What If

pensive African woman

I was 18 when we broke up; 18 years, 11 months and 29 days old to be precise. He attacked my weight again, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time he did it, I can’t remember what we were talking about but arthritis came up and he said I should watch my weight or something like that. Basically, “you are getting fat”. That was the beginning of the end because come on, he knew how sensitive I was on the matter.

Well this time, I decided, would be the last. If all his love did was make me feel wretched, then it was pointless loving him. So I called it off. I knew he would come back, and come back he did. Suddenly, my weight was not an issue anymore.

Anyway this story is not about him. This story is about another ‘him’; the kind of ‘him’ that marks himself.  You know…right up there. He is like that scar you alone know of, the one you often find yourself fondly rubbing your hands over. The kind of scar that makes you smile. This story is about him.

I was 18 when I met him; 18 years, 11 months old to be precise. Funny how ‘met’ as a word is now very subjective, what with social media and its array of networks. I remember it like it was yesterday. I commented on something, he replied, I replied his reply, he replied mine…and we got talking. You know how you meet a guy and unconsciously compare him with your father, and oh the joy it brings when he checks every box. If you have your dad as a benchmark – Daddy’s girl club – you’d know exactly how I felt. Because this dude checked every box and moved on to circles.

We did not date, it was not practical considering the distance. But oh my, the chemistry, it sizzled hot and fierce on both sides. I had hit jackpot and boy, did I have plans! I would graduate at 22 and go on to Lagos Law School so we can officially be together. Then NYSC, settle in Lagos and live happily ever after with four kids; three boys and a girl in a big house with…well, we could work out the other details later.

Then I turned 20. They say when you get older you have more answers. If that is true, something must be wrong with my growth. My birthday that year came with a lot of ‘what ifs’ – “what if I only get into Law School in Abuja?”, “what if I am drafted for NYSC in Sokoto?”, “what if his genes are allergic to mine?”, and “wait oh…what if he does not feel the same way?” And in all of these ‘what ifs’, there were no answers.

I have always wanted to be mature, to really live in the 21st century as a 21st century woman. Gender Equality! If you like him, tell him, et cetera. Anyway, I told him how I felt. And in response, he officially asked me out. Not the answer I was expecting but an answer nonetheless. It felt nice at first. I finally could call him “baby”…aloud – oh yes, I used to say it in my head – and I could end the calls with” I love you”. But distance, the witch that she is, refused to let it be.

I couldn’t kiss him or hold his hands; we couldn’t touch each other or “touch” each other. No dates whatsoever – forget all that Skype. There were no eye to eye declarations of love or playful tickling that ends in bed with panting and sweating and no clothes on. Yes, we connected intellectually. Yes, relationships go beyond physical needs but…I don’t know, it just was not enough for me, for us. And so we broke up.

Looking back now, I think we just missed being friends that we did not work to actually be a couple. We became just friends again and yes it was awkward – going back from “hi baby” and “I love you” to “hey buddy” and “guy, pack well”. But we got over it. We were die-hard friends!

I told you the first one came back, right? Not my ‘jackpot’ now, I mean the first ‘him’ with the weight issue. Yes, he came back and became a good boy, always on his best behavior. He was safe and secure – no sizzles, no hot and fierce whirlwind of emotions. It was not the same as with my ‘jackpot’ but it was something good. I was not lonely, needy or desperate. So I settled.

Sometimes, I imagine what my life would have been with my ‘jackpot’. “What if I had waited and kept my mouth shut?”, “what if I had met him at another time, under different circumstances?”, “what if we had held on to each other just a little longer?” Even at 32, I still ‘what if’; like I said earlier, something is wrong with the way I grow.

Now I look across the table at my ‘best behavior’, and I look at the little one we conceived on one of those rainy nights when holiness flees and everything is possible. And I smile. Yes, I lost my ‘jackpot’ and I settled with my ‘best behavior’ but this right here…this little man in the high chair, gurgling cute nothings and trailing cereal all over his cherubic face, this is my pot of gold.

By Ezinma Ukairo.

Ezinma enjoys good music, food, books and movies. She is currently in her third year at the university where she is studying law so that she can promote the beauty of womanhood, and end child marriage and world hunger. Ezinma is afraid of ever having to just ‘settle’ in a relationship, but she keeps a closed mind to all the ‘unwanted stuff’ and continues to believe in love.

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THE LODGE

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The roof was brown and rusted; perforated from use and so, in the rains, all their property had to be moved to corners where it was certain that water couldn’t seep through. If the breeze came with the rains, then no one would sleep for the whistling of the wind and the struggle in vain for the wooden slats that were windows to keep the rain and cold out of the rooms.

 

The enclosed pit dug a few metres behind the house served as the latrine. You had to be careful to hold on to the zinc door while you took care of your business, as much for balance as for prevention against uninvited guests. The builders had only succeeded in plastering the insides and the front of the house; maybe they ran out of materials or maybe they decided that the front looked good enough, so the house was ready. The builders hadn’t bothered with a fence and a gate either.

 

But then, they would hold contests during the rains for who lasted longest while they were trying to hold down the windows against the howling wind. On cold nights, the girls would scramble into the boys’ rooms  shivering and then all of them would huddle together to chase the cold away and of course the guys would spend the better part of the night trying to cop a feel of any female parts. Ah! Christmas had come early.

 

Temi had nearly fallen into the pit toilet when she went to do her business; that was how they found out that Emeka had been secretly admiring her because he just jumped up and ran to help her before she had even finished the scream. He didn’t seem to remember that she was half naked in there. It gave them a good laugh for quite a while.

