The Uncompromising Love Story.

You saw him in a dream. You also saw him in the book store. You see him everywhere because to you love is an unsteady toddler. You do not think much of the nights the same way you do not think of the dreams either. You believe you can´t dream of dreaming because then you have already dreamt. You consider the night and the dreams a mirage, conspiring next door neighbours. 

 

So you decide to sleep without music because love only dreams with a melody. You decide to mute your heartbeat, just so you can feel the blood beating again . You stop watching the news before you sleep because nothing new about love comes in plural. 

 

But on the day he called your name, you thank the night for leaving the door wide open for the day. You camouflage into an instrument so that his voice would be music enough for this night´s melody. You smile, but just enough to still contain your inhibition. 

 

¨I like your shirt but I prefer Professor X to Doctor Strange¨

 

You agree. You do not like marvel movies but you still agree. 

 

¨I liked your answer yesterday. But do you really think Fatima was the merchant´s daughter from the village?¨

 

You remain silent but only in words. Your mind has already written pages into your love story, your tongue has gathered the auditorium of your body parts to inform them that they should not mess up this upcoming relationship, that your heart should not fall until your legs have long walked passed the concrete. Your fists have signed up to be the custodian of the daily night poems, your brain decides to assist but your stomach summersaults into rejection, so you moan.

 

¨Are you okay?¨

 

¨Oh yes, yes¨ You tell him ¨I am glad your listened to the answer. I really enjoyed everything about The Alchemist¨

 

¨It sure looked like it. The way you spoke, I thought you were the wind that followed Santiago through his conversation with the sun and the soul of the world¨

 

Wind. Soul of the world. You decide the fan in your room this night would be on its fastest spin and you would only listen to soul music while thinking of this moment, this way you would be able to relive the moment. 

 

¨Oh yes, yes¨ You say again because you are too shy. You decide repeating words would not lead to any mistake or betrayal of words.  

 

¨I need to go now¨ You tell him because the gaze in his eyes has somehow adjourned the meeting with your body parts. You turn and walk away, slowly, but fast enough for your legs to leave the concrete. You leave the building and decide to let your heart fall in love, again.

 

***

Her smile. You promise yourself you saw her smile. You knew a conversation about a book would get her attention. Attention; the way your body stood while she was listening to you. You knew she listened, but she repeated a response like you did not matter. She left you standing there like some spoilt left overs. So you convince your heart that your courage must not become rage, must not be become interpretations she did not say herself. But you promise yourself that you saw her smile. 

***

You get home but forget all about the music because love does that to you. You pick up The Alchemist and read Fatima´s words again ¨One is loved because one is loved, no reason is needed for loving¨. You decide to not try and understand what you feel because your feeling is an endless question. You know you don’t believe in Urim or Thummim but you believe in the yes and no, in the idea that this might just be your good omen, your very own black stone. You begin to hear the echoes in your soul like Sunday school clapping. 

 

You turn your head on your bed and read the quote beside your lamp ´love when you´re ready not when you´re lonely´ so you turn your head away. You want to believe in maktub the same way Santiago does but you don’t believe in destiny. You believe in love but not destiny because to you believing in destiny is a verifying source of self-pity, a reason to tell yourself ¨it was supposed to happen that way anyways¨ when it was not. You want to let your heart run free as a child, even on the concrete, but you´re scared the broom is too far away. 

 

You remember your last love. The way his smiles quickly lost its meaning. How his touch was like expired milk forced through your body - nauseating. You remember the fight, how he jokingly said ¨but you are not even that beautiful¨ and released a laugh. You remember how it was not funny, how you fought yourself over your makeup. You remember his apologising, how he knelt down and said he was sorry. You remember not forgiving him because even the moon hates the sun for the eclipse. You remember painting because you thought the brush could take the feeling away. You remember breaking up because the stitches had a better love story. 

 

You remember telling yourself you would not do it again but you know stitches aren’t permanent.  There was something about his demeanour, his confidence that made you repeat your words. He spoke like one who had practiced in a mirror, you feel elated at the thought. But you know he is always confident so you humble yourself to sleep, without the music. 


 

It is a general course class and you spot him from afar, he is seated alone so you decide to join him.

 

¨Ah ah Umi¨ he calls out ¨What´s going on?¨

 

¨I´m good. About yesterday, I thought we could finish off the conversation before the lecture starts.¨

 

¨Sure, Umi¨ he calls your name again and you listen to the softness in the way he pronounces mi as if to say mine. You smile because you would agree to be his.

 

¨I do not necessarily think Fatima is related to Santiago´s first crush but I think there would never have been a deeper connection with Fatima if he never actually felt what he did for the merchant girl´ daughter.¨

 

¨Wow. What if Santiago discovers the merchant´ daughter´s name was Umi?¨

 

You pause, because you do not know how to respond to words that was only meant for your dreams. You embrace your inhibition, touch your hair underneath your hijab even though you are on lowcut. You lose contact with his eyes and at that moment you realize the broom is far away and your heart has fallen in love again. But you do not feel the concrete, you do not see an exit sign either so you make sure your heart stays down, having flawless conversations with the floor. What do you do with the kind of love that feels like a sewing machine other than to wear it? You do not feel butterflies kicking your stomach because Abuja is too hot for butterflies but you feel like a queen on a nuptial flight ready to create enough honey to keep this feeling sweetened together.

