Loving Farouk

“Dee, what do you think? Isn’t she beautiful?”

I looked up from my book and took Farouk’s phone with a slight smile. I already knew what I was going to see: some slender size 2 beauty with large luminous eyes,  and reflective fair skin. Farouk had a type. A slim, light-skinned, large eyed, type; that somehow never liked him as much as he liked her or somehow couldn’t keep his interest as longer than a month.

That I understood.  That I was glad about. As long as Farouk didn’t find anyone that kept his attention, as long as it was just a shallow physical attraction I had a chance.

A slim, stunted, gnarled chance but a chance still.

As I looked at the phone I realised that my chance was about to vapourise. I was about to lose Farouk for good unless I did something.
The problem was: I had no idea what to do.

“She is gorgeous.” I heard myself say. And it was true. The lady in the selfie couldn’t be more than 22. She was a dark shade of chocolate, curvy and her small eyes twinkled behind her cute glasses.

On cue my inner alarm rang. This wasn’t gorgeous. This was gorgeous trouble. Farouk was breaking from the mold–that meant he had found something. Something special.

With a wider smile I handed the phone back. “So what’s her name?”

“Her name is Zukaida,” he replied, “I hope to goodness that she is the one.”

The drive back from class was a quiet one. Farouk hummed along to some Yanni playing in the car while I stared into the darkness and tried to imagine life without him.

We had been classmates for just a year but it felt like we had known ourselves for a lifetime. We had so much in common: a love for cats, an interest in chunky novels,an aversion for onions, an addiction to chocolate cake.

Being around him was like being hooked to a giant cylinder of joy but now my tubes were about to be pulled.

I knew he didn’t feel the same way but that didn’t stop me from hoping or at worst enjoying what I had while it lasted.
Now all that was coming to an end.

He drove to my doorstep and waited for me to alight.  I stayed in the cat staring into the night then I turned, closed my eyes and kissed him on the lips.

He froze.
I opened my eyes and I knew I had made a mistake. His eyes were open and in them I saw shock, pain, disbelief and something uglier–pity.

I pulled away and dashed out of the car and into my house. Shame swallowed me whole. I was still sobbing when sleep came.

The next five days passed in a whirl. I avoided Farouk and braced myself for whatever was coming next. An engagement party. A wedding announcement.  A baby shower.

A week later I was making my way to the taxi park when someone grabbed my arm.
“Dee, we need to talk.”
My belly flipped and cold sweat trickled down my back.  Could it be? Was he going to say he felt the same way? Were the feelings mutual? Was love going to have a chance?

Of course not.
He wanted me to know that he understood how I felt and while he couldn’t consider us being more than friends he still respected me as a friend. Still wanted our friendship to continue. He recounted the great times we’d had together. He was till talking when I walked away.

I couldn’t bear to hear anymore.  I was a drift on a sea of needles and all of them pricked at once. I needed to get away, as far
away from him as possible.

I must have walked past the car park and on to the main road but I can’t remember that.

All I remember is the screeching  of tyres as the bus driver tried in vain to dodge me and the blissful darkness that followed.

image

The Unravelling

They sat in silence. They’d dreaded this moment. She more than he.

“Do you really have to do this? Isn’t there anything I can say to stop you?”

“Honey, please, let’s not go over that again. The arrangements have been made. The bus will be here in an hour.”

“But why Dan? Have I been such a bad wife to you? Is there anything I haven’t given you? How can you just throw your life away like this? Like rotten fish?”

Her words slapped him, and something in him shifted.

“Like rotten fish ehn? Thank you for the compliment. I better walk up the road. Take care of Ade and Wana. Bye Shade.”

He left with the sound of her sobs drumming on his ears. Wana and Ade were asleep. He hated to imagine how it would have looked if they weren’t.

He loved Shade. She was the only other woman he had ever cared about enough to change. To sacrifice. For her he had stopped smoking. He had learnt cooking. He had even started going to church twice a month. No other woman had been able to keep his attention for this long. Six years and she still stirred him as much as she had on their first date.

Except at moments like this…

The sky was aglow with the colours of the setting sun. A gentle breeze played with the dry leaves, scattering them on the street like confetti. The evening was so beautiful, he was so miserable.

He remembered something he heard the pastor say last month.

“Anger lies in the bosom of fools.”

It was true. He wasn’t being reasonable right now. Any woman would be worried under the circumstances. Shade was just worried. Worried and scared. Why wouldn’t she be? People were giving their souls to run away from Liberia and here he was leaving for the same place as a volunteer. She probably thought he was mad.

The worse thing was that he hadn’t found words to tell her everything. He couldn’t express how excited he felt when he was offered the opportunity. He couldn’t tell her how the moment he read the email, life suddenly seemed ten times nicer, livelier.

The past two weeks had been like reliving his childhood. He was the toughest police chief on the playground, eliminating the thieves. He was him.

