Taboo Close

Someone pointed to a car that looked exactly like Tabatha’s. It was parked about sixty metres from the spot I thought I had seen the house. Everyone ran to the car, except me. I couldn’t bring myself to move, I was rooted to the spot because I knew without any shadow of doubt that the house Tabatha brought me to three days ago stood right here. I looked up and saw that curious street lamp, the crooked one – I remember thinking to myself that day “what an odd design for a street lamp”. I also remember giving a delightful squeal when I set my eyes on the mansion. It was a white-marble duplex, surrounded by well tended flowers of varying colours and shapes. I had never seen anything like it before that day. It looked like a piece from one of those foreign architectural magazines. Tabatha simply laughed at my childish excitement and proceeded to lead me into the compound through a gate carved like an eagle.

All I could see now was an expanse of untended, barren land. There was no sign of the house. ‘How possible is it that a house would just disappear into thin air?’ Already, everyone thinks I lost directions to the place, they had concluded I had the wrong place and arguing further will certainly certify me a lunatic. But I am as sure of this barren land being the place Tabatha and I visited three days ago as I am sure my name is ‘Angela’. Yes, my name is Angela it says so on all important documents – but everyone calls me ‘Angie’. I am sure you will be wondering why I am so sure, very simple… I also recall bursting out in laughter as my eyes alighted on the metal plate bearing the name of the street, ‘Taboo Close’; ‘whoever names a place that?’ There it was now, staring at me mockingly. The nameplate of the close was daring me to convince the world that a white exquisite house stood exactly where I now stand, three days before. Even If it was demolished after I left, at least there will be some rubble to show for it, some indication of structural existence, anything! But there was none, all I could see was untended, unmarked land. Surprisingly the close was empty, not one soul could be seen walking around even though it was only 10.00am.

A blood curdling scream shook me out of my reverie; it came from the direction my friends went. I broke into a run in that direction. What I witnessed at the scene made me freeze on one spot. They were all in varying postures of grief and the person screaming looked like Chioma. She was rolling on the floor beside the car, covered in dust and grime from the road. I didn’t want to go close for fear of what I would see.

Chioma, Tabatha and I met at the NYSC orientation camp in Kano. Thankfully, we were all posted to places in the state capital, so we decided to share a flat. We were three very different people bonded by service to our nation at least that was what we were made to believe. Tabatha had other ideas though. She had always depended on lustful, old money bags for her livelihood. We learnt that was how she made it through University. She is the fifth child in a family of six. According to her, her family was on the lower rungs of the middle class belt; not poor, but also not rich. Her desire for the finer things in life made her ‘use what she had to get what she needed’. Those were her very words. I understand why those men will spend so much on her. She is a looker. At 5ft 8inches, she had legs that went for days. She was curvy in all the right places – a classic example of black beauty. Sometimes I caught myself wishing I looked half as good as she did. She relished serving in Kano, because she believed there would be an array of wealthy Alhajis to pick from. Chioma on the other hand is one of those highly moral and religious people and because of that we affectionately dubbed her ‘Sis Chioma’. She is really fun to be with but a real pest whose only mission in Kano was to get Tabatha and me born again. She was forever inviting us to church for one meeting or the other. Despite her religious fanaticism, we all lived in relative peace. Then, there is me. I am neither religious nor a trader in lustful, rich and aging men. I am what you can call the balance. I balance Chioma and Tabatha out. Don’t get me wrong though, I am very far from being an Atheist; I daresay I even love God, but the only relationship I want with Him is one from a distance. All I wanted to do was finish my service year as quickly as possible with as little incidents as possible.

Tabatha and Chioma made Kano a lot bearable for me. One came home every day with one religious publication or the other, while the other came home every other weekend with tales of her conquests and wads of naira bills. It was one of such tales that made me embark on that trip with Tabatha three days ago. She came home one Monday with the story of a weird guy she met. He didn’t fall within the age demographic she was used to. Was very soft spoken and handsome. He also didn’t touch her or demand for sex, yet he sent her home with a cheque of one million naira. At that amount of money my eyes almost popped out of my head. I recall Chioma snickering and singing in her annoying voice that ‘all that glitters is not gold’. We didn’t care, Tabatha and I. I accompanied her to cash the money and transfer it straight into her account. The cheque didn’t bounce; nobody chased us to snatch it. It was all so clean and easy. Curiosity made me ask to meet him. I needed to see for myself the dumb rich guy. Each time I asked Tabatha about a convenient time to meet him. She came up with excuses. She had been dating him and only him for three months before she agreed to our meeting. In all the three months they had dated he never once asked her for sex, but he changed her car, and gave her money running into millions.

