That is today’s date
Did you notice?
2014 has so
Where did all that time fly?
Where did all that life glide?
So much is happening
We grasp, holding on to time
But the moments won’t last.
It has been seven short years
But I am still learning how to hold you,
Tremulous at first,
Across the abyss of heart breaks past,
Compared to maestros and charlatans alike,
Driven by a need stronger than my fear,
Surer with time,
As you filled my palms, my arms
With your lithe form,
Firmer through the miscarriage
And the other one, and the other one.
As I waited with bated breathe
Then wild with joy
When I saw our boy,
Now unsure again, waiting for the stitches to heal,
But eager to learn,
I will keep learning how to hold you Babe,
Through every turn.
When he walked up to me, a shock wave rose from my chest and crashed in my belly. He looked better than the last time I had seen him; leaner, finer and richer too. A dark woody fragrance drifted towards me as he sat beside me. I wasn’t dreaming but this could not be real. Could it?
The day started ordinarily. It was Sallah, a national holiday. If I had a man in my life I would be at his place, cooking coconut rice, or baking fruit cake and prancing around his apartment in one of his shirts. I don’t, have a man. All I have is a thriving network marketing gig, a tokunbo jeep and a dull job in a rural clinic. I was ready to marry, but it was hard to meet a man I liked. Someone that will paint my life in the colours of the rainbow. A lover, a brother and a friend. It had been years since I met anyone I was remotely attracted to; sapiosexual’s curse. If he didn’t think in English, have a minimum IQ of 130, I was switched off. Permanently. It didn’t help that I liked my men fine too. I liked them lean, cashew nut brown and at least 5″ 10″. Oh, one more thing, I liked them smooth; no beards, no chest hair, no leg rugs. Smooth.
So, being single and unseen, my plan was to stay home and sleep. An incoming text changed all that. A Compulsory Professional Education (C.P.E) was holding that morning, the text said. I groaned but I had to go. We had to attend one every quarter, I had already missed three,so this was my last chance. Grumbling to myself, I threw on a knee-length floral dress and drove to the venue.
I was late. The hall was already half filled with doctors paying rapt attention to a short man by the screen. Most of the listeners were consultants, two medical officers sat in front taking notes. A row of empty seats at the back caught my eye. I tiptoed there and settled in. I plugged my Blackberry and Ipad. Soon, I was browsing and tweeting. All I wanted was to get my forms signed at the end. The topics were so highfaluting– there was little to interest a lowly community doctor like me. The first presentation was on ‘Geriatric Ocular Pathology.’ The next was on ‘Hospital Management: A 21st Century Approach.’ It ended up being a reading on ‘My Trip To Singapore’. My eyes glassed over as Dr Abia’s monotonous voice told us about Singapore’s hospital angels.
Two other presenters took the stage one after the other. People had begun sneaking out. I thought of leaving but lunch hadn’t been served yet. The serving point was just two feet to my right. I could smell the chicken and see the bowls of fruit salad. I signed into Facebook instead and began liking random updates. I had paid for lectures and lunch, it was wise to make the best of it.
That’s when Victor walked to me.
In a blink, I went back ten years; to another time and place. A 19 year old me walked down a crowded clinic corridor. The smell of pus mixed with antiseptic hung in the air like smog. My feet ached from a 4-hour ward round. I was in a hurry to get home and collapse on my bed. Someone was calling my name.
“Ruth! Ruth! ”
A chubbier, clumsier Victor jogged up to me. His shiny brown trousers were a size too large. The green tie on his neck looked like a palm frond. He was panting and stammering.
“So how will your w-w-weekend be?” He said, shifting his books from one arm to another.
“Busy.” I threw back, lengthening my steps and sticking my nose in the air.
“I-I was hoping y-you would like to have a drink, maybe.” He managed. Sweat framed his fair face making him look younger than he was. I don’t have time for this, I thought.
“No. I don’t drink. See you around.”
I said, with a toss of my braids, and a stomp of my heels, I left him starring after me as I picked a bike and zoomed off.
Ten years, he was sitting beside me, and my body was reacting to him in ways I couldn’t explain.
He looked good. His lilac shirt left two buttons free and no trace of hair. He had lost weight, fat was now muscle. He smelled good too. And he was the right shade of brown.
“Hi. Ruth, it’s been a while.” He said taking his time to look me over from my blond crew cut to my black sandals.
“Yea. It has.” I managed. I swallowed but there was a desert in my throat.
He sat beside me and draped his arm around the back of my seat. I could hear my heart beat now. It was doing a rumba. The ushers came around to take our orders. He asked for salad and fish. I asked for pounded yam.
I thought he would leave. Instead he sat there and finished his food, poured my drink and helped get me fruit salad.
“We need to make things work and not just talk about it.” He said. Dusting an speck of carrot off his black chinos.
“Yes we do.” I replied. That’s when it dawned on me. Victor was a consultant! He had gone a head to specialise and was now a boss. Medicine had never been my first love. After I graduated I was too glad to be free. I kept postponing the plunge into a residency program that could take anything from 5-10 years. Now sitting beside Victor, regret hit me like a missile. I wished I had gone on to specialise. I wished I hadn’t been so rude that day 10 years ago. I wished I had taken a little more care over my appearance that morning.
” I am leaving” he whispered. He looked at me and for a moment, we were the only ones in the hall. “Will you stay?”
“No.” I heard myself say. And like a actress in a sitcom, I watched myself pick my folder and follow him out of the door. I have regretted many things in the past. Today, there will be no more regrets. Who knows maybe it is better late than never after all.
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A river of tears
For murdered years,
Fighting to fit in
Instead of rising to stand out,
Longing for another’s gift
When I could polish
The one I got,
A farmer in a diamond field
A blind man in a art gallery
A fish out of water,
An Avocado seed lying dormant,
A giant snoring
While life passes by.