All that Glitters does not Always Shine
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“Love, is the art of staying when you have every reason to leave; but so is foolishness”
You must meet Pastor Johnson, at least, hear him out; mama emphasizes over the next few days, recounting how often he has been to visit her with gifts and provisions since the weekend party. Who e epp? She impresses upon you, how she is certain that he is interested in you, and would make a good and caring husband. At the same time, she bombards you with questions about “this new man” that has happened upon you like a Miracle. “Is he AS or AA?”, “What does he do for a living?”, “What tribe is he? You cannot marry Igbo or Hausa o!”, “What qualification does he have?”, “Where are his parents?”, “Is he ready for marriage?”, “Can he afford your bride price?”, “What is his religion sef?!” Many more questions like this that mama has asked you about Sogo, but you have chosen not to say any more, telling Mama she would meet him soon and find out for herself.
You visit Sogo for the weekend, a month after his visit to Lagos. You have missed him terribly. You arrive at his apartment something around 2:00pm on Saturday. He welcomes you with the cheeriest smile your eyes have ever seen, his apartment bursting with the smell of freshly made Vegetable soup, and the heady feeling of James Morrison’s “you give me something”. You melt inside a little; as you fall into his arms for a good number of seconds, allowing the ambience of everything around him abide with everything inside you. He is wearing those pair of jeans that you like like sin, but thankfully, his chest is enclosed in a blue round-neck tee shirt. He heaves your small box up, into a room beside the kitchen, and soon returns with two glasses of wine.
“How have you been my love?” he asks.
“Good; even better now that ‘m with you.” You respond, honestly. He smiles and raises his glass to cheer to that. You chuckle. “Your place is beautiful”, you add.
He smiles again. “Gracias mi amor! So I have just prepared Rice and Vegetable soup. Eat first, or take a shower first?” You decide to take a shower first. He shows you to the room where he dropped your bag earlier—the spare room—and plants a kiss on your forehead before leaving you by yourself. You melt inside again.
In thirty minutes, you are all freshened up, and changed into a flared polka-dot knee-length gown. You join him in the kitchen, where he is cleaning up. You help him serve the food and take it out onto the dining table, where you eat in companionable silence. The food is exquisite, and you fall in love with him, even much deeper. When you are done, you both wash up the dishes, and move to the sitting room—your head on his lap, his hands in your hair. You tell him about Pastor Johnson, and mama’s insistence on you meeting him. You talk about mama’s concerns for marriage; and how she is infinitely eager to see if he, Sogo, really exists.
You do not mean to scare him, but these issues are weighing too heavy upon your mind, and you feel the need to let out your steam. He listens, patiently, un-disturbing-ly; and you reckon again, for the umpteenth time that that is what you love most about him. He listens, unlike Pastor Johnson, the supposed “right choice”. By the time you are done, you are seated upright facing him. You put your face in your hands and sigh heavily, apologizing for talking so much, so long, so soon; then you ask him to tell you about him—his week, his toasters, and admirers. He smiles and takes your lips in response. You did not see it coming.
His kiss is gentle, assuring. You are getting more used to this, as you pull closer to him and press into his firm ribs. His hands roam through your dress; caressing the swell of your chest, the silk of your bare thighs. His lips soon move to your ear lobes. He bites and sucks gently. You moan. He returns to your lips, then your neck, leaving wet kisses trailing the heat of your body. His hardness scrapes your thigh, as your nipples tickle his chest. You know at that moment, that the inevitable is about to happen. You stiffen a little as thoughts shuffle in your head. Thoughts you do not want to think about. Mama will be disappointed! Only if she knows. But I shouldn’t be doing this. You love him, so why not! You do not know how to do this. He will only be too willing to teach you. You forcefully take your mind off the voice; off everything except the heat, his heat. You stay in the moment—and watch fate unfold.
He stops then, for a heartbeat, and you wish he had not. He looks into your eyes as if asking for permission to see into your soul. Your eyes glisten with a shade of emotions even you cannot completely decipher. “I—I have not done this before” You announce, almost in a shade of whisper; as if needing to explain the undecided expression in your eyes. His eyes soften, he does not say a thing; rather he pulls you into a long tight embrace, that says so much yet so little.
