“It was said that her whiteness exalted her and her followers, it reflected her purity and the honesty of her ways. A daughter of the goddess, she embodied her mild
mannered-mien.” – Efun
SIX WEEKS LATER
There are two things I hate about being the CEO. The first is having to attend and be attentive at every meeting. The second is not being able to daydream or, God forbid, doze off lest you want to hurt the feelings of whichever employee has been droning on in their presentation. These past six weeks though, these meetings have been the ironic reprieve I’ve needed. Having to force my mind to be present at work saves me from the torturous yearning to slip back into the memories I have of her.
“I believe we can call it a day,” I hear Andrew say to the room. Head of marketing and my best friend. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I look forward to receiving the decks on our strategy by the end of the week.”
As the conference room empties into the corridor outside, I lean back in my seat. Andrew glances at me as our media head, Nadine, leans over the glass table, grabbing her mac. Behind her, I don’t miss Andrew’s boyish grin and the accompanying wink.
“Laja, it’s my birthday today,” Nadine says, a welcoming smile unfurling the corners of her lips. I am aware because she has smoothly eased it into conversations over the past month.
“Happy birthday, Nadine,” I reply. I would admit, I’m fond of her. She’s a dedicated and brilliant woman and a sweet soul. But I am incapable of giving her what she wants.
“I’m having a party at my house. You should come,” she flashes a smile. She’s beautiful, sex-on-legs, and she holds every room spellbound.
Andrew thinks I should fuck her. I think the fuck not.
“Happy birthday, Nadine,” I say again. She nods slowly, getting the message. And then she smiles and exits.
“Nadine is a beautiful woman, Laja,” Andrew begins once it’s just us in the room. I nod, absentmindedly as I glance down to my scribblings.
Today to keep my mind alert and distracted during the meeting, I began to write a letter. At first, it was an escape from the marbled walls of the conference room, but it quickly unclasped me from the fetters of emotional torture that had bound me for many weeks. It became therapy, a coping mechanism for the dull ache in my heart.
“So let me guess, you don’t like Nadine?” Andrew asks, grabbing his laptop. I resist the urge to groan. If there is one thing Andrew will do, it is to try and land as many women in my bed as possible.
“She’s a smart woman,” I murmur, hoping that he’d let the conversation go. But that’s not Andrew.
“A couple of dates and orgasms never hurt anyone.”
“No, thanks,” I say firmly as Andrew and I walk back to our offices.
“Is this still because of the crush you have on this woman you met one weekend one month ago–”
“Six weeks,” I correct him as we stride through the large corridors of Yellow Inc.
“You don’t even know where she is. She may as well be a figment of your imagination,” he looks at me as if worried I may have a few screws loose.
“And believe me when I say that my imaginations aren’t half as great as she is.”
Andrew whistles. “Mad!” he chuckles as we both return the greetings of employees that walk past us. “She must be something if after six weeks you’re still whipped and won’t glance at another woman.”
She is something.
Her beauty, her smile, her wit. The curve of her body, the feel of her stretch marks against my skin, and the roundness of her belly. I haven’t seen her in six weeks but my mind and my body hold on firmly to the memories of the little time we shared. While we had only a few hours to be intimate, that day is the closest thing I have had to perfection in my adult life – I learned about her likes, her dislikes, and her dreams. I want to give her the world. I miss her. A lot. Jealousy rises within me when the thoughts of her possibly reuniting with her husband filter into my mind. I should have taken my chances and asked for her number when I had the chance. But I wanted to respect her marital status and most importantly I wanted to respect boundaries.
I have been going to her estate weekly for a month and a half, and whenever I ask around for her, she’s just not home. I have brushed through every nook and cranny of social media and even tried to pull some plugs with my guys in telecoms, but nobody can find a number to reach her. She disappeared after we made love and I slept off.
It’s crazy how I feel so connected to someone I made love to just once. It feels as though I have loved and lost. Again. Except this time, I don’t feel guilt. I don’t feel as though I did something wrong by not showing up on time because this time, I am showing up until I see her again. I’m a grown man and I am convinced that we’re fated.
Inside my office, Andrew faces me, concerned. “LJ, if you can’t find a woman you had a passionate night with no matter how much you have brushed through Lagos, maybe it is because she doesn’t…” his words trail off when he sees the forlorn look in my eyes. “Maybe it’s because she doesn’t deserve you,” he finally says, his words barely above a whisper.
I smile wryly, “Or na because she no send me. Abi no be wetin you wan talk be dat?”
“LJ…,” he says, concern reaching every corner of his tone.
