BEDROOM SLIPPERS

It all started with a haircut. Two days after I accepted to marry him, John asked me to keep his company in the barber’s shop to cut off his ‘bachelor’s hair’, to wear a hair befitting a ‘responsible’ man. John normally carried a big hair which he only trimmed but he was going to cut it very low, for
me. I was rather impressed.
It was a small lush saloon with a lot of diversions, newspapers, magazines, a Plasma TV. There were only sport and politics in the papers, nothing of fashion, nothing of romance—nothing for me.

And the TV was tuned to a war
station—bombs, crumbling buildings, starving children, abandoned limbs, shattered hopes. Not for me. So I kept my
eyes locked on John’s head as the clipper taxied on the surface of his sleek hair, like a grass mower on synthetic turf. In a way, I felt light watching
the clipper do its responsible journey on my man’s head; paving pathways for me into his being, into a first-hand feeling of his head-beat, heart-beat. It was the most important haircut of the century.

The hair ritual took close to three quarters of an hour and I was a little disappointed when it ended, but glad that it was over; I now had a new man.
John faced me and when he smiled my heart sank. He was not the man I came here with. He was still the tall, dark-skilled
good-looking thirty-three year old man I loved but he wasn’t the man I came here with; it seemed his big hair was a skin which had now been lifted
for me to see the real him.
John was smiling at me but his smile looked fixed, a little patronising. He seemed to be smiling down at me. I had
known John for two years.

When I accepted to go out with him I only liked him. It took me two firm years to grow the love I had for him. But here, before
my very eyes, this love had
developed a fault; I still loved him but the fault was like a small hole in a pyramid-sized tank; it would take time but
some day, the water in the
tank would empty out and my love for him would die—die?

‘God forbid,’ I said aloud.

‘God forbid what?’ John said.

‘I have headache,’ I said.

On the car, our way home, my narrowed eyes fixed on the windscreen and seeing nothing, I thought about John. We
would be wedding in two months’ time, married for a lifetime, sixty years if we
lived well. How would I
fare been with this man for so many decades?

I discovered that I had never
really thought of this. Wedding John was a good thing, but marrying him, living with him—I didn’t know.

John was caressing my lap. Before I accepted to date him I had him agree to refrain from sex until marriage, but he insisted and I allowed him touch and kiss me—a fair compromise, then. Today his
hand on my lap was a little too
hard. I grabbed his wrist. ‘Stop that.’

He gave me an odd look and showed me his tongue.

‘Please concentrate on your driving.’

He continued to massage my knee. I hit his hand off. He looked hurt but I didn’t care.

‘Drop me at my place,’ I said.

‘I thought we—’

‘Drop me at my place.’

He shrugged. He stopped the car before our gate and I got down.

‘Goodnight,’ I said.

‘Goodnight.’ He didn’t look at me.

That night I lay awake thinking about us. I invoked the good memories we had shared. I put them in the television of my
mind and played them on a soft
romantic musical background. But the more I watched them the more they appeared imperfect, the more I found faults in them; hard as I tried I
couldn’t get the scenes in Technicolor, my memories of John and I were in hazy black and white. I switched the memories off and moaned at my headache. I was so tired and needed sleep badly; everything would clear after a well-earned rest. The angel of distort that had sown such nefarious doubt in my heart could be slept off, must be slept off. I slept off.
# #
‘I don’t want to marry John,’ I told Ike. My seventeen year old brother looked at me as if I was out of my mind. I looked back at him, as though matching his eyes proved my sanity. Gently he put away his PlayStation keypads. The day our last maid was electrocuted Ike didn’t put his keypads away. He put his keypads away to hear me out.

‘What did you say?’ he asked, willing me to confirm he had heard wrong. I mustered all my energy: ‘I don’t want to marry John.’

‘Are you mad?’ Ike was eight years younger but we were so close it was normal for him to be rude, not today. ‘Don’t insult me,’ I said.

