I saw you today, Remi. There’s a stall that stands between the fisherman’s spot and the Oak tree that is the center of the village market. And there you were, looking over the merchandise that were put on display – cloth woven with gold embroidery, beaded footwear, native prints and trinkets of the finest sort. The owner of the stall chants your native prince eulogies and you wave enthusiastically, hooting in response. That was when I saw you. You weren’t alone. A tall, slender, woman with hair the color of sun-baked mud stood with you, her hand draped across your shoulder. You hold her waist possessively and I wonder who she is.
I knew it was a matter of time before we ran into each other. Lagbule is a fairly small village after all and its orbits are modest. You’ve been back three weeks ( so I hear ) and everyday, I’ve been sweeping the corners of my vision, hoping and not hoping, as the warm air turns dry, that it might be you – the young man in a ill-fitting pair of brown trousers who stopped at my mother’s stall to buy vegetables; or the gentleman in a charcoal coat and dark glasses, asking directions from my Father one windy evening.
I didn’t expect to see you here, the same tall, dark and rangy lad who carted my heart away. I didn’t know your hair still hung on your head like a large ball of wool, the colour of thick molasses. I didn’t know you still had that cheeky, cocky grin, the one that showed your gap teeth and dimples so large it seemed two holes had been punctured into the hollow of your cheeks…the smile that siezed my breath every time you flashed it at me.
I certainly didn’t expect to see a honey-coloured beauty with you. I study the serene smile on your lips as she tucks her fingers into the crook of your arm and try to fight the bittersweet pangs of familiar affection that tear at my heart.
Remi my love, it’s been three years. Three full years. Months of pining for your love have been spent wondering how you’ve been, how you’ve fared in the city, what adventures have carried you away.
I balance the water pot perched on my head, and walk towards you as if in a trance, ignoring the sizzling sun, the muffled curses of the market people I bump into and most of all, the searing pain in my heart. My walk towards you seems like a thousand steps…my feet feel laden with metal.
I hate to turn out of the blue uninvited but my Cousin said you’re back and…I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it. I’d hoped you’d see my face and you’d be reminded that for me, it isn’t over.
You look back…our eyes meet.
Your gaze flick over me now and you stare at the young woman I’ve become. Though your face betrays no emotions, I see the twist in your lips and the gleam in your eyes that speak of desire…lust…or maybe disdain.
She glances at me – a glance that stays a few moments too long – then whispers something in your ear. You throw your head back and laugh. That strong, throaty laugh transports me back to a time…a time of our lives. A time when we were raised in a summer-haze of transfixed time and sugar blooms…a time when life was simpler and perfect because we found each other.
A time when in my dreams, Honey dew fell on my hair and you sniffed it, wrapping thick luscious locks around your face until you were intoxicated. Then you drew my head back and devoured me, taking my lips with an hunger so ferocious, it left me gasping for breath.
A time when, on mid-summer mornings, with the sky painted the rosy hue of dawn, you hid in the bushes and watched me bath. You left flower petals on the stream bank so I’d know you were there.
A time when I spent nights locked in your embrace, moving my hips to the thum-thum rhythmic beating of the village drums, grinding my body to your torso in unison with the primal sounds of the ancient instruments.
Then you’d throw me down to the dust – coated grassy ground…Under your hands, my skin flowed like water…my hips rippled as it became one with you in a primal dance that is as old as time itself. Our hearts would become two halves of a pear beating in sync. I’d shudder, surrendering to the skillfulness of your hands as you administered sinful, addictive pleasure to my body. And when we finally got to the heights all lovers chase, your grunts and groans would become lost in my own moans of ecstasy.
Those memories have been my solace during long, painful nights of pining, of desperately seeking your touch. I have passionately waited for you, my long lost lover. Every morning and evening I fix my gaze on Àpàtà forest – the land that marks the borders of our village. A dusty horizon that might one day bear the tale of your arrival.
But here you are with your honey-coloured beauty, staring vaguely at me. She’s beautiful, you know. Tall and slender, long-haired and pretty faced. She has the polish and sophistication of the city and is not to be compared to the dark, voluptuous, thick-bodied village Belle that I am. She will make a more suitable wife to the educated son of the village’s highest Chief than I ever would.
So here’s my goodbye Remi…
I won’t wish you the best because I don’t think you have it…neither will I wish you love, wealth and happiness without me. I want you to remember the time of our lives and hope that those memories will sear a never-ending ache in your heart.
I want you to remember river petals, rose coloured dawns and the dew that dripped like honey. You still hold my heart hostage and I’m your happy prisoner. I love you and forever will.