We got to the house that day, and I saw the most handsome and polished northerner I had ever met up until that day. He offered us suya and red wine, and while I indulged myself, Tabatha and Mahmud excused themselves. After a few hours they came out again, and Tabatha all smiles, informed me that they had an engagement to attend. I felt I will just be a third wheel so I declined going with them. She whispered “chicken” into my ears as we walked out of the house. They both got into Mahmud’s shiny Volkswagen Courage and zoomed off, I didn’t mind because she had given me more than enough money to get me back to the flat. That was the last time I would ever see her. The first night came and went without me and Chioma giving it much thought, but by the third night we knew something was wrong. Tabatha was carefree but not careless; by day two she would have called to inform either of us of her whereabouts.

After informing the principal of the school she was supposed to be teaching chemistry and the Zonal Inspector, I and some of the other corp. members around, including Chioma decided to go look for her where I last left her.

When I finally got to the car, the scene before my eyes was beyond the imaginable, I saw a shrivelled up body behind the wheels, dried up hands still held on to the steering, where the eyeballs used to be was replaced with dark orbs that seemed squeamish, on closer examination the movement was caused by a swarm of green bottle flies. The foul stench of rotting flesh hit me as I moved even closer, then I caught a gleam that made me gasp for breath, it was Tabatha’s gold necklace with the pendant “TB” confirming my fears…The corpse was Tabatha’s, beautiful Tabatha reduced to a shrivelled up corpse that was the last thought on my mind as I passed out.

Call me Omolewa for short!!

After attending my ninth wedding…”wait a minute” I seem to be missing one, oh yes! Shiki’s wedding! Not surprised though, I successfully deleted that wedding from my mind. The bride (my “frenemy”), Shiki, was a monster; a classic example of a bridezilla! I only attended the wedding so no one would accuse me of being jealous oh!… Been getting a lot of that lately (sighs). Anyway back to my resolve. After attending my tenth wedding in a year that is still 6 months shy of ending, I have decided that the next wedding will be mine! Yes! Yes!! I am done being just a guest, or worst still another bridesmaid, who has to try not to outshine the blushing (as If she never do am with her husband…hiss), whimsical and beautiful bride… oh! the joys of attending a wedding (laughs). A truck load of horse shit, if a woman isn’t beautiful a wedding won’t make her beautiful, period! Call me jealous, I don’t mind. I have been called worse names.

You know that saying about a woman’s biological clock ticking very fast? Mine has been out of control lately, clanging and banging (all the loud words ending with ‘…ing’ you can think of). I just turned the big three – o and I got my fair dose of birthday wishes, some sincere and some I just politely took (coming from people I know are very far from wishing me well)… Then there were all the tactfully, and not so tactfully veiled marriage questions…”So when are we coming to eat your rice?” (do I look like your cook?), “When are we taking your aso-ebi?” “I was at Gbile’s wedding and it was so beautiful, when are we attending yours?” (shuo! If you are so hungry for a wedding, go and get married again!). They never pause to think that maybe I don’t even want to get married. (I wish! I so want to get married like yesterday)

The birthday call that won the vote for the most tactless was from an interfering aunt, everyone in the family avoids Aunty Nike, and she always has dirt on everyone. Like when Uncle Dayo had an illegitimate child, she chose Grand Pa’s burial ceremony to announce it to the clan… His wife was most distraught as that was her first time of hearing about it, it cost Uncle Dayo his marriage because Aunty Mosun moved out of the house and hasn’t returned there since.

Aunty Nike called and being in a most solicitous mood, I picked it. That was my biggest mistake till date, because the first question out of her mouth was

“So who’s the lucky guy?”