 

Since the compound had no gates, they would come out in the afternoons after the day’s work was done, when everyone had returned from their various schools and sit under the huge mango tree in front of the house. They would watch the cars zoom past on their way to Lagos while they played games trying to guess the reason for the hurry depending on the speed of the passing car.

 

The ever busy market across the road always provided some entertainment too. Once, it was a little boy who caused a commotion because he wanted to buy a loaf of bread with akara – bean cake  in it. Loaves of bread generally do not come with akara; you bought the bread and then you bought the akara and put it in the bread. Of course the bread seller explained all this; only, he did it in English – the little boy only understood Nupe. He had stood staring at the seller with a frustrated look on his face before turning away with a shake of his head. The other time it was a man on a bike –or okada – with chickens tied to his waist and all over; some hanging upside down, others swinging about with only feet on the bike or on a fellow chicken. It was a funny sight.

 

The absence of gates too was the reason they met Sani, a young man at twenty-three with three wives already, who had come running into the compound seeking sanctuary to escape the wrath of Zanjabil, his third and newly married wife, when she caught him with Hauwa their neighbours’ daughter. Sani had become a regular visitor who regaled them with tales of how he had wrestled Abu for his first wife Fathia, endured a hundred strokes of the cane and had slept for almost a week after for Binu, the second, and then wooed Zanji as he fondly called her. He was already thinking of Hauwa for the fourth since Islam permitted four wives. When the boys expressed their surprise, he had laughed and called them “small boys.”

 

It wasn’t much, true, but it was their home – at least for a while. It was the Corpers’ Lodge.

 

By Lilian Izuorah (@HalfpintEl)

 

 

LETTER TO MY NEXT

A major beauty of the blogging world is the ease with which we writers can connect, in the blogosphere. I very recently made the acquaintance of one fellow blogger, a lovely young woman by name of Titilola – I try ever so hard not to call her ‘Tits’. 🙂 Titi passed on to me the blog address of yet another blogger, Tolu, whose posts hit real close to home for me.

Reading through Tolu’s work, all I could think was “I could have written this”. It wasn’t just about his words, stories or anything in particular, it was just a feeling about most of his posts, an intense feeling that ‘my pen could have done this’. I have posted my favorite of them all, which also happens to be his last post, below.

Check it out; maybe you will see what I mean for yourself…


 

LETTER TO MY NEXT

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Dear (Insert Name Here),
I hope this missive meets you in good health. I’m sure you’re already making some conclusions about me just by reading this but let me assure you; I am not a geek, neither am I a weirdo nor am I jobless. I am just a guy who has been let down so many times that I’ve lost count. I know you don’t quite know me yet, we probably have only mentioned each other a few times on Twitter and liked each other’s pictures on Instagram but I know you and I know we’ll be the best of friends in a little while.
I see us having a pretty amazing relationship, but before that can happen I’d like to give you a few pointers as to the kind of person I am so you don’t misinterpret my gestures.

First, I am unashamedly sapiosexual. The fact that you’re reading this is proof that I’m attracted to you not only because you’re beautiful but because you’re intelligent. I love ladies that challenge me and I’m very sure you’ll be worth the chase. Let me say however that so long as we’re together, my ‘Sapiosexuality’ is turned off. Nevertheless don’t take the fact that I love challenges too serious because as much as I love challenges, I hate trying too hard. I can be very persistent with ladies but when I don’t see changes or ‘Green lights’ as I like to call them, I move on.

Second,

I am a romantic. A young boy with an old school attitude. Yes I exude the ‘cool guy, playboy, all chicks man’ aura but trust me I just want to love and be loved back for who I am. Beneath the tough exterior is a little boy begging to be loved, I hope we last long enough for you to see this side of me. I am the ‘Good Morning, Good Night’ text messages kind of guy, (Yes I’m old fashioned) but I know you can handle that because if you couldn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this. I love surprises even though I act like I loathe them with a passion, I am a spur of the moment, spontaneous, ‘ life is too short’ guy so pardon me if at times I spend lavishly albeit foolishly on you. I won’t try to woo you with money or material things whatsoever so if you’re expecting such, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’ve learnt the hard way that a guy shouldn’t be too forthcoming about his financial status to a lady who isn’t in love with him or has agreed to date him. It is bound to be a problem in the nearest future.

Third, I love my Mum to death. I don’t think this needs further explanation. I just love that woman with a passion that is unparalleled. You cannot and must not compete for her affection with me. I promise to love you with the whole of my being but please do NOT try to compete with my Mum, you will FAIL.

In conclusion, I want you to know that this is not a love letter, you’ll get that when the time comes. It is just my way of ‘putting it all out there’. There are a lot of things I feel you should be prepared for when it comes to being my girlfriend but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Just know that I am definitely, irrevocably, helplessly attracted to you.

P.S: Another important thing is that I love writing. After God, my Mum (Family), Food and Music, writing comes next. You’ll be receiving a lot of messages, emails, DM’s from me. I just love putting how I feel into words. This is probably the Tenth or Eleventh missive I’ve written since our first interaction ever. I hope I don’t come on to you too strong that you’ll be scared and decide to place me in one of the many zones you ladies have for guys nowadays. I don’t really function well in any zone except the ‘Friends with Benefits’ zone. So let’s leave our options opened for now, and enjoy each other’s company till we get to the next stage. Have a beautiful week ahead.

Without wax,
Tolu Oke.


 

This was his LAST post, I wrote, not latest. Tolu was a serving youth corps member when he died in a car crash on the 17th of July around Ibadan, a mere 30-min drive from where I had served myself. You can read more of his posts at http://www.toluoke.wordpress.com.

“It is not how long we live that matters; it is how well”

Rest in Peace, brother.

 

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter