The Journey

He’s holding her gaze now, staring into the eyes of the woman he loves. He is oblivious to the goings and comings and all the activity around them that is characteristic of airports. She stares back, albeit with red rimmed eyes. She’s been crying. He tries to hold on to his own composure tenaciously while acknowledging the lump that is gradually snowballing in his throat. He clears his throat once, twice;
“I’m glad I met you,” he says, this time she does nothing to hold back the tears. A fat, plump droplet slides down her right cheek in slow mo. She simply nods.
He continues, “if there’s anything I achieved in this town, I think its getting you to be my girlfriend, every other thing pales insignificantly compared to you and what you mean to me. I love you, my precious.” Then comes the deluge, the tears keep flowing and flowing and would not stop. He tries to reach for her but she side-steps him. He feels cold, bereft. He wonders why she is being so “un-understanding”.
When he received the letter informing him that he had been promoted and transferred to Oman by his company, one of the leading oil servicing firms in the country, he was elated. With the excitement came the bittersweet task of breaking the news to his girlfriend of three years, the love of his life and his wife to be. It is Tuesday, he has two days to gather his thoughts until Friday when he would see her again. She usually spent her weekends at his place. Friday comes and goes and so does Saturday, in a haze of activity. Still he has not been able to muster the courage to tell her. By Sunday night he is on tenterhooks. They are in bed now, cuddled together, her back towards him like spoons on a rack. She loves spooning. They love spooning
“Precious, I need to tell you something”,
“I’m listening”,
“I’ve been promoted.” Best tell her the good news first. She turns over in his arms and embraces him with a smile on her face.
“I’m so happy for you, Precious. For us”
Now she’s facing him, eye ball to eye ball, chin to chin. He looks up at the ceiling willing help to somehow descend from up there. She senses there’s more to tell so she pulls back with a question in her eyes. That’s his cue to go on…
“I’ve also been transferred to Oman” he hears himself say. He watches her for a reaction. None. No joy. No sadness. Nothing.
“Of course you should go!”, she bursts out rather too brightly. He releases the breath he’s been unconsciously holding, muttering a prayer of thanks. That went well, he thinks.
“Really?” He asks,
“Yes, you should. The wedding can wait”
He’s trying to read her emotions but she isn’t giving anything away. All he knows is that she is giving him her best customer service voice. Which sucks because he isn’t her client. He is her man, her Precious.
He stretches his arm to draw her close, she stiffens for what seems like a fraction of a second before allowing herself to be drawn into his embrace again. By tomorrow she’ll be fine. She just needs some time to digest the news he thinks. He turns over and goes to sleep.
The following weekend she arrives at his place as usual. He senses that something has changed but he doesn’t know what. He can’t reach her, he can’t touch her. To where she has gone, he can’t say. He feels like he’s walking on egg shells. Monday morning dawns fair and bright. His last week in Lagos. Things may just turn out right, he can feel it in his bones. Even the weather agrees.
They’re getting ready for work. He’s standing in front of the dressing mirror, knotting his tie. He sees her reflection in the mirror, she embraces him from behind.
“Please don’t go” she whispers in his ear. He swivels around abruptly in mild consternation
She goes down on her knees
“Please don’t go” she begs tearfully
Na wa. What is a man to do with a kneeling, crying woman? God help him.
She’s clutching his knees now, wetting his pant legs with her tears.
“Not now, Precious”, we’re running late
“Fuck work”, she spits. He’s not surprised. She’s never had a problem mouthing profanities. Something he has not been able to stop her from doing.
He tries to shake her off. She wouldn’t budge. He tries to lift her up, she wouldn’t co-operate. She’s wailing loudly now. Lord help him. He tries again,
“Precious, we can talk about this when we get back from work, you can even spend the week here since I’ll be travelling on saturday”, he says, trying unsuccessfully to placate his mourning Princess
“So this is how you want to leave me?”, “After all we promised each other?” Her voice rises steadily with each question. He is certain the neighbours can hear her now.
“Not now, Precious”, he repeats
“Then when?” She barks
“You want to abandon our wedding and go to Oman and you expect me to be happy?”
“Tell them you don’t want the transfer” she orders
“Babes, you know I can’t do that”
“You have to tell them” she insists
Lord, what is it with women sef? He hears her saying, “if you don’t tell them then you don’t love me. Then you don’t need me. And you don’t deserve me.”
She stands up, arranges her now rumpled clothing in a way only she can, looks him straight with eyes brimming with tears and asks,
“you will tell them, won’t you?”
“Precious I can’t”
“You can’t or you won’t?”
He falls silent
She turns and walks out of the room. He hears the front door slamming shut and the car door opens minutes after. She has gone to wait for him in the car. He picks his wristwatch up from the dresser, its 7:30am. They are late for work. Damn! He catches himself swearing. They drive to work in silence
She spends the week with him but she’s gone farther down into that unreachable, untouchable place. He can see that she is merely going through the motions. On Friday night they have a quiet dinner at home, he’s leaving the next day, his flight is at 6:45pm. They get into bed, she turns off the bedside lamp and faces the wall. He wants to hold her close, make love to her on this his last night in Lagos. He wonders if she would let him. He snakes his arm around her waist, pulling her close. It seems he is forever trying to pull her close. She offers no resistance. He let’s his hand trail down to where the hem of her blood-red, silk nightie brushes her thighs. He slides his hand under the material and her warm, soft skin welcomes his touch. She lets out a tiny moan which he wouldn’t have heard it if he wasn’t listening hard. Emboldened he allows his hand to move upwards cupping the soft mounds of flesh that are her breasts. She turns to face him now and is kissing him with feverish urgency, he returns the kiss with equal longing. He can taste salt on her lips. She must have been crying in the dark. He brushes the back of his palm across her cheek. Like two lost souls, they find each other in the dark. He enters her now and is amazed by her velvety softness. Yes its been three years but each time with her feels new. He pauses within, trying to hold on to the last shreds of his self control when she lifts her hips impatiently. She sends him careening on the edge of sanity. She’s clutching him like she’s holding on to him for dear life. Her hips are gyrating spasmodically now, he follows suit almost immediately. They lie spent in each other’s arms. He drifts off into a dreamless sleep.
They are standing at the boarding gate now. He reaches for her again. She shakes her head from side to side vigorously, sending tear droplets splashing from each side of her face. His flight has been announced.
“Precious, I don’t want to leave you like this”
She steps back
He is told that the gate will soon be shut.
“You should go”, she says finally
“Siro, I’ll be fine” she adds
Of course he doesn’t believe her but he turns and walks towards the boarding gate. He takes one last look at her, she stares back with swords in her eyes. He sighs and continues on.



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