They leave. All of them. Casually, with their hands on knobs and doorframes, leaving as though their going was not the closure of another’s life. Know this, and when you do, understand it. Men leave. All of them and when they do, they do without looking back.
It all happens so fast while you’re young and now that I think of that time, I wonder why I was in such a haste.
Nonso was his name, black, slender with those eyes that were both deep and luminous. He was beautiful. You should have seen him how I saw him then, always smiling, jovial and calm; a quality the men I grew knowing didn’t posses. And like his name, he was always close by. The model for boys and the dream for us girls.
But he saw me, from the multitude of adoring faces, he chose mine and like a bud under sunlight I bloomed under his gaze. I became for the first time, rather than the mere dust I once was. He did that. Your father. Now that I think of it, I know I didn’t only love him, I worshipped him. Like a Deity that was always there. My steady Rock. And he was till I let him fill up the crevice where my moisture laid.
Then we grew, and you warmed in me and childish indulgences were put aside and the door closed. Nobody wanted us again, me in particular. I was the disgrace, that failure.
“See am, small girl wey sabi wetin prick be.”
“Small ashawo, na so dem dey start.”
Then came the snickering, the pointing and the total refusal to acknowledge your existence. But I didn’t care much, the name callings were new but the refusal to believe you were there was familiar, so I didn’t hurt much. That was me, not your father, it broke him. Being that he was that sunlight that radiated and now he was nothing to them and it hurt him too much. Too much more that we left the one room we shared in our neighborhood to another room in another state.
But what chased us here was what followed us here too. Work was here but so were eyes too. Questioning eyes, that told tellings that the tongue could not say. And Nonso saw those eyes. Admitted their judgments and began to see me as they saw me; as that yoke that weighed him down.
So I woke to see him leaving, with his hands on the knob, his straight back staring me in the face, and you lying in my stomach almost due. I was too pained to say anything, I just laid there bereft of all emotions save shock watching him leave.
But why my son, can you know all these, live within my story and still you can love a man as you would a woman? Men leave you. Reject you and turn their straight backs in their leavings not sparing a thought for the chaos behind.
So listen to me, I carried you, here, right here. Kept you warmed with my heat, shared my food with you, through our cord of love and your heart, that your fragile heart, beat first within me, I carried it, mine and yours.
If a lie would fall from my lips towards you, those lips and lies will never be mine. You are me and I am you. So take women, take us.
We stay, remain. Constant.