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Friday, December 20, 2019

A Cord Of Three... (2)

“You certainly have been taking note of all the changes in me but you’ve never said anything. That’s really interesting because you didn’t sound, just now, like you liked any of them.”

“You miss my point, entirely!” Mina exclaimed, exasperatedly. “They are not changes in you but changes in your body. There is a world of difference between the two. And the reason I have never said a word about them to you before today is because they are only minor changes and have absolutely nothing to do with who you are.

 You’re still the man I fell in love with, agreed to marry and the father of my children. That, to me, is more important than how you look now. I’ve noticed the extra inches on your waist and the body that is no longer as toned as it used to be when you were younger and very interested in sports. 

However, I neither dwell on them nor make them something to fixate over. In my mind, you’re still the most handsome man ever so why do my extra inches make me less beautiful in yours?”

After staying silent for a while, Baridi responded: “I don’t have the gift of gab like you do so I might not be able to explain this perfectly. Mina, I think you’re still very beautiful as you are but I think you’d be even more so if you got back to your pre-pregnancy weight. You’re not so much bigger than you were before so I know it won’t be a big deal for you to lose the extra. Can you do it for me, please?”

“You’re right, Baridi. I’m not too far away from how I looked before. That’s why I don’t understand why you’re exerting so much pressure on me about my weight. Honestly, I don’t get it!”

“Babe, let me give you a simple example. You’ve always loved wearing shorts at home. I don’t remember seeing you in a pair lately. I’ve missed seeing the confidence you’ve always exuded, knowing that your body was near-perfect,” Baridi said gently, reaching out to hold Mina’s hands in his.

“Mina,” he continued, “I work in an industry in which there are a lot of females of all ages, sizes and shapes and the knowledge that my wife is a hottie, always made me it easy for me to resist any form of temptation or attraction to any one of them. It’s not been as easy lately, though.”

Mina pulled her hands away and shifted away from her husband and quietly asked: “What exactly are you saying? That I’m not good enough for you anymore? Are you attracted to someone else?”

“No, I honestly am not, Mina. But, it’s hard not to be because all around me, I see women that remind me of how you used to look. For the sake of my sanity, I want that Mina back. That’s all I’m saying.”

Reeling with hurt, Mina shook her head, at a loss for words. She turned away from Baridi and lay down with her back to him. She reached down to pull the duvet up to her chest.

“Don’t be like that, Mina,” Baridi pleaded. “I’m not sure if I explained accurately, what I meant. I was only trying to tell you, as honestly as I could, how I felt. Would you have preferred it if I pretended I didn’t want to see some changes?”
“Please, leave me alone,” Mina murmured. “I really can’t deal with this, right now.”
Adaora went to the door on the sound of the doorbell. She was expecting her friends for lunch so she guessed that it was one of them. When she looked through the peephole to be sure, she saw that it was Mina. Opening the door, she exclaimed, “Wow!” before drawing her friend close for a quick hug.

Mina was wearing a cobalt-coloured jumpsuit. It was strapless with some ruching at the top and had a mid-calf length. She was wearing a pair of strappy, high-heeled pink sandals and had a beaded purse in the same colour. The long, curly weave she had on was swept to one side of her head and held in place by a pink flower hair clip.

“You look absolutely stunning, Mina!” Adaora exclaimed, looking her friend over.
“Thank you, darling,” Mina said, beaming.
 As they walked into the living room, Adaora asked, “Has it been that long since we saw each other? You seem to have lost a tremendous amount of weight or are my eyes deceiving me?”

“No, you’re right, jare. I’m on my way to becoming a hottie again, according to my husband” Mina said, laughing, as she sat on one of the sofas. “I have not only gone back to my pre-pregnancy weight, I have lost a little bit more too.”

“Hmmm…” Adaora said, sitting down beside her friend and twisting her body so she could face Mina.

“What’s does that mean?” Mina asked with a frown.
“You looked just fine before you got pregnant and now, you actually seem a bit skinny.”

Na wa for you, madam. The first thing you said to me was that I looked great. In the space of a few minutes, I now look a bit skinny. Make up your mind, abeg.”

“You do look a bit skinny, really,” Adaora maintained. “You’re tall and have always been able to carry off more flesh on your bones, very beautifully.” Shaking her head from side to side, she continued, “This look… mba. It doesn’t suit you at all.”

“First, I was orobo and now that I’ve done something about it, you still think it’s not good enough. Abeg, make I dey go house.”
Make I hear word, jor, drama queen. You just got here anyway,” Adaora said, impatiently. Lowering her voice she asked, “I’m concerned, that’s all.”
“What exactly are you concerned about?” Mina asked and when Adaora only stared at her, she said, “I’m wiser now, Ada.”

“Really? So, tell me how you lost so much weight. Zuky and I had lunch with you barely three weeks ago and you certainly didn’t look this way."
“Where’s Zuky, by the way?”

