16th May 2021
I am glad I’m finally doing this. I told myself some time ago that I would do this someday. That day is today. At first, I thought it would be one of the many promises I never fulfilled, but when I heard you refused to marry, I knew I had to fulfil this one, even if it will be the only one I do. I was ashamed and angry, very angry. Not at you, Ifedayo. The kind of anger I had for you was different. I was just angry because I knew it was betrayal on my part.
The first time I met your father was instigated by you. You told me so much about this man who raised you singlehandedly because he refused to remarry after your mother passed on. He was not a bad man; he is not a bad man as I know you have already condemned. At first, it was a harmless handshake that felt like any handshake should be, but the second time he held my hand, he lingered. There was a transmission. I loved that he lingered.
Ifedayo, calm down. I didn’t intend writing this to patronize you, though I should but before I do so, I want you to understand everything in detail. I want to be sincere. I want you to have a rethink about this silence. I want you to know how love works. I want you to know that you erred before I drifted. I want you to face the truth and accept this reality.
The second time I went to see Onifemi, forgive me for the informality. I am not denying the fact that he is your father but he is now more than ‘your father’ to me.
…Exhales after a long pause.
Okay, I will address him as your father if that will make your blood not boil and for you not to tear up this letter without reading every detail.
The second time I went to see your father; I lied to you about going to the poetry club house. I used the poetry club house because I know how much you hate poetry. You wouldn’t bother driving me or even being in attendance. You were home, in your study when I left. When I got to his place, he was broiling seasoned beef on the grill you gifted him on his 50th birthday. He was surprised to see me without you. I could skip the details here but I like you to know that he was not happy to see me, alone. It was as if he read my intentions. It was so bare, Ifedayo, you can call me shameless. He didn’t hold my hand the way he held it the last time. He was cold. But his standoffishness gave me hope. I realized he acknowledged what we felt but didn’t know how to react to it.
I was his son’s bride to be. He thought of you, Ifedayo. He had you in mind. He respected you.
I didn’t give up because I have never been in the habit of giving up. I didn’t think of you because it felt like whatever we had expired the moment I set my eyes on your father and truth be told, he treats me better.
Ifedayo, there were little things, very little things I wanted from you. I wanted you to always drive me to the club house like your father does now. I wanted you to cook for me, to grill beef for me or at least make scrambled eggs on Saturdays. I wanted you to hold my hand like you own it. I wanted you to notice my efforts. I wanted you to notice I was distracted and not just sit in your study writing unsolicited speeches and critics upon critics because you have political ambition. I wanted you to notice I always have a hard time wearing my jewelry and offer to help. I wanted you to cut down on the time you spent on Twitter spaces listening or speaking about Lagos politics and ask me about work sometimes. I wanted love making and not just spiritless sex. All these your father noticed and did and you expect me to remain with you?
Ifedayo, you don’t see me! You don’t understand me! Though you loved me but it was not the kind of love I wanted for the rest of my life. I wanted more, something extraordinary, deeper.
I did not stop seeing your father because you could not give me the kind of fulfilment that seeing him alone nourishes me with. He was not happy but he cooks for me. It was that way, cordial until the day he grieved about your mother and I made efforts to comfort him. He found raresome solace in my body. When I got home that day, you were still in your study. It was the day I wore that pink floral midi gown you bought from that your friend who designs a senator’s wardrobe. You remember her, right? Of course. The one who spoke through her nose but we all know it is a fake accent. I am sure the senator also knows. I knew about your fling with her. I also knew she had her eyes on you. I knew you helped her set up her business outfit meanwhile you refused to help out with my publication fee but I didn’t feel enough anger to confront you. I didn’t feel anger at all. That is by the way. When I got home that day, you had your glasses pushed down to your nose while you watched me. I wanted you to perceive your father on my skin, to see my sins boldly written on my forehead but you didn’t. You were immersed in uptightness that my affairs always came last. So, I kept going back though he felt so much guilt that made him avoid me. All I wanted was to watch the hairs on his arms while he prepared his food. His qualities amazed me. I wondered how he raised a son who cannot cook to save his life.
The second time he had me, I felt so much goodness that made my toes curl and I shed tears, tears of… just tears. That day I decided that there was actually no need for all the sneaky moves. You needed to have at least the slightest knowledge of this love that wanted to stifle me happily.
You were angry. No! Anger underestimates what you felt. But it was not enough to make you want to kill your father! It was not enough to make you live in isolation. Yes! Your father had your woman but that was the same woman you didn’t want. You were distant, Ifedayo. We grew apart. Sorry you didn’t realize.
I don’t want this letter to be longer than it should be because I know you are still an impatient man. I want you to know that your father made efforts but I was unavoidable. No! I am not taking all the blame. I want you to know that love happened. He is your father but he is also a human, a man like you, Ifedayo. Remember there was a time you pressured him to find a partner. What difference does it make now? Okay sorry! It should not have been me. It should have been another woman not his son’s fiancée.
