The First Time We… Celebrated Valentine’s Day



First time

“The Wealth of Our Love”

by @Nadora_
& @SeunOdukoya


Eyes gleamed like two hot coals from the far corner of the room.

Eyitayo’s flung out left hand slowly became animated, crawling slowly but steadily towards the silver slipper that lay just beyond the edge of the mattress. Keeping her gaze fixed on the eyes as though hypnotized, she lay in her uncomfortable position, moving only her left hand.

Sweat gathered on the tip of her aquiline nose and slowly dripped onto the floor beside her other hand – but she dared not blink. One part of her was fixated on killing the non-rent paying co-tenant, while the other part wondered why.

All thought became one as her searching fingers felt the wooden edge of the slipper’s heel. The hand became a claw and with one movement borne of practice, Eyitayo grabbed the slipper and flung it in the middle of the shinning eyes.

“Hnnn!” she ejaculated in time with the rat’s high-pitched squeal.

There was a sound of moving boxes and scratching nails before a grey ball of fury exploded from the darkened corner, jumped over Eyitayo and disappeared into another corner – the one that housed their cooking utensils.

Eyitayo’s eyes were fixed on an invisible spot on the ceiling, rapid up-and-down movement of her bosom the only indication she was alive. Sweat bloomed all over her body, turning soaking her dark-green boubou an even darker shade.

Enough time to cook noodles must have passed before Eyitayo rolled over on her chest, and then unto her knees. She looked at the corner in which the rat disappeared and, as though in slow motion, a tear spilled from her right eye, mingling with sweat on her cheek before disappearing.

She turned the ring on her finger this way and that, smiling sadly as it gleamed in a random beam of sunlight.

When is this going to end?

Her eyes followed the beam of light to its source, bitter smile stretching as it was revealed as a barely-patched hole in the barely-together curtains. Hot breeze blew the curtains aside briefly, revealing windows that stood together firmly, new wood holding old joints together gleaming in the midday sun.

But Eyitayo looked away just before the curtain was blown, glance summoned and held by a loud rattling from her pile of boxes. The boxes – already tipping thanks to the rat’s movements finally fell over with a loud crash.

Oddly, there was no dust.

Her eyes passed over the scattered boxes to the gleaming pots and pans next to them, moving over the two buckets and five bowls properly stacked behind the pots and plates. She did not see how clean they were, seeing instead the fact that they were out of place – standing in front of a food cupboard too small.

She did not see the clean clothes neatly folded beside the coal iron. She did not see the shoes; cleaned as much as they could be with a wet cloth. What she saw were the threadbare shirts, the faded blouses and worn skirts. What she saw were the rundown heels and scuffed toes of the shoes where they lay.

Nine months of marriage – and they were barely scraping together a living. Frustration softened her bones and she collapsed, tears blurring her sight. She rolled back and forth on the mattress, wondering if its presence on the floor made any difference.

She might as well be sleeping on the floor.

Eyitayo’s gloomy thoughts turned to Lanre and darkened. Lanre and his stupid optimism. Lanre and his ‘positive talks’. Lanre and his…

Lanre and his hardworking hands.

It wasn’t his fault things were the way they were, but she wished he would pay more attention to how they would move from this surroundings and less to his talk of hope and love. If he did not change his tune soon…

You fool. You know fully well you cannot leave him.

Grudgingly she stood up, pots creaking as she moved them. The unearthly aroma rising from the food cupboard was misleading; as the stew looked like three parts water and one part everything else that was supposed to constitute stew.

Fish stew without fish. Eyitayo grimaced. At least he would have warm food to come home to; were her consoling words to herself. She stooped over, lifted the pot –

And the left handle, weak with age finally gave way.

Lanre found her like that, sobbing on her knees in a pool of something that closely resembled well-cooked fish stew. Eyitayo felt him lift her and place her on the bed gently, all the time whispering words to her. She watched as he quickly wiped the worst of the spill off her body, and then turn to clean the floor of stew debris.

