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Awaiting the Unreturnable Lover

It’s pouring outside. And I’m inside wishing. There is something about seeing water everywhere that makes me think of you.  The last I heard you were in Agadez, bound for the desert and for Spain. Before that, you were stuck in Barbados, cleaning fish and dreaming of crossing the high sea–with a canoe, a paddle and the dream of Florida. Damn these emissaries! If only they could just get their geography right, then things would not seem so bad. How can a traveler think of a desert and a canoe in the same journey? It’s all so confusing. Really.

On days when it rains, I think of you as a beggar who cries out to the departing fishermen: “Remember me when the fish comes.” Even though we do not share the same sky, I  take comfort in the thought that we share the same spectacle. You looking at the sea. And I staring at the rain as it surrounds me with the sweet feeling of wetness.

My body is such a drag tonight. The dregs of the palmwine is clumpy and cold, but I  sip the last bit anyway. Making my way to the bed, I catch a glimpse of my shadow cast over the wall. It’s a slouching monster…I think of you.  You as a dancer in a desert circus. There is a girl with you, and she dances too. With scraggly caravans, you and her and a snake that’s charmed you dance your way to the other side of the world. These thoughts, silly lies that they are, are slowly decaying into truth. I will miss them when they eventually disappear.

The only time I heard your voice was two years ago. It was over the neighbor’s telephone. I entered the living room and in front of everyone breathed hello into the receiver. I loved the raspy  static of the bad connection, and wondered how faraway your voice sounded, how ghostly, how hollow. I loved the noise in the background. Was it the din of rushing sea water. Or was it the desert wind?  And the finality of the click even before it was all over.

You are one of those men who daily leave the streets of our dying country only to float between sea and desert, between life and death till they find the narrow road that leads either to the grave or to Miami or Madrid. I try to frighten myself with this thought but to no avail.

I am waiting for your return. I know it will be sudden, like a thief unexpected. You will come back to me smelling of the miraculous.

I live everyday like it’s the last of the many days of vigils already done in vain. I just hope that you are not that kind of messiah who “will only come when he is no longer necessary.” A messiah who “will not come on the last day, but on the very last day.”

Photo Credit: Bird Watcher by Irving Amen

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Awaiting the Unreturnable Lover” Subscribe

  1. Casiano 2011/05/05 at 07:21 #

    I like this story. It’s a bit literary and I love literature.

  2. Suzanne Ushie 2011/05/05 at 07:43 #

    “I loved the raspy static of the bad connection, and wondered how faraway your voice sounded, how ghostly, how hollow. I loved the noise in the background. Was it the din of rushing sea water. Or was it the desert wind? And the finality of the click even before it was all over.” – that’s my favourite part of the story. Haunting, really beautiful.
    Keep ’em coming.

  3. admin 2011/05/05 at 20:00 #

    Thanks S.

    @ Casiano, hope you visit again.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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