You want to cry. You want to die. But you want to cry more than you want to die. You want to flood your home with tears. You want your wails to paint the wall. You want the tanbolos crawling on your table, to listen to your pain. But you are sitting by the window, watching the rain, unable to cry. The look on your face is plain, as plain as soup without salt. Usually, when your heart feels this sort of pain, you chew on your bottom lip, bury your head in your palms, and weep. You would weep the way the sky is weeping right now. The sky is weeping, as if it feels your pain, more than you do—like the well-wisher that wept more than the omo-oloku.
Your hands are clammy. There is a pen standing between your thumb and forefinger—you are trying to write. You want to write about the pain that occupies you heart. You would tell about it through the eyes of a young girl who allowed Love move into her heart. You would tell how Love became Pain and how Pain kept on hurting the young girl. You would tell how Pain instead of Love, built a mansion in her heart, and never wanted to leave. Then you would tell of how Pain decided to leave, but because the girl thought it was still Love, she longed for it. You would be careful so your readers do not know that you are the girl. But you cannot write as you want. You have written several words and doodled endlessly, but you cannot tell your story.
You feel as helpless as the time when your grandmother died. You did not like her very much. But you felt the pain of losing your sole guardian. She was the one who birthed your insecurities. “Orobo!” she would call for you as if she did not remember the names she gave you eight days after your birth. She was constantly teasing you about your size, comparing you to your slim siblings. She was constantly telling you how nobody married fat girls. She would point to a fat woman on the street, and whisper maliciously, how the woman’s husband was always at a brothel at night. After some years of living with the wounds her careless words caused, she complemented the nickname with a new one “Crying machine.” She gave you the name because you were always crying like an emere when she abused you. Sometimes, she would call you an emere, and laugh, emere to tobi, bawo lo se ma n travel?
It was not like Maami specially disliked you, she was always insulting everyone and everything. But the negative effects stuck to you like a bee on nectar. You were young, but it still made you sad. It was worse when your classmates started to call you orobo and copy your walking steps—you had bow legs, and were overweight, so it was funny to copy. As much as a joke this was, it continued your journey to sadness.
But you discovered love. And though he became pain, you were determined to keep him close.
Your pain looks like a long chocolate bar—six feet, dark complexioned, smoky cat eyes, one bad leg, charm and beauty. He is your love that became your pain. Maybe now, he is your drug, because you do not understand why you need him so. You need him. You want him. There were days when he treated you like shit, and took you for granted. There were days when he smelt of other women and other days when he mocked your weight. Instead of leaving him you took to praying for his weakness.
“Men are very weak, you have to pray for them” your grandmother told you this, a long time ago and you cherish it like a rare gem, holding it close to your heart. You would stay up all night to pray for him. But your prayers were not answered on a permanent basis. The answers were always temporary. Today he is loving, tomorrow he is not. So now, you find yourself unable to find words to pray that he comes back.
You want him. You want him, so that while he is not treating you like shit, he is telling you how beautiful you are, and how he would very much like to bite your nipple. He did know how to flatter you until you flew and flew to heaven. You want him so that when he is in a good mood, and sauntering all over the place like a butterfly or a romantic French boy, you can feel alive. It is only when you feel alive that you can write those captivating stories everyone on your twitter timeline talks about. When you’re sinking in self-pity, like you do when he is mad at you for no reason, or when you’ve received criticism on one of your stories, or even, when you feel ugly and fat, you feel dead, so you cannot write.
Since you started this relationship with him, you’ve been telling the world about your adventures. You put it up on your blog—Chronicles of my Part-time Lover and share it on twitter and Facebook. There was nothing special about the adventures; riding power bikes, going mountain climbing, visiting art galleries and museum—but you modified them, you glorified your tales into the kind of passion young girls purred for.
When he was happy and not brooding about his joblessness and how he was mistreated because he was “handicapped” he was your biggest inspiration. But most of the time, he was sad and would throw tantrums at you. You are very weak. You could not do anything, but upturn your lips in sadness that could not be feigned. Even with the sadness in your eyes, he would hurl insults at you. He would watch you cry, and torment you with your secret nickname—crying machine. He had once gone on to sing a song you told him in confidence that your grandmother sang to you. Ah toh le ologbo, ho jeun tan, ko palemor.He could not even pronounce the words right. You were more angry that he could not pronounce the words right, than that he brought up your childhood bed-wetting habit. While that was the most callous thing ever, you did not leave him. And you had no plan to leave him.
He would get better, you constantly consoled yourself. At least, he never raised a finger to hit you—if, and when he did, you would leave him; that was what you told yourself. At least, he called you Nkem, which was all you ever wanted—to bask in the love of the one you loved. Now you would cling to the way he said “I love you” on good days, and the way he patted your bum while you cooked. You would think about his bouts of jealousy and his overprotectiveness and feel butterflies dance flirtatiously in you.
You do not know why he grabbed his bags and left yesterday morning. All you know is that he was raging like fire in the turbulent wind and you had no dignity, so, like a firefly, you chased after him. But he pushed you away, his face as one who was utterly disgusted. Who would rub your ego? Who would cloak you with awesome compliments that your low self-esteem and inferiority complex never knew. You draw the words with your scrawny handwriting on your notepad.
Who would love me?
You want to cry because nobody would. You want to cry because there is no love for fat girls. You want to cry because now you’re thinking; maybe he is irritated by me. Maybe my fat irritates him. But you would not cry. You draw a huge ball on your note pad and you write “Hi everyone, I’m Salewa, and I’m a fatty.”
Then a lone tear falls on your notepad. But it is not for him as there would be no tears to mourn him.