I watch the red sun set slowly sink into oblivion ahead of me. The trees above the sidewalk we thread on swish, slight but violent as the female with her arms coiled into mine melts into another soft laugh. I can barely recall the joke I told, but I give a small chuckle anyway. I have seen her face from when she trembles with pure fear, to when she gasps quivering bodied and toes curled. She is most beautiful when she laughs. I have always known this. I watch her flushed face with fascination till she comes down from the euphoria of her laugh.
“All this talk about global warming and you have a smile even the sun will fail to match, ” I say, avoiding her gaze. She stops abruptly to stare at me and erupts into another laugh.
“You’re so outrageous! That is the corniest thing I have heard in my life” she says still smiling. She attempts to softly nudge me with her free hand. I catch her fist mid-air and maneuver her in front of me. I gently support the base of her neck and pull her into a kiss. We start slowly. Her arms find the back of my neck and I relax, allowing her pace the embrace. Every kiss with her always feels like a first kiss. Sultry wit a precision that seems almost rehearsed. Gleams of neon light synchronized with my heartbeat run across the back of my eyes as luminescent fireworks set themselves off in my head so when she pulls away I am momentarily blinded by patches of white light.
“You have to stop stealing kisses like that” She says avoiding my gaze. I poise my mouth to say something but the words fail to find me. We walk in silence after that, with nothing but the soft rustle of fallen leaves and cars whizzing by to break the deadening silence.
“Are you really in love with him?” I ask as the wind violently blows dead leaves unto our path.
“Would you be hurt if I said yes?” She probed.
“No, I would be hurt if you didn’t” I replied, slightly mused.
“I like him, I guess” she shrugs “He’s a good person”
I kept mute again, listening intently as my feet flattened dead leaves on our path into jagged puzzle pieces of their former wholes. The resulting crushing sound of the chlorophyll-dead plants was surprisingly satisfying.
We approach the cab park in the same solemn silence. The evening seems to have suddenly lost its luster. Dark clouds circled the sinking sun and the former soft breezing of the wind became a series of violent whooshing and whistling. A tribal marked cab driver raises his head out of his window to call at us. “Are you going?” He yells. I nod and gesture him to wait. “Better do fast, rain wan fall” he says, turning his call to the direction of people coming. I move ahead of her to open the cab door adding a mock salute with a smirk on my face. She responds with a half-hearted chuckle. I’m looking at her face again as her eyes hollowed in. Her lips silent but motioned for words. Again I remember I have seen her face. I knew what was about come.
“Don’t” I want to say, but I am too late. I watched a tear drop escape her eyes and roll down her face anyway. A sharp pain stabs my gut and I pull her into a hug. God, I love this woman.
“How can you love someone and still let them go?” She whispers in a futile attempt to hide the sob in her voice.
“Because special things are a privilege” I sighed “And not all of us deserve that privilege”
“But how can you be a fair judge to something that equally affects other people” I don’t know how to respond. So I say nothing back. I have heard them say; sometimes words don’t really say anything and silence can hold more comfort than any kind words. I could hear her silent sobbing as her tears soaked into my shirt. I could hear the whistling wind and soft pelting of the first drops of the rain against the roof of the cab park. The silence hung longer in in the air and the urge to say something heightened. But I don’t say anything back. I still didn’t know what to say. The serenity calms us both until the voice of an angry cab driver permeates the air, “Mr and Mrs Serenre, una still dey go?” She breaks the hug and looks up at me, as if on cue we both erupt into a throaty laugh. She pulls away from me and settles into the cab.
As I slowly back away from the vehicle, I find myself thinking about her question.
Many a time in our human selfishness we often fail to separate what we deserve from what we are privileged to. And our selfishness, we become rolling boulders wrecking everything in our path as we make our way downhill. I’ll never really know if I deserve her or not, but I have seen that woman. I have seen her embark on a treasure hunt with total abandon even though she knows the booty is fool’s gold. I have seen her open her arms to receive people charging towards her with balled fists. I have seen all the sides of that woman, and loving her won’t make me deny, what she truly deserves is not me. I’m not even close.
I reach into my pocket to retrieve my earphones. As I plug the earbuds in place, the coarse tone of a rap song rendered in Yoruba fills my head as with the words “Shey akpata Lori e?” (Is your head a rock?). I look up at the sky doubting the rain will actually fall as I begin trudging back to my apartment.