This piece is excellent and breath taking. ENJOY!
Folashade found out that I had traveled to Lagos and it broke her heart. I hadn’t told her about the job opening because I did not want to raise her hopes. I had planned to tell her only after the job had come through. Since my friend, Gbenga, stayed not far away from the firm where the recruitment test was taking place, I decided to put up with him for the period of my stay – a couple of days. Gbenga had taken a picture of me, him and Zainab, and had uploaded it on Facebook. Gbenga tagged me on the picture; that was how Folashade found out that I was in Lagos. Zainab was an old lover of mine but we did not date because of our religious differences. I had told Folashade about Zainab a long time before we began to see each other and once, I had shown her Zainab’s picture. However, I never knew she would never forget the face.
Everyday spent in Lagos wore me out and, somehow, I had begun to take my frustration out on Folashade. Folashade began to grow cold. I noticed it but I did not know why, for it was her nature, most of the time, to keep silent over the things that hurt her. She hardly ever complained about the things I did. Her reservations and hesitations were made evident in her sighs and her silence. I promised to see her the following day after my test but I didn’t. however, because I had passed the first test, I could not return to Ibadan as planned because the second round of tests had been scheduled for a few days. I called Folashade to let her know that I would not be visiting her as planned. She sighed and said ok. The whole time, I did not tell her my purpose in Lagos. I had simply promised to explain it all to her when I returned.
Unknown to me, Folashade had become disturbed and distraught because of all that was happening. I did not realize, too, that no matter the reassuring words I spoke, my evasiveness drilled a hole right through her heart. It amazed her that I had, once again, begun to hang out with an old lover. She had lost sleep because I had become cranky and evasive over the phone. She would later tell me, that Lagos took away the warmth I always radiated and handed back to her a stone cold man. When again I called that I would not be returning as I had first promised, the news left her sullen and heartbroken. I wrote the second test and because I passed, and once again, I could not leave Lagos. I waited a few days for my interview after which I was sent a mail that I had successfully passed the recruitment tests. I was to resume the following week.
Quickly, I returned to Ibadan to give the good news to Folashade and also get myself prepared to resume. All through my journey back to Ibadan, I ruminated over how right Folashade had been all along. With a job and a pay of almost six digits, and a woman like Folashade, truly everything good had come. I was blind by my desperation for the job that I did not realize how far apart Folashade and I had been. But before I left Lagos, I had gone to a jewelry store and had bought a ring. My first port of call was my lecturer’s office. He lifted me off my feet with joy and said congratulations a million times in his hoarse voice. It was after the whole felicity that I went home to meet the start of many disasters. I got to my one room apartment and found out that the door had been pulled down. The apartment had been burgled! Everything that I had had been taken away – clothes, appliances, beddings…everything was gone! Speechlessly, I stared at the empty house. But with a ring in my pocket and an explanation to give, I figured out to see Folashade first.
I was on my way to Folashade’s when I got a call from the firm. The caller had simply told me to hold-on and not resume yet until the firm got in touch with me. The ride to Folashade’s place was thirty seven minutes. I had rehearsed how the proposal would play out. I recited my lines again and imagined the glow that would emanate from her eyes. For one last time, as I approached her hostel, I looked at the ring. Even in the setting sun of the evening, it had a glint. It wasn’t the most expensive jewelry but it was a good place to start from. I walked into the house and everywhere was silent, only the noise of kids playing in the sand, a few houses away and the soft moaning of a woman enduring an unusual pleasure. Folashade’s door was closed but not bolted. With a slight push, the lock gave way and I peered in grinning. That was when I was struck by a thunderbolt. Folashade lay on her bed – naked and sweaty with a strange boy lay right on top of her with his boxers sagged.