He laughed without mirth. ‘Insult? You haven’t seen any insult yet. It is less than two weeks to your wedding and you
talk like this. Everything has
been planned, the cards have been distributed,  the venue is booked, and the dresses…’ He sighed. ‘What will people say?
God, Daddy will throw you out
of this house; Mum will be heartbroken. There—’

‘I am only pulling your legs,’ I said. I didn’t sound convincing but the innocent boy took my words for it. ‘Oh sweet sis!’ He came forward and kissed my cheek.
# #
My love for John that begun backpedaling that fateful haircut day was completely gone a night to our wedding. The love had grown in arithmetic pace but faded in geometric speed. It was gone
so fast it seemed that I
never loved him, it seemed that my love for him was a lie someone was trying to sell me.

A night to my wedding and I
was sure John wasn’t my
husband. I could feel it strong in my marrows, but I couldn’t help it. It was hours to W-Day. What would people say if I backed out of this marriage? What would they do? I didn’t want to think of
it—but I knew I would be lucky if they only go for my hide. So I wept at my helplessness. There was no one I could confide in, no one would
understand. They were not
interested. They were interested in the wedding not the marriage.

My mother came to my room to comfort me. She understood my tears and hugged me hard, willing to take some of my pains into herself. But she didn’t
understand the pain. She knew there was pain, she saw it in my tears, but she couldn’t define it. She might have thought it was the pain of leaving home—she understood this kind. She wouldn’t understand my real pain, it would demoralise her, it would confound her—I would be wicked to subject my
darling mother to such helplessness. So I ate up my sorrows, it was difficult to swallow but I had little choice but to force my system to digest it.
# #
The sun didn’t just shine on our wedding day; it burnt down on the earth with ancient fury. If one listened one could hear it
burning. But no one listened, everyone had eyes on ‘the latest couple in town’ as they say, and ears for the oaths. Prison oaths. If marriage wasn’t a prison, a chore, why the oath, why the signings? Why not just announce that you were married? No, you have to stand before God’s sanctity and swear ‘to love and behold till death do us part’. It wasn’t fair. I said the oath with husky voice that belonged to someone else, someone impersonating me. I went through the reception rites like a malfunctioning robot. I wasn’t in the ceremony and everyone must have noticed, but I didn’t put any foot wrong so I robbed them of the concrete evidence of my disloyal diffidence. I was relieved when the wedding came to a close.

Then came the marriage. At home, that night I had to play my conjugal role to my husband. ‘I am so tired,’ I told him.

‘Oh come off it,’ he said, ‘you know how long I have waited for this.’  His voice was throaty with lust. The voice of a lion that had sighted a
prey. I stood up and began to undress. He yanked off his shirts and stood waiting impatiently. ‘Hurry up, virgin,’ he said.

Foolish man, I cursed him inwardly. He had slept with hundreds of girls and now he was marrying a virgin. Who was going to marry the girls he had devalued, used up? For the first time in my life I regretted having kept my
virginity thus far. This man didn’t deserve to deflower me. You say no to so many men, some of whom you really
admired then you give it to a pig. I am ashamed to admit this, but if John had
given me a chance to get out now I would have given my body to the first thing I
see in trousers.

Sex is a painful act, and really painful doing it with someone who is so insensitive like John. And selfish. All he was after was satisfying his libido, without caring about the ordeal his partner was in. This wasn’t my dream wedding night. I had dreamt of a man who would make love to me, transport me to the next world, not have sex with me, not heaving in and out
of me, stabbing, and letting
sweat from his forehead blind me. It wasn’t love making; if there was anything like making hate, this was it. When John finally disengaged from me he made straight to the bathroom as though he had just survived a fall in a latrine and must clean up fast.

Terrible man.
#
UPDATE: Part Two is ready, here
Tweets to @Oke4chukwu

HOW TO BE HAPPY AS A BROKE, SINGLE, ANGRY NIGERIAN

I have not blogged for nearly three weeks now, and I have, when friends asked me, said I’m on strike. I should be on strike. It’s not against the government (where’s the government?); it’s a strike against the timidity and cold ashity that we Nigerians have become under this hardministration. What is the essence of writing when the people you write to don’t care, when they are comfortable with hardship, when they rationalise and apologise for tyranny? But, you might ask (for the sake of argument, what else?), must I write politics, why not short stories or stupid characters or Sade?