No birthday greeting, nothing! Even an insincere “happy birthday” would have been welcomed

I quietly answered “There’s no one yet”

I expected a nice “don’t worry dear a good man will soon come” response like any other sane elderly aunt would have said, but instead I got a “What are you waiting for? It’s like you don’t know you are old. Isn’t this your thirtieth birthday? I have told Taju to send you out of his house, maybe then you will realize that a woman’s place is in her husband’s house”

I was shocked into silence, but even my silence didn’t deter her, in fact it seemed to fuel her diatribe, she even broke into our local dialect

“Se o mope ale obinrin ki n pe su”*

 

As if I didn’t know that already, I had to cook up a lie to dismiss her quickly and before she could say another word I ended the call…Crazy woman! One will think all her daughters were happily married. The last time I checked two of them had packed up their marriages and moved back to the family house.

Nigeria, MyNigeria! You sure have no tolerance for your single women. I have always imagined living in Europe; where I am sure I would have been respected and maybe even celebrated.

“You are wondering why I said so abi? “ You see in business cycles I am who you can call a “high flyer”. My boss trusts me to get the job done, and my clients simply worship me. But inNigeria, it appears marriage is the only measure of a woman’s success. Beauty, intelligence and a great career pales in comparison to the brilliance of that wedding band.

Many have accused me of having high standards with regards to a suitor. Talking about my standards, I think they are pretty decent; I pride myself in not being superficial. I want a God fearing man, who is funny, ambitious, very hardworking (lazy fellas, Keep off!) ready to be the head of the home, and good looks will be an added advantage (wink, wink).  I have dated tall, short, dark skinned, light skinned, Rich, ambitious, struggling, fat, slim and even in a moment of desperation a lazy dude… (Laughs). My very modest criterion has never been completely met. The few I did like very much, gave me one reason or the other why we couldn’t be together… (Crap!)

I hear you whispering “her shakara too much jo!” you won’t understand what I meant by my modest criteria not being completely met until you get to meet some of my would-be suitors. Maybe then you will appreciate my dilemma….

Take for instance the last blind date I was set up with before my birthday; let’s just call him “Stingy Sanya”.

I walked into the restaurant and saw the guy in the picture my friend sent to me, and I couldn’t help smiling because he looked way better in real life than in that picture. He was tall, I mean really tall compared to my five-feet-seven-inch frame. That was a definite plus for him because as a teenager I had this fantasy of being flanked by my over six feet tall teenage sons, as I walked through a shopping mall, that fantasy never fails to make me smile. Anyway back to reality and my date in Eastern Gardens Chinese restaurant. I could also see his bulging biceps rippling underneath his expensive looking silk shirt… (delicious). He gave me a smile that could melt the ice caps of the Arctic. I enjoyed the view as I walked towards him. His handshake was firm and very warm; it made me imagine very naughty things… (sorry! Not to be shared). He wasn’t so handsome, but I didn’t really care for a husband who will compete with me in the looks department (call me vain!), but that’s why my parents christened me “Omolewa” which means “beautiful child” in my local dialect. But he more than made up for it in the attractive department, he was attractive to boot!

My friend was right when she said “You guys will look great together”, I could already see our wedding pictures. I apologized for arriving twenty minutes late (Fashionably late I must add; didn’t want to appear desperate). He turned out to be great at making conversation, and pretty soon I forgot we just met. The dinner went on smoothly until the waiter brought the bill over.

You see the restaurant I picked happened to be one of the classiest and most expensive in that area. I must confess I chose it because it was one I frequented, since I was meeting a total stranger I wanted to do it in a familiar place. It made for easy escape, if the need arose. The waiter dropped the bill in front of Sanya because it is assumed naturally that guys pick the bill. Sanya took one look at the bill and began to sweat around the collars. He started fidgeting like a man on crack. He brought out his expensive looking wallet several times, peered into it, and every time it went back into his pocket without naira notes leaving it. I just busied myself with dessert and pretended I didn’t notice anything. That worked perfectly until he cleared his throat very noisily. 

