Papa warned me about you.
I would never forget that day. He pressed his chewing stick between the corner of his mouth, and with his hand gripping the iron, pressed it against the black trouser pants lying on the ironing board. I knew he was very serious as he wouldn’t let me touch the trouser. He just called me into his room that morning and without looking into my eyes, the way he liked to, he warned me about you. The depth of his voice resonated with the Fela music that was playing from a vintage radio on his work table
Zombie o, zombie.
It was strange because Papa never meddled with my love affairs as did Mama who constantly complained I’d die a spinster. It was also strange because he didn’t use words and sentences he’d normally use. He didn’t call you a fox. He didn’t call you a green snake in the green grass. He didn’t say you wanted what was beneath my skirt. He didn’t say you were Judas Iscariot. He didn’t say you were the devil.
I was to assume at that moment it was because he barely knew you and he wasn’t a judgmental man.
I’d come to the village to spend a part of my annual leave with my parents. The last time I’d been to the village, I was a naïve girl of 16 who desperately wanted to change the world with the law. Eight years after passing the bar, life bored me. I wanted excitement.
I decided to look for it on the streets of the village. I’d sit at the verandah of my father’s large house and study the little children as they rolled tires and chased chickens or the young women with their water gourds on their heads as they swayed their hips or the goats as the mmeeeehed, up and down. Other times, I’d be with Mama at her store where she sold wine and gins of sorts, a place that could have been exotic but was hardly close to it. I’d sit under the rickety fan as the heat raged and listen to her village gist or try to actively take part in sales. They dulled me more. They lulled me to sleep.
I met you on the fourth day in the village, right there in my mother’s store. I was planning to leave the next day because; the village had only turned out to be a non-comfort zone for me. I was reading an old novel from my teenage years, one written by Sidney Sheldon. You bumped into me as I paced, novel to my face. Maybe coincidentally, I do not know. All I know is, I fell flat, my skirt revealing my underside. I coloured, reaching to your hands to stand. I studied your Ray-Ban gold metal and green grey flash lens aviator sunglasses and smiled. I felt like Cinderella, weirdly.
But, I didn’t like you. You were the kind of guy that liked to brag. The one with an ego the size of truck. I could see it in your expensive suit, in your baby boy smile, in your calloused hands. I shunned your apologies and continued with the novel.
Someway somehow, I found myself lingering in the village. My subconscious, a rude 16 year old girl still in search of infatuations and terribly seeking lust, told me, I was only in the village because you had not asked for my number or even tried to make conversation with me.
“Face it, you need to chase him” my subconscious said, her childish laughter ringing loudly in my ears. I tried to block her out to no avail. But my Ego, a thirty year old uptight spinster helped block her out for a short while. Her voice was soothing and easier to listen to. It could get annoying, but it echoed exactly what I wanted to hear most times. She told me to pack my bags and run back to the city where I could find a man working in an international law firm to sweep me off my feet—wasn’t that what I’d been waiting for all these years? I wasn’t sure, but that seemed a better plan.
By the end of the second week, your car bumped into mine, just as I zoomed out of the compound of my father’s house—you seemed to be in the business of bumping. Thankfully, there were no damages. You ran out full of apologies. We talked, by the road side opposite my house, about everything and nothing. Amidst giggles that day as we sat together, my cheeks turning red, I noticed father walking into the verandah. I watched his eyes come to meet mine and I sort his approval by searching his expression. It was placid.
So when he brought up the warning the next morning, I was surprised and confused. When he shook stern hands at me that day, I felt like curling into my bed—or kicking my subconscious in the butt for allowing me to have that singular conversation with you.
Of course I didn’t listen to my father and fortunately, and unfortunately, he never mentioned you after the warning that morning.
Should I say you swept me off my feet, I would be lying. Should I say I stared into your eyes and fell in love with your heart, would be an even worse lie. I fell in love with your lips. The way they suckled at mine, the way they kissed my neck. I fell in love with your hands, the way they danced to the small of my back, the way they pushed back my hair, the way they caressed my skin.
You were a few years younger than me, but I didn’t care. It made the love or lust so much more refreshing and exciting—it was almost as if my thirst for adventure was being filled.
I met you at a time in my life when I was looking for excitement. I was bored and tired of the same old routine so you were very appealing to me.
We took long walks along the dusty road of the village and went to the square to watch the plays and the fights.
We walked under the rain and made love against the mango tree in your grandmother’s backyard.
We were grossly in lust.
It was the night we’d gone for a drink at the local bar. It must have been that night because it was a night I explored the world like never before. It was the night I’d gotten myself drunk for the first time in my life. My eyes were lazy and my mind relaxed. We’d told terrible jokes and made fun of other customers. We’d danced outside the bar, oblivious to mock stares and laughter.
It must have been that night I conceived Orekelewa. It just had to be that night because, I gave you my all. My heart, my mind, my soul. You became my savior that day and I was holding tight to the salvation you gave. It became my bible and rosary. It became my drug.
We made love other times after then—even the morning of the weekend I returned to Lagos keeping close to my heart, your promises to visit. But I knew it was that night as we lay like animals under the moonlight on the beach sand that your sperm met my eggs and life started in me.
I broke the news to you but you denied it. Father was furious. He laughed though. He said “didn’t I tell you he has supposedly fathered a good number of children in this village?” More mocking laughter “didn’t I tell you he was yahoo yahoo”
My mind raced over your lies, how you told me you’d only ever had one girlfriend who broke your heart. How you told me you came to cater to some things in your grandmother’s will. I believed you.
But I’m not sorry for what we had. If we didn’t have that thing we had, I would never had this single entity that gives me excitement every day. People ask me why I gave her a Yoruba name. They ask if the father is yoruba. I say he’s not. I tell them it means beauty. What they don’t know is, it’s not the beauty of the child I refer to, it’s the beauty of what I had with you I refer to. And Orekelewa fits that love or lust.