Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.
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Her fortieth birthday was racing towards her like a NAScar with failed brakes; it would meet her rich, dejected and unmarried.
She could picture her cake: Olajumoke Peters is Forty! If the caterer had a sense of humour, she would scribble: ‘wrinkled and single’, under Forty. She laughed out loud the way one would at a cruel joke; she laughed so hard her eyes watered before the tears came rolling down. She wept for her loneliness.
She had aged well like fine wine. There were laugh lines around her eyes now but they only made her lovelier to behold. Her ebony skin still glowed from constant care and expensive creams; nature had been partial with her body, giving her the perfect figure.
Life for her had always been easy.
As the only child of a wealthy chief, she had grown up pampered and spoilt. She remembered being exempted from general punishments in high school because her father was their most generous donator. University had been a breeze, she held memories of partying wildly with her clique of hot nonchalant friends and paying her way through every semester. With the arrogance of one who was aware of her beauty, she had flaunted it, enjoying privileges from every guy that expressed interest. She discarded boyfriends as easily as she met them only slowing down in her mid-twenties. A ghastly accident returning from a soiree one night which landed her in a hospital bed and left her left leg in an ugly cast for 6months had caused her to reflect on her life. She pressured her father for a job and lost contact with most of her friends, save Ann, her best-friend since childhood.
Life, however, had become largely unkind to her. The dreams she had of wet diapers and tiny feet remained just that, dreams. Three men in ten years, passing through her and leaving her like they had found her…worse even. They were thieves, giving her hope and robbing her of her affections, attention and body.
She had never been short of suitors, where had she gone wrong?
At thirty-three, she had a marriage proposal secure, a 16-carat diamond ring on her engagement finger.
‘Toye’, she sighed.
They had met at Tracy’s wedding when she was thirty. She had been fresh from a shattered relationship, getting old by society’s standards and available. She remembered all too clearly his gait, the way he had approached her table like he owned the party. He had asked her to dance and when she’d politely declined sat down to chat with her the rest of the evening, leaving only once to grab her a drink when she’d expressed interest in the cocktails the waiters whizzed past.
They had exchanged numbers as they parted that night.
Toye had been an attentive lover, a thoughtful man, the –quintessential- ‘husband material’ it had seemed but for his skills as woman panel-beater. Adonis that he was, she still wondered how such contrasting attributes managed to coexist in his edible bod. The first time he had hit her she hurt more from the shock than the pain of the slap. It became more regular but she had stuck on. Heck! She was in her thirties and desperate to settle down. Barely a month after her thirty-third birthday when he proposed, he had beat her so much, she landed in a hospital. That was the last, painful straw that had almost literally broken her back. She ended the relationship and deleted him from her life. She had no desire to spend the rest of her days nursing injuries. The painful break-up with Toye couldn’t have come at a worse time: a week before Ann’s wedding where she would play bridesmaid. On the morning of Ann’s wedding, she wept. Could she bear this? With a plastic smile set in place, she stifled the tears that threatened to fall, determined not to ruin her friend’s day with her problems; it had to be the longest day of her life.
Thirty-four met her single and not quite searching. Her job was enough for her. Was marriage worth it? If it was for procreation, she could easily get pregnant. If it was for sex and companionship, married men lined up at her door ready to start illicit affairs with her.
This new attitude worried her parents, so much that it resulted in a blind date with dad’s client’s son.
‘Give it a try’, her mother urged. ‘You never know till you try’.
And try she did, meeting Nicholas in a crowded bar. She arrived first and selected a table not too far from the exit.
‘Blue shirt you say? Okay, I see you’, she said and dropped the phone as he approached the table.
The two words her cerebellum registered with the new face that night; her pulse quickened.
Sparks flew. He became ‘her Nicolas’. She wanted to carry his babies, children that would have their father’s honey brown eyes and perfectly sculpted pink lips.
Her Nicolas turned out not to be hers after all when she found out he was cheating with his secretary through a friend that worked in the same organization. She ended things instantly ignoring, her mother’s protests.
They are men, it is their way of life, give it another try, she pleaded.
A try got me into this, no thanks.
Her pleading turned into anger.
Do you think you are the hot cake you used to be in your twenties? You are in your mid thirties. Settle down, time’s not ticking backwards for you.
I haven’t forgotten mother. You remind me every day.
She picked up her car-keys and drove out of the house in rage. Moving out wasn’t an option because of the Yoruba tradition that a woman had to be married out of her father’s house; her father, being the strict traditionalist that he was, would hear nothing of her living single and alone. Who came up with those things anyway? Insensitive bastards!