Within moments the floor was gleaming again, and Lanre turned back to her.

To this wife of his with rigid lips that stood in stark contrast to everything else about her––round cheeks and round hips; the buttocks that flexed and waned against the textile of a gown that smelled of trapped smoke.

He wondered when the laugh lines that glued those playful eyes to the face had receded into her skin; wondered further about when the eyes had stopped being playful.

Trekking two miles to the shop every morning, desperate fingers threading needles and stretching fabrics for miserly madams with condescending tones chipped away bits of him till all that was left was the humdrum of life.

Lovemaking had become an awkward dance of fatigued bodies – swatting a flying roach with one hand, caressing her breast with the other.

He sighed.

duro ti mi o, ololu fe

ife ti ko laba mon ni ko bami lo

The whispered melody fell from his lips, each word slipping into Eyitayo’s slightly open mouth and stirring something that had lain dormant for too long within her chest. She looked at him through reddened eyes, trying to make meaning of his features in spite of the stuffy darkness that shrouded them.

He continued to sing, the lyrics taking on more life. He stirred lopsidedly to the left, the side of a foot overturning the cover of a plastic basin. He attempted to kick rhythm into battered limbs.

Ife bi eji owuro

latagbala Eledumare lo ti se wa

Ife to t’oro mi di midin midin

t’aba awan aiye ko le baje

ololufe f’eron mi la i se to

He saw the ghost of a smile caress her lips, and like a survivor of a shipwreck, he clung unto its fading embers with one hand, pressing her supple frame to his body with the other. He felt her tears between the bone of his breasts, her clawing hands on his back, and her halting words on the hair of his arms.

They sang like they were teenagers again, those days when he would make dresses for her and she would immediately wear them behind the water pump on Akinmade Street because she wanted him to take her right measurement. They belted off-key and between keys till the song became a thing with flesh and bones.

He opened the paper bag he carried in and pulled out the insect repellent he bought from Iyabo’s little boy with one thousand naira; money that should have gone to Oga Gbenga for monthly latrine dues. Eyitayo’s eyes widened as he rubbed it against her neck and inner thighs, the small lump of her belly.

She shielded her lips with the hand that held her marital band, and broke out into the low-pitched laugh that was hers and hers alone, the one that caused him to offer supplications to God for this gift of a wife.

Holland silk he told her, as he moved her from one side to the next to best spread the stiff lime-green sheet on the hollow foam. Holland silk; as the woman at Balogun market had told him.

In the stifling darkness he felt her slender hands on his face, and his bottom lip was slowly enclosed in the warm heat of her mouth. He choked up at her soft whisper of ‘ọkọ mi’, words he had not heard in three months.

In that moment, he did not worry about the hole he had created in an already emaciated pocket, or that she was going to despise him for it when their creditors harassed her on her way to the bathroom the next day.

Now was all that mattered. Now was all they had.

Lovemaking had become a rusty concoction of unusual moments – a momentary blackout. Lanre believed that these ruptures of passion were like the coating of glucose on a sprinter’s tongue; the pillars holding the damaged roof of their home together.

Together they moved in a dance as old as time, a dance as familiar as a lover’s caress – yet new every time like a baby’s first breath outside the womb. They danced, and tears of pain – of shame, anger and hurt were washed away in a flood of kisses; kisses that continued where words stumbled and fell short.

And when that white heat from a blinding sun inside caught Lanre in its glare; he gripped his lover’s hips and she clutched his shoulders; holds promising stability in an uncertain tomorrow.

Lanre smiled as he rolled off his wife, chest heaving with the forces of his descent.

Eyitayo’s warm breath stirred the fine hairs of his neck as she nuzzled him, sweaty arm draped across his chest. He kissed her – and remembered the last item in the bag.

“Hungry?” he asked as he reached into it and pulled out a cold pack.

A cold pack of Five Alive.

