“If anyone should ever ask, I would describe you as a wealth of Sundays. You gave me two feet of white calla lilies. Made me feel like a bride that Friday night. You found treasure where thieves before found trinkets. They used to gamble my bones for luck, but there is honesty in your touch. From navel up, I have sailed your spine straight as a whistle and marveled at the industry of your mind. The last time I saw you, you were just as beautiful as the first. So don’t blush, don’t look away. Just hold my gaze. “
– Alysia Harris
It is only fair that I fell in love with you on a Saturday.
It was June. That period of every year when life lives and love is more easily accomplished.
Saturday, 11 June; you caught my eye as you walked past me holding hands with another man. I was in love and heart broken in the same minute. Oh New York, New York; so quick to give, so quick to take back its gifts.
I never thought I would see you again but see you, I did. It was a few months later in Autumn. I had come to Central Park to finally accept that summer meant the goodbye it told the world a month ago.
You were sitting on a lonely bench, looking at the fallen leaves that dotted the park like you could see your future etched into their red and gold colors. The man that held your hand the last time was long gone but I didn’t know that then. If I had, I would have taken your face in my hands and kissed away your tears. But I sat on the bench instead and waited till you had wiped away your tears before telling you you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
‘I would love to paint you. Someday. If you don’t mind.’ I said.
It was Saturday, and we both had nothing better to do with our time so you said “Yes” and I took you by the hand and led you to the studio. Later, I would ask you why you were so trusting and you would tell me about one Saturday not so long ago when I had caught your eye and you had known there and then that you would have to leave the man that held your hand.
‘Uyaiabasi’ was your response to my question about your name.
‘Imoh’ I told you and you laughed and quoted Alysia Harris. ‘You can be my wealth of Saturdays,’ you said. I had not heard of Alysia before then but soon enough I would love her with the same intensity you did.
We talked all night that night. I learned that the place that had sheltered your childhood was only a few miles away from the Ikot Ekpene my parents had been born in. I learned you knew how to cook Ekpan Kukwo like a pro so my mother would love you. You learned I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and shy and sensitive in ways that you could trust.
I fell in love with you in Summer but it was in Autumn that I learned to love all of you. By Winter, you were pregnant and glowing with an inside joy that didn’t need a bump to be evident.
‘We should get married,’ I said.
‘What? And look like a whale on the most important day of my life?’ You asked.
I walked, naked, to where you stood in front of the mirror, cradled the part of your body that held our child and whispered in your ears. ‘Whales wished they were half as beautiful.’
The pains started on a Friday evening in June. We had come full circle. The love we had sown was about to be brought to life. 11 hours you labored and finally on Saturday,12 June 1:14am, Ima was born.
She came prepared-lungs that would have made Pavarotti shy, crab toes like mine to help her climb the thorny steps of life, hazel eyes that didn’t open immediately but could see through flesh and sinew and identify goodness straightaway…
She turned the ripe old age of 1 yesterday, Friday, June 12th, and we have since discovered that her laughter is the music by which we will always want to dance through life.
I watch as you both walk down the aisle and because it is summer, I will lie to everyone later that the tears they see streaming down my face as you walk towards me are due to allergies.
Where I come from, names are gifts, blessings bestowed upon a new life. My parents named me Imoh, Wealth. A wealth of what? They never said. It turned out to be of Saturdays, of beauty and of love.
When the time comes in a few seconds, I will say ‘I do’; ‘I do’ to a wealth of Saturdays, a wealth of ‘Uyai’, beauty, a wealth of ‘Ima’, love.
Ima – Love
Uyaiabasi – God’s beauty, God is beautiful….
Song of the day: Jason Mraz – Hello You Beautiful Thing