“Jumoke… Ehmm… Ehmmm can you please help a brother out here”

I made a mental note to skin Funmi alive (she set up this blind date). I was getting irritated as he continued

“You see I forgot to use the ATM on my way here, so I am kinda out of cash now. Will most definitely make it up to you on our next date”

Next date? Who said anything about another date? I have never heard of a guy going on a first date without cash. You want to impress on a first date, not make the chick think you are a broke ass, or worse a stingy one. Anyway yours sincerely paid for dinner. I would have let it slide, if he appeared slightly shamed or remorseful. But Sanya just slipped right back into our conversation like nothing out of place happened, as for me all I wanted to do was go home and call Funmi. At my car, I said goodnight without as much as a handshake. My beautiful wedding pictures had vanished into thin air.

I called up Funmi and gave her a lecture on setting up blind dates with broke ass guys, but she was clearly surprised and told me Sanya was an executive in one of the fastest growing telecom firms inNigeria. I had second thoughts about him then, maybe he was checking to see If I was only after his money, maybe he really did forget to withdraw money before showing up, so when he called me that evening, I agreed to a second date and went to bed with resurrected pictures of our wedding.

After about six months, fifteen more dates and various excuses to make me part with my money, I finally was through with “Stingy Sanya”.

I, Olajumoke  Omolewa Amos, will never be stuck with a rich but stingy husband who will make me wear the financial pants in the home, period!

Then there was “Disrespectful Sam”, who insisted on calling my father “dude”. I trust “Barrister Tajudeen Adejare Amos”. He does not suffer fools easily and after that blunder, Sam got the boot. I didn’t shed one tear for him. Good riddance to bad rubbish, if you can disrespect my father, you can even more easily disrespect me.

I really liked “Halitosis Chukky”, but men! Did his breath stink? He was very intelligent, very ambitious and handsome, I so wanted this relationship to work out that I invested in mouth sprays for him. But each time I imagined kissing him, I developed goose bumps, having a conversation was already an ordeal, kissing will be an absolute disaster. And I really love kissing, so I want to be able to kiss my beau anytime and anywhere, if you know what I mean. (I am not mean; I just know what makes me happy) Heard he got married last month, I wish them both a kiss-less but blissful marriage.

I guess now you can appreciate why I am still single at thirty (don’t be too harsh in your judgment of me, after all ‘na me go live with the husband o!’). Nevertheless, the next wedding I am attending will be mine!

Help me whisper an ‘Amen!’ (laughs)

 

*Literal translation: A woman’s night falls fast, actually meaning after a certain age it is difficult for a woman to get married.

The one thousand naira note

Seri salivated yet again as he stole another look at the one thousand naira note lying on the roadside. He reckoned he could easily walk over and pick it up without anyone noticing. He looked around surreptitiously to make sure no one was paying him or the money attention. Haliru , the vulcanizer , was engrossed in the tyre he was pumping and Iya Mulika was busying sorting out her wares; Mulika herself was nowhere to be found. Everyone that walked past the money either seemed not to notice it, or were very convincingly ignoring it.

Seri had not had a decent meal in two days; the driver of the bus he worked on had gotten angry with him for reasons unknown to him, heck, for reasons unknown to everyone around that day. He had accused him of keeping some of the money they had made that day to himself, even after going through his entire belongings. Before Seri could’ve made a dash for the door, his oga, had managed to deliver some swift and deafening slaps to his face. Today he’d been wandering in the park, looking for another driver to take him on, but his efforts had been futile so far and his day had been getting steadily miserable, until he’d seen the money that was. His woes as a conductor were endless but today his only concern was getting money to feed properly.

The one thousand naira note staring mockingly at him appeared to be God sent.

Seri actually saw the money drop when the gentleman got off the bus, and his first instinct had been to call out to the man, but then the hunger pangs had gotten the better of his morals. He recalled his days in the village and how Bapi, the Post Master’s son who lived in Lagos had regaled them with tales of how dangerous the city was. One particular one came to mind as he made his way to the money. Bapi had called it “Gbomo Gbomo”, when child kidnappers placed charmed money on the roadside awaiting greedy children to pick it up. When asked what happened after they did, some of the children had nightmares for weeks, at his answer that the children who picked up the money disappeared. Having spent a whole year in Lagos, Seri quickly dismissed the story as a myth. Casting one last glance around, he stylishly walked over and picked it up.