“She has an appointment with her doctor. That’s not what I asked you, though?”
“I hope she’s alright.”

 To be continued

Monday, December 09, 2019

A Cord Of Three....(1)

 The next morning, Mina felt her husband nudging her awake and groggily, she rolled over from her stomach to her back.

“We need to talk,” Baridi said, as he got up from the bed. Walking to the light switch beside the bedroom door, he flipped it and the room became bright.
“Can’t it wait?” Mina responded with the beginnings of a frown on her face. Looking at the wall clock in their room, she continued, “I need to sleep for two more hours before I have to get ready for work.”

Coming over to her side of the bed, Baridi sat and looking at his wife, said: “I’m sorry that I’m waking you now but I think that this is the best time for us to talk. I’m sure the week would be very busy for both of us as we have to go to work. I don’t think it’s in our best interests to start the week fighting with each other when we might not have the time to make up till the weekend.”

“Baridi, we could have talked about this last night but you blew me off, remember?”
“I’m sorry about that, okay. I just hate it when I can’t explain how I feel about anything without you jumping at me.”

Mina sat up. “I wasn’t jumping at you. I was angry because I had seen you stare at me like you didn’t like what you were looking at and I wanted to be sure that I had only misunderstood you. Yet, you completely denied ever looking at me in such a manner and insisted that I had been imagining things. The only thing that would make me agree to stay awake for any discussion is if you were to be honest about what that was all about.”

Baridi was silent for a while. He sighed deeply. ‘I’ve been awake for about thirty minutes thinking about the events of last night and I finally admitted to myself that you may have seen such a look on my face.” At the raised eyebrow Mina directed his way, he held up his right hand and said, “Please wait a minute, let me finish. Whatever look there had been on my face then, it hadn’t been intentional. That was probably why I didn’t know what you were on about last night.”

“And what was it about?”
“Babe, this is hard to talk about because you get so defensive anytime I try to discuss it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Last night, when you walked in front of me, you looked familiar but you didn’t look like my Mina.”

At Mina’s look of confusion, Baridi said: “Babe, since you had Sotonye, you’ve changed so much. You look completely different from the lady I met, fell in love with and married.”

Trying to inject some humour into a discussion he already knew would get tense, Baridi smiled and added: “You’re the lawyer so you have a better understanding about contracts than I do but this feels like a breach of contract to me.”

Not in the least bit amused, Mina asked quietly: “How exactly do you mean?”

You lost all the baby fat less than three months after having Soprinye and you looked amazing. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for you to even try to do that now, especially as there’s a lot more to you than ever before.”

“Quit beating about the bush, abeg. You’re saying that I’m fat now, right?”
Rubbing both hands down his face, Baridi said, “This is exactly the reason I don’t talk about this with you. You get all defensive about it. I’m trying to have a reasonable conversation with you and…”

“What’s so reasonable about a conversation aimed at putting me down, Baridi?” Mina said, cutting him off. “Have you looked at yourself lately in a mirror? That little pouch on your belly certainly wasn’t there when I met you, fell in love with you and agreed to marry you, was it? I may have pregnancy as an excuse for how I look now. What’s your excuse?”

“Now, you’re being ridiculous, Mina,” Baridi said dismissively, self-consciously rubbing his belly. “Who’s talking about me, anyway?”

“I’m talking about you, Baridi. You’ve dished out these overt and subtle insults about my body for too long for me not to take a good look at yours. You had the semblance of a flat tummy way back in the day. Where is it now? When I shopped for you after Sotonye’s birth, I noticed that you’ve gone up a size. Why is that? You talk to me about a breach of contract. 

Didn’t you have a full head of hair on the day we got married? What’s with the receding hairline that you now camouflage by going clean-shaven? Why exactly do you think you can get away with any changes in your appearance and I can’t?”

  To be continued 

  By Olaedo

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Love After Death (2)

I went to the backyard to the heap of red mud; they said they kept my husband in. I came with a planned speech, a declaration of my love for him; if I had done anything he should forgive me and come back so things can be okay. 

 Let everything go back to the way it was. But as always I lost focus and broke down on his grave. My tears and saliva and sweat fell copiously on the red soil just as they same soil clung to my clothes, in-between my toes, and every other open random location on my body.

I would go and visit Jide in his new house and we would talk as usual. The only difference was that he was under the pile of dust that I spoke to and his voice was in my head. Mother saw everything but said nothing. To her, that was my way of coping, her way was burying her head in her bible and hanging crosses and rosaries on every doorway in the house.

My nightmare was now my reality I thought to myself as I headed to Jide’s grave for an evening session. There was a huge load of guilt that lay on my shoulders that day, maybe I let him die? That Friday night; before he left, He stood by the door of our bedroom, briefcase in hand. 

