Do you know how it is when you really, really love someone who doesn’t love you in return?
Someone who doesn’t care?
Let me try to explain it to you. It’s something terrible. They hurt you, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s them.
Its like gripping a sharp knife, and it’s cutting you to the bone, and you can see it, feel it, feel the blood trickling down your wrist, your arm. But you cannot let go, because losing them is a fate worse than death.
When I met Anu for the first time, it wasn’t really the best of first impressions. I was driving past the red light district a few blocks from my house- a necessary evil, the only other alternative being to take the long, arduous road that trailed the back of the estate, an extra 35 minutes of driving, not to mention the fuel consumed.
Some of us who owned property in the estate had picked offence at prostitution taking up residence at our front door and time and time again, we petitioned the government to have them do something about it.
We kept getting the same answer
“We’re working on it.”
But then, the girls weren’t too forward about what they did, they didn’t call out to customers or build brothels nearby.
They just stood outside, striking seductive poses in skimpy clothes, waiting patiently for business. When someone interested came by, he’d pull up to his pick, they’d bargain through a lowered window and when a deal is struck, she would get in and drive off.
Being a busy person, I often return home by 7 or 8 in the evening, just in time to witness the start of the skin business.
On that day as always, I drove slowly past, careful to dodge the people milling about and picking girls up when I saw a girl sitting on her own in a corner. Unlike the others, she wasn’t up and about. For some reason, that drew me like light draws a moth.
I pulled up and killed the engine.
“Hi. Why are you on your own?”
“Nothing. I just like it here. Do you want a girl for the night?”
“No. Not really.”
“Oh.” She sounded so disappointed, I felt I had to make it up to her someway. So I checked the glove compartment and gave her a small bundle of cash. She collected it and counted it then turned to me with a big smile
“Ten thousand naira? That’s a lot! Thank you.” Then she turned coy, eyeing me from under lowered lashes as she hid the money in her bra
“Are you sure you don’t want some company? I can make it worth your while you know. I’m really good. Everyone says that.”
I smiled and handed her a business card and a pen.
“How about you write your number here and I’ll call you if I need you.”
She gladly took the pen and scribbled her number across the back of the card. From somewhere, she produced a stick of gum and started chewing it.
Over the space of two years, I got to know Anu as more than a walking fleshlight. We talked a lot over the phone, and she often confided in me. Busy as I am, I always have a listening ear for people I call friends. Anu’s case was no different.
Gradually we became close. And one day, I asked her out on a date. She agreed. By 5pm that evening, she alighted from an okada (a commercial motorcyclist) in front of the eatery I invited her to.
She was dressed in a very, very, short dress. So short in fact, it covered almost nothing. Quickly I gave her my suit to wear. She gave me a dubious look and I coughed softly
“It’s cold inside.”
“Oh. Okay. Thank for the suit then.”
It indeed was cold inside, but it wasn’t the real reason for me giving her the suit. As she followed me to our table, men turned to stare at her. They were almost drooling.
But we had a quiet uneventful dinner. Time, as it is wont to do, flew from us. Before you could say Jack, it was late and she had to go.
I offered to drop her off. When she got into my car, she took off my suit and started to unzip her gown and loosen the clips binding her hair.
“What are you doing, Anu?”
“I’m getting ready. Aren’t you planning to have sex with me? I’ve done it in cars before, you don’t have to worry about me. Just adjust the seat so you can-”
My hand wrapped around hers shut her up. Leaning forward to look directly into her eyes, I said slowly
“Anu, I’m not planning to sleep with you. I mean it.”
“Why are you so nice to me then?”
The question hit me like a runaway train. Different thoughts and emotions swam in my head and I stuttered.
“I, I think I’m in love with you.”
“Harold. You’re a business mogul, a respectable person. What would you want with me?” Her voice broke.
“I’m just a common whore.”
That night I took her home and we talked for a long, long period. She finally admitted to loving me but quashing it, because she felt nothing productive would come out of such. I assured her that she was worth a lot to me.
Anu is a person. A beautiful person. She has been through so much, and she’s a bit jaded and distrusting of people but deep inside, she’s sweet and caring and in her own way, better than a lot of the girls that walk around with their heads up in the clouds like they’re not as human as the rest of us.
Gradually we started dating. We eventually got married. A small quiet court wedding. My friends raised hell over my decision, some honestly thought I had gone mad. Even now they think it was insane of me to have done what I did. But I’ll do it all again if I had the chance.
Anu moved into my house and became my wife. I changed her wardrobe and got rid of the skimpy clothes, remainders of a past that no longer bound her. I bought her jewellery and dinner gowns. I bought shoes and sandals from Italy and Paris.
Nothing was too expensive. Then one day she told me she was pregnant. I almost died of joy. When she put to bed, it was the most beautiful baby ever. A chubby little angel. I named him Oluwagbemileke. or as we called him around the house, Leke.
Four years after Leke, Anu got pregnant again. When she announced it, I was so ecstatic I kissed her right there on the kitchen counter.
“Daddy, why are you using your mouth to touch mummy’s mouth?”
That brought us back to earth real quick. I ‘discovered’ a box of biscuits and soon distracted the boy. A few months later, Oluwafunmilomotodarabi was born.
It was all nice and dandy, a picture perfect family. Anu had a thriving business as a makeup artist and my business was going good and strong.
Then one day I got back from home and met a note on the bed.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. But I can’t continue this life we’re living.
I need excitement. Thus marriage is nice, but its boring. I need to feel like a woman again. I’m leaving. I’m not right for you.
There are a lot of other women out there, respectable women. Go after one of them and settle down.
Please don’t try to find me.”