He was relieved that no one stopped him or even noticed him as he made his way back to his spot underneath the barren mango tree. He decided to wait for at least an hour before spending the money. At least by then, he believed, his conscience would’ve been assuaged and the man would’ve given up coming to look for it. He smiled as he settled in more comfortably on his seat.

He didn’t recall dozing off, but he woke up with a start at the bleating sound all around him; he didn’t remember seeing any goat around the tree when he got there that morning, and the hunger pangs were back. Strangely he felt a strong desire to eat vegetables, then he remembered the One Thousand Naira Note, and he tried to reach into his pocket for the money. However, something didn’t feel right; his arms weren’t moving, and he looked down and saw that a goat was trying to dig into the earth beneath him; was he lying on top of one?’ He was very confused and the damn bleating was getting unbearably loud.  As he tried to process what was happening, he saw the gentleman walking in his direction, the same one whose One Thousand Naira note had dropped accidentally. The gentleman stooped down and made to carry him, but he didn’t understand why, and the bleating was getting louder still. He willed his body to get up but he just couldn’t seem to move. Something was very wrong, and his craving got worse as his throat grew sore. The man gripped the goat’s legs and, and the bleating got even worse as Seri tried to get up. The poor thing; but how had it crawled beneath him, and how come he hadn’t felt it? The man pulled harder and the bleating hit ear splitting volumes, [and] then he realized the reason for his sore throat; the bleating was coming from his own mouth. He tried to cry for help but more of the crazy bleating sound came out. He cast a forlorn glance in Iya Mulika’s direction, but she was obliviously tending to her wares while Haliru on the other hand was busy attending to a customer.

He bleated miserably as the gentleman tied him up and carried him to a waiting vehicle. Bapi’s story came to him then; at fourteen this was a very bad way to go, and he wondered why he’d run away from the village. He thought about his mother and sisters, he remembered playing at the stream after a long day on his father’s farm, and he longed for those days now.

He bleated one last time as the man slammed the booth over him.

Hurting

It just was not sounding right, this is not how he usually sounds, at least not to me.

I wanted to scream, cry, laugh or even sing, anything to make him stop talking.

Didn’t he know it hurt too much to hear him speak like that?

Didn’t he understand that I love him too much to just take things in my stride?

He is still talking , now my tears are coming faster, I can barely hear him.

I know I have pushed him, and he has gone over the edge. Now I am lost, irredeemably lost.

I knew I shouldn’t have hit the send button after I composed that message, that meddlesome part of me just needed to fix things real fast, too fast.

Instead of living in and enjoying the moment, I just wanted things to be right for me.

Oh how selfish! Now I may have lost him forever.

He eventually stopped talking , but I knew this time that only a miracle will change the situation.

he sounded exhausted and his goodnight final.

My tears had stopped falling, dry-eyed and aware I began to replay the scene in my head.

I reconstructed the mess I had made, changed the scene before the message, and got my happy ending.

Reality was, I had pushed too hard, reality is harsh, reality is truly a bitch.

Morning brought no respite, spoke with him again but he still sounded alien.

I have hurt the man I love and now I am hurting…

My Friend Jumai

She came home grinning for the second day straight; I just had to find out the secret she was keeping from me. Jumai and I have been friends forever, the minute I caught sight of her as we moved into our new neighbourhood, my six-year-old mind was fixated on making her my friend. If I believed in the concept of best friends, she will be mine. My theory of that concept is gist for some other time.

The thought that has kept me up for the past two days is the secret I know Jumai is keeping from me; we never kept secrets from each other. I remember the season we were both ten, and her mum came to my house, clutching a storybook, she claimed belonged to Jumai, one she didn’t buy. She wanted to know where Jumai got it from, after a stern warning to me not to mention the school library, because the book was addressed “with love to beautiful Jumai”. I was very angry, not because she quizzed me about it but because I was truly and really clueless, I honestly didn’t know about the existence of such a book. That was the season we swore never to keep things from each other, I remember after her mum left my house, I just stopped hanging out with Jumai, I stopped playing with her, I ignored her at school, at home, everywhere. She was smote with grief the day we made the vow; it was a good thing she came around, because I couldn’t keep up with the silent treatment for much longer. Now some thirteen years down the line, she has gone right back to keeping secrets, but not for long, “because tonight I will make her tell me” I said to myself as I headed in the direction of her room.

