I am numb. I do not feel pain and that’s the only reason I’m thriving. This has nothing to do with physical pain; I have a really low threshold for that one. After my fourth child, I decided I could not deal with labour pains again. Give me some credit. If three are a crowd, then I certainly pushed boundaries with four. I am not here to talk about my kids so let’s move on.
Last week Tuesday was my 15th wedding anniversary. I expected nothing to happen and I wasn’t disappointed. When you expect too much for so long and get absolutely nothing every time, you learn to look away when the ice cream van passes through. My husband isn’t a bad man. I wish I could say he was so that there’ll be justification for my feelings. He’s just a bad husband and a caring but absent father.
We met as though we were from a story book; actually, he bumped into me on my way from the library. Cliché? I know. Everything else followed just like you would expect it to. He was charming, caring, supportive and most of all, not too busy. Sometimes, I like to think that he still has all these things somewhere inside of him but I probably do not get to see them because he’s a busy man. He is busy being the CFO of one of the biggest retail chains in Africa and I wouldn’t be the insensitive wife standing in the way of that. Now would I?
At first, it was hurtful not seeing your husband in months, getting five phone calls in a week, getting flowers and chocolates on birthdays and holidays from the same delivery boy who begins to look at you with pity after some time. At first, I would cry from being alone, sex starved and invisible. It was horrible. To be fair, he grins at me whenever our eyes meet, and he takes me to his corporate dinners and plants wet pecks on my cheeks each time he introduces me to his elite friends. Oh and whenever I wear my afro in a huge puff, he always says “Nana, I like this hairstyle on you”. I haven’t heard “you’re beautiful” or “I love you” in ages so each time I want to hear a compliment, I quickly pack my afro into a huge bun. Weird? I know.
I love fancy food. It’s one of the things that help me stay numb. The pleasure my taste buds experience when enveloped by strange, exotic flavors zaps through my body and fills the spaces that would otherwise have been filled with the pain. Bliss is the only word for it. My relationship with haute cuisine is the closest thing I have to a marriage. I used to work out a lot and take yoga classes so that I’d be fit and sexy and perhaps, visible and alluring. But again, I put that to rest. The other day, my last baby walked up to me and said “Mum, I think you should start going to the gym again. You might get fat and I don’t want that. My teacher says you are a hot mum and I want you to continue being hot”. I just stared at her with my jaws hanging wide. The next day, I called the gym to reactivate my membership card. I haven’t dropped by since then though.
So on this day, I sat at one of my favorite restaurants in V.I. It is on the 6th floor of an 8-storey building and the view was amazing. I love to look at Lagos from above and the waters are always a plus. I was waiting for my order to arrive: bacon-wrapped pork loin with peach and blue cheese stuffing. It took over an hour to prepare so I came prepared with a novel written by a veteran Kenyan novelist. Let’s not even start with my love for African literature. I had chosen a sit by the window and moved the vase of fresh flowers to the window sill. I loved how I caught a whiff of their scent each time the wind blew in. I caught my reflection in the glass hanging opposite me and was just thinking about how my kinky fro wouldn’t allow the wind to make my hair fly with it. I was just about to smile wryly to myself and turn back to my book when a waiter dropped a bottle and flute on my table. I looked up at him and he just smiled and handed me a small white piece of paper. He nodded and walked away. I looked at the bottle and it was a Krug NV Grand Cuveé. That’s a $200 bottle of champagne. I had only had it once and it was heaven. I quickly opened the note and it read “you look sad. People usually look happier drinking good wine. J.” I looked down at my left hand. I was wearing my wedding ring and trust me when I say it’s far from unnoticeable. I wondered who would have sent me the bottle of wine. And did I really look that sad? I guess there’s more damage than I thought. I scanned through the room for anyone that looked like they just sent a strange woman an expensive bottle of wine. I am not sure there’s a way the person was supposed to look but I couldn’t pin down anyone. There were just a few people in the restaurant. As expected not everyone would be able to afford the internationally-acclaimed chefs that run the place, or the marbled tables and Italian leather chairs and sofas or even the expensive bottles of wine like the one standing right before me. I looked around more carefully this time. There were three couples and I doubt it came from any of the three men. There was a middle-aged woman around the corner and I am sure women don’t just buy each other expensive French wine on normal days in Lagos. Just as I was about to turn away, I noticed the group of cubicles towards the bar. They were half-hidden by pots of plants and china sculptures standing as though they were protecting that territory. This was my 7th time in the restaurant and I had never seen people sitting in the cubicles. I guess I just assumed subconsciously that there’d be no one there. But there was in fact, a man sitting there smugly raising was I supposed would be chicken or turkey dipped in some fancy sauce, to his mouth. I am almost sure I saw him smile at me before he turned back to his meal. It had to be him. I
I turned back to my book but as you must have guessed, no words from this Kenyan jumped at me. I was surprisingly flustered. Usually, I pushed advances away with a kind of polite coldness that I could bet, felt worse to the receivers than the normal front they’d have expected the average woman would put up. But here I was thinking that this stranger was sweet. Nobody had done this kind of thing for me in years. The only person who once did was currently in South Africa and hadn’t reached me in three days. Typically, I’d call the waiter and ask him to send the bottle back to the person who had sent it but instead I opened the bottle and poured myself some of that golden goodness. It was heaven in a bottle. I leaned back and opened by book. This time, the words flew at me crystal clear. If this John Doe didn’t want to introduce himself and thought I should look happy drinking excellent French wine, I guessed I could oblige him. Just then, my meal arrived and I dug in. I registered every sensation; the tenderness and moistness of the pork and the velvety feel of cheese sliding along me tongue. This was definitely worth every thousand I paid. Ed Sheeran’s voice flowed from the speakers and I grinned. It was the song “thinking out loud” and I think I just raced to the moon and back. Here, they usually played fancy genre of music that I personally cannot relate to but think are fit for the class of food and people they serve. I began to sing along in low tones in between mouthfuls. Gosh! I was in the mood. Everything was perfect in those moments and I held on.
Hey there Negriville! I hope you had a good read. The second part will be published tomorrow or the day after. Kindly re-share the post, drop your comments and Tell us your own story if you think its related. Don't forget that you can comment as anonymous if you think the info you want to release is sensitive.
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The change we need lies in our mouths and inks.