It was a hot Wednesday night on the highway, in the middle of nowhere, and we had just finished the umpteenth bout of lovemaking.
“You came didn’t you?” I asked and we both laughed.
He always came but I never did so we kept trying hoping he would someday reach my erogenous zone, and I too would experience intense ripples of pleasure. He took my face into his hands and my eyes found their way to his eye (he lost the other in a cult fight). I ran my fingers over the deformed eye then moved them to his soft moisturized lips.
” I love you so much Kente” He turned around and buried his head in my bosom, making funny sounds. I chuckled.
“Kente, can we move now? We’re on the road.”
He moved away to start the car and soon lyrics of a song playing on radio hovered over our clasped hands and silence stuffed with deep thoughts, and contentment from sexual fulfilment.
I will always be here
To say goodnight and make your bed
To say I love you one thousand times a year
I will always be here.
I turned to face him.
“Will you always be here?”
I took a deep breath and looked away.
He is not here but I am. I am here lying beside my husband on a bed covered with an ugly blue bedspread. A husband whose love for me is beyond the bounds of societal approbation. A husband who makes me breakfast and I deprecate his efforts because I do not like how white the eggs look. A husband whose fresh haircuts and scent I never mind because my sensory system is engaged with images of Kente’s nappy hair and the smell of his unshaven armpits. A husband I married out of solitude, not love because, at age thirty-five, I ought to have been happily married with children. I make efforts to turn but his right arm is around my thick waist, his snores resounding in my ear. I feel pity for him. He is a good man but he is not Kente. Kente was different. Kente is different. I refuse to believe he is dead. I still hear the sound of his footsteps. I see him standing by the wall while my husband is panting and moving frantically over me. For him, I make steady trips to the mart to get Vaseline jelly and then, I place the jar on the little white table by the wall because I know that is his favourite spot in our house. My husband’s house. He had always used it to moisturize his lips. Even that day they said he died, that day he said he would always be here, he had a jar in his pocket. I still remember the red of his blood against the blue sticker on the jar. The memory still made me cringe. Still made me want to cry. I am certain my husband wonders why I replace a jar I never take from but he never asks. It’s his nature not to ask questions, he just performs. He lets out a loud snore and grips my waist a little tighter and seconds later, I feel his lips touching my right ear.
“Oh no. My Husband, not tonight.”
I say nothing.
“Why? What is happening?” He asks.
“Nothing. Just not tonight”
I hear him sigh and feel his hands leave my body. This is the third consecutive night that I say “No my husband, not tonight.” This is the third consecutive night I hear him sigh and feel his hands leave my body. The body he calls divine and perfect. Divine and perfect. I smile to myself now. Kente said I looked like a potato. Short and round.
I clearly remember the light in his eyes when he ran his hands around my waist and said, “Damn! You are such a potato”. He raised a finger to his head and said “Yes! Yes! Potato! That’s what I’ll call you”. And I laughed loudly, shaking, mouth wide open displaying a dusty dentition. I never laughed like this with other men, not even my husband. Now when I laugh, I only show my upper teeth, making minimal to no sounds with my hand placed over my mouth like a lady. It was never like this with Kente. It was different with him. Entirely different. I never had to place my hands over my mouth to laugh. I never had to say “No Kente, not tonight”. I allowed him to slide into me at his will because, when he did, it was raw and original. I never had to fake my passions like I do with my husband. I shared my space with him. I let him shave beneath me and let him know the sound and stench of my fart. I miss him a lot. All I have left are these memories. Fragmented memories I join together on nights like these, beside my husband, to make them whole. These are the memories that stay firm. They do not wane or fade away. I remember them clearly and immerse myself in every detail regardless of its significance. It’s strange because it’s been eleven years and three months. I am in my forty-sixth year, married to an ideal husband with two children who pray before each meal but these memories stay firm. They really do.