Big Gestures

I’m leaving because I’m a ‘big-gestures’ kinda girl. I thrive in the spontaneous actions that leave you spinning. So, flinging your phone out the window might have been too much but you got the point, didn’t you? That I wouldn’t have that.. tramp calling you every other hour. Buying your sister that laptop might have turned your mother against me forever but did you see that smile? Did you see that smile, babe?

I’m leaving because I have to. I got in my car and started driving back to Lagos because I can’t stand being in the same house.. same town with you for another sixty seconds. There is no option of staying to talk things through; you’re a silly vagabond! Vagabond, because the v and the g with the ‘bond’ make my feelings sound more potent. It’s a big word, you know? It has feeling! You vagabond! If I stayed, I would’ve bashed your head in with a pan then become the half-nude woman on Ring Road who killed her lover then ran mad. Now, that’s a story.

I’m leaving because I’m a ‘do-it-for-the-story’ kinda girl. Like that time we got chased in your village cos as a woman, I wasn’t supposed to be out for the festival? Glad we got in safe; I can see our kids’ faces lighting up as I elaborately narrate the episode to them. Or when we kissed in front of that nurse after telling her that yes, we were siblings. I don’t think we should tell the children that one.

Right now, I’m not sure I still want to marry you or start a family with your vagabond self. And this Lagos-Ibadan express way looks more sinister every passing moment. The car behind surely can overtake this sluggish pick-up of mine. Being robbed and raped isn’t a story I’d like. No, no. No, I won’t dump my truck. It has character. I’m a ‘but-it-has-character’ kinda girl. Like my scratched watch and torn sofa, my truck breathes character. It’s lived, you know?

Like us. We’ve lived. We’ve been at this thing a long time. So, it hurt when you asked if I was with you for the story. Of being the girl who was with the guy with the scarred neck. Beauty and the Beast? It stung when you asked if I was in it because the picture we made had character. Quirky; odd. If marrying you was just a big gesture. If you were a big gesture.

But you aren’t. You’ve been the one constant in my life of constant change. The solidity by my side as I’ve gone through a million flighty fleeting pastimes. The consoling hand when my experiments go wrong; the scolding eyes when I’ve gone too far.

I should have told you this instead of running away. I should make a U-turn; make a huge speech of this. Yes, this would be the perfect big gesture! “I thought she was gone for good but alas, I saw the dim headlights of her truck sweep the room and there she was!” Now, that’s a good story. It has character…


The Blues

Memories from my childhood seem far away. Like stories from a book I once read. There’s a disconnect, yet I see scenes run through my mind- a silent movie painted in dark gray.

I was ten when I got into Js.1. I still remember the school’s grey walls and all the shades of purple that made up the uniform.

There are many memories that make up those years for me:

– Always coming second or third. There was this immovable Igbo girl who was just too hard working to be shaken.

– Watching a basketball match from the sidelines. A visiting school versus our team. A ball straying from the courts to land on my head. The whole school laughing.

– Q. She was clever and had the most beautiful smile and shared her novels with me.

– The sadness.

Out of everything those years brought me, what I remember most vividly is how sad I was. More than the crushes or games or reading my first romance novel, I remember dreading going into school everyday. The sinking in my belly and heaviness in my chest as I joined the throng of students to Assembly. It felt more than just ‘not liking school’, there was something in the air that made me a moody reticent child who cried in corners of the house.

So, one day after my Js.3 exams, I went before my parents and cried. I told them I didn’t want to go back there. I begged. I cried some more. When they asked why, I couldn’t put my confusing emotions into words, so I cried a little more.

My parents changed my school. With no concrete reason to give the proprietress who had been good to us on days of late fees, they listened to me.

Every few years, my mother draws me aside and asks if I’m ready to talk about it. If anybody ‘touched’ me, bullied me… The answer is still no.

I haven’t sorted through that hazy part of my memory to figure it out. Maybe one day on an expensive couch.. But I’m grateful to the parents who listened when I didn’t have the words and in a country where children aren’t known to be listened to.

Heart of Steel

He straddled her waist and pounded lightly but dramatically against her naked chest. “Oh, heart of steel! Let me in,” he hollered. And she laughed and he laughed but her tiny heart rattled and wished like the little wooden boy who wanted to be real.