Green peppers always secure a place in every meal that you prepare; I cannot grapple with how you fit them into a bowl of milk custard. They are just like me, fitted into the fabrics of your incredible life like an ordinary piece of furniture for the extra-ordinary living room, yet sticking out. Without the room, there’s no use for the furniture—I think. Whenever I say that though, you try to turn it around.
Now I’m that room, crowded in by variety of furniture that you created —and I enjoy. I picked up cycling because you loved to do it on Saturday evenings and even though the roads around my house are rough on several ends, I still participate and manage my muscle ache later. The mystery of sharing ideas that swim into your head during cycling is so unimaginable. I wonder at how anyone’s able to think when during the same time I’m worried about bumping into an oncoming vehicle.
How does a human of like flesh and bone become your entire world in a moment? And the whole twenty-something years you’ve lived fold like used tissue? I do not seek answers, because I cannot bear to hear them.
Great things will come out of me, you say. Each time the phone conversation is about to elapse, I readied the words on my tongue, syllable after syllable, exactly the way you would say it. And now, I wonder why you do. There is so little I’ve succeeded at; and a greater part of that success is documenting your achievements, waiting for the day you’ll be listed on Forbes. And my initials will gain a small portion on your acknowledgement speech.
I have an entire schedule now—which resumes after work in the publishing firm—your exact kind of schedule that might turn me into the furniture or room, whichever role you play now. Piano practice resumes on Sunday, after I’ve delivered my resignation letter to the church’s workforce. They won’t let me be any productive if I stayed—now, I realise why you gave it up.
My father thinks I need to start dating immediately, else I’ll get married at forty to an unwanted ladies’ man. I do not agree with him; a rather successful woman at forty is classier than anyone who is less her age and attainment. Also, since you believe that marriage is out of order for you, why should I dream otherwise? I cannot figure a plausible reason.
You say you’ll leave your world for mine—but only for a few days. It’s too good to be true; yet, I cancelled all of Wednesday’s appointments to drive three hours through the intense Lagos traffic and arrive at the airport earlier. My car keys dangle from my fingers as my eyes run from phone to lobby, eyes expectant for that hairy face of yours. Truthfully, I might not need a picture to recognize you. You’re the goddamned screensaver on my office computer. Preservation strategy.
Then I see those eyes—or the ones hidden behind sunscreens, approaching from the checking-out area. Ecstasy captures me and I scream your name. You walk but I run, undaunted by the many faces who think I’m overdoing the entire act. But you are walking the wrong way, because I’m right here and you’re not looking at me. When you say my name, it’s a bare whisper. And then, I see the white cane.
You do not say the words but I hear it, like an echo. They crack through every flawless history I’ve stocked up in my mind. When we hug, I shrug off the tears, realising it doesn’t matter. We share the same life now and I’m going to be blind now, sticking out like your shadow. Like I’ve done the entire time.
I’m thrilled to even think that this thing is what people describe when they want to talk about their friendship dreams raised to the power of infinity. But not me—I experience a 3-D version every day. Because as you eat my green-pepper stew, glasses taken off and wide-eyed, I realise that I want to be you all over again.