Lanre smiled as Eyitayo tried to hide the pleasure of the cold liquid flowing down her throat. After a few sips, she sighed and moved her mouth away, grabbing the pack and offering it to Lanre.

He shook his head, took the pack from her and placed it on the small cupboard, before turning and tenderly wiping sweat from her body.

She gasped in her throat and said “More.”

“Juice?” he asked.

“No. Not juice.” She licked his lips. “Something – something sweeter.”

Lanre laughed, happiness and something else stirring within his heart. “Ololufe mi,” he said, lowering himself onto her bosom.

“Oko mi,” she responded, arms open wide to receive him.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Lanre said, leaning on his elbows. “I’m so sorry I didn’t get you anything in particular…”

Eyitayo pushed her bosom into his, looking into his eyes with her wet shiny ones. “The only gift I want is the gift of you, my husband.”

She touched his face gently, tracing several lines. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”


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    February 14, 2014
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    February 14, 2014
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    Happy Valentine's Day TNC fam!

    February 14, 2014
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    Giving Valentine's Day a fresh perspective… Its not bout the gifts and trips (although those don't hurt in the least)…
    Its about love for each other
    Me likey!

    February 14, 2014
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    Haven't read about a sweet sad story in a long time. It depicts the determination of a man to make the moment counts for his wife in spite of unpleasant reality. It reminds me of that Lagbaja's democracy song, kilawase, sebi aye la wa je nibi……e je ka fi iya sile… e je ka je aye ori nibi… to ba di ola ka ma ba wahala wa lo………

    February 14, 2014
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    Awwwwww!!!!! So Perfect.

    February 14, 2014
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    Nice. This is true love! Happy valentine's day!!!

    February 14, 2014
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    OMG. *blows nose* I really love this.

    February 14, 2014
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    Awwwn, I cried, so painfully sweet

    February 14, 2014
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    Good, Better than the previous post…in fact Great Stuff!!!

    February 14, 2014
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    Awww. Am touched. I love this

    February 14, 2014
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    I had to comment today!! Loved this post!!!!!!!! Best!!

    February 14, 2014
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    I love this! It is all kinds of beautiful and so real …. feeling emotional *wipes eyes* that moment when you want to lay the world at feet of the one you love but you cannot *sigh* few things hurt as much!

    February 14, 2014
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      Arthur Bizkit

      Candid spot-on comment.

      February 16, 2014
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    This was beautiful!!! Happy Valentines's!

    February 14, 2014
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    *Standing Ovation* My Goodness.. I absolutely love this!!!

    February 14, 2014
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    February 14, 2014
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    Mann TNC is amazing. You guys do it for me everydayy.

    February 14, 2014
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    *Standing ovation*

    Fitting that this is the last one I read. This was perfect. Absolutely beautiful.

    February 14, 2014
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    Sure,,its never about the gifts or the outings,its abt two heart beating strong for each other,,bt of cause gifts counts sha*winks* good piece

    February 15, 2014
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    So freaking real….beautiful!!

    February 15, 2014
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    Nice story line but please if you are using a language that you cannot write properly, research before putting it out. The Yoruba was pathetic.

    February 15, 2014
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    Nice one

    February 15, 2014
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    This was the soppy sappy romantic tale i was hoping for this valentine. I'm glad Seun Odukoya didn't disappoint especially with the sad but real twist to it even though i almost cried. Keep up the good work.

    February 15, 2014
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    I almost cried! Whew!

    February 16, 2014
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    February 18, 2014
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    My best in the series.

    February 18, 2014
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    this tugged at my heart, no jokes…

    February 19, 2014
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    *In waje's voice, "Weda na One Naira, weda na One Billion……" that is the song that comes to mind

    February 20, 2014
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    *sniff sniff* so sweet and so sad. things we do for live…

    February 21, 2014
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    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    July 11, 2014
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    wow..i cant remember how many times i read this piece..i had to share it with the one person that makes my heart go gangan…i knw you are reading my comment and just wanna say “i want to have memories with you”..

    October 25, 2015
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