My mum always likes to say, “when a bird is alive, it eats ants. When the bird has died, ants eat it”. It was and has always been her favourite saying and she has been mouthing those words as far back as I can recall.
I grew up also hearing her say something like “one tree can be made into a million matchsticks, but only one matchstick is needed to burn a million trees”. There were other sayings that spoke to the same message so I took it that my mum understood karma or at least understood that there was out there a natural law that made the natural order of things not only possible but also attainable.
“Circumstances can change at any time. But don’t devalue or hurt anyone in this life. You may be powerful today, but time is more powerful than you can ever hope to be,” she in fact has often been known to say those exact same words in that order. I was a fool to believe her and my dad who seemed to have been in tandem with it all. Or how can you explain what they are both putting me through at the moment.
My parents are just like any average mum and dad out there who want the same things; an only son who would keep the family name alive by bringing strong children into the world. That only son is me, Pascal, who grew up believing that the world was mine to do with as I pleased. But having experienced it all now, I doubt if things would have been different if I had siblings? If my parents would not have forced us to get married to the people of their own choosing and proceed to populate the world.
“I want to see my grandchildren or at least one grandchild before I die. I don’t think Bella can give me this one wish that I have always had,” my mum had said the day I brought Bella home to see them, wounding me like no one else ever has.
“But I haven’t even said that I want to marry her,” I told her. Although deep down I was convinced that this is the woman I wanted to settle down with, I wanted her to be accepted by my parents first, I felt things would move along more smoothly if that happened first. I mean, even if she were not 19 years older than my 29, parents want to check out the spouse their children would like to settle down with. Isn’t that why it is said that you are actually marrying into the family?
“No mother will let her son, her only son for that matter, marry someone older especially if that person is a woman,” Bella told me when I proposed after we had been going out for a couple of months. “I want to marry you already. Please say yes,” I had employed.
“I want you, too but this is Africa and it will take a lot of convincing to see this to the end. I don’t think I have the emotional wherewithal to go all the way”.
“But I love you, shouldn’t that matter above all else?”
“Love should conquer all but not when I am 19 years older than you are. Don’t also forget that you are your parents only son”.
Her argument held no water back then and even now when I have been confronted with the reality of what she said then as if she were a prophet telling the future. What is sad is that I genuinely like Bella and never want to let her out of my sight.
Jubilee had broken my heart and I was nursing the hurt when I met Bella for the first time. It was at Freedom Park on the Lagos Island where I had gone to drown my pain in drink. It was a busy evening at the former colonial prison turned theme park and there were a few spaces left. One of such spaces was at my table.
“Is anyone here? Can I sit?” she had asked me.
“Yes, sit,” I had said without even looking up. But as she sat down, her face, which was lovely to look at but a bit stressed, came into view. I have a weakness for her kind of oval face but I can tell you before you ask that it was not love at first sight.
“There’s crazy traffic out there going to the Mainland and I’m here to wait it out. My name is Bella, I work in sales,” I remember her saying.
“I, on the other hand, is Pascal and I’m here to wipe away my tears. You see, I have a broken heart,” I said no doubt haft drunk.
“I have never met someone who has been heartbroken. But I am sure it must hurt like hell. Is there something I can do to help?” were the words that came out of her mouth next. But for some reason, she said little or nothing except taking her order of poundo yam and ogbono soup with Origin and ate and drank in silence. An uncomfortable silence if you ask me. But it gave me time to take in her long fingers, which she used to eat her food. I also had a good look at every inch of her body making sure not to stare.
In this way I took a good look at her and decided that she was not my type. Back then I was more in tune with women at least seven to 10 years younger than I was. It was tradition. Everybody I knew who was married, including my parents had a younger wife in that bracket. We do what our ancestors have always done so I was going in the same direction until my train was wrecked beyond redemption. Unfortunately, too, it was not working up to that point that I was sitting at that table in Freedom Park crying over my third heartbreak. It suddenly downed on me, even if there are those who may say that it was the many pints of ‘33’ beer I had been quaffing, that I was looking at an open door that I could walk in and see how things looked on the other side. Not that Bella had told me her age but it was easy to tell that she was far older than me. And you know how our thoughts sometimes take a life of their own and help us make a decision. In the same way I was decided, I would give this a try. What was I to lose anyway?
I can’t say that it was perfect in the beginning and it was all my fault. I couldn’t stop comparing Bella to all the three women that I had dated before she had come along. The comparison was at all levels. It was the delicate and near perfect way she made love to me as if she had nothing else in the world to do than make love to me. The first time is particularly etched on my mind. It had been a month and half after our Freedom Park meeting and we had gone for our third date this time to have a drink at the Country Club in GRA Ikeja. She was a member and invited and paid for me to enter. At that point I already knew not to argue with her about such things.
“Would you like to know my place? It is just around the corner,” she said.
“Yes, why not?” I said. I tailed her as we drove to her place, a flat in a block of flats that now doted GRA Ikeja. We had barely walked in the door when we were kissing and getting rid of our clothes. But if I thought this was lovemaking the way I had always had, I needed to think again when she asked me to wait a second and take a seat.
She returned wearing a robe and preceded to undress me one article of clothing after another while giving me the massage of my life. This went on for at least 20 minutes before she took my member in her mouth and brought me to a happy ending. After that, it was my turn to have a go at pleasing her and I did everything in my book but couldn’t help the feeling that I was not there yet. Her lovemaking has always had a way of inspiring me to experiment, go beyond. This has been a new experience for me.
This was poles apart from the way Jubilee would rush through it all caring only for the pleasure she would get out of it and often leaving me hanging. Then there was her love for eating in. Her argument has always been that you not only know what you are eating when you make your own food, you actually save money. She was her own woman, too. In fact, in the final analysis that was what decided me. Right from the get go, she would insist we split the bill whenever we went out together. It was the only time we ever fought. I always feel I should pay while she insists that it made no sense since she had shared in the feast and she couldn’t just walk away with a clear conscience if we didn’t split the bill. I simply love this woman and I will marry her even if that means my mum and dad will never talk to me again. As for their many arguments against this, I want to reiterate that age is just a number and having formed such a tight-knit relationship with Bella, nothing is impossible and we can have the children that my mum craves and live life forever.