After graduating from the university, we decided to move out of our parents’ home and move in together. Our parents would not hear of it, we were still their babies, besides they argued that it was not only dangerous but that people will also raise an eyebrow at two single ladies living alone. It didn’t deter us, we resolved to first get good jobs, focus on building careers, and hopefully down the line we will meet great guys, preferably at the same time, and even get married in the same year, such were our fantasies. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for good jobs, Jumai got one in a bank and I in a telecommunications company both on the Island. We were able to eventually convince our parents that getting an apartment on the Island will be better and cheaper than the long and tiring commute from the mainland to the Island everyday. With a promise to report back home on weekends we moved into a three-bedroom apartment, in a quiet Lekki neighborhood.

As I pushed open the door to Jumai’s room, I couldn’t help thinking that her secret was a guy, and I wondered why she would keep it or should I say “him” from me. I found her on her bed fully dressed, and smiling dreamily at something I could not see. As I called out her name for the second time, she was jolted out of her trance like stance and turned to me with that smile still on her face.

“Spill it out right now, you would not dare keep it from me or would you?”

“Ngozi, I am so sorry, how did you guess? Was I that obvious?”

“Jumai please give me some credit, I have known you for most of our lives just go ahead and tell aunty”

She chuckled at my use of aunty, but proceeded to tell me the secret.

“Can you remember that Saturday I had to go to work?” she asked me

“Yes, that day you spent the night, and the morning before you set out, bitching about your boss, who is still single because she’s such a witch?”

She laughed out loud this time, but said with a dreamy quality in her voice

“She’s an angel in disguise”

“Since when did a witch become an angel?” I asked her

“Since the day Jim walked into my life”

“Finally the secret has got a name; now tell me all about this Jim” I said to her, and still with that dreamlike quality to her voice she went ahead to tell me how they met

“ That Saturday, I was really grumpy and unforgivable, I didn’t even notice anyone had walked up to me until a rich male voice said “excuse me”, the minute I looked up, I felt butterflies in the pit of my stomach, I can’t describe him as very handsome, but he sure was attractive, throughout the transaction, I kept checking my appearance unconsciously and kept hoping, he at least noticed I was a fine girl, trust me, I quickly checked his ring finger and it was empty. I was really sad when he had to go, but I knew fate was on my side, when he passed me his complimentary card and collected my number on his way out. Turns out he’s the Manager of that Polo shop off Adeola Odeku. Before I got home that day, he had sent me a text message, and followed it up with a call that night. He hasn’t stopped calling me since, and for the past two days we have had dinner together after I got off work, that is why I have not been eating at home. Please forgive me, I wanted to be sure about it before I told you, remember my experience with Bankole? I just didn’t want a repeat of that”.

As she ended her narration, I felt a heavy sense of loss; I never thought anything could make me intensely jealous. Even while we were still in the University, Jumai got all the attention. Every one, or better still every guy wanted to protect her because she was very pretty and also looked very fragile. But even then I was never this jealous, yes, I had some short spells of jealousy like every other warm-blooded female but nothing this intense.

I had always prided myself in being strong emotionally, but seeing the radiant look on her face, I was filled with jealousy and that sense of loss, I knew I should be happy for her, smile, yell for joy, and do all the things that friends do when they hear such news, but I just could not bring myself to do it. All my dreams of double dates, and weddings were shattered in that instance. I managed a weak “I am so happy for you”, which she didn’t even notice engulfed in her feelings of joy.

I was happy for my friend but also in despair, I wanted the relationship to somehow run its course, but with each passing day it appeared to get more serious. I finally met Jim and I must confess I really liked him, I wanted to find faults, and I needed a reason to say he was not right for her, but I could find nothing. He was perfect for her, he made her come alive and she was the center of his attention, they were really in love. As their relationship flourished, my lonely and loveless life became more obvious, none of the guys I met were right for me or so I thought, maybe I made Jim my model of the right guy, but I just couldn’t shake of that look Jumai had on her face when I confronted her, I wanted to look that way, I coveted that look, I wanted a guy to make me feel that way too.

