It used to be dark, your skin the shade of night with a million stars.Your head was once crowned with kinky locks and your lips full with Nubian thickness. You’re the lady next-door, slender and adorned with break neck curves. Carefree and high-spirited you walk, with heads turning for a glimpse of a charm that has soon given in to fade
If you did not come home looking like a stray cat with distorted words spilling from your guts,I would least not care, none of my business if I might add.If I wasn’t tormented by the sound of your wailing during the past nights, I wouldn’t sit wide awake lost in thought of what makes a morning-glory wither away in seconds. Nnenna open up the door, even if you scream “go away” till the end of the world, I’m the least you should expect obeying your orders.
It’s midnight and the whole flat is awake,whispers are running back and forth the spiral stairs,doors are ajar,windows sliding open for the latest gossip.Your gossip, they want your story as bad as the world needs peace. Ms Nana stopped by my flat the other day, she wants to know just like the rest, why things are going down the bend, she even sneers that it could be the “search for a husband” that is running you wild. Mama Tega and her cronies down the hallway, have equally been slamming their speculations in your face, “e be like say dem don do this one for village abi, fine girl like this na here she wan come show wéré“ they say with contempt. David, your neighbour has approached me on my way to the store,” your friend can be cured ” he says, I try to ignore him, till he explodes, “your friend is possessed by marine powers, I can tell, I know a prophet who…..”
Nnenna, open up the door, I am always here to help. I certainly am, remember the old days, remember how reluctant I was in having anything to do with you. I used to wonder how God would bless someone so much with the goodness of life and leave others with nothing, I detested you at the slightest but you pulled me out of this shell and made embrace all that life has to offer. A zillion times, I realised how a glitter of hope could shatter the looming walls of darkness.We used to sit in the moonlight, under the guava tree talking and joking about how life was having its way, how moments could turn into years and how years could crumble in seconds.If anythings slips into memory’s drain, it shouldn’t be your smile; the ends of your lips stretching into rays of light. We would talk about our challenges, our fears, our wants and the darkest secrets the outside world would never dream of knowing and most of all we bury all within us, in the dim recesses of our mind.
Slowly we drifted apart, our bond crashed into oblivion,without nothing much of a trace, Like a dream you transformed into a you my senses fail to accept , you suddenly sold out the melanin about you, for a shade close to the colour of Boleé(roasted plantains),you traded what makes you you; the Afro curls atop your head for Barbie’s golden locks.Your quest for perfection grew strong in this little space of time, perfection crashed the thing called ego. Perfection I must confess has crumbled many, leaving them with nothing left of the imperfection they once possessed. If it is completeness you want, you are indeed complete, perfect like the arch of a rainbow on a rainy day.
It’s past midnight and the chilly air of the night has sent everyone in,balconies are empty and doors shut with a quietude that professes rest. Halfway into bliss and you are at my door with a smile, the size of a crescent moon. Peculiar as it may seem, I have you seated on the sofa close to me, while I stroke your weary head with ease. You are out of breath, I can tell from the words you hold back, the dark circles beneath your eyes and the colour draining from your face. when I recount the past and how much we’ve grown apart, you say nothing and ramble on about how life has crumbled you into dust, how empty your world has become, the days are scarier you say and the nights no exception.I feign anger when you chide me for not caring enough, I actually do care but emotions I must say have blinded you. We have been on the same boat in the past and you saw me through it all and since we dwell in the present,I can confidently say that seeing you sail through this storm with your head held up high in victory is all that matters.
Your words melt my stance, they mingle with my emotions and leave me suspended in mid-air, where I am left without words. Am I beautiful you ask? don’t I deserve to be happy? why won’t I get me a soul mate? Months are turning into years and everyone keeps asking when I will walk down the aisle? Mother won’t let me be, she certainly won’t.
Your questions are like a leash on my neck, how many times do I have to tell you that you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, how many times do I tell you how lucky you are to be you , how many times do I tell you that happiness doesn’t come from the influence of pressure. A man can’t give you joy if you there’s no seed of joy planted within, completeness doesn’t come from having the other person, it certainly comes from within.
