Friday, 14 April 2017

TOO LONG



By Adetokunbo Ajenifuja

“Benita. When I close my eyes, you are all I see, not darkness. That’s why I call you the light of my life, the light that banished the shadows of my soul. I want you. I really do.”

His voice was silky yet so keen, stealing into her chest for the treasure therein. Speechless, she tilted her head, shuffling her feet on the grass.

The wind teased its sweep, the tree its dance, its foliage pressing upon the teenagers, low enough as if to hearken their words.

“Please, say something.” Kenneth was losing his patience.



“I’ve told you times without number that I don’t feel the same!” She blurted with a blank face, “We can still remain best of friends!”

He regarded her with an I-don’t-expect-nothing-less kind of look. It’s been six months since he started confessing his love to her. There is no gambling worse than wooing a woman, said his late grandfather. You’re not likely to win at the first, second or third trial. But never relent. Never. Alas, you might never win at all and lose to gamblers with good fortune. Kenneth could attest to that now, how much of a loser he’d become.

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“What else do you have to say?” She snapped, picked up her iron pail, and left for the stream. He stared at her. She seemed a suitable model, proud, as fierce as the swing of her wide hips.
BENITA

I was at the stream, feeling sorry for my reaction to Kenneth, my secret lover. My friends were just approaching, four of them. I’d told them about Kenneth, my church member, but none of them had met him. He was now in the company of three boys near the stream, under the mango tree.

“That’s him,” I whispered to my friends, The tallest among them, the one with fair skin.”

“You mean that cute one with…” one was gesticulating to emphasize on Kenneth’s bulky frame.

“Yeah,” I affirmed.

“Oh my God!” Somebody exclaimed.

“No tell me sey you never gree o,”

“I haven’t jor.” I told them.

“But your shakara too much sha.”

“What if he doesn’t ask again?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter. I’ve bought the love card I’m going to present to him, as a surprise. I will meet him in church tomorrow.”

***

“On the following day, Kenneth didn’t come to church, so I…..”

“Grandma, but you eventually presented the card to him right?” I’m interrupted by the most inquisitive of my four granddaughters, all seated on the sofa before me.

“What year was that?” That’s the youngest of them, a girl of eighteen.

“…around ’56, my daughter. As I was saying, I headed for his house, the love card in my Bible. On getting there, I met a crowd of people, his mother weeping at the verandah, his father stamping his feet. They said Kenneth died overnight, from severe stomach ache. I broke down in tears, my Bible fell. Staring at the card, I hated myself, cursed myself. I placed the card on his grave, kneeling there, crying, willing Kenneth to hear my love confession, but it is too late.”

“Too sad.”

“Touching.”

“Eeeyah.”

“A super story…”



“Thank you, my children. I’m not asking you to make yourself too available to men. Women are supposed to be
treasures, something expensive. Yet if you love somebody, don’t take too long to show it, because you never know when you might lose them.”

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