Now he had a chance to do it again. In real life, with a real thief called Ebola. He had a chance to do work that really mattered. Not the dead brain routines of Malaria, Typhoid and Diabetes. A real time Emerging Disease Epidemic Response, a real war. He couldn’t stay away for the world.

But.

He could go gently. He could hold Shade and rock her till the bus came. He could remind her of how much he loved her and the kids. He could go over the instructions for his memorial( there would be no burial, just ash in an urn). He could kiss her brows one more time.

So he went home and did so.

It would be 8 months before he returned, not in a stainless steel urn, but in the flesh.

Shade wouldn’t be at the airport to welcome him, neither would the kids.

He would spend the next two years looking for them and failing to find them.

He would discover that she had sold the house and the cars and the land he bought at Lekki.

He would fall into a bottomless depression. And pick up smoking again. And try weed, and like it. And over do it.

He would want to die and pray to do so before morning.

One day, he would get a call from Wana. She was fine, her mother had placed her in a Catholic boarding school in Kenya, she even spent holidays there. Ade was with mother somewhere in Europe. She missed him. She had tried to reach him but mom said she shouldn’t dare. Was he OK?

“Yes, I am fine.” Dan said. And for the first time in three years, he almost believed it.

He travelled to Kenya to see her. As he stood beneath the pine trees waiting, he remembered another place, another evening. Then she was running into his arms, quick as a bullet, and he felt the broken things inside him melding.

It would be a long fight. A long wait. But six years later Wana would be back home in Makurdi with him. He would not marry again. Stop smoking again. Start jogging again.

He would travel the world lecturing on Emerging Disease Response. He would receive more honours than the four walls of his study could hold.

He would forgive Shade (but they would never be friends again).

He would live to eighty-nine. And from time to time he would think over things. He would imagine how things would have been if he stayed. Then he would laugh and mutter to himself.

“There’s no way I was going to let that Bastard get away.”

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Please read, vote, share
Our Etisalat Flash Fiction story:
Before Sunset
http://wp.me/p3nAsA-kK

Thank you

Paradise Dreamt

I held her in my arms today,

Pressed her wet warmth to my cold dryness,

Her innocent heart beat against my burning skin,

Felt her bounteous curves imprint my frame,

Inhaled the rose, mint, myrrh of her skin,

Closed my eyes with her head on my chest,

My dreams came true,

She loved me as madly as I have always loved her,

We married and eloped to Zanzibar,

She had twins and I was a stay-at-home dad,

We watched stars from our rooftop,

Sipped nectar from green coconuts,

I held her today,

Felt her fragile fear, saw her naked need,

Had her in my arms, possessed her in my world,

It might have been a dream,

Her, ever being with me,

But I held her in my arms today,

Until he came to take her away.

***

Thank you for reading,

Our story, Before Sunset still needs your help,

Please be a part of history,

Read. Vote. Share.

Here: http://prize.etisalat.com.ng/before-sunset/

Thank you once again,

Paradise Dreamt

I held her in my arms today,
Pressed her wet warmth to my cold dry skin,
Felt her bounteous curves imprint my frame,
Inhaled the rose, mint, myrrh of her skin,
Closed my eyes with her head on my chest and,
My dreams came true,
She loved me as madly as I have always loved her,
We married and eloped to Zanzibar,
She had twins and I was a stay-at-home dad,
We watched stars from our rooftop,
Sipped nectar from green coconut cups
I held her today,
Felt her fragile fear, saw her naked need,
Had her in my arms, possessed her in my world,
It might have been a dream,
Her, ever being with me,
But I held her in my arms today,
Until he came and took her away.

Have I told You I Love You?

Have I told you?
How much you mean to me?
Your presence is the tonic for my well being,
Your smile is the sun that chases my clouds away,
Your voice is the balm that turns my night to day,
You, rhythm in my pulse,
You, spring in my step,
You, smile that dances on my lips at night,
You, the safe place my dreams are kept.

We Shave Our Memories

We shave our memories off,
lock by lock,
they fall to the cold floor,
we rise,
stronger than before,
Snip goes our trip to Dakar,
Snip, our quarrel over babies
Snip, the surgery for a wrist swelling,
Snip, the ways we failed to keep our promises,
We shave our memories off,
Lock by lock,
We leave our essence in
And continue,
Our love walk.

Politically Incorrect Affair

There are no words for what we have
No terms to express
The tenderness
Specialness,
Sweetness
That is you and I,
So we hide
Pretend not to feel
Pretend not to care
Pretend not to smell each others hair,
We silence our hearts
Swallow ballads whole
Let our brown eyes flicker then dive to the floor,
Suffer without sound
As feelings well up and crash against our ribbed chests,
Living for stolen times
When our spirits meet
And like embraces like
Lips meet cheek
We commune in spirit
No need to speak.