Towards the end of June this year, being of troubled mind and weary body, I decided to take a trip home to draw strength from the soil in which my umbilical cord is buried, so to speak. And so I set off home. For those who don’t know, “home” for me is Jos; since it is the city of my birth and the bulk of my life adventures. The journey was a long and bumpy road trip filled with self-doubt, a stressed bladder and drowsiness. Eventually I was welcomed into the bosom of my family with no mishaps. The process of drawing strength consisted, for the most part, of me moping around my sister’s house, eating, watching TV and coercing her children into playing with me every now and again. Read more
I flash back quickly to that day.
We had gone on a road trip, and ended up in a little hotel in a quiet area, small city on the outskirts of a big town. The heat was doing our heads in and the constant airconditioning provided by the hotel was pure bliss. Nothing like vaseline, or body lotion of any kind had touched my skin in weeks. But of course, such skin-peace was ill-fated; soon I began to feel dried out, and it was embarassing going out because I had only packed short things but those short things showed off my white, scaly skin.
He woke me up one morning and asked if I wanted to come run errands with him. I said no, because 7am was an ungodly hour for me on holiday. So I slept, stretched languidly across the crisp white sheets, rolling cat-like from time to time, flirting with the idea of waking up, but never quite sealing the deal. Some minutes before 11 I decided I was ripe enough for a bath, and unhurriedly went about cleaning myself. When I was done, I made the bed because I could already hear him say, when he would eventually come back, “You can’t make bed?” and I chuckled a little because I already knew him that well. I settled in to watch Big Bang Theory, and was laughing softly when his call came in. How was I doing, what should he bring back to our lair for my breakfast, small talk. Looking down at my reptilian skin later, I texted him to buy me a little tub of vaseline, and even after I pleaded and he argued that he wouldn’t just randomly come across vaseline sellers where he was, we sort of left the topic open-ended.
I threatened him with the classic, “You think you are doing me, you are doing yourself because when we go out I’ll embarrass you with my whiteness” and I smiled as I typed that, because I wished we were in the same place so I could watch him laugh, and soak up the twinkle in his eyes until it passed…
He came back bearing food, which was great enough. Until he pulled out a tiny tub of vaseline. It was a brand I hated, but I really hadn’t expected him to buy any at all. I jumped up and down in excitement, pinned him to the wall and made kissy faces at him while he tried to push me off.
“Are you this cheap, you shoulda just told me all it took is vaseline. Jeez, I wouldn’t have wasted all this time and effort.”
I come back from my reverie and focus my gaze on the tub of vaseline. I’d thrown it in a seldomly used handbag, and there it was…
And I guess, really, I miss you.
So I’m sat at the old plantation (aka office) today, when I hear my phone ring. I peep the caller ID without breaking eye contact with the old man before me, because old people are all sorts of annoying when they feel in the least bit abandoned. It is a strange number, one of those that makes you wonder if there’s a new network in town you have not heard of. I don’t know what makes me pick up the call, but I do.
He: Hello… Joy? How are you?
Me: I’m fine…?
He: Why did you just push me aside, ehn? In fact, I’m so angry with you.
Me: *scanning the mental voice recognition database, finding no match* Err… Why, what did I ever do to you?
He: Why would you just forget about me… Do you even know who’s on the line?
Me: No, I don’t.
He: Can you imagine. It’s Great. Read more
My eyes dimmed again. It was a generous, uncoordinated mix of hunger, fatigue, and the little subdued angers of the day.
Too bad I couldn’t lose my temper on the job, or just walk away from my desk whenever I needed a break. Looking up, I notice a customer I’ve never seen before. He is a Hausa older man, dressed quietly in a white baban riga. He comes up to me with a complaint and somehow, I make small talk. I am smiling when he leaves; he has asked for and gotten my number. For official purposes, you understand.
The next day there is more anger and stress throbbing just behind my eyes. A couple people have taken me for granted and I hate it.
I don’t even know why I turn my head to the left, but I do. He is sitting there, patiently waiting. He’s focused on the TV watching until the chair in front of my desk empties. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly feel a quickening of my pulse. I’m nervous… uncomfortable, almost. I greet him when he takes the chair and he is all smiles. My eyes widen because now there’s someone else in the second chair in front of my desk. He has made no move, but I’m sure he’s about to say… something.
I don’t like queues.
He says it whilst holding my gaze steadily, confident smile lighting up his face.
I… I’m sorry?
I blink rapidly as I ask this. I’m not sure, what queue?
I hope the queue isn’t long, I don’t like queues.
I know now that he means the number of men… other men vying for my attention. Because he’s officially in the running now.
This time I’m struck dumb. Once again I’m grateful for melanin. If I didn’t have any, I’d be red right now, from the neck to the very edge of my receding hairline.
To dispel my doubts (I have none) he adds, when are we meeting later?
I laugh, because it is a cocky question and I don’t want to get into the what-makes-you-so-sure-there-will-be-a-meeting of it all. Too many times, I’ve had that argument. But they never listen, men.
He says he will call me around five, when I must be done from work. I say OK and watch him leave, with a flourish of his white agbada, the cadence of his voice laden with international exposure still ringing in my ears.
He’s a lovely man, confident in his level of life experience. He has a great smile, a hint of a great sense of humour, and strikes me as one of those people who is rich in a casual way.
But he is somebody’s daddy.
Later that evening, I watch as my phone rings twice. I do not pick up.
Have a wonderful 2016. Pray fervently, love passionately, pretend that hurt is a thing of fiction, do not give anger a chance, and above all, overcome fear.