The commotion began the moment I intruded. The boy jumped up. Confused and clumsy, he grabbed his trousers and rushed out of the room. I had come a few minutes too late. Folashade lay weak on her bed with her legs spread wide apart. The bed-sheet was stained with her blood and she gasped for breath. At first, I lost bearing of where I was… then, I lost my ability to feel. Gradually, I began to feel again and the only thing I felt was being crudely sawn into pieces. I felt a hand pull and poke my intestines. My hands began to tremble; not out of fear but out of an uncontrollable rage. That was when the box fell from my hands and the ring wobbled towards her. She stared at it and she burst into tears. That was when the rage became disgust. She tried to rise up but she fell again. I picked up the ring, replaced it in the box then I left. I went to a friend’s house but I said no word. That was how I ended homeless, clothless and heart-wrecked all in one day!
The next few days were rough on me. I lived under the torment of what I had witnessed. In the silence of my friend’s room on the topmost floor of the building, I was haunted by pictures of her legs spread wide in a V shape, moaning and making love to another man. The memories stung like I had been attacked by a colony of bees. I would cover my face through the night hoping to not dream but I dreamed still. My dreams became predictable. They were dreams of that evening. At last, I lost my sleep. Because everyone knew how love had burned in our hearts, Folashade and I, the truth became unbelievable. The world favoured Folashade, everyone believed she loved me more than I did. I went through several bouts of emotions till I did not know who I was nor what I felt anymore. Through it all, a barrage of appeals in the form of calls and text messages overwhelmed my phone.
It was in the heat of these happenings that I got a mail from the firm, regretfully announcing that the position had been offered to someone else. It was then, that for the first time, I told my friend everything. I wept like a child as I told the story. It’s been four weeks since all of these happened. Life lost its taste immediately after that and I wanted none of it anymore so, I began to crave death so I set the noose high in the ceiling. I watch as the sun says goodbye…it is a beautiful time to say goodbye to the world too. The sun would arise tomorrow but not me. I am looking out of the window, watching the people that line up the busy road that runs past the house. It is then that I see that which I had always sought.
I see an old couple walk hand in hand down the road, again. I had spotted them from the very day I moved into my friend’s apartment. They remind me of what I have always desired – to be with Folashade till my bones are weary in my shrunken body and my hair is grey and all my teeth are gone. I watch the old couple till I cannot not see anymore because my eyes have welled up with tears. Love is beautiful, but it has its moments of pain. for the first time, I begin to wonder if I had contributed to my own undoing.
I ask my friend when he returns from work that evening:
“If you had to paint your life, with what colour would you paint your pains?” He rambles and begins to snore soon after. My answer comes at dawn. I choose to paint my pain gold and live through it; for pain is the pathway through which love’s value is tested. To choose to die and to choose to love for while to love still has hope of joy, to die is a worthless price to pay, I reckon. So, I reach for my phone and call Folashade. It’s been five weeks of haunting silence. She’s lost her voice. I see her a few days later and she is lean and her eyes, puffed. I hold her hands and she begins to cry. One day, we shall grow old together, and the world shall see us and wonder our perfect we are together, just because we have painted the pains of today right. The colour you paint your pain is how you see your pain. In the end, it is your perspective.
If you have to paint your pains, tell me my friend, what will it be?
ok, beautiful story hey? well, here is actually the Part 1 below
Painting Pains _1
I am sitting by the window. I am not idle, I am keeping a vigilant watch as the sun, a round thing with an amber glow begins to sink into the darkening sky. It threatens to rain through the darkness that has begun to descend. I share a panoramic view of the landscape from the topmost floor of the building – views of rusty roofs, birds gliding in the sky with strange sounds as they flap their wings and a storm gathering in boughs of cloud. It is such a beautiful evening but in me, beauty is broken for underneath my feet is the picture of a girl ripped into pieces and over my head dangles a noose. The girl whose picture lays in pieces under my feet is the pain in my pride. She is the reason why for the past three weeks I have stayed up late at night, wishing for death to come for me before dawn. She’s the reason why I wish not to go back home, except in an urn – cremated. She is the reason for the noose that dangles from the ceiling. She is the reason for the story.
