I am too intense for my own good. I wrote this as the hurricane blew through my town. It wasn’t that bad after all.
I. WANT. TWINS.
He is not the same. Then again neither am I. He smiles a lot still but it has stopped reaching his eyes. I mentioned this to Mama and she said I was wrong. “There is nothing different about his smile or the light in his eyes”, she told me “except the reasons behind them”. I smiled back indulgently and let her have her way. These days, I find that it’s easier this way.
I look at him sometimes and wonder how he leaves his bed every morning and carries on with life. I still struggle to get out of bed. Most mornings, all I want is to drown in the sea of sheets underneath which we whispered secrets and giggled our way through life.
I lie awake at night sometimes and weigh all of our pain on scales. Which one of us should have the largest pain? He seems to win in everyone else’s book. People rationalize and say he was your soul mate, your husband and so he should have more than pain than the rest of us. I tell them you lacked many things but a soul mate was the one thing you had from the day you were born. They look at me strangely and I stare back at them till they go confide in Mama about how they fear for my sanity.
He has no right to hurt that much. He has no right to mourn the loss of what he only experienced for three years. No right at all to walk around looking irretrievably lost without you. I am the one who was born with you and the one who is left wondering if I missed my destiny by failing to die with you. He has no justification for taking away the pity that is my due.
He came to see the child again today. He comes everyday bearing gifts and flowers. I felt the bile rising in my throat as I watched from my window as Mama welcomed and ushered him into the nursery. I have never been in that room. It holds nothing for me. Mama spends all her time there, trying to replace you with your own child. Somehow I am not enough. Even though I look exactly like you.
He was on his way out as they came in through the kitchen, mama holding the child and talking a mile a minute while he listened, smiling in that way that you loved so much.
“You are getting thinner every day. Wait let Taiyelolu make you dinner before you leave.” Mama said to him.
It took a moment before she even realized her mistake.
I stopped chopping the vegetables. Your husband stopped walking. Mama finally stopped talking. She covered her mouth with one hand, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Time stopped for the rest of us. Only the child kept cooing.
“My name is Omokehinde. Taiyelolu is dead. You have only two children. How hard can it be to remember which one lives and which one doesn’t?“
Tears filled Mama’s eyes but I could not be bothered. Her pain is of no measure to mine. I washed my hands at the kitchen sink, cleaned them with a towel, turned a deaf ear to his “she didn’t mean it”s and walked away from it all.
I walked to the old place that houses our childhood memories. Papa told me the other day that some young family now live there. My feet hurt from all the walking.
The guava tree is still there. I sat by Mallam Musa’s abandoned shed for the longest time and dreamed with my eyes open that we were little girls again climbing the guava tree. Only this time I lost sight of you and when I called your name, you didn’t answer back “Yes Aburo” like you used to.
When I get back, the house is quiet. The maid tells me Mama and Papa are in bed. I cannot sleep so I sit and try to measure each of our pain on unequal scales.
I hear her cries before they become audible. I hear them in my heart before she voices them out. It has been that way since she was born. I wonder if she has pain of her own. I wonder if it is of any measure to mine.
I walk to her room and linger a while at the door, afraid to take the next step. She stops crying and begins to coo as if she can tell I am here. I cannot take my eyes off her when I finally find the strength to walk to her crib. She holds my stare and smiles.
With her smile, everything is suddenly clear. I know now. This will be the measure of my pain. It will be present till the day I die. It will deepen and it will lessen. Like an Amoeba, it will change dimensions but it is going nowhere. With every inch she grows, I will find it easier to leave my bed. With every step she takes, I will learn to step out of your shadow. With every word she speaks, I will be climbing new trees.
This will be the scale of my pain – your child.
This will be the scale of all that I am – loving her.
Song of the day: One Republic- Good life.