In my silences read significant changes. I became an uncle again three days ago, 16th April, and though I have not seen Clayton Akampuiira I know I’m going to love him as much as I love my first newphew. The gene for boys seems too strong in my family and I have a suspicion everyone is looking my way for that first daughter.
My birthday is coming up soon, I say this, because Scotchie’s just past, I mistimed Darlyene’s and Shu’s, well, I could not be there because I was already here, it seems nearly all my favourite people’s birthdays are in April! Jasmine! Well except one, my beef with William Shakespeare remains unresolved and Baz knows how to rile me up still by throwing in quotes from King Lear and Hamlet and there was a time he recited a whole sonnet, my uplifted mug of beer never made it to my mouth that evening.
I want to talk to you but I cannot not because I don’t have to what to say but because some things have happened that I can never talk about. I wonder do all relationships become like this? You lie to protect somone’s feelings because you know them so well and the truths that crowd in a heart like a field of poppies in the sun would be devastating, so you say nothing?
I’m a man but I have known women more and there was a time when I used to follow the cliché that all women are liars, and her true heart is always away. I have changed since then, dashboard confessionals overwhelming me. I have listened to lies told for love till I was fervently wishing they could become truth and witnessed the wreckage truthtelling wrought, come since to a great respect for women who hoard truths they understand only they can live with.
In the choked silences of her lifestory I divined were brusing encounters, head on cushion in the dark unable to sleep she will never get over, will never tell fully to anyone, living through them once was enough. Silence serves now when she is remembering, and her eyes are dry while yours are not so I made a life and saw her in it: 20 years from now, no longer in this country, back home, children surrounded, uncles and aunts visiting, husband with the men, I was the fly on the wall and I wondered who I felt sorrier for; him, who will never truly know her because she will never be able to tell him what happened here or her, because his embraces for intimacy will remind her of nights when she was shoved out of the car whose engine never stopped running, with no skirt on that terrible morning for the dawn stragglers to ask her why there was blood on her thighs and she lay wimpering in the dust. I hold on and hold off for so long and then I meet a story like this. Story? A life truncated.
All the abuses I have listened to do not compare to the “cousin-brother” who was found wrestling with her, she screamed, and he said he had been trying to adjust her mosquito net, though he was aroused, erect, and she had nail scratches all over all her body. He also said she was a big girl now with breasts and she should not sleep naked, it was not right, he was a man.
My mind goes wandering, from this town full of beauty and tragedy, chance and disaster, and I look at her, the woman I love and the daughters I want her to give me and these life experiences narrated to me tug horrendously at me and I wonder will they be ok? Will I always be able to protect them from my kind? I have a “friend” who a few days ago fucked a girl atop a restaurant table when the rest of us had gone to sit outside, electricity off again, without a condom, he said she had liked it though she was very drunk and before had consistently refused to hug him, kiss him or anything, he laughs that she is sweet. She has not come out of her room for four days.
These are men’s stories of women sitting on the edge of my bed in my tent with my Smirnoff I keep trying to forget. I want to look in your eyes one day and have no fear you will ever be to the places I have been too, my unborn daughter, this is why I’m here when everything says I should not be, missing the birth of Clayton, missing my own birthday, missing her when I should be with her in her vacation, our house changing the way we used to dream. If I’m not ever there right now, forgive me. I’m thinking of you, I’m thinking of her, I’m thinking of you who turns around and asks where I’m. The laugh in your eyes in my mind, my unborn daughters, keeps me going. Take this offering from me.