And my answer is, Why should I write stupid characters and the rest when I am hungry and angry and frustrated by an entity that is elected to alleviate these? Look at the motto of my blog, it’s for the Wretched of the earth. Yes, the Wretched, like the okada man who was supposed to charge me 150 naira but accepted 100 naira when I told him I would fight to reduce the price of fuel. So I “fight” and lost, and NLC (1978-2016) lost their life in the battle (rest in piece), and you expect me to run back to the blog with Chike and the River tales. I will not. I am the last person on earth that would give the impression of running away from the deep complexities of governance into the cartoon of comedy, or the lie of thriller. In fact, this blog, I’m tired of you. I am putting you up for sale right away. Contact me on kingkingsley89@gmail.com let’s talk business. Let me use the money and start up something useful, like a kiosk where I’d sell spirit and poison the youths who are trying to run away from their fight, their reality.

That’s by the way.

I am here to talk to my people. This post is not for everyone, just my people. To participate you have to give the right answers to these mini-questionnaire,

Are you single?
Are you broke?
Are you angry?

If you have answered one “no”, please excuse us, this isn’t for you. Don’t let me diss you. Respect yourself. This is my blog and I ask you to leave… Good riddance.

Now, if you answered yes to the entire questions then I must ask you to dig a hole and bury yourself in there because you are evil. Or better still have Lai Mohammed advise you for you’re terrible and deserve all the masquerades he’d urge you to dress for employment.

To read this article, this is how you should answer the poll:

Are you single?
–Nonsense.

Are you broke?
–Are you trying to mock me?

Are you angry?
–Stop asking me stupid questions!!

Atta boy! You can’t be angry enough and give a civil weakling yes answer. In fact the best answer to Are you angry? is to pick up an empty bottle of O’npa and smash the erring big head. But don’t do that yet. What will it profit you to be broke, single, angry and in prison? You can’t read Hard Voices in prison, can you, so what’s the use?

So, to be happy in spite of these burdens, you must do the following.

1, Admit you are broke, single and angry.

Don’t lie to yourself. There you are standing before the ATM, roasting under the angry sun, sweating and feeling sorry for yourself. It’s your turn and you step forward and withdraw one thousand naira. You have expertly used your back and blocked other brokers in the queue from seeing that you just withdraw one thousand. No one sees you but Jude, you can’t lie to yourself. Because you know from the bottom of your heart that if ATM dispenses 200 naira that’s what you would be withdrawing, that’s what you deserve to withdraw. So you go home carrying your one thousand carefully because it’s made of egg shells. You buy MTN one hundred naira card (your account balance is -99.89), MTN pity you and dash you 10 MB; you enter Facebook and you see the picture of your immediate past girlfriend who left you because she said she wanted a break from relationships; there she is in the photo, smiling so brightly, and happier than you ever knew her. She tags the pic, Thanks for making my day boo. #loveeverlasting. Tears are forming in your eyes but it’s the onions in the kitchen, you can’t be crying.

Keep lying to yourself. She left you not because she needed any useless break, you’re a loser that’s why she left you. Being with you was like riding a bicycle up Udi Hill, now she’s so happy sailing on a speedboat, as you can see.

Oga, wipe your eyes clean and admit you are broke, single and angry.

image

2, Confess that you are broke, single and angry.

Put your right hand hand on your chest, close your eyes. Now repeat after me, I am a broke ass, I am single to stupor and I am an angry unmarried auntie. Ew, ew, ew…

Stop crying, Chichi. That’s what you are. Confessions are sometimes soothing balms.

3, Be contented with what you are.

Don’t try to change what you are. You are not stupid. You’re just broke and single dear. Do you know how many millionaires out there who are so dissatisfied? Uncountable. Do you know that being in a
relationship has no direct link with your happiness? A research in one American university I can’t remember right now says that people who are single are twice more likely to die young to be happier than people who are very very single. You see. And remember the wise Robert Mugabe says It’s better to be single and waiting to be taken for granted than being married and waiting to be taken to the psychiatrist. So you see that you have the best deal.