With a torn look on his face as if leaving me would literally kill him. “Are you sure you’ll be fine? It’ll be just you and Mama in the house,” he said for the umpteenth time.
“Yes, I’ll be fine,” I said somewhat irritated.

“Are you sure you’ll cope without me?” his voice forlorn.
“Yes baby, I’ll be fine. Now get going before you miss your flight,” I said shoving him out the door. He held me in place and looked deep into my eyes. Like he could see right through me, I looked away because I felt naked and vulnerable under his gaze but he brought his lips to mine. The kiss ended with an audible smack and a slightly dizzy me.

“I really, really don’t want to go,” he finally said before he left.
“Ego! ahn ahn are you not going to answer my question?!”

“Sorry mum, you were saying?”
She lets out a deep breath and looks at me through squinted eyes, searching for something.
“I heard voices in your room last night.”
“Voices?” I reply a little unsure of where the conversion is going.

“Yes, giggling and laughing, anyway when are you going to start dating?”
“Mummy! Not again… is that why you made me breakfast? Ehn? So you can cajole me to cheat on my husband?”

“Ego, my dear child…Jide is dead!”
“Stop it! Stop It! Stop telling lies. I know you don’t like him… you’ve never liked him. So just stop.”
“Ego I worry about you, it’s been fifteen months now. You have to move on. Let him go. Please.”
She waits for an answer and even though she gives me all the time in the world I say nothing. I know she’s right, I know Jide is gone but I can’t let him go. I won’t let him go.

 I spent all my life searching for Mr. Perfect and here he is, just not the way I planned.


 Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Love After Death (1)

 My husband is coming home tonight. I’ve waited for him all day and when the short hand on the clock hits twelve he’ll sit right beside me. I always wonder what he gets up to during the times he is not with me, whenever I ask him, his jaw tightens and there is something in his eyes which are usually so guileless. Like he is hiding something even when he says everything is fine with his extra charming smile.

  My mother doesn’t like him and she makes no secret of it. “I don’t trust that Jide boy, with his charming looks….will he stay, even if he wanted to? Will these Lagos girls let him?”

 All through her rants and tantrums I said nothing; I didn’t need to because Jide always proved her and her baseless suspicions wrong.

I sit on the bed and look up at the clock placed intently above the door; it’s exactly 12am. I almost scream as I feel Jide’s ice- cold hands on my thigh. After all this time he is still the same not even a beard or moustache. The same short curly hair in varied colors of brown, light honey-brown eyes that turns golden in the sunlight, his hooked nose and pink plum lips. He’s so perfect he looks almost surreal, like a dream. In that instant, I understand why my mother is so skeptical. I run my fingers through his hair and he pulls me in for a kiss.

“Hey beautiful.”
“How was work?”
“Let’s not talk about work, I have a better idea.”

He steps out for a minute and comes in with some DVD’s and two spoons. I give him a puzzled look before his ‘idea’ sinks in.
“We are taking a trip down memory lane.” It comes out as a statement rather than a question.

While he puts in our wedding DVD’s, I take out a tub of ice-cream from the mini-fridge next to my side of the bed. Minutes later I’m in his arms, ice-cream in hand laughing at the TV screen. I’m freezing; his arms are comfortable but so so cold-almost as cold as the plate in my hand. But I feel like the luckiest woman in the world and I sleep with a content smile on my face.

I wake up knowing. Knowing my husband is not by my side and immediately wish I was still asleep. He didn’t even stay for breakfast. I grudgingly tear myself off the bed and make my way to the kitchen.
“Mummy, good morning.” I call out from over my shoulder; she already made breakfast and served some for me.

“Mummy you didn’t have to, I’ve told you. You’re a guest here–”
“Ehn?! Guest where? In my daughter’s house, Biko. Stop that joke.”
I smile and take a bite of the food, boiled yam and eggs fried with beef and vegetables.

“Yes,” I mumble from a stuffed mouth.
“Ego.” she says slowly for dramatic effect. One look at her serious face and I drop the fork and take a gulp of water.

“Mum, what is it?” I ask while recalling the last time I saw this look on her face.
I remember with startling clarity that it was last year; I came home from the doctor’s with the news. I was pregnant! 

Before I could say anything she sat me down and with this same look she told me Jide had died in a car accident at the Benin/Ore road on his way home. There were no survivors.
“Wait, what? But I’m pregnant.” At that revelation she broke down and started crying. My mum, crying – blubbering- like a little girl in my arms. This had to be a dream. A terrible sick twisted nightmare that played on for months. I pinched myself, it went on, I slapped myself; it went on, I cut my wrists it still wouldn’t end. 

The same faces at our wedding were now at my husband’s funeral barely six months later and my unborn baby might have sensed the grief and opted out; I had a miscarriage and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back....

 To be continued 

 By Naima

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