Lone Cactus


There are so many things that remind you of your loneliness. A mosquito that dances by your ear, buzzing until you slap it, is not the first, nor the least. The extra pound of flesh, dancing under your arms and hanging tightly to your laps is not an exception. The persistent lone pimple that finds its way to your face regularly, ready to pop cries out your status without effort.

You would look out your window on breezy Monday evenings, and find couples holding hands, trudging about the sidewalk. Or when you went to get a grilled chicken at the restaurant on Manson Street, you would find even teenage lovers, seated; grinning at each other—you’d shudder and hug yourself.

There are so many things that can trigger the insanity that comes with the increasing knowledge of your loneliness, but silence is not one, oddly enough. You like the silence of the walls of your house. You like to strain, to hear the story of the bees in the distance. You like the song of electricity, the hum hum and vibrations of appliances that silently penetrate the house.

Adamu left you in May, six months ago, but you would tell people it was almost a year ago. You would smile and caress your fingers around your smartphone and peep at his last message; his last words to you. I love you. You would savor it, and play his voice in your head a thousand times, until the person you were conversing with, managed to snap you to reality. Your goofy smile would dissipate and confusion would return.

If they asked you if you were hurt, you would answer not anymore. You wouldn’t mention the pain that stains the color of your heart from time to time or the way a knife stabs at the butterflies in your belly when you think of him. No, you wouldn’t give any of that away. You wouldn’t tell them you still reach out for him and whisper his name when you are alone—because you like the way it tastes against your tongue.

His scent comes back now and then. Sometimes you try to cling to it, you try to allow the euphoria to sweep you up, but it doesn’t. So you’re left, bitter and lonely, as usual.

What happened? You ask yourself ever so often. Was it because you added too much salt to his soup that last night? Or you wouldn’t kiss him on his forehead as customary, that morning? The thoughts would torment you in your lonely hours as you chew on your finger nails and nibble on chocolate.

You stand in front of the mirror sometimes when you’re not ashamed of the ogre staring back at you. You would frown at yourself and reprimand yourself, for letting him slip between your slippery fingers.

You asked yourself if it was because you were overweight he left you? But you convinced yourself, that wasn’t it.

Adamu didn’t approve of your eating habits, but he liked that you went to the gym every day. He would swat your bottom gratefully when you adorned yourself in track pants and chuckle.

He was a man in love. You were a lady in love. So what happened? When they ask you, you would smile your shy smile and reply “Life happened” they wouldn’t ask any further. But if they were family, you would tell them the lie he’d told you to tell them in his last messages to you. You’d say he disappeared and watch the confusion and amusement at once occupy their faces.

When Laide your big sister, the doctor asked, you told her he disappeared, and both of you had ended up laughing for several minutes. When finally you both caught your breaths and were able to talk, you answered the question of her eyes. You told her he left you because he was busy and you were a nag. You believed that was a part of it as that was what the major reason he gave in those last messages to you. But you knew there was more. Could he have found someone else? No, you didn’t want to know that bit. So you just left it there in your head for the kitties to bother upon in curiosity.

You would never love again you would tell yourself staring at the blue skies. You don’t want to feel the hurt anymore. You are tired of the heartbreak. But you know yourself, that such a declaration is only a fallacy. You know that you want to love. You know that you are craving love. You know that the distraction of novels and law texts are not enough for you. You are desperate, but you would do nothing about it.

You would sit in your apartment and think of the life you could be having with him. During Constitutional law lectures, you would fantasize about him walking back into your life through the same door he had entered.

The trauma had been great but you had somehow managed to survive. You ask yourself occasionally, “If I see him now, and he asks for forgiveness, would I take him back”. Yes you reply, nodding ferociously. You would take him in your arms and lock your eyes with his, eternally. Your answer betrays your twenty six years. Your answer betrays your two university degrees. Your answer betrays your person.

You saw him at the Mart on Sowemimo street at the end of the first year of your break up. You saw him by the wine aisle. He didn’t see you. He had his back to you. He looked well, all the same, and unbelievably, you hated it. The memories ran through you speedily. They mixed with your blood, and saw themselves around to different parts of your body. A fly buzzed in your ear. You were quickly consumed with anger. You didn’t know when or how you grabbed a wine bottle from the stall and hit it against his head that was backing you. You watched him fall to the ground and left without being spotted.

The implications of your actions do not dawn on you.

They do not dawn on you when the police come to deposit you in a prison cell, as prime suspect to his assault.

They do not occur to you when it is announced that he is dead and you were to be charged for murder. They do not occur to you when the Judge sentences you to life imprisonment. All you can think of, all these while is how lonely you were. How much you missed him. How unfair it was for him to have left you. You don’t look at your Mother when she visits you. You are thankful your father doesn’t come. You sit against the cold stainless bed of the prison cell and listen for the quietness. The quietness here is terrible. It’s a constant reminder of your now worse loneliness and lack of freedom.

You watch the birds fly singly or in pairs, and you wonder if you had ever really been alone and lonely all the time you had freedom? Wasn’t everyone experiencing one form of loneliness or the other? Weren’t people cacti on a dessert? You realized you were just a lone Cactus and only then, do you realize exactly what you’ve done and it’s implications.

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