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Thorn from a rose

By Sam Umukoro
02 October 2021   |   1:51 am
Dawn came crisp and cold with the treacherous gusts of harmattan wind moaning outside. I was embraced by the cold wind that stabbed through my duvet as I tossed and turned.

Dawn came crisp and cold with the treacherous gusts of harmattan wind moaning outside. I was embraced by the cold wind that stabbed through my duvet as I tossed and turned.

Throughout the night, I couldn’t sleep a wink because of a letter written by the one who could rightly be described as my power, my pleasure and now my pain. Once again, my eyes fell on the letter. From the content grew the face of the disturber of my dreams; suddenly, she became visible to me.

Before she came into my life like a flood (I swear she drowned my beliefs and replaced them with hers) my existence had been running as smoothly as a dual carriageway. And now she wanted to walk out of my life like that, what wickedness! Tell me, is it a crime to love? What the heck? After all, her reasons for breaking our relationship are flimsy, aren’t they? Does the number of moons and seasons seen by the eyes determine whether this love can be?

I used to think the possession of grey hairs was a prerequisite for love. People used to say the older a man becomes the more appealing he is to ladies. But, sincerely, how can age difference be a determinant factor in the growth of true love? If anybody should complain, I should be the one. I could easily have had my pick of any young beauty. Despite my grey hairs, I wasn’t bad looking. That I know for sure. A number of ladies told me that I had Denzel Washington’s looks and, at my age, I have an athlete’s body. One even went further to say that my clothes fit me like a second skin and that my tall, slim features belong on the pages of GQ.

But you know how it is, love is a thunderbolt. Rather, it is a prison: only the object of your love can free you.

I can’t run away from the truth. I know that I’m trying to do that. Yes, I know when I see the backside of someone running away from the truth.

Okay! I’ll tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I am enslaved by passion. I, who have survived imprisonment for taking a radical stand against the powers that be, cannot survive this imprisonment. I have become:

A prisoner to fancies
In her court I wait
Longing to be condemned
To sessions of love songs…
Decree now! Fair one
I would I’m guillotined
Than live in a dungeon
Of wants, deprived even of the love
Of one so fair.

And my dear, she is fair, fair as the rose that blooms in May. I must confess, she’s a superior being that I must own, a higher class of animal, an angel, an elegant testimony to womanhood. Her features could not have been more exquisite if they had been carved by a sculptor. Her beauty glows, full of colour, bright as the afternoon sun in Lagos.

Anytime I look into her eyes, fringed with their long lashes, I get so weak in my knees; they are like diamond orbs pitched against a dark night. Her skin is dark and smooth as if perfectly chiselled from dark marble; her voice is a delight to ears. The first time I heard her speak, I was enthralled. When she talks, she polishes her words with the skill of a diamond cutter, revealing facet upon facet of her intellectual refinement.
“ I agree with Thomas Hardy that romance should grow up in the interstices of a mass of hard, prosaic reality,” she once told me.

I swallowed every word from her mouth. As far as I was concerned, they were life-saving pills. My addiction grew with every dosage. So, you can see why I can’t live without her. The thought of evenings deprived of her hit me like ice-cold water gulped down on an empty stomach.

And to think that it was because of her that I broke up with my girlfriend, Betty. I had been seeing Betty for about a year then. I wasn’t in love with her but I liked her a great deal. Between you and me, Betty was crazy about me. I remember how shattered she was the day that I told her we had to stop seeing each other. She came to visit me and we were seated by the swimming pool in my house.

“Oh Dafe, please don’t go away from me,” she said in a tearful voice. “I love you and that is all that matters.”

“I know, Betty, but I’m sorry, I have to go. I am in love with somebody else.”

She sank down on the floor and started crying. Tears were pouring down her cheeks like rivulets of rain running down the windowpanes of an empty mansion.

The evening breeze skipped across the swimming pool, then paused to run cold fingers through her long, black hair.

I stared at the sky as I waited for her to calm down. The blue sky and the cool Kaduna breeze gave a deceptive look of peace and quiet to the scene. I felt sorry for her but there was really nothing I could do for her. My heart belonged to another woman.

(Excerpt from my collection of short stories Once Upon A Monday out now on Amazon)

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