I love Adele’s song daydreamer. It makes me want to fall in love with the boy next door, the who has stars in his eyes, the one who dreams and makes you want to live out his dreams, the one who will try his darndest and hardest to make all those amazing dreams come true for you. Boys like these are too few and far between.
This story does not in anyway support the marriage fraud that too many Nigerians engage in. This story does not judge either. This story is pure fiction and is just my imagination running away with me. This story is for all those boys with stars in their eyes and dreams everyone else says will never be nothing more than dreams; keep those dreams alive!
The world he woke up to was pure and devoid of color. There were no sounds except for the breathing of the woman beside him and the croaking of the pipes that heated the tiny apartment. He stared out of the window, seeking a sign that the world did not end last night.
His vigil was soon rewarded as children poured out from the other apartments in droves, like ants drawn to a world of pure white cane sugar. Chaos reigned supreme as they engaged in all kinds of play. It was Ibe’s first time seeing snow and he wondered if that was enough of an excuse to join the children in their play. He thought about the story a teacher had once read out loud to him and his Primary 2 classmates. The story was about a snow man that had come to life at night, after the children who made him had gone to sleep. The snowman had walked away that very night and was never seen again. The story had left Ibe feeling sad but as he watched the children play in the snow, he thought he knew exactly what that snowman had gone in search of.
The woman he called wife was awake. They had been married for five months now, yet this was only the 3rd week they had lived together. She tumbled out of bed and smiled a hello. She was beautiful in ways he could not appreciate. Her skin burnt when she was out long in the sun and turned the color of the clay his grandmother used to make her water pots. Her eyes were green like the waters of the river he bathed in as a child. Her accent was soft and missing the rich timbres of the Igbo dialect that was familiar and soothing. ‘What do you want for breakfast?’ She asked as she stretched.
His stomach turned at the thought of bland eggs and rubbery pancakes, the limit of her culinary expertise. Usually, he did all of the cooking, even when they were together and she was supposed to be pretending to be his wife. This past week though, she had been especially nice and had gone out of her way to do things for him that they both knew were unnecessary in their charade of a marriage. There were little things any wife would ordinarily be expected to do for her husband; things like sewing his torn work shirt or ordering for pizza when he got home too tired to cook. But she was not really his wife and he was not really her husband and so the little things were really big things.
‘I am ok.’ He answered. ‘I have to go in a few minutes anyway. I will grab something from Popeyes.’
She smiled knowingly and said. ‘Maybe for Christmas we can go to the Nigerian restaurant we went to with your friends after court the other day.’
She was referring to the ‘little reception’ they had had for a few guests, mostly his friends, after signing the marriage certificate five months back. The agency that had helped him file for his papers had said everything had to look as real as possible to prevent the immigration people from being suspicious. And so they had a reception, cake included, for a marriage that was never even true.
‘It is a little expensive.’ He replied, his palms sweaty at the memory of the hundreds of dollars he had had to cough up for that.
‘My treat.’ She said as she walked away from the bedroom.
America was supposed to be the place where his dreams came true. The dreams he had of sending his brothers to school, the ones of buying his mother a new wrapper every other day and not only at Christmas, and lastly, those of showing Ugomma, the only woman he had ever loved, the world. Dreams that would never see the light of day in Onitsha, had a fighting chance in that wonderful place called America, everyone else assured him. All he had to do was dream about going to America and make that one dream came true. Everything else would fall into place.
No one told him that in America, just like in Onitsha, dreams died every day. No one, not even him, with his 2nd Class Upper degree in Sociology, considered that maybe the dreams that came true in America were of a different kind from the ones homegrown in Onitsha.Her name was Francesca and yesterday they had made love for the first time. Ibe would have loved to blame it on the fact that sharing sleeping space with someone of the opposite sex was never a good idea. He would have also loved to believe that it would never happen again but deep in his belly, he knew something had changed forever.
She was making breakfast in the kitchen; a space that was 1/5th of his mother’s backyard kitchen in Onitsha. He was yet to pay her the monthly installment that was payment for helping him acquire a green card. She had not brought it up even though he was 10 days late and now she wanted to buy him food, real, expensive Nigerian food for that matter. He thought of Ugomma, the woman he had dreamed of showing the world. She had never been one to miss an opportunity to remind him of when the monthly allowance he paid into her account was due. He could not imagine her offering to pay for any of the stuff they had done together.
The radio in his tiny kitchen was blaring out a song about dreams and white Christmases and Francesca was singing along. Most of the dreams that had followed him from Onitsha were long dead and new ones had sprung up in their place.
Instead of school, he now dreamed of setting his brothers up in the lucrative Tokunbo car importation business. Instead of expensive George wrappers that his mother stored up for the moths, Ibe dreamed of the day she would come to America and join the mothers of his Nigerian friends who had taken to jeans and trainers like they were born to it. Ugomma’s dream, he could do nothing about as she had stopped taking his calls once his promises of Moneygram had proved inconsistent.
But here was a new dream staring him in the face after last night, one that threatened to take up the empty space Ugomma had left in his heart. One that he had slept with and was still there when he opened his eyes. He stared out the ice crusted windows and replaced the children playing in the snow with his own. He turned away from the window, closed his eyes and relieved kissing her. Her thin lips had been softer than he could have ever dreamed. He took a deep breath and imagined the scent of the cheap shampoo he had bought her for Christmas. The cosmetics store salesperson had assured him that every woman would want to smell like that. He opened his eyes and found himself staring into her green eyes. It was everything he could do not to kiss her.
She smiled and held out a plate of steaming eggs and he could see the little slices of pepper and onions in them.
‘Are you daydreaming again?’ She asked, the smile never leaving her face. ‘I made the eggs a little spicy. Maybe you could eat these instead of Popeyes.’
‘Maybe I could take you out on a proper date when I get back to night.’ He replied, daring to say his dreams out loud for the first time since he got to America.
She leaned in to kiss him and to open the door for one dream.
Song of the day: Adele- Daydreamer (Well of course)