I want to hang myself. That is one way I can catch the bus that goes home. It is the only way I can think of to explain this pain. Death is home: though death is pain, albeit short-lived. The pain I feel this moment is the kind of pain that cannot be let out because there are no words that are fit perfect for it. And so, because it can’t be spoken, it stays within and leaves me broken. Like a tumour, it grows within. It never leaves. Am I overreacting? Perhaps after that you have read this story you can judge me rightly. This story isn’t so much about a girl. She is only a part of a bigger tragedy. Sometimes when we hurt, it is not what is done that hurts us. Rather, it is knowing the mastermind behind the hurt that hurts. That is how my story begins. It begins with a girl; she is the one whose picture I ripped underneath my feet.
It was in my final year in the university that I met Folashade. It was at a fellowship meeting. I had had my eyes buried in the holy-book, trying to keep up with the Bible reading. A mosquito bite on my arm was all the distraction I needed. I missed the mosquito because through the distraction, my eyes had caught something. From that point on, I was no longer in the meeting. My gaze flitted between the altar and the girl. All through the sermon, my mind schemed how to get the damsel’s attention. For a tongue tied guy like me, that task was like a camel walking through the eye of the needle. Though I had no plan on how to get the girl, God had his own plan. God showed up on the scene when the damsel stood up as a visitor in the meeting. Quickly I jumped to my feet (as the head of the Welfare Team) before any other member of the team would, and gave her a godly welcome. Her palms were soft and her fingerbones felt delicate. In her sky-blue top and black jeans skirt, she looked fragile like she would break into pieces if not handled with care. I led her to a special seat reserved for visitors and handed her a form to fill.
That was when I knew her name: Folashade.
It began with a phone call under the guise of follow-up. Right after the phone call was an official visit. Soon after, came the unofficial calls and the unapproved visits. I had found love while doing God’s work. She soon found love too. The friendship continued till the end of the first semester. It was during the mid semester break that we began to date each other. The love we shared was so strong and because we did not put it in check, we began to do irrational things. We would run out into torrential downpours of rain, she made me chase her down the long stretches of unfamiliar roads. We would hug each other and laugh hard at how silly we were. It was once during one of our downpour adventures that we had stopped right in the middle of the rain and had shared a kiss. Her lips tasted like almond, she slowly opened her eyes and smiled. No fear, no guilt, no words. Her eyes said it all…they reflected joy!
I was posted to a small town in Jos for my NYSC program. I taught Government and Social-Studies at a public secondary school situated in the heart of the town. Because there was hardly ever light, and the commercial spot where I could charge my phone was far, I would trek the distance to Dan Musa’s place. It was the closest point that I could charge my phone at, for a fee of fifty naira. As I walked the mile, I would hum a tune to myself with my mind fixed on Folashade.
Folashade did ridiculous things too. She customized all her tee-shirts with my nickname. As the relationship grew through the months, she began to use my picture as her profile picture on Facebook and Twitter. Halfway through my Youth Service program, Folashade did the unexpected. She got on a bus coming to Jos and only informed me of her plan when she got to Abuja.
She had barely spent twelve hours when an ethnic clash broke out and we all stayed indoors quivering with fear. It was during that period that, for the first time, the kisses were no longer sufficient. So, we tried to have sex. For the pain she felt and the fear that nudged at my heart as I tried to pierce through her hymen, we refrained and settled for just the kisses. Almost every hour, we kissed very feverishly and giggled delightfully, like small children amused by rainfall, thereafter. Once the security officers restored peace and calm, Folashade returned to Ilorin and our love continued and blossomed.
Having forwarded my CV to many companies, I returned to Ibadan after I completed my youth service program. I waited to be called upon for a job but nothing came through. The wait began to look long and frustrating when after three months, nothing had worked out. Folashade always called because I had become broke. She would always assure me that everything would be okay eventually. She always reminded me that it was just a phase I was passing through. Six months after the completion of my NYSC program, I approached a lecturer in my alma mater. I volunteered to be his Research Assistant. Gladly, he took me in. Even though he never paid me a fixed fee, he always took care of my transportation and lunch. I kept on with him till one morning when I got a mail that a Financial advisory firm in Lagos was recruiting; so I went to Lagos.
That was when the troubles began.
santi blogs at santiwrites.wordpress.com. follow him on twitter @santifemi
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