Andrew and I have been close for a decade and, in the dark days that followed the loss of the last woman I loved, he was the closest human being to me. And while I can sense the frustration in his voice whenever we speak about Nicole, I am also aware that he is as concerned as I would be if the tables were turned.
“I promise you that she exists and I’m not losing my mind.” He nods slowly as if trying to come to terms with the realities of whom I am slowly morphing into.
“And I promise you that she felt the bond we shared that day, Andrew.” I don’t know if those words are meant to convince Andrew or me. But when I say them, I feel as though I wanted to hear them so badly just to assure myself that I am not losing my mind.
“Maybe this trip to Dubai will do you good,” Andrew says, hopeful.
But I don’t get infected by his optimism. I smile, wistful. “Maybe.”
He pats my shoulder gently and exits the office. Grateful for the silence and solitude, I open the letter I was writing earlier.
How far? It’s been six weeks without you and here are a few things I have come to learn – the new Davido single is fire, the feeling one gets while listening to a live band playing jazz is unrivalled, and fried rice is better than jollof.
Also, I have come to realize that it is humanly possible to wake up with the thoughts of one person and go to bed with the thoughts of that same person on one’s mind every day. I can’t stop thinking about you. I have spent every second wondering, were the convos that good? Were you that much of a bad B? Was the pussy that good? I miss you in a way that scares me and that will scare you. Just one weekend together and you’re like a 90s R&B to me – beautiful, soulful, gone but not without leaving me with a strong sense of nostalgia. I’m sorry, I know this is getting a bit cheesy. I just wanted to say…
I shut my eyes tightly, standing by the large windows around my desk. My office overlooks the Atlantic, a view that often is wasted on me crouched over my desk. But now I allow myself a gaze at the water that stretches to infinity. It offers me respite for a few minutes. This morning’s rain has ceased and for the first time in a week, I realize that the sun is out. It casts a beautiful glow outside, and it tempts to me go out and feel the warmth of it on my face.
My phone’s alarm jolts me back to reality and the need to get my head on right. I don’t have a lot of time. I am leaving the country in a few hours for a business trip. I won’t be back in months so I need to finish the letter now.
I just wanted to say…
But what do I want to say? Now that I have realized that even if I had seen her in all the times I visited her neighborhood I wouldn’t have known what to say.
I thrust my hands in my pockets, exhausted.
“Damnit, Nicole. You have me fucked up.” I shut my eyes tightly again and this time, the words come. Except, they aren’t the words I’d been hoping to say when I see her. They’re not what I want to say. But they’re what I need to say to her. I retrieve my pen and sit, my heart thumping through every word I scribble on paper.
I just wanted to say that while I would rather not do this life thing without you, while I’ll be a correct guy to you and I’ll want those beautiful brown eyes of yours on our kids, I’m also hoping that you choose me because you want to and because I bring you the sort of happiness that you can’t live without. I want you to heal from your past hurt. I want you, Nicole. I need you. But I am willing to wait for you to want me… if you’ll ever want me.
Then I click the end of my pen and drop it. I fold the paper and tuck it neatly into my pocket. I’ll deliver this to where she lives. Moments later, packed and reluctant, I step into the elevator. Outside, I finally feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I take a few seconds to look up, and soak in the sun, before walking to my car. When I have had my fill of the changing weather a grin breaks free, remembering that I haven’t done that since I was a little boy being indulged by my grandmother in Osogbo. My dad always said it was the stuff of ‘oyinbo people.’
My driver waits by the car, and the closer I get to him I focus on how work is the only way to ground me at the moment and momentarily forget Nicole’s body melting in my hands, her soft moans driving me to pleasurable heights, and her eyes, so sad, pleading to be loved. My heart knots in my chest knowing how many years she’s had to experience the sort of love that doesn’t fill her up. I’ll need to let these thoughts go. Although one of the things I desperately want to say to her is how easily my recent wins came after we became intimate.
“LJ,” my driver greets with a slight bow.
“Daniel,” I respond with a smile. “We’re headed to Lakowe first. There’s something important I must do.”
“No problem, LJ.”
A short distance away, a woman approaches the building, and I am instantly reminded of her. But I also quickly remind myself that I have conjured her in my mind so many times, that almost every woman feels like an appearance of her. I am about to get into the car when–
I almost bump my head against the car roof, jetting out before she disappears again. I watch her intently as if waiting for my mind to stop playing tricks on me. But she’s real.
“I-I-I got your office address from the estate chairman,” she says, hesitant. She has stopped now, and she watches me with slight concern.
I take long strides, erasing the space between us. My breathing is choppy when I obliterate the distance and stare so hard at her, her brows knit in a puzzled frown. Oh, she knows nothing about the torture of being without her.
