We sat in silence. I was cautious of everything, not shifting my shoulder on which her head rested, regulating my breathing as on my chest, though not bare, she placed one of her hands and slowly and sensually, she stroked, then my face and chin, the tickling ensuing her stroking of my untended and rigid beard I endured gratefully. It was breezy and cold, so cold I could feel myself shivering; only slightly though, I hoped she did not notice. I finally understood what my ears had grown tired of hearing about the energy they say is generated when two lovers are together, in the dark, at a place they were sure no human soul would appear and disconnect their sheer bliss. What dominated my thoughts were two verses from one of the first classic poems I ever read, John Clare’s ‘First love’ and how the reality of those words were unveiling on me. Clare wrote that:
“Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?”
I could not wait for a lengthy two weeks to complete our end of semester exams, as our previous agreement stated before seeing her, so I insisted we met that night. She resided at the school hostel. I claimed to be spending the night at school to read. “Who are you kidding?” I suspected she would have thought to when I told her on the phone earlier that historic night. Like a bride arriving late to her wedding, she came out of her hostel and walked slowly to where I was standing, seemingly in slow motion like a blockbuster movie’s trailer, for me to get a complete preview of a package I was to acquire, or hope to acquire.
“Let’s go somewhere less public.” I suggested seconds after her arrival.
We were somewhere between two main University buildings that housed hundreds of students that night, majority of whom, unlike me, were genuinely reading, or trying to read. I led the way as we walked to a place I knew we could sit comfortably. I could feel my heart trying to force its way out of my chest. It was beating loudly and fiercely. Maybe she was right after all, in her message on facebook, the message that prompted this meeting, maybe I was not man enough. I started talking shortly after we sat, picking my words like peanuts with a fork. I avoided her face as I spoke and she seemed so relaxed, almost daring me to talk.
“Why don’t you just say it? Just say what you want to say and stop beating around the bush.” She said, interrupting the incoherent gibberish I had been saying. Like a little boy swimming for the first time, I hung my fear in the air and took the plunge. What I said next was less than one-tenth of everything I had said earlier, yet, a lot more sensible.
“I wonder why I waited three years to say this…“ I started, fearlessly.
“…and I know it may be too late and make no difference but I think you, at least, deserve to know. I love you Bidemi, and it would be the greatest thing for us to be together. I have loved you since I first saw you and no matter what the outcome of tonight is, I will always love you.” My heart stopped racing and my mind became lighter. I heard her sigh loudly and I knew what would follow. She told me how she had waited for me to say this for so long and how much she loved me as well, but she was with someone else and she was ‘too deep’ in that relationship to back out. Surprisingly, I was not upset. I had braced myself for this before meeting her; I just needed to hear it in her words.
She urged me to draw closer. It truly was magical what I felt, what I believe we both felt for the next hour. I felt as though she melted, and my shoulder received her head. I kissed her on the forehead and she kissed me on my cheek. I feared a volcano would erupt if I kissed her on her lips. I was sure she wanted me to, but I thought it was best we kept the molten in the ground. We shared intimate secrets that night. I recited a few poems to her and was surprised at my sense of humor as we talked. I struggled to believe we were not going to be together, that the energy we generated that night would go to waste. I wondered why love had to grow like flowers born in winter, never making it to spring. It was obvious she would leave the other man for me on a basis of love, but societal morality would not let her. I was in a glorious twilight, knowing the sun would set soon and never rise again. I savored the moment, we both did. I escorted her back to her hostel later that night and watched as the most valuable asset I could ever possess walked away. I watched until the darkness took her away and turned around immediately. It was still breezy but the cold had gone. I felt nothing until the next morning. It hurt more than childbirth, I was sure.
The examination result for that semester was the worst I ever had in any exam in my entire life, I hoped it would be the worst I will ever have. All I have left now are tormenting memories and a poem I wrote for her. The last stanza of the poem read thus:
“I picked my shaky legs up to walk away from love
With every step I took, I knew
I would be forever lost
I kept looking back,
And back I kept looking
I looked until the still night in the distance swallowed you
Then I knew that if it was not with you,
It really will never be, as it will with you.”
That something; the something that always pops up where you’re about to make a really stupid mistake popped up at the same time Tiwa’s caramel breasts jumped out of the azure bra and into his face.
The something said you’re going to regret this.
The other something in between his legs answered; regret is so overrated.
Segun hesitated. His right hand didn’t, reaching and grasping a left appendage that was both firm and soft at the same time.
There’s no clearer way to illustrate contradictions than with a woman’s body; he thought.
And with that, the busybody something shut up.
It hadn’t been easy; turning Tiwa down routinely. No one agreed with his decision; everyone seemed to think he was mad and so on because Tiwa was…Tiwa wasn’t the kind of girl a regular guy turned down. To quote Jide the office…
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Let’s imagine for a second that the robin
is not a contained entity moving at speed
through space, but that it is a living change,
unmaking and remaking itself over and over
by sheer unconscious will, and that
if we were to slow down the film enough
we would see a flying ball of chaos,
flicking particles like Othello counters,
air turning to beak in front just as tail transforms to air behind,
a living being flinging its changes at a still universe.
This would require infinite alignments. Each molecule
privy to the code of its possible settings,
the capacity of a blade of grass to become
the shadow of a falling apple by pure force
of the tree’s instinct. Every speck of world with the potential
to become stone, dog’s breath, light twisted through glass,
filth under fingernails, the skin’s bend at the bullet’s
nudge the moment before impact,
the thought of a robin in flight,
the thought of the thought of a robin in flight.
I inclined my head to read thoughts I wrote
On a star, which I should have breathed life on
But the sun had sent it off to die
The day dragged itself on
Stretching seconds until they felt like minutes
Countering every effort of redemption.
When again I saw familiar winks in the sky
I looked up and called on the distant light
To give back that which I left behind
It said it was a newly born star
That the one I sought was its older sister
Which the night will never bring back
My rage wore off; I turned to depart
I searched my brain for thoughts, ripe but unhatched
As I saw a rising sun breaching darkness
For remorse is a play in which I long not to cast