NONSO, this one is for you. I have been around and realistically there are almost no brothers in the world who love like you do…
Charisa, in her mind, wilfully egged on the driver to step on the pedal of the Uber taxi. Excitement was a monster wave on which she rode towards her destination. Expectation filled her heart with warmth and made her break out in a rash of smiles. It was February the 14th and she was going home a week earlier than planned from her studies. She could not wait to see Reggie bowled over with surprise, his eyes exploding with astonishment. She caressed the leather bag which held the Piaget he had been longing for since they got married but could not bring himself to buy. It was incredibly expensive and she had faithfully saved to buy it for her husband. Suffused with joy at the thought of the double pleasure he was going to get, beaming no end, she thought it was going to be a long, long night.
The taxi swung into the close after a barrage of inane questions by the security people at the gate that irked Charisa no end. She paid off the taxi driver with a huge tip to boot and bounded up the stairs. Opening the door, she was somewhat crestfallen at the sight that greeted her. Reggie was in on the secret. Her balloon of surprise had been punctured. Flowers filled the living room, some forming a red runway on the floor. Kenny G floated from the speakers, condensed and rained on the room a deluge of sweet, jazzy music. Dozens of candle light swirled and danced to the music. The scene before her was so delightful she froze but a bit of her was still disenchanted that her surprise had experienced an anticlimax. Paradoxical rivers of delight and disappointment flooded her being at the same time. However the thrill of seeing Reggie again triumphed over all. She dropped her luggage, ran up the stairs and opened the door…..
….The “O” of his rapturous gratification turned into one of dismay and horror as she stepped into the room and multiple images of her were reflected from the numerous mirrors therein. This was their sanctuary, the altar of their love, their Eden, but he had desecrated it, allowed a serpent in. He threw off the lady and made to rise but the look of his wife paralysed him. He held his hands in his hands and his eyes became shotguns furiously and freely pumping out tears that threatened to drown him. The intruder hurriedly grabbed whatever she could of her belongings and ran past the heartbroken woman.
Charisa stood for aeons of crippled time, a frozen image of agony and disbelief. Broken, she finally made her way out of the room ponderously. The betrayal was a hot knife in the buttery mess that was her heart, his infidelity, a heavy iron that had smashed her pinions and crushed her into the ashes of pain. She was stunned and stung, almost choking on the anaphylactic reaction of his treachery. The past reeled before her, a hypnotizing tragic movie of their love.
They had met at her first job after her service year which she finished at a pretty young age. He had been a cleaner and nothing to write home about so much so he was nicknamed “the chimney sweep” by her colleagues. His spoken English was an abominable mishmash of tenses but she had been intrigued by him, the way he worked conscientiously and his general politeness. He had been shy and reserved but she had managed to draw him out and slowly he came out of his shell with the caution of a snail watching out for predators. He was an orphan and working to save enough money to retake a couple of WAEC AND NECO papers he had failed. She took him through some of the subjects after office hours and even helped with the fees. He had passed in flying colours and retained the job to save for his JAMB which he also passed. He ultimately got admission to study Psychology in one of the Federal universities. Charisa had taken him out to a bistro to celebrate. They had a nice time and on the way home, he had given her a poem which made her heart skip like an excited lamb, though it was cheesy she liked it….
Your love is sweeter than honey
I could never have been able to buy it with money
Win it in a champion’s tourney
Nor found it on a treasure journey
Inside it I am as safe as a Coney
This is true, believe me, I am not being phoney.
He had gone to school and they had maintained their friendship. She had also played a considerable role in helping with his fees. Afterwards, he had gotten a job in a bank. By now, he had become quite the suave gentleman with rippling muscles which came from endless workout hours. One evening, it was a valentine’s day; they had gone for dinner in a swanky restaurant. Decked in a Polo shirt and chinos with brown loafers, she could not believe he was the same scruffy cleaner she had known way back. On their way back, they bought some ice cream to eat. Their walk led them into the park of the estate where she lived. It was one of those nights that stars flagrantly serenaded the moon and the moon darted in and out of dark clouds in coquettish demureness. Birds flirted shamelessly in trees, singing lustfully to distracted soul mates. Russet and gold leaves kissed emerald ones as they fell from branches forming a variegated carpet on the floor. They sat on a bench and “More than I” by Commission filled the air. He had hidden a speaker in the shrubs behind the bench earlier on in the day. Out of his bag, he brought out a rare edition of “The Far Pavilions,” her best book on the triumph of love. Her eyes glinted with unshed tears of joy and the thank you she uttered came out in a whisper. As she opened it, an elaborately wrought gold band sparkled delightfully and before he went down on a knee, she hugged him and shouted…YES!!! Aggravated flaps of numerous birds taking flight celebrated her affirmation.
