By Gold Odenigbo
Shivers sped down my spine when I saw your face, macabre but somehow still handsome, and I wondered if this was just another stunt by that theatre group you prided in. But no! No audience would stand under the rain just to hold their noses and ward off carrion eating vultures.
One pretty boy that stood beside; soaked, in blue sweater told me the police were on their way; they had been on their way for over an hour though their station was just outside the school gate. It was that pretty boy dressed in blue with curly sideburns that found you there that morning on his way to morning mass, and he told me of the packet of Benson halfway out of your back pocket and of the Michael Jackson lyrics on a white paper beside you, now beyond legibility. That was when the little hope I was holding to eluded me, it was definitely you! Rivers of tears broke free and sped down my face but I managed not to scream, so nobody knew the tears from the rain, nobody knew.
It’s incredible what a girl could do to you, you Paul, ‘a mere girl’ like you used to say before Cupid shot you a poison arrow. The poison arrow that changed and claimed your life. It’s terrible! It’s terrible what you let that doggone girl do to us!
Just two days before that rainy morning in January when that pretty boy, dressed in blue with curly sideburns, chanced on what remains of you on his way to morning mass, me and you, we sat together downing Heinekens in that lowlife café- just outside the gate. Can you remember that afternoon?
There was nobody in there, only us, and you loved the medieval feel of the sun rays that pierced the Indigo curtains. You were smoking a Benson after your third bottle when the obese proprietress began complaining of ‘suffocation’ and we only laughed her in her face. Remember, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney vied for a girl in the background song:
The girl is mine
The girl is mine
The doggone girl is mine
And we nodded to the beat. You promised to Google the lyrics for me.
I remember you. Sitting there, telling me what happened and I, giving you the bitter-leaf truth like I’d always given you, but you spat it out this time. You could be stubborn when you chose to be, very so.
Remember my voice. “How can you be so sure she still loves you? How can you say she loves you more than I do? How can you continue to be seen around with her even after all she did to you? From the first day I faked a smile at that girl, I knew she was trouble.
“Can’t you see? She’s just way too beautiful to be in love with anybody but herself!”
Of course, it wasn’t her fault! Nothing ever was! I understand her mother coerced her into marriage. You, you were only a school boy, albeit a prospective doctor, who could only love a girl and buy her lunch. But her Americana husband was a man, a man whose occupation nobody knew; one who went around with bodyguards and fancy cars, who could buy her and her mother a new life.
And those threats you were getting, those notes, who told you she didn’t know about them? Who told you they were empty? That her husband didn’t have eyes everywhere? Who told you she still belonged to you, that she even ever did?! How could you believe she would leave her husband for you, you Paul, when you graduated? How?!
Then I remember you turning red and calling me names that weren’t mine. And I called you names that weren’t yours. And you killed the fire of your half gone Benson with your foot and marched out, leaving me and our Heinekens there, in that medievally lit café.
That was the last time I saw you before that rainy January morning in a pothole of reddened water, still, like a hit-and-run stray chicken. I wonder where you went, what you did. Paul, see, even though we came into this world together, I knew we would go differently but I didn’t think you would go like a mere chicken.
And of all the thoughts that ran through my head that rainy January morning, none pained as much as the thought of our stooping mother with her now dead hope of becoming a doctor’s mother.