That was her biggest fight yet with her mother. Father had watched the proceedings with a sad resigned look on his face. He even went as far as setting up a reconciliatory meeting between her and Nicolas but it had ended on a sour note.
Nicolas and his ‘beloved’ secretary got married six months after. She wondered if she should have stuck it out; maybe they would be happily married now. After all Ann was on her second child.
Her zest for life was fading. Each day did not leave her without a reminder that she was unmarried. Was she cursed? Where had she missed it? She never thought she would be this, the old maid at her parent’s home waiting for a husband, the one her mother’s sister remembered in her prayer sessions at MFM. She couldn’t stand it any longer, this way her married friends looked on her with poorly disguised pity and quickly changed the topic from husbands and children when they caught themselves, to spare her some embarrassment. The dark circles from constant crying under her eyes became a permanent fixture.
At thirty-seven she stopped attending weddings. Was she ever going to be the one in the horrid white dress dancing towards her groom in delight. Hers was going to be unconventionally short, she had decided long ago. Nothing clichéd. The thought that she might never get to wear one chilled her insides.
When would it be her crowd sitting in the church pews in their brightly coloured geles and aso-ebis that fought for attention?
Her hopes were ebbing but Segun returned them. He turned out to be the ONE. He was a widower with one child. They had been introduced by a concerned Ann. The connection was instant; blame desperation if you like. They completed each other’s sentences and one never seemed to get enough of the other. They were together for eighteen blissful months before he proposed. Ah, finally! Their families met in a small introduction ceremony. She went about with a glint in her eye and a spring in her step. The wedding date was set, invitation cards were sent out, and her joy knew no bounds. She made plans for the cake, the hall, the events centre, the train, the church, so much to do with so little time. Her parents and Ann volunteered to help. Her dress and shoes were coming in from Paris, custom made by her best designer all paid for by her fiance. Her fiance. Fiance. Fiance. She repeated the word over and over again; it was music to her thirty-nine year old years.
Congratulations poured in. She would be Mrs Segun Kuforiji in a fortnight, before the dreadful words hit her on a cool Sunday evening.
‘Babe?’ Segun called and tenderly held her hands.
‘Yes, my love’, she answered with a smile.
She looked at him, confused.
I can’t do this…
‘Do what?!’ she cut in, springing to her feet.
…get married to you, he blurted, tripping on his own words.
She saw red.
It wasn’t her, it was him.
Nigeria held too many painful memories of his late wife …
‘We can move abroad together and start a new life’, she suggested.
…and the upcoming wedding made him feel like he was trying to replace her.
There were gaping holes in his life it was unfair to ask her to fill.
His demons had caught up with him.
He was sorry.
‘Ah ahn, Segun! What is this?’ She whispered.
‘Why don’t you just pick up a knife and kill me now. Twist it through my heart and kill me!!! You evil bastard!!’ she screamed in rage.
And he moved abroad with his lone kid.
She could not- would not -be comforted. Sleep eluded her, pain spent each waking morning mocking her. She locked herself in her room for days refusing food and company. How did he expect her to stand the shame, How did he expect her to face people? She cursed him, the coward, running abroad and shattering her heart. She ate tears for breakfast, lunch and supper. Her parents were at a loss, they had tried everything.
In backward order, Segun, Nicolas, Toye; these men had destroyed her. She could never love again. Ever. At this point, she embraced her fate. She would never know the joy of having another’s last name.
Miss Olajumoke Demilade-Peters, she would remain. A lone soldier.
To my tears, to my hurt. Again.
Lets toast, to my pain..
My salty tears. My salty warm tears are what we would drink
Lets toast to me.
To only me.
SO THANKS FOR READING. STORY AND POEM. TICK-TOCK… TICK-TOCK… GOES THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK? WHAT SAY YOU? DOES A WOMAN NEED MARRIAGE TO BE A COMPLETE PERSON? AND MEN, TOLERATE THEIR AMOROUS MISDEMEANORS OR LEAVE THEM?
A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?
FIND THE ART OF @Zaffiro here
N.B. The project still goes on for the following four days. Tomorrow we have The Fifth Decade by @weird_oo.
Also, Our dear AFROSAYS
worked on a story in The Writer’s Roundabout
, a project by our very own @d3ola, one of the Decades team members. The Writer’s Roundabout
is a place for the insanely creative, silly ridiculous. Naughty! I tell you! Find it here
. It’s a series of silly stories written by different writers/bloggers so be sure to start from the very top and give some feedback. AfroSays
wrote the last story, Jason vs Derulo
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