I. To the one who left:
If I were you, I would have left too. The woman I was back then was not easy to love. The candle lit dinner, the gifts, the money. I did not ask for anything, yet I profusely thanked you for everything. But my suspense could not be assuaged. I felt the fripperies and the gifts were ways to hide the whiff of infidelity. Maybe this was a way to blind me to the wrong side of you.
With you I learnt that the wrong time to date anyone is when you are broke. Something happened when I was younger. Before my father made his fortune anew, we had a tough time at home. Then on our way back to boarding school we were asked to write a list of our needs. It was not an exciting experience because a lot had to be slashed from that list. Two tins of milk? For what? But I knew my parents loved us. My dad would cry with you if you fell ill and rock you back to recovery. My mother would fight the bully who took your firmer mattress and replaced it with a flabby one. But then we had only enough to get by.
And I came to love that way. Afraid of asking. Servility is so unattractive. Beggary is nuisance. Often we don’t give to the beggar at out windows because we are moved by compassion. We just want to get rid of them, fast. When one walks away from that which isn’t challenging.
II. To the one I left.
Loving you was simple. Loving you was too easy.
I’m sorry that made you babysit my loneliness with the hope that when the lonely baby grows, you’d be made more than a nanny. It reminds me of the single dad’s in the town I grew in, who lure desperate women into babysitting their their kids with the promise of matrimony. And the women cared for these babies which they didn’t mother, a care laced with fear and expectations. They adored these children with fear and trembling, spoiling them not out of love, but out of a desperate hope for a man’s devotion and loyalty which may eventually elude them in time.
Dear, I’m sorry I used you.
III. The one I’m with
This is how confident I have become with you. That I am sitting full bottomed on the warm space of your thoughts, like the women in bus rides with big buttocks who pay for only one seat but sit on three and sandwich the other passengers without a care. I am surprised at how much claim I lay on you, on your time, on your affection and your attention. How I sulk when your reply does not come on time . Your love is the way my mother fusses over what my dad would have for dinner. My love is my father’s accompanied grumblings. His entitlement for a laid out table. His “why do we have to eat this late”?
But the arrogance of entitlement is the beginning of heartbreak. So I resolve I will love you slowly, with raised eyebrows and unsure footsteps that remind me of my schools days when the streets would be flooded and one cannot tell the gutters apart. I’d tiptoe around the beautiful gardens of your heart, cautious of explosives. I will love you sceptically, with only one eye closed in sleep, I will feed on your love like an ajebo poking at her suya with toothpick, pretending it is the most peppery thing she has ever eaten.
But each time you kiss me, with your eyes shut dreamily , and your beards always laced with the smell of beer, and you are all there…your presence so concentrated , you are nowhere but here with me. I sneak a peak at your face and I let my guards down and my eyes too.