 

¨Then you would have to ask Umi if she is ready to have never known a boy somewhere who loved her so much that he couldn’t muster the courage to tell her because he only spoke about books.¨ you say. 

 

You both smile, the kind that knew none of you were going to attend lectures today. So you both step out, like newlyweds smiling at everybody in the hall, love does that to you. He attempts to hold your hand but you see that he stops halfway, you think ¨idiot, hold my hand¨ but he doesn’t hear your thoughts. You both walk to the café and for the first time you realize hibiscuses on the sidewalks, love does that to you. You didn’t realize Baze University was this big until he touched your cheeks slightly, lightly but with the tenderness to make your eyes glow like Christmas lights even though it was only April. You squeezed your hand into his because a feeling this deep required no permission. You are both smiling and speaking and doing the things you would both normally not do. You enter the café and order two doughnuts the shape of hearts. You think how funny it is how the whole world looks like a heart when you have just fallen in love. Even the ceiling fan looks like cupid´s arrows. But you’ve never met cupid even though he sounds like his name. 

 

¨Endo¨ you say ¨what are we doing? I mean this is Nigeria, your parents and mine would be angry if they realized a Hausa girl and an Igbo boy have fallen in love. ¨ silence.

 

¨Or have we fallen in love?¨ you ask yourself but loud enough for Endo to  hear.

 

¨Love Umi, is like clay. Have you ever smelt clay before? It is the smell of creation¨ he replies with his deep tone, floating like nuptial ceremonies between your ears. ¨Pretence is the kind of jacket that would never suit us, so we should start by telling our  parents¨

 

Mad boy, you think. Silly mad Igbo boy. He wants to come into your house and tell your father he likes you when you are only in the second year of University. You start laughing, making your hijab loose slightly. 

 

¨You know I live in Kaduna right?¨ you ask him.

 

¨More adventure then¨ he replies

 

Mad boy, you think again. Silly mad ignorant Igbo boy, this is what love does to you. 

 

¨So let´s assume we are going. When, how and with what? You know the train is fast but a lecturer might see us leaving the campus together. And you know my dad has people watching me. ¨ you tell him.

 

¨This night, with my car in Ceddi Plaza¨

 

You smile, thinking how sweet and innocent he sounds. You want to say no because you know the plan is stupid but you say ¨Ok, meet you then¨, this is what love does to you. You rise up to leave the café but he kisses you, gently, your lips touching but feeling things the body has never touched. You close your eyes because you remember Tonto Dikeh doing the same. He cleans your lips, fits your hijab and walks you out. 

 

*** 

You want to go crazy. You kissed her. Little old you. You are even going to meet her parents. You start jumping and dancing – shaku to the right, shaku to the left, oya zanku and slide – your body feeling the movements. You jump; for joy, one you have never felt before. You loved her hijab because it made her beauty innocent. You shout and scream but no one can hear you because you’re all alone in your small apartment. You open your wardrobe and think of what to wear. The babariga would make you look serious in front of her father but you feel the suit. No, you decide, so that the father would not think you are one Governor´s son. You decide to pick the red kaftan because red is a day of love. 

 

You decide to go to Ceddi plaza an hour before but you find out she was there aswell, love does that to you. You decide to buy ice cream, just one, for the both of you so that even the weather knows yours is a committed kind of love – an I would let you have my phone password kind of love, an I would ensure your celibacy is the last layer I remove after you have said yes kind of love. It was the kind of love Nigeria would never allow and you loved the fact that you fell for it, love does that to you.



 

So you are both in the car, midway through the journey by road. The roads look empty and love looks like the moon curved above, curved like her lips when you call her name. You hold her hands, tightly, as if it was the last time you would ever hold it. 

 

You are nearly in Kaduna, about half an hour left but you see movements on the road, you think they are animals but you notice human beings. You reduce your speed because you see the man limping towards your car, you wind down your window and offer to help. The man says something and you see four more men, you panic but still hold Umi´s hand tight, love does that to you. You see the gun now, at point blank range but you still shield Umi from the gun, love does that to you. You hear the passenger door being opened and a man pulls Umi out forcefully. She screams and you immediately fight back, they are four -but in love you fight like they are just one - love does that to you. 

 

You hear a crack then the shot, you look at Umi but she is not hurt, you look at your chest and discover your heart beating slower. You are wearing red kaftan and today is a day of blood - of blood and love – love does that to you. You smile and hear Umi shouting, tears falling down her cheeks like virgin waterfalls. You hold her hand, tightly as if it was the last time you would ever hold it. You bring her close and say,

 

¨Umi, I…¨ .

-------------------------
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