“You’re here for real?” I place a gentle hand on her face. She feels warm and like home. If I needed any confirmation that this is real, I feel it when I touch her skin. The feeling I have around her transcends being naked beneath the sheets. It’s genuine.
“I am,” she says softly.
“I’m pregnant, Laja.”
I can’t resist the smile that moulds my lips. “Please tell me that’s mine,” I say as I lay my hand on her stomach. The few seconds that accompany my question feels like an eternity.
She nods, “It is.”
I exhale deeply, relieved. I quickly search for a ring on her finger. “Are you–?”
“I left Segun when I returned to Lagos.”
I couldn’t be happier. “Ajoke Omowande Oluwanicole, it’s been torture without you. Why did you leave me without a single word?”
“I wanted to be sure. I wanted to know that this is real–”
“Even after the universe said that it was?”
“You’re destined to be with a white woman.”
“But you are destined to be with me. That’s a risk I am willing to take.” I would say that I love her, but Lord knows I am unwilling to scare her away. “Come with me to Dubai,” I say quickly, holding her hands, unwilling to lose her again.
“Calm down, Uncle. I can’t just take off.”
She tilts her head and I know that she is considering my offer so I quickly add, “I’ll arrange a private jet that will bring you back home whenever you need to. I just want to catch up on the six weeks we lost. I just got you back, please give me more time with you.”
She shrugs, “I guess I can work something out.”
I begin to punch into my phone immediately as we walk towards my car before I accidentally make her change her mind again. My guys at customs will fix everything that needs to be fixed about her passport and travel documents. One of the perks of being a successful businessman in Naija.
“I need you to tell me everything you have been up to,” I say to her. “I will suggest you go first because, besides work, I wrote you one mind-blowing love letter.”
She laughs and looks like she is about to give me a cocky response but stops herself.
“I can’t wait for us to get to the point where you realize you can talk as dirty as you want,” I whisper in my woman’s ears.
I open the backdoor for her, signaling to Daniel not to bother. I want to do everything for this woman. From the smallest to the biggest things. She laughs. When I shut the door, I do a silly dance behind the car before joining her inside. I’d never mess this up.
FOUR MONTHS LATER
The brown waters flowed peacefully, the calmness and the stillness offering more tranquility than I have ever felt.
“Efun,” the voice calls, sounding so familiar, feeling so me. The name too. My eyes open. A calm voice.
“Hey, I made breakfast.”
Calmness fills me as he places a gentle kiss on my forehead. Soft jazz music plays in the background, Nina Simone’s ‘I put a spell on you.’
“Hmm, you know what I want for breakfast.” He smiles, wrapping his arms around me. I love every day with him, especially our early morning lovemaking sessions.
“With morning breath,” he says. “I have awoken a demon,” he adds. I laugh.
“Did you have one of those dreams again?” he asks, concerned.
I nod. “How can you tell?”
“You always open your eyes as if you’re in a solemn state,” he says. I laugh, happy. He knows and gets me, it’s one of the things I love the most about him.
“I was called Efun. It felt like my name as if I was a devotee to Osun and her waters.”
“Interesting. Efun means white.”
“I know, right?”
He draws me closer. “Efunsetan literally means ‘Whiteness completely did this’ or something of the sort. It’s peculiar to people whose ancestors worship the Orisa Oko. Some even say Osun.”
I kiss him, liberated by his touch, coming alive in his arms. Four months as his partner, and I feel my happiest. He wants us to get married but I need to wait. I have been married most of my adult life and while I deeply love Laja I want to know who I am outside of the vows of marriage.
“What?” I ask when he doesn’t respond to me immediately. “Is the honeymoon phase over?”
“It has only just begun.”
Puzzled, I say, “Spill.”
“You’re my destiny as I am yours.” His gaze darkens, “You’re my white woman.”
I chuckle, pressing my nose against his. “Melanated AF, baby.”
“You’re my eniyan funfun. The white one. We have been thinking eniyan funfun as in a white person, but it’s always been metaphoric, not literal.”
We have been happily together for four months. But not until now did I feel so sure that the universe sought this man out for me the way it sought me out for him.
“I love you so much,” he mutters, beating me to the confession. “And I promise to always be your source of joy.”
Tears moisten my eyes. “I love you, Adelaja.”
Slowly he takes me in his arms, his body taking me to heights no one else can. It becomes our routine – to love each other at our best and our worst.
For Olomoyoyo, truth and honesty were all that she required from her faithful. And because she was a goddess of honesty and purity, what she granted in return was an abundance of wealth, growth, love, and children to make their lives easier and to make adversity – on the days it came – an easier storm to weather.