Their wedding was quite memorable and they had received a sizable amount of money from her father to buy them a brand new car of their choice but she had given the money to him to do his masters in the U.K.
Like a storm her tears fell, in the similitude of rapids her emotions churned. The hurt was raw, feral, visceral!
…..He wept himself dry yet angst was a relentless tropical storm in his soul. He got up from the bed sluggish and exhausted. He did not have the heart to go after his wife. He knew he had done a terrible, terrible thing! The lady in his office had come strongly at him especially when she got to know his wife was not in town. She had been a close confidant and he had grown quite fond of her. Where he really bungled it was when he allowed her to come and make some delicacies he had been missing. She had really gotten under his skin and with time she was not cooking for his stomach alone but was providing delicacies that were the specialty of nymphs in the temples of Pan. He became hooked, totally intoxicated by her. She became the sun around which his life revolved; a buck, he drank from the springs she had to offer incessantly and just managed to keep up a perfunctory flow with his wife.
He could not forgive himself and could not even bother to go looking for her. There was no point seeking for forgiveness, the cord had been destroyed.
His life plummeted from there. He started looking for the genies that alcoholic bottle offered to see if they could grant him a bit of the joy that his soul desperately wished for. The nectar of a woman had cost him his beloved and he subsequently became a butterfly sucking the nectar of any flower that showed up in his space. Ultimately, he lost his job, his accommodation. He lost all!
It had been a long day at work and she came in pretty late. As usual, the drive from the Island to Magodo had been exhaustingly long. She took some fruit salad topped with yoghurt and as she was burrowing in comfortably into her sheets to continue with the series she had been following. Fortunately the next day was Saturday. It was 1.30am when her phone rang and she sighed. She wished she had switched off the phone but on picking it, it turned out to be Mercy, her sister. She chattered on about the happenings of the day and work.
“By the way, guess who I saw today?” Mercy chattered on.
“Who?” inquired Charisa.
“You will not believe it!” Mercy said with a flourish and went on to tell her about the events that unfolded when she passed an alternate route to beat traffic jam a few hours earlier.
The name was like a punch in Charisa’s guts. Like wine it flooded her being with sweetness. She held her head and whispered the name to herself over and over again.
Minutes later, she picked her keys and rushed out of the house. For someone who never breaks laws, she drove with uncommon speed that night breaking speed limits. Using her Google map she drove towards Mushin, an area she had never been before but had heard a lot of unsavoury things about. She finally got to the destination which was a semi lit clubhouse with a signboard screaming “SHAYO” at the world. It was dangerous to be in that dodgy neighbourhood at that time of the night; however she was resolute in her purpose. She had been on this fruitless quest since she came back from her masters and there was suddenly a light in the tunnel. Approaching the door, she saw a shadowy form sprawling near the door. The form stirred as she got closer….
It was the perfume that hit him first with the battering ram of nostalgia. The fragrance shifted the sands of time and unearthed memories buried under layers of the haze of alcohol. Then he saw her glowing in a white T-shirt and felt haunted. Now he was sure he had taken a bit too much. Why was he being tormented by her apparition after all these years?
She shouted his name and her voice poured the water of reality on him sobering him up some more. She went down and hugged him. He felt so ashamed that she stooped low to embrace him the way he was without any inhibition. There was vomit and filth all over him. He had been flung out of the club because he did not have any dime on him to pay for more drinks. It was the ensuing fight that Mercy had witnessed and relayed to her sister. He could not even hug himself in the form he was in. The bile of revulsion at who and what he had become made him retch all over again. This time on her pristine white top, yet she held him like an anchor, not letting go, not feeling the disgust he felt. He tried to use physical force but he could not dislodge this barnacle of affection on the hull of his life. As if that was not enough, she kissed him real hard on his unwashed mouth, their tears forming a confluence as they ran down. Furthermore, she clasped something cold on his wrist and it was the coveted Piaget. But the most incredible thing was when she said…I LOVE YOU…….
Charisa (GRACE) never lets go of us, no matter what we do or where we have been. The love of God pursues relentless, inexorably. It sticks to us like an eternal adhesive and refuses to let go even though we are not deserving of it. The love of God seems crazy, stupid so much Hillsong titled a song “Here Now (Madness)!” Another song by Hillsong is “Scandal of Grace.” Amazing Grace saved wretches like us!
It does not make sense but God’s love is unfathomable but in it is life! GOD IS LOVE!!!
©2017 Ekpo Ezechinyere
IMAGES FROM GOOGLE