You are handicapped from the beginning. With your face shrouded in veils, all you have to keep his attention is the inadequacy of words. It is a pittance and you know it, but still you try. You try, to make your affection seen, heard, read, felt. You try to let your love shine through. You try, even though you fail, you fail in the act, never the heart.
He is the real thing. You are sure of this. You have seen every guy in the horrid guy book: the braggart, the brawler, the beggar, the sloppy, the crook. He is different, refreshingly so. You can read it in every line he writes, tweets, and in the ones he doesn’t. You have found genius. Real genius. The kind that isn’t aware of itself or its abilities, the kind that makes a smart publisher rich, yet….
The Igbo in you is livid, how in heaven’s name can we watch this raw gold get snapped up? Just thinking of the possibilities makes you grin, yeah, this is real raw talent right here. You want to sign him on yourself, but you aren’t a publisher, have never been one, and insecurity flaps its lead wings against your breast. You sigh, long and deep. There’s no winning these things is there?
Day and night the thought is awake stabbing your mind with pitchforks, prodding your head with skewers, you cave in. After all, publishers are made, not born. You begin to google then, little things first. Stuff like ‘ABCs of publishing’ How To Start A Publishing Firm’ ‘How To Spot Great Literary Talent’ ‘Basic Finance For Publishers’.
Of course you also come across the elegy to ‘The Last Publishing House In Nigeria’. You ignore that, failure is contagious.
All that changes when she appears.
From the minute you set eyes on her elegant well-tones curves, flawless make-up and cheek-brushing eyelashes, you know the game has changed. This is no longer about keeping his attention, winning his trust, becoming an over-night African Literature publisher or anything like that.
This will be a game of seduction, a dance of desire, a duel of passion and you, are unarmed. Your man will be taken, yes he will, just because she can.
You want to scream, to mark your territory, to put up a fight. You want to paste ‘Keep Off’ signs all over his handsome six foot frame. You want to make T-shirts for him, that Say I belong to____ and type in your name. Instead you watch in disbelieving silence as the dance of desire begins.
She calls, he answers. She teases, he responds. They lol, they lmao, they sigh, they do poetry duets. They waltz up and down your timeline, like a elitist ballet, you watch, like a zombie pawn. You ache like an arthritic joint. You see the handwriting scrawled on the wall– your time is up–but it doesn’t help break your fall.
You fall hard. Your heart bounces once, skids on the slippery floors of hope, then it shatters into a a shower of pink strips. That’s not all, soon, she comes along with her industrial roller and grinds your bleeding heart to dust. You want to shout. You want to beg, to ask for a little mercy. Your dry tongue cleaves to the roof of your mouth. You are ground to dust and a part of you ceases to exist.
Time stands still. Your agony isn’t something the world wants to forget. So, instead of feeling better or allowing your organic remnants rest, you are tossed instead, into the eye of the tsunami. A wall of solid seawater is crashing into your chaos… This time, you know–you are finished.
In the transient, fragile, final moments, between the surge and when you are swept away, one thought lingers,persists, stays: you gave your best, and you did it in good faith, and if this is what you get, let the waves, come, and let them be quick.
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