“I don’t know what you’ve done to me Omolara, but whatever it is, please don’t stop.” You smile into his neck. “I love you Omolara. And I want you in every way, but this can wait… until you are ready.” You nod your response, but it is at times like this that you wish he were not that sensitive to your unspoken thoughts.
Just then, you catch a glimpse of what seems like a pack of cigarettes lying recklessly on the side stool. You stiffen and pull out of his embrace. “Is that Benson? Do you smoke?” you ask him without ceremony.
“Yes. You didn’t know?”
You are a little angry. “I didn’t know? You fucking didn’t say!”
“Omolara,” he shrugs “you didn’t ask. I had no idea that it mattered to you. Besides…”
“Don’t excuse yourself Sogo. We have been talking for months now, and you never saw it fit to tell me about it. Were you hiding it from me?”
“Hide? What? No!” he sighs. “Omolara, I am sorry. I swear it probably just skipped my mind. I have no issue telling people I smoke, I just don’t say it without being prompted. It’s a habit I have grown used to.” He tries to touch you. You flinch. You hate smokers. You cannot stand the smell of cigarette puffs. It irks you. You only know the name of the cigarette because mama used to sell it in her supermarket when you were younger. “Omolarami,” he continues “if it matters to you, I don’t do it too often, I really only smoke when I am stressed.” And then you remember that he had told you he had been working on a particularly rigorous case the past week, one he just finished and won (as usual) the previous day. You know that had been one very stressful week…
“How many did you have this past week?”
He clearly did not see the question coming, so he hitches.
“Don’t attempt to lie to me Sogo, or I’ll be gone for good. I cannot stand a lying smoker!”
“Sticks or packets?” you prompt.
“Packs” Your heart beats in blues. You do not know how much that is, but it is much!
“Two? Two packets?” You are angry. He is silent. You both seat at opposite ends of the small sofa, recoiled. You are angry because you are worried for his health; because he did not tell you about it ever- not the first day you told him to tell you everything about him, or the subsequent days when you asked him about his habits and must-dos. If you had known earlier, you would not be here playing love with him.
You break. You are breaking. Sogo is everything you should not be doing, but you love him. He lied to you! He did not lie, he just never said! Not saying is lying! But you have not told him you watch Pornography and touch yourself! I used to! You still have not told him.
“I used to watch Pornography and touch myself.” You blurt out your confession before you change your mind.
“What?!” comes his response, full of disbelief. You are ashamed and even angrier.
“Sorry I never mentioned. I think I should get going now.” You stand up to leave, because you do not know how to look him in the eye after what just ensued. You wish he would pull you back like they do in movies, but he does not. And each second takes you farther from him and into the room; where you begin to pack up and change in tears. You are fucking angry! This is not how this was supposed to end. But maybe it is for the best. Maybe this is goodbye.
He comes in without announcing, five minutes later. You are half-dressed, half-naked.
“Shit! Get out Sogo! You could have at least knocked!”
“I still love you.” He says. Arms and legs crossed as he leans against the door in defiance of your last order. You back down on your rage and make yourself sit. He joins you and repeats himself “I still love you, habits and all inclusive” And then, he hugs you tightly. “I would not promise the smoking would go away, but I would try to work on it. At least, stay and watch me try…”
The rest of the weekend seems to fly, and on Sunday afternoon when you are about to leave, he promises he would be in Lagos to visit your parents the next weekend if that is okay with you. You jump into his arms, and scream that it is! It is the moment you have been waiting for all your life.
Damore is a short black girl, a Chartered Accountant, and a hopeless lover of words. She is terribly shy on some days, and provocatively assertive on others. You can find her smiling away by herself at a corner of the room with her ear phones plugged in, and her head stuck in a novel or anything that looks as interesting as a string of figures begging to be analyzed. Or you might find her in the same bus as you, typing away furiously at her phone. You might think she is chatting, but chances are she is writing about you. She blogs at Miniscule Diary. Check it out. You may find yourself in one of her posts.