It was my birthday a few days ago….I love birthdays. Last year was a tough year but I look back with a full heart, a heart full of thanksgiving. I look ahead with an even fuller heart.
I had lunch with a couple of new and old friends. I looked around the table and I can’t describe how it felt to be loved by people from all over the world. I sometimes forget how blessed I am, this birthday was a huge reminder. Thank you to every reader that reached out with good wishes. You guys are pretty special. Here is a full life, here is to being able to “swear we lived” when the end comes. Here is to love.
She shows up late, as always. In fact, Osa finds that he cannot remember her ever showing up early. But he is not one to complain or stare a gift horse in its face. He is just thankful that she shows up at all.
He watches as she walks towards him, the rays of a weakening sun, her red carpet. She is wearing yellow today. He frowns a little. Before she left, she was a muted rainbow that leaned more on the darker side of blue for her wardrobe. These days , she is so colourful, so bright, and he wonders if it has anything to do with him. Had being with him restrained her? Had the embrace of love through which he had held her been too limiting? Or had it been a problem with his myopic eyesight?
He takes off his glasses and cleans the lens with the edge of his T-shirt before putting them back on. His eyes refocus to find a sea of yellow before them. She is standing in front of him. He smiles and stands from the stone slab he had been sitting on.
“Olujuwuralo,” he whispers in her ears as he leans in for a hug.
“Osamudiame,” she whispers back.
He lets her go like a reluctant lover who has waited too long to be reunited with his love. He is reluctant and a lover but it was only last week he held her in his arms.
He takes her hand and leads her to their spot. It is grassy and comfortable but he worries about grass stains on her dress.
She laughs when he offers to take off his shirt for her to sit on and reaches into her pocket to produce a handkerchief instead.
When they are seated, she asks after everything that constitutes his life.
“Do you like my dress?” She asks when she is satisfied with his answers.
“It is yellow,” he tells her and she laughs the kind of laugh the wind revels in because it is easy to carry to the sad places of the earth.
“So you don’t like me in yellow?”
“I didn’t say that. I am just wondering how come you rarely wore such colourful colors when we were together!”
“Oh Osa…” She starts to say but then stops to look away, into the past.
He is sorry to see her sad from his pettiness and so he reaches for her hand. There is not enough time for happiness so he refuses to let sadness steal even one second.
“I miss you,” He tells her.
“I am still here Osa,”
“I know you are but you also aren’t.”
“Oh Osa, I am here, I can’t tell you how much I am here but I am. This is my heaven Osa, you, you and Ire.”
Osa knows that there are many things about life after death that he will never understand till his time comes. Juwura has never lied to him so he is content to take her word for it and not argue. All he knows is that he wishes she was here, in a place that was real.
They stay that way for a while, their faces inches away from each other, their hands intertwined.
“I have to get going. It is getting late.” She says as the crickets begin their first song of the night.
“Heaven is greedy,” He murmurs and she laughs.
“You are my heaven,” She reminds him.
She kisses him on both cheeks and starts to get up.
“I would walk you home but…”
“Very funny Mister!”
“Yeah well, it is one of the reasons you loved me…”
She stops straightening her dress to look him in the eye.
“…why I ‘love’ you. Present tense, Osamudiame. There is no end to love, no death to love…”
He has no response so he says nothing as she prepares to walk away from him again.
“When next will you come?”
“Ire’s birthday.” She tells him and he nods, doing the silent calculations in his head. It is hard to believe it has been a year already since they said goodbye for the first time.
He gets up so he catch the very last glimpse of her as she walks away.
“I love you, Juwura,” He tells her.
“And I love you.”
“There is no end to love,” he says
“None; no end, no death, only always.”
She walks back to kiss him again except this time she lingers so he can breathe in her scent. She knows he likes to wake up to the scent of lilies.
He wakes up to the scent of lilies and the sound of the baby crying. He had brought her to bed with him last night. Everyone tells him this is a bad idea and sure to spoil her. He tells them she is not a fruit that is waiting to be eaten. She can spoil all she wants as far as he is concerned.
He turns on the lamp and reaches for her now. She will be one in a few weeks but is already the exact replica of the woman that died giving her life.
The lamplight and his face are all it takes for her tears to give way to a smile.
“Iremiposi!!! You are just like your mother! Tricky little child! Pretending to cry only for Dada to wake up and see this smile. ”
He lifts her onto his chest where she immediately settles her head and fixes two fingers in her mouth.
“She said to say hello but I bet you both see each other even more often than I am privileged. She wore yellow this time,” He tells the child, pausing to turn off the lamp.
“I feel like she does these things to laugh at your poor old dad and his horrible taste in baby girl fashion. Honestly ,I just thought pink was too boring for your very first birthday dress. I thought something different that matched your smile would work. So I chose yellow…and your mother subtly threw it in my face tonight. I don’t know whether it was a sign. Should we get you another dress then? I am thinking purple now….” He chuckles and the little girl takes a break from sucking her fingers to join him.
He continues to talk softly to her till they both fall asleep, cocooned in a haze of the scent of lilies, and unaware of the angel in yellow that keeps watch over them.
Song of the day: One Republic – I lived