Your voice is up again in tears, cry all you want and ease the pain emanating from your insides if it means so. “You see my hair”, you say while holding on to my hands which begin to caress the already dry tears on your cheeks, “my new skin tone, my new self, it all came as a result of someone who I thought could make me happy,I gave in and here I am sapped of all vigour and above all of every reason to live, can you help me, can you take the pain away “? Yes I whisper into your ears, a lie that sends you leaning into me for comfort.We go on talking till the night is spent and just when tranquility takes charge of the night, you floor me with the most puzzling of questions. Am I going mad? E mego m nkopu? (Have I gone wild?). Who made you think so, who? Then you point out to me that I just mentioned the fact that the whole flat thinks you are berserk. While I search for the right words to convey my apology, you let out a laughter, sinister in its way and in that minute you rush at me with your fists but I duck right in time and soon we are falling back on the sofa in hysterics, our bodies touching, hearts beating and when I reach out for you, you recoil with eyes full of questions and I unsure of what to say stare into the dark. In the stillness of the night, you are complain of how fatigued and lack- lustre you have become, your head throbbing, your mind sailing through series of thoughts, sleep I know will soothe you just fine, here’s my bed and myself to sing you to sleep. Still not convinced, you shuffle towards the shelf, rummaging for your so-called solution. Will it ease my ache? You ask.Sure,just two tablets will do the magic, come sleep here on the bed while I have the sofa. The visitor they say is king but this night you are queen, my queen. After downing the dose of Aspirin, we settle into the night sleeping like we just ran cross-country. Truth, we just ran the race of emotions and desperation while picking up all we could from the quicksand that depression tries to sink us in.
While you snore into sleep, I sit up and watch the peace in your face, the peace that you used to have, this peace I am certain will return. Dawn finally sets in with the buzz of the alarm clock, my eyes already heavy from last night suddenly slip open and at this moment I realise that you are no where in sight, all I can see is the space where you slept, the crease of the bedspread in different directions, the warmth of your body escaping with the morning air and your smell of cucumber oil ushering in the day.
Dawn grows into dusk and you are still not in sight, the neighbours say they saw you not, and I too have grown panicky. Your line rings to no end and you have failed to reply any of my texts. After much speculations, I am forced to do the most stirring of things. The police have I called and they are out looking for you, where have you been? They say, who saw you last? They interrogate. Everyone knows it is I, they know the bond between us, they say it is isn’t the normal, love they think it is. As the night progresses,I am made to realise how hurting it feels to hear the truth and how heavy it is to bear the truth but all have I done and here am I trying to figure out why you slipped away without telling. Why you slipped out of my life,why you never told me there was more.Nnenna you came, saw it all and left me in this consuming state of mind; emptiness there is. I thought we could work this out, I thought we could glue the shards together, I thought we could re-write the times. I still wonder why you brought me out of this shell, only for you run back in. Just like you never opened up your door to me even when I did, you still did not open up your mind to me. You held back the depression that soon swallowed you up. You held back your infirmity from the world, you held back a secret too long from me. Your diagnostic test lies at bottom of the septic tank, I flushed the secret hidden at the bottom of your drawers down the drain. This the outside world will never know. A pact that will always remain between us. The world thinks you died of heartache and depression, they think your downing the whole contents of the Aspirin bottle was a means of escape from the jaws of depression, but you and I know that your fears of being positive with the immunity virus made you grow wild with thoughts. The fear made you bid me farewell in the strangest of ways.Your farewell still haunts me till date, it grapples me to the point where living feels surreal,nothing seems real except your memory, a stamp upon my heart. The guava tree since your demise has ceased to be bear fruits, it now stands waning into a shadow of itself, I think it misses you dear, even the moon has ceased to glow during the night. Stop exaggerating, it’s definitely mother nature, your voice resounds jolting me from my revelry. My eyes swing into action, searching fruitlessly for you and no sooner does your absence drill the obvious in me. Move on, it screams.
It’s Friday and I have packed all my belongings, for an abode where I hope to find sanity. On my way out, I am forced to pass by your now empty flat and all I can hear is your voice, a quaking laughter that stirs my memory. Guilt sits back and prods me at each end, it chimes the bells of the early Friday morning, the Friday I let you have the bottle of Aspirin that spirited you to the other side,where it’s cold,dank and smells of earth.