The only thing they have in common are my tears.
Vol I: Glasses
Hey do you remember the second to the last time we had sex? It wasn’t the first time we had sex after I had been away for more than a year. That time you said you replayed every frame of our bodies reuniting as if the past year and half did not exist.
I’m referring to our penultimate tryst when you came in my mouth and I came on your face on the Grey couch I told you to name after me, because it had seen every shade of myself between the points of a girl who could not even look at your penis to the one who gave you the best head of your life.
I remember those parts, but they blur in the face of what happened after. When, on that same Grey couch I fell asleep on top of you, head on your chest spaced out between Kush and The excellent cabernet from France. I lifted my face to look at your closed eyes, those flat lips, and the little v in the middle of your dark top lips directly under the bald skin line that divided your moustache. I looked at you, and then I rubbed my face over your chest. And I told myself that I loved you.
I have told you I loved you since then, before then even. In the way that a text from you would instantly make my pores grow smaller to contain, even stifle the desire you inspired in the deepest parts of me. I tell you I love you when in the middle of kissing, I pause and hold your face. I tell you I love you when I promise myself to keep our relationship platonic.
But then you laugh. And the sound shoots apart all my defences.
I even told you I loved you every single time I asked you what we were doing, and you would smile, and respond. “We’re casual babe.” Every time, my voice laced with practiced nonchalance, keeping lids lowered deliberately enough, my fingers fanned over a book or holding a pillow to my chest. That chest breaking into ten, and then, a hundred and a million every time you said “casual”
I went away and returned. You missed me but we’re still casual.
Today, it finally became simple. It hurts more to be around you than without you. I can finally move on.
Vol II: Ajepako
I don’t like Pounded Yam, but I lean and dip my fork into your plate to nick a small bit to go with my soup and Ponmo. Because its cute right? We debate over my Ajebutter status which I always deny.
Then you quote The Great Gatsby and tell me I am Daisy and you are a helpless Gatsby in the face of me. You end looking at me and say “I hope I don’t get killed”
The last time we saw, before Pounded Yam and Daisy, a rapper asked his crowd to put their hands up if they loved the person beside them. You raised two hands and kissed my cheeks. I didn’t even smile.
I spent the weekend trying to ask you if we could go steady. The best I could come up with was “Hey are you free this weekend to meet?”
Even when I saw you, days later I couldn’t ask. Instead under the sun as you held my arm and gently nudged me away from the side of the road as a car sped past us, all I could ask you was “What are your plans for me”
Mother never taught me how to look for love. Daddy never taught me how to keep a love thrust in your hands without apologies. He taught me how to crumple it under my laughter and stifle my voice till I forgot the language entirely.
“I don’t know”, you respond to my question about plans.
I fumble my attempts to explain my need. Pako, how can I describe the tensions you challenge within me. How do I tell you, that if I let you in, I forsake my fundamentals willingly. Like sand reaching into water till it melts.
How do you tell a man you need him when your every action seems contrary?
So I say “I’m stunted” and you tell him about past lovers and how they all meant nothing. Between those lines you’re telling him he’s different. And you’re ready.
He only blinks
“Do you get that?” You ask with your lids half lowered. They must never see your Irises vibrate
“I guess” he says. “but you know you’re not always the victim. Sometimes it hard for a guy. And you project this sense of being in total control”
Mother, teach me how to keep a man. I’m so tired of getting and losing them.
“I guess no plans for us then” and I inhale “Pako. I can’t see you again. After today”
“Are you being serious?”
“Yes” I say. And my spirit reaches out of me and scribbles on his chest “She was here”
“You don’t want me enough to be with me”
He walks me down. In the elevator, he hugs me three floors down. On the fourth I croak. “Please let me go.”
He watches me get into a Keke Napep. He stares as I sit. I look at his face, marked by glasses and a straight lip. I bend my lips upwards, they must not match my eyes. The Keke zooms off.
When my tears are falling out of me and slanting across the streets of Lagos I don’t know if you just broke my heart or I just broke it.
Vol III: Teacher
You’ve ruined James Brown for me.
Before I get there I want you to remember how you were always intimidated by my sense of being above it all, my nonchalance towards fuckery.
You know that practiced laughter when you don’t call for weeks and I tell you, “Its okay, I don’t have expectations?”. I laugh in the mirror before I come over to yours and I drink my Whisky too quick so that the glass hides the faint mist in my eyes when you look remorseful. You will do it again, and again.
The Whisky acts as a mind muffler, delaying any analysis till I have stepped out of your radius.
Because your radius is so warm Teacher. Waking up next to you is the closest relationship I have to God. Watching your hands pour a Guinness and your face light up with nostalgia as you sing the 60’s Kellog tape songs, I have never wanted to smile so much at another human being my entire life.
But I don’t love you, the idea of you is too parallel to myself. Too young, too smart, too stunted in other ways, too in need of guidance.
I don’t love you but time manifests its paradoxes most around you. 8pm-9am move like blinking. And when we fuck, remember that second when the world slowed and shrunk till it fit into your eyes? And all the sounds of the earth were contained in our mouths gasping and exchanging air. Me moving on top of you like we were the ancestors of all the children on earth, building slow hurricanes in my insides as you moved up and down. You told me “kiss me”, and we made the world and killed it in that instant. James Brown was playing that night.
I don’t love you because I resent you more. When you ruin time more by not calling for weeks and apologizing when you do. See? You did it again.
The last time we saw, you told me to always feel as if your home was mine. It has been three months since that day and the last memory of my body are of your feet walking my feet into a taxi, never to return to the house. When I call you weeks later with a practiced loose concern, you tell me “Nothing’s wrong. I’ve been okay”
I guess my membership to your bed was revoked. And I didn’t even get the mail.