I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
The taste of Indian hemp lingered on my lips. The air smelled of smoke and dry gin mingled with the dust and staleness. I listened as his breathing went from heavy to normal. I adjusted the mound of old clothes which served as my pillow. I took in the gaping hole in the ceiling, the maps drawn by years of unrepaired leakage and the rusting blades of the ceiling fan. I sighed. At that moment, I was feeling the guilt of being content. I didn’t deserve to be contented. The bed post had seen better days, and I watched bed bugs dart out of the holes in the wood into the foam of the mattress. I watched him kill a couple of them covertly and I couldn’t hide my smile. He avoided my eyes. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t mind, but I didn’t.
Between the threadbare bed sheet and the odd smelling wrapper, we both lay. We were a pair of minds in two different bodies with just one connection. Chance? Love? Circumstance? Will? Destiny? I didn’t think I wanted to know. I turned to the wall and let the wrapper fall. It was hot and humid. A tiny window with a net turned black by years of dust was the only source of ventilation in the room. For a moment, I pretended like I had not been aroused by the smell of his sweat and the coarse texture of his black lips. For a moment I pretended like this was some movie, where after sex, the lovers can tell what the other is thinking. I put out my finger and tried to write on the wall. I failed, for I was human. I cleared my throat.
‘My Dad is going to contest for a seat in the State House of Assembly. He will need you and your boys. You will have to come to my house more often.’
He grunted his response.
‘No problem. Se ile ni o ma wa ni? O gbe ninu hostel mo ni?’ (Would you be at home? Aren’t you living in the hostel?)
‘Rara o. This session, I will be at home. You must not act like you know me. Tell your boys too. I don’t want that man’s trouble. If you are wise, you will stay out of it.’
‘O ga o! Se awon nikan ni won bi omo ni. Fi iyen le jo.’ (Really! Is he the only person to ever become a father? Forget it) He snarled as he flung his arms animatedly while glancing around the room. He left his mouth slightly open at each pause. ‘Ehnn… Se mi o wa da to lati fe e ni? Ki lo fi mi pe gan na? O ro boya ode ni mi abi? Iwo o se so fun baba e pe o n do omo ta? O ti so ti e. Ma wa so temi. Awon boys mi ati everybody ni won pe mo n fe e ni aba wa ni bi. Mi o de gbe pamo pe iyawo mi lo je. Maami gan mo pe o ma n sun si bi nigba mi. Ti o ba je pe oju n ti e gege bi Univeristy big girl ti o fe ki awon eyan mo pe Omo ta ni boy friend e, ma de ibi mo’. (Am I not good enough to date you? What do you even take me for? Do you think I am a fool? Why can’t you tell your father you are screwing a street urchin? You have made your point. Now listen to me. My boys and everybody here know that you are my girlfriend. I don’t hide it. My mum even knows that you sleep over here sometimes. If you are embarrassed, as a University big girl, to introduce an illiterate street urchin as your boyfriend, then we are done)
His hand shook as he angrily tore a sachet of dry gin. That was quite an emotional speech, for a calm and taciturn person like him. His angry eyes bore into my flesh and I pulled on the wrapper like it was a shield. I didn’t have any rebuttals. Yes, being with him was bliss. I was content with what I felt for him. But no, I didn’t think it would survive the scrutiny of the world if I went public. My family would be disappointed and my friends would mock me. I would be a fool who turned down the advances of some guy with prospects for rolling in the hay with an ‘area boy’ who apparently had no future ambition.
I called him as he was leaving the one – room apartment he shared with his mum and two other siblings. ‘Yinka! Wait, please’. He never looked back. We were done.
P.S I apologise for murdering yoruba language here. I promise to get better. My posts for this month will be centred around the street life, area boys, hustling and a bit of romance. (okay, maybe a lot more than a bit). Enjoy!!!