This is Bliss

They stared at each other desperately across the room with its low ceiling, ant tracks concealed as best as they could be with Vim, steel wool and a lick of cream paint. Maybe the ache they felt pulsing in the depths of the abdomen was their profound longing for one another, or maybe it was the pangs of long drawn-out hunger after a whole morning of stiff formalities exchanged between families that at the very least were pretending to be cordial to each other. The number of bottles of Schnapps and rolls of gaudy fabric had no effect whatsoever on the feelings that had flourished and exploded between them after years and years of Skype calls, and text messages with the odd renditions of human faces that passed for emoticons, and siting on that bench after school far past closing time.

Like young couples are prone to do, they felt that they had revolutionized what it meant to be in love. This was the real deal, no Hollywood blockbuster featuring what’s-her-face and Ryan Gosling, nor stilted Nigerian movie, nor exaggerated romance novel could capture the depth of their devotion to each other. Theirs was that perfect and slightly annoying type of relationship that did not stomach grudges for long, to the dismay of onlookers eagerly awaiting its downfall. Their souls sang in the same dialect, and…

They were yanked out of this romantic philosophizing by the yells of joy being forced out of well-wishers with the promise of a hefty takeaway pack at the end of the ceremony, enough food for tonight’s dinner. All thoughts of souls and hearts fitting together like the last two puzzle pieces you thought you had lost at the bottom of the box vanished in a cheeky puff of air, replaced by the reality of the heat weighing heavy under the canopies outside and the itchy material of the imported lace aggravating the skin. Anonymous aunties with large expanses of bosoms swathed in kente swayed and danced as they sang the praises of the couple and wished health and many children on them.

-This lady did not just pray for ten children and ten more. What do I look like???  

-Haha but we agreed remember? 😉

Her favorite aunties shot deadly looks to the elder who attempted to pour libation in honour of the ancestors in a very Christian house, and with that the rituals came to a rather anti-climactic end. The pastor recited a limp prayer as damp as the collar that lay against his neck as though seeking shade from his protruding jaw, and all the guests rose with a unified sigh of relief as they headed straight for the table laden with food.

The Girl with Horizontal Dreams

So the girl with horizontal dreams sat on a cold kitchen stool, looking out of the window at the wide expanse of  lively flora and fauna that seemed to mock her with its vivacity. She sat there, one missed call away from depression, one chipped fragment of her soul away from death. This is what it feels like to be happily married. She looked down at the white gold band around her frail left finger and felt nothing. Not even nostalgia, not longing, not the teary-eyed happiness she felt on her wedding day looking up at the stoic cross hanging on the brick wall behind the altar as if to say, “I am with you.”

She sighed and rose wearily, studiously avoiding the taunting ticking of the clock as it betrayed her daily fear, 10:15pm and he’s still not home.  This was a dangerous place to be in, this deep sense of failure and giving up for which apathy was too light of a descriptive word.  She ran her fingers over her dry messy bun, tendrils of hair sticking out in the back, and marveled in disbelief at the time when she dreamt to be his wife, two become one, until death do us part, Amen. She wandered through the comfortable desolation that was her family home, echoing with the footfalls of many a long-gone toddler. Her heart had ceased to bleed long ago. She had forced it to, for fear of her husband’s dismissal that only served to increase the pain rather than to alleviate it.

She had an endless inventory of things she could no longer say, what was the point? He would be back soon, take a quick cursory glance at her distressed face marked with valley-deep channels of her endless tears, and all he would do was shrug.  “If you don’t want to talk about it I’m not going to ask”.  She looked down at her dwindling frame and suddenly felt cold even in the perpetual 33-degree Ghanaian heat. How does infatuation, and passion, and lust and obsession, morph into flippant neglect, and uneasy comfort, and torturous nonchalance?

She had dreams, and although he never categorically forbade her from following them, she felt she had to stunt their trajectory, what was the point if she had neither his disapproval nor his praise? She used to yearn for everything that was him; a discarded handkerchief, a late night phone call, a smile; and so it didn’t matter that she let her ambitions cool on the countertop like a stale apple pie. Thinking back, she couldn’t even remember why she turned down that summer at the writing institute to spend time with him. He wouldn’t have said no, he didn’t even have the right to, but she thought he was worthy and so she gave him a full pass to her heart, her mind, her free will, her future.

And so her astronomical dreams were put to rest. Her life stretched out in front of her in an endless sea of company functions, and traditional weddings and lonely nights in the cold tundra of their four- poster bed. Her dreams for their life together died a thousand deaths at the first shrug of his shoulders. She slid into the icy bed sheets. 3:15am, he’s still not home.

Real Life

Little chocolate button babies

With impossibly round cheeks and the deepest dimples

Eyes gleaming with expectation

Eagerly awaiting their birth

They’ve been waiting so long they didn’t realize

That they’ve been born and re-born

a hundred times

in the confused dreams of a

mediocre daughter, friend

roommate, girlfriend what are you

even good at?

How quaint

You thought yours was a made-for-TV love story

A happy ending

The biggest present on Christmas morning

Wrapped in a giant bow

A teenage romance wrapped up in a giant white wedding

It’s pathetic really

You expected wooden floors and French windows

And a fluffy bed with immaculate Egyptian cotton sheets

-Saturday morning heaven

You expected God to smile down on this union

For your two souls to dance happily into the sunset

I’m sorry to disappoint you

Actually I’m not

This is real life.

And in real life,

You serve your heart to someone

Garnished with your sanity and your rationality

“Meh it’s just alright” maybe it’s better than that

Maybe it’s the best thing I’ve ever had but I’m not going to tell you

What’s the point?

In real life,

You nudge the love of your short, insignificant life a tiny bit further away everyday

Because you constantly want him to prove something else to you

On your terms of course

Everyone’s a poet right?

Little chocolate button babies melt

In the heat of your unnecessary passion and the frustration

Of the victims of your uncontrollable emotions.

Bye babies, not in this life.