If you ask Olileanya to tell you why she always observe her morning devotions like she’d asphyxiate if she didn’t, she will laugh, those throaty laughter that come out forced and wicked. Her face would begin to glow with bitterness after the laughter dries out. She will drag herself out of bed after emptying her chest of a deep sigh as if to say the night had cheated her by being short; not enough for a good sleep after the previous night’s bedroom gymnastics.
She will kiss you and whisper I love you into your ears, her eyes will be half closed like one on the cusp of a sneeze. She will disappear into the kitchen and appear with a breakfast of bread and fried eggs and tea on a white tray that is shaped like love with an inscription love lives here boldly written in red ink below it. She will stare into the cloud with tear-strained eyes and begin to tell you.
It started in her father’s mansion where Ogechi lived as a maid. Ogechi was a fervent Christian who always sang Christian songs while she worked; sweeping, cleaning, washing, and cooking. She started to bathe Olileanya when her parents began to travel outside the country almost every week. Ogechi asked Olileanya, one night after she turned ten, in the bathroom if she knew she was a woman now. Olileanya flinched, her eyes bright with confusion.
‘See your beautiful breasts pointing like arrows,’ Ogechi said, touching them with soapy hands and telling Olileanya to be quiet so she would know that she was truly a woman. Olileanya obeyed. She began to feel uneasy moments later, begging Ogechi to stop with voice that seemed like it was barely hers, a voice unsure of its commands. Her eyes were closed when Ogechi left her breasts and started to trace other parts of her body. Ogechi’s hands ran through her stomach with the carefulness of a pregnant woman rubbing hers, found the hole between her legs and that was when Olileanya eyes opened as if in realization of being touched. She squealed, broke free and ran away naked, provoking Ogechi to a fit of hiccupping laughter.
The next morning, it was a bit easy as they both explored each other, eyes bulging with an orb of curiosity. Ogechi told her they needed to pray to God to forgive them because this sort of thing was a sin. They knelt down with face contorted in prayers and head scrunched down in concentration as if God was visibly opposite them. In the days that followed, they learnt different parts of each other’s body and never failed to say their morning devotions.
Olileanya will look at you and tell you she prays everyday for learning to love differently; the kind of love her pastor says God doesn’t like, the kind of love that brings eternal condemnation. She will wipe the tear at the corner of her eyes with the pad of her thumb and tell you, with a charged voice, to get ready for another morning devotion.