An indiscretion. A small indiscretion. A secret voiced. She buried her face in her hands. Then mustered courage to dial again. Things had started to go downhill after that night with Nengi.
“Who are you chatting with? What’s so funny?”
She had shown her the chat. That’s what friends do.
Nengi and Soba giggled like little girls playing house.
“You like him?”
“Oh, he’s just a friend. We’ve been friends like forever–”
“But you like him?”
“Never really thought about it. Yeah . . . I think he likes me too.”
They giggled like little girls playing house. They had moved on to other important things like purple lipstick, Ankara tops, and fast food.
And then Nengi had told Ebiere. And Ebiere had told Ibinabo. And Ibinabo had told Sotonye. And Sotonye had told Miebi. And Miebi had told George. Like a Chinese whisper, by the time the story reached Karibi, she did not recognise the monster they had created.
“So you’re seeing someone else?”
Fear squeezed her heart as Karibi towered over her, three days later. His apartment had two rooms and no place to hide.
“No, you’ve got it all wrong.”
He whipped her with his words. Like a koboko, they left bruises in their wake. When he paused, they reverberated from the walls and lashed her from head to toe again.
Explanations followed. Mollifications came next. She stroked his ego until he purred. Then she brushed it, until it shone brighter than a brass plaque.
“I want you to cut off all contact with him.”
“Wh . . . what?”
“Three people can’t sleep on the same bed. I’ve never been comfortable with your closeness with . . .”
Her wedding was three months away. Her friendship with Dayo had spanned twenty of her twenty-six years. The enormity of the files she would erase did not escape her. Her first bully. Her first Voltron, defender of her universe and her honour. Her first bicycle ride. Her first crush. Her first kiss. Her first relationship expert. Her first cigarette. Her first driving lesson. Her first interview. Her first job. Deleted.
Her marriage showed promise in the beginning before the accusations and jealous fits. He responded that way to her questions about his late nights, alcohol, and phone calls he would not answer in her presence. Then along came her baby girl and peace at last, peace brokered by her forbearance.
She was still in her pyjamas when war broke out. Every day, his rage churned like magma waiting to erupt. Two and a half years later, one black eye later, she closed the door quietly on that chapter of her life.
But fate is a wheel that seeks to make amends. Time is a bridge that links the dots of our lives. Nengi brought the news two days ago.
“You’ll never believe who I ran into today . . . Dayo!”
She was braiding Asikiya’s hair.
“Mummy, it’s too tight.”
She applied some hair lotion to the spot, “Better?”
“Soba, Soba, are you listening to me?”
“Yes I am. Please pass the beads.”
“Here, take. He looked sooo good and he’s doing well.”
She talked about school fees, house rent, and office politics, but Nengi wouldn’t let up.
“Do you want his number? No? Okay, his card is on the table.”
“Throw it in the bin.”
“Throw it in the bin.”
After two days of wondering if Dayo had asked about her, if he wore a wedding ring, if, if, if, she dug in the bin through banana peel, slimy cereal, hair extensions, and day-old amala, to solve the riddle of her sleepless nights.
Would he forgive her four-year silence? He’d once told her that she was the only one who could listen to his silence—silent road trips to nowhere that she had not endured but enjoyed. However, her silence had been cruel. She had turned off the light and ripped the socket from the wall.
Her heat beat so fast she thought her ears would explode.
“Soba . . . Soba, is that you?”
She began to weep.
Dedicated to you.
Because your heart was broken. Because we ate popcorn and cried as we watched Dear John, and cheered as we watched Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Because even though we said good riddance to bad rubbish, your heart betrayed you with longing. Because at night you groped for a touch that you forgot was no longer there and when you remembered, you circled your pillow instead.
To all those who loved but had to let go of love, Happy New Love.
While we’re all in top gear shooting for the moon and beyond this new year, I’m mindful that our relationships can trip us on the way. Healthy relationships whether platonic or romantic, are a solid base for take-off, don’t you agree?
©Timi Yeseibo 2014
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