Ifedayo, I am sorry I caused you this kind of pain, but don’t shut us out forever. Do not cancel out marriage because if you do, your lineage shall end with you and you will be lonely. You will put everything behind you and accept us as your family, because of course, you have none elsewhere. Your father loves you, even after you misfired the gun and shattered the statuettes your mother left behind. The ones he worshipped.
I will not leave a direct address because I don’t know how you still feel and I don’t want to lose my husband. But I hope you forgive us. I have been feeling very heavy lately and I hope you come around one of these days to see your brother. I hope you find the right spirit to acknowledge this message. I will be here, waiting.
2nd June, 2021.
I am writing without an address too. How long has it been? Five years? I received your letter. It is a good thing you reached out. I could almost hear you speaking through the letter.
You remember those days in school, when we took long night walks down to that cemetery road. When we walk with so much confidence albeit all those testimonies of encountering ghosts. We were unfazed. One of those days, you in that stripe blue shorts and shirt (my shirt of course), me in cargo pants and one of the shirts you spared me. We walked same length while discussing the great things we could, we will achieve TOGETHER. Then we heard a strange noise and we ran. It was an impulsive race that I regretted because I don’t even believe in ghosts. We stopped after covering a reasonable distance and broke down in a convulsive laughter. Everything was funny; the people we sped past who joined and ran past us, my torn joggers, and the realization of running from nothing but mere shadows (ours). It was the last time we took a walk down that cemetery road. You joked about the ghosts waiting to revenge some other night and how I would get home with torn pants, unnoticed.
I remember the night you received a call from Auntie Kiki, your Auntie Kiki. She wanted to hook you up with a man. A Lagos based business man. You refused. She said I could not sustain you and a lot of other things, good enough to dissuade you. You were silent after she finished, resolute in your stance. How can you leave me? That night you lay next to me, with your breath gently caressing my neck. You asked ‘How can I leave you?’ I believed so much in those affirmations we shared. This is what we wanted. This is how we will survive. After you left, there was a thousand ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ swirling in my head, rapidly tearing down my mind.
Faith, you broke my heart. You placed it in a mortar afterwards and ground it to a powder. A fine powder.
I had you. At least I thought so.
We had each other, even on the worst days, even after school. The day you wore that pink floral midi gown, ‘the girl with the fake accent’ saw you. Nife; that is her name. She casually (maybe with ulterior intentions) called. She told me she saw you and where she saw you. I didn’t give her the satisfaction she sought. You told me you were visiting the poetry club house and I had absolutely no doubts. Because what could Faith be doing with my father? It was a ridiculous thought so I treated it as lightly as I treated my glasses. Yes, Nife liked me. But I didn’t care about her feelings though I supported her business. Yes, because when did I ever stop helping people? Your publication fee? Come on, Faith. Leave Nife out of this ruse.
You don’t even sound sorry. I erred. How? What reality are you talking about? How did you even get my address? Roughly eight years with you and you call me an impatient man? Do you even know exactly how this love works? Did you ever give a thought to everything we needed to achieve? Did you ever love me? Or you were just testing the microphone all these years?
You forgot everything. You forgot the promises we made to each other. Is this how love happens? You were supposed to talk to me about my sins before now. I’m not perfect, Faith. If I ever slipped, we should have addressed it. Jewelry? Tell me to help you. I cannot cook. Good. But I can learn. Poetry club? Tell me to drive you. I maybe be distracted but you know I was working for our future. I wanted to give you a good home. I wanted to win no matter the input it takes. I don’t waste any minute but you could earn deviations. You were always worth more than time. All you needed to do was tell me what you wanted.
We did not grow apart. You left!
I am a different man. There are psychologies and principles that make me different. You would have understood and accepted that if you wanted to stay with me. There is not enough consolation that would be enough from you.
It is not anger, Faith. It is sadness. I’m sad. Disappointment has wedged a big balance in my heart. Betrayal has torn me apart. I cannot even get on those twitter spaces anymore. I cannot write those journals anymore. I cannot speak to my friends. I cannot think. I took a break from my life and refused to go back. Everything I built with time and finance is hanging, inconclusive. How can I hand over my entire life to a woman? How did I trust so deeply? How did this happen? Is it really love?
You ask what difference it makes. Your Onifemi disappointed me. That man sired me! He wiped the mucus trailing down my philtrum. He put me in a potty chair before I transitioned to regular toilets. He raised me for all sakes. He also cooked for me. All these years he cooked for me before I left home. He cooks for anyone, everyone. He cares for everyone. After I fired that gun and shattered those figurines, I severed everything that bound us. I did not just lose my woman; I lost a father too. I lost a family but it is okay. My family put a sword to my back so it is okay to lose them.
Faith, I want to forgive you, but it’s grueling. I want to end this break. I want to go back to my life but I don’t know how to start.
If you never hear from me, tell him I left for London. I’m leaving because there’s nothing for me here. We always planned to leave TOGETHER but you left first. I think you moved backwards. You cannot be everything you want with him. My mother was not.
Congrats on your little one. You changed all your plans for him. Is it really love? I ask again.
Image: Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash modified