The haunting dream slowly receded as the darkness gave up its menacing grip on earth. Birds chirped merrily although their joy was drowned by the morning traffic. Here was another day−a day to implore at life and mingle with its worries, sailing in it, or moving with it as swiftly as the winds. I rise from my bed. Ouch! A headache was waiting for my feet to land on the cold concrete floor. I hadn’t had a stiff drink last night, I thought as I slipped into a pair grey shorts.
My backbone seemed to creak as I bent to open the tap. Water dripped for a while coughing noisily before going quiet. It gave its purpose unceremoniously. I resigned to living with the relics of the night for the rest of the day.
Today, would be one of those boring days. The sun would definitely drag its feet across the sky before bidding the earth a hasty bye. If can’t find something useful to do, I thought, I just might find myself overwhelmed by her. I might find a reason to trace where Mama Pima plies her trade. I did that yesterday unsuccessfully. I had gathered enough intelligence that upon another try I would surely be a guest for the whole night.
God should have designed love like a cough. Anytime its tired of being held in those organs, it necessitates an involuntary exit, you cough and spit. Who dares to look at phlegm? Love should have been like that. If I could petition God without sounding blasphemous, I would have done so. In fact this very moment, this very moment Michelle is making a torturous entry into my mind. I remember her imploring me, her sweet voice chiming pleasantly like a church bell to the faithful.
“What do you fancy in me? What makes you love me, clinging like a moth to a source of light? I am neither beautiful nor one who deserves so much attention from somebody like you……..” her voice echoed from the walls of my living room. The brown leather couch, the glass made table and the pictures on the world all stared ominously at me. They moved a little to adjust to her long absence, perhaps even forever. Michelle was impalpably present in the room. I could feel her. I felt her watching me.
The memories left me reeling. I couldn’t resist the urge to listen to the songs she loved the most. She loved Celine Dion, no she loved her voice gracing the lyrics that tickled the most sensitive part her (her heart). She made her immortal in my presence, she felt alive, she longed for a new day each with me, she made her love me and that was the way it was. Now the memories are coming back to me, Meatloaf sings to me in Michelle’s voice.
I loved her to the core of my being. Though I didn’t know how, I just loved her. She was the essence of my heartbeat. I never harboured a thought that would come to me someday and say we are done. It hurt thinking I was in love all alone. It hurt to give your whole heart to somebody who turns a cold shoulder on you like you were a piece of shit. It hurt to be faithful, especially the hardness that accompany it as a man. It hurt to have been too blind to see the world because she was my world, the world that inevitably crumbled on my feet.
Sweet Michelle, I muttered her name several times with my hand clenched into a fist trying to grasp a reality that I hope to wake up to find it was a dream. There was no way I could survive through the torment. I needed a potent drink, one with exclusive alcohol content. I changed into a white polo shirt and faded blue jeans. My feet were well off in sandals. No one was too serious on a Sunday at the middle January, a month of crisis. Tomorrow would with its own bruises, I cast that aside as I locked the door. Johnny my neighbor saw me leaving. That man has a loud mouth. He has a high pitched voice that we mistake it as loud. You can count on him to keep a secret.
“Where are you headed to this early? Are you fleeing the landlord?” he shouted. His mirth got drowned by my sorrow.
“Out for a drink,” I replied in a tone that signaled an end to the conversation. That chap can keep you for hours. He can talk about everything without according you a chance to talk. Am glad his team Manchester United is on a decline. He could have talked of it for ages. That has significantly reduced the pitch of his voice.
“The cocks are still crowing …..” I ignored him.
There was less traffic on the road. Most people were home relaxing with loved ones. It was the only day that they would do so n a week. Others were heading to the church or were coming from the church. They humbly clutched the bibles. Women walked stealthily on their stilettos. In fact they didn’t walk, they tiptoed to those revered places of worship. Those shoes should be banned, if was in a position to order that, I bet I would an enemy to the feminine species. My name would change to stiletto and the shoes shall assume my name and we become one in the name of fashion disaster. I crossed the road and wondered who would help me back home after my sojourn into the world of stupor.
I hopped across open sewers, walked sideways across narrow streets as I made my way into the pub. It is dingy as the expected. It was dark inside. It was open as early as the last customer left. The law did not recognize the place or it did cast a blind eye. They don’t sell illicit brew here, am surprised. Everything is branded and even it has been approved by the Bureau of Standards. I sat on one of the benches fixed on the ground.
An excruciatingly thin barmaid descended on me. Her red eyes glowed like fireflies on one of those darkest nights. I wondered what she was doing there. Barmaids are usually plump. Drunkards love flesh….but this one, I bet you will have to empty the pub to see a trace of beauty in her. I told her to give me a three quarter litre of my favourite brand. She stared at me like Michelle would do when she wanted to ask something from and was unsure if she could get. I asked what she wanted.
“Cash before delivery,” she flatly replied. I parted with a thousand shillings note hoping in its wake it would scatter the memory of the girl who mattered, like the wind would do to chaff. I tried to hate her but I couldn’t manage….the the barmaid showed up with my drink, Blue moon, with a plastic cup. Who drinks liquor in a plastic cup? It’s only in this dingy pub that doesn’t even have a name. I protested but it yielded nothing except a go-home-you-are-drunk stare. I chose to drink directly from the bottle, an act that attracted jeers from other patrons. They hurled all manner of insults. They said I wanted to spit on it so that no one can ask for some. I them let air themselves, gleefully sipping my drink. The drink sunk into my entrails as a blissful atmosphere sprung from the dingy pub. Michelle’s memory disappeared into the bliss. I felt alive. The jeers mingled with her and formed a mirage. Her beautiful gaze made no sense at all. I drunk some more.
I looked at the level of the drink and saw it fit to order another one. I found solace in stupor. I didn’t see her as one who messed my life. I stepped out of the pub. The blinding glitter of the noon sun momentarily blinded. I tightly held the bottle.
“Michelle, if I don’t reach home today it’s because of you, do I even look like I care reaching home, huh!” my drunken slur pierced through the mud walled houses adjacent to the pub. Another sip.” this one is for you”
I made my way home. Everything was in peace except my steps. I had sought solace and found. Only if it couldn’t last.