Time passed and a wedding day was fixed, my bitterness grew to proportions that could not be missed, Jumai had to confront me, It was a time of self purging for me, because I expressed my deepest feelings to her, we screamed, we wept and then we laughed, that was the second time we made a vow to always tell ourselves how we felt no matter the situation. I will really miss my friend Jumai, my confidant and sister from another family, but I know she is just a phone call away.

Finally the wedding day arrived, I shone, I definitely did not outshine the bride, but my happiness matched hers and everyone mentioned how radiant I looked. Jumai was a most beautiful bride, and seeing her so happy, brought tears to my eyes. I desire to be this happy on my wedding day; I desire to experience a love that is lasting, toe curling and butterflies fluttering. Seems like that handsome groom’s man is staring at me, I caught his eyes again as he tried to look away, I smiled and he returned it, he has the most beautiful smile, who knows, I might just be the next bride I thought to myself, as the call was made for all the single ladies to gather round for the catching of the bride’s bouquet.

The Widow..

Her face resolute, daring anyone to challenge her

Her resolve final, conquer she must as she rode through the maze that was their life

Theirs, which had now become hers

She took up the challenge and now she has become a man

Courageous and fierce as she took on obstacles

Unstoppable she has become in her quest for survival

Deserving of the manly role she has been forced to assume

All they saw was this arrogant and obnoxious female specie

Had they but looked more closely they would have noticed her tear streaked cheeks

The dry trail of tears, evidence of a night spent in sorrow

Her supposed proud gait, only but a guise to shift the focus from her shattered heart

The more nights spent crying, the more mornings enduring accusing eyes and jeering lips

This has been her story since his passing

I will never leave you he promised her

But leave her, he did.

The day a projector stole my glory…

Finally the day dawned, bright and full of promises. I had looked forward to this day for the past two weeks. I prepared for this day like a man going to battle. I read up the specifications my boss gave to me more times than I can count. Played out every possible scene of the project meeting outcome in my head, and in every one of them I ended up shaking hands with the Project Manager for a job well done. This particular thought made me smile as I prepared for work and show time, my show time.

I joined the team nine months ago, fresh out of training school and eager to put to work all I had learnt there. It turned out though, that life in the business was quite different from what I had been taught in training school. Everywhere I turned, I was forced to remember that I was a fresh engineer. Not fresh and very intelligent (that would have been pardonable), but fresh and green, needing to be put through everything painstakingly. It was downright humiliating to say the least. It seemed like I couldn’t be trusted with any technical task, that maybe without so much supervision, I could successfully pull off. There were moments though, when I dazzled my supervisor with my excellent excel spreadsheet skills. I simply loved the look of approval on his face at such times, but these days they are becoming few and far between.

I always knew that one day I will have my opportunity to show off my technical skills, and when my boss told me about the project and gave me the specifications to read, I knew the time had come. As I walked into the office, the air was charged with preparations for the project meeting. It was an important project, one that was sure to fetch the company billions of dollars on completion; therefore everyone was trying to make sure all went well. As the meeting time drew near, my heart beat a little faster and my ears buzzed with excitement. I joined the team as we thronged to the meeting venue; all the top managers in the company’s technical team were well represented at the meeting. As the presentation was about to commence, I thought to myself “this is it, my moment of glory is finally here”.

The projector was switched on, and the project was being introduced, when we all noticed that the picture was skewed and we all had to bend our heads at an awkward angle to see it right. Being the youngest engineer in the room, I felt that the responsibility fell on me naturally to fix it. My boss gave me a nod of approval as I stood up to resolve the technical problem. I self importantly swaggered past the projector to the screen on which it was being projected and proceeded to straighten it, I spent several seconds trying to get the best angle and didn’t even notice that the room had gone really quiet. I turned to the sound of someone clearing his throat noisily, and noticed that everyone in the room was staring at me, I understood why, when an older engineer walked over to the projector and adjusted the lens effortlessly to give a perfectly straight projection. I left the screen that I held on to stupidly and walked dejectedly back to my seat, all I had to do was adjust the stupid projector lens, I groaned as visions of my moment of glory vanished like a puff of smoke before my eyes.

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