The only problem with this idea is that you’re angry. Mehn, anger is self-mutilating. So…

4, Do something about your anger.

Being broke accepted, single very accepted. Angry, poisonous. No one has been denied paradise ’cause of poverty or singlehood. But no angry man shall see the Lord. The only way to be happy as a single, broke and angry personality is to be single, broke and un-angry.

So, how can you dis-anger your life. The bad news is that I don’t know. The good news is that this place is not a Hot Temper Guidance and Counseling Plc, it’s a blog for Gawd sake! Don’t be greedy. How much are you paying for reading this, absolutely naught, now you want to get free counselling on top of it. Chai, Nigerians!

Anyway, since you insist on getting how to stop being angry advice from an angry person, I guess I can dish out one or two things. First, remove every symbol of anger in your life. Start with Facebook, unfollow, or unfriend or block or all of above that gal with her uncreative hashtag and fake smile. She’s history and that’s what dust bins are for. Done?  good.

Secondly, stop attaching your happiness with something as unstable and unpredictable and worldly like your economic and romantic status. You are a go-getter, innovative and reliable yet no one wants to hire you, their loss. You are beautiful, sensible with a sense of humour yet only married men the age of Uncle Bayo and, let’s be frank, riff-raffs ask you out. Oops, oops. But you can’t just kill yourself by letting a rock of anger have dominion in your heart. You must banish anger and pursue happiness with annoyance. You might start by pretending to be happy, and with time you will get used to it. And a sure way to banish anger is to…

5, Do something about your broke ass.

You can’t fold your hands and let impecuniousness (pardon my grammar, I have a degree in English) grow mushrooms in your head and accompany you to your grave. Of course no one has ever been denied heaven because he’s broke. But no one has ever gone to heaven on the strength of their penury. You may as well make your life easier on earth. To start with, refuse to be comfortable with poverty, be allergic to poverty, hate it, frown at it and fight it with all your might, wherever you smell it. Thankfully, this is Nigeria where everything is possible. So, in banishing poverty you could do any of the following,

a) Dress masquerades
b) Become a politician and steal money. If you join APC no one will probe you. You’ll be innocent until proven innocent.
c) Become a musician. Sing about the female anatomy and if your chi is alive you’ll hammer.
d) Do Kanayo O. Kanayo.
e) Try yahoo.com
f) Begin to farm tomatoes
f9) Take a placard with the inscription “Hire me, I’m a graduate with twenty years experience of uncommon sense” and go stand on a busy junction. Ha ha ha.
g) Fall in love with Dangote’s daughter. Etc

6, Do something about your singlehood!

Yes, everyone is double except you. Your gateman, your shoeshiner, your gardener, all are taken, engaged or enraged. Except ewe. You are broke and so what? You don’t have “I am broke” tattooed on your forehead, do you? Well, if you do, get a headwarmer. Now, go out and mingle. There’s something we call packaging. Yeah, package yourself and ask every girl you see out. By the time you get to the 3,678th girl you will find a frustrated, single and angry girl who just wants someone she can yell at. Accept her like that, with both hands, after all what do you really want from her other than to touch a female breast?

And you mustn’t even only just try your luck with the single ladies. They are sometimes hurt or/and nursing a heartache, and you can’t use your hand and dip your hand into a scorpion’s den. Some of the best girls are in a relationship or assume they are in a relationship, snatch a brother’s boo and move on. Your own boo it was a brother who stole her, wasn’t/isn’t it? Or an uncle. If she’s not walking down the Isle don’t give up on her.

You might take her out for a date and while eating chicken paid with your hard earned money she might say, “Actually I’m in a relationship.” If you show serious displeasure she might soften the statement with “How do you expect a Nigerian lady at my age to be single? It’s not like that relationship will affect our own.” If she really likes you she would open the door wider, giving her guy the knockout, “I am with a guy who doesn’t ask how I buy my cream and every every.”

You would laugh in your belly because you, like the mythical boyfriend, don’t care if she rubs ice cream or shea butter on her face, all you want is to touch er… er… er… touch… no, actually you want more than touching, you want the whole fura da nono.

Hey, pass me the bottle!
I am outta here.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu