heat to gain respite from. Cups of tea and old pictures of her are all I have for the long dark hours, craving for those evenings when our lips shared the fate of cakes and Bible pages did the bidding of the wind. Continue reading