This story…LOL. I don’t know abeg. Where it came from, how, why? Maybe the Sanusi drama? Maybe too much Yoruba Nollywood? Eh…Let’s just be thankful I am writing folks, let’s just be thankful.
There are two paths to hell. The first is the path of the truly evil, the one that the bad people take; there is no air of confusion surrounding the people on this road, it is a choice that they have gladly taken.
The second way to hell is the path of omission. It is the things you didn’t do but should have. It is the child hawker you should have let take the change left over from the 500 naira note for 100 naira plantain chips. It is the girl that works for you that you overheard crying on the phone over the third boyfriend that has left her in 2 years but didn’t stand up for when your Head of HR suggested letting her go for her lack of focus. It is hesitating to tell the woman you are newly engaged to that you don’t love her and probably never will.
Your path to hell is laid with the pieces of Salewa’s broken heart and slippery with the tears she cries every time you are together.
“I can’t do this any longer…” She says every time.
You agree with her. It is wrong, this thing that you are doing, this thing that you are making her do. Yet every Thursday, you pick up the phone and call.
“I need to see you,” You tell her.
“No…” She starts to say and so you hang up.
Unlike you, her own road to hell is paved with good intentions. The intention to tell you “No” for the last time. The hope that maybe if she lets you sink your soul into hers one more time, you will finally quench your thirst and leave her be. So she shows up even though she said ‘No’
“We can’t keep doing this,” she says. Her back is turned to you as you pant from your recent exertions. In the old days, you would have coaxed the girl you love till she turned from her fears to face you with a smile.
These days she is a married woman, no more the girl you dreamed of the future with, no more the girl you were going to spend the rest of your life with.
“I know,” you respond when you are able to catch your breath. “Don’t you think I know we can’t keep doing this? Don’t you think I know I should hate you? Don’t you think I know I should move on and forget you? I know, I know, I bloody well know Salewa!”
You can feel her flinch from the blow your words have caused. In the old days, you never swore.
She gets up from the bed and starts to dress. You watch her, taking in every move. In the old days, she was self-conscious about her nudity. Her wedding ring is the last thing she wears and then she turns her gaze on you, saying nothing. When you can no longer bear the intensity of her stare, you look away and she starts to speak.
“You are the lucky one Tomiwa. You don’t have to wake up to someone you don’t love. You don’t have to pretend to be what you are not. I wear his ring Tomiwa. I am his wife, I am Mrs Adegoroye, I am an usurper, a fake, a lie. We come here every Thursday, have sex and then you weep regretfully about how you are going to end up in hell for what you have done… Oh aren’t you the lucky one Tomiwa? I wish I could be so fortunate but I am not. You are only on your way to hell. I live there. It is my permanent abode. You at least still have a chance to get off the path while you can. You could stop this. If you never called me again, it would be alright. You could learn to wean yourself from me, something no one gave me the chance to do. Maybe you could even learn to love someone else with time, something I will never be able to do.”
“I had no chance, Oba lola, I know that you know this. And yet your anger continues to blaze, consuming everything in its path. One day I was in love with you and waiting on your return from school in Paris so we could live happily ever after and the next thing I was betrothed by my father, the Balogun, to a man I could never love. You still have a chance Oba lola. You can get off this path to hell yet. You can save yourself Adetomiwa, and maybe somehow save me.”
You wait until she leaves and then you wait some more before you let the dam break. Your path to hell has its foundation on regret, the things you did but shouldn’t have done; like getting on the plane to Paris.
The palace is a 20 minutes’ walk from your hide-out. If you walk very fast, you will make it in time for a bath before the engagement dinner. Dieko, your beautiful bride-to-be will be present, along with her parents. The servants will also be there; Mama Oroge, the cook, Aunty Abeni, your mother’s lady in waiting, Nana Adu, your Nanny, Gbenga, Kabiesi’s praise singer. They are part of your family too- you grew up under each of their watchful gazes and care- so it is only fair that they are there to witness this last rite to manhood. Your pregnant sister Adunade and her husband will make the trip from Ibadan. Bilewu, your brother is away in Paris. Your father, the Kabiesi will of course be present, along with your mother, Olori Agba. Kabiesi’s other wives will be there as well- Olori Awawu, Olori Femi, and lastly Olori Omosalewa, his new wife of four months, your lover.
Your path to hell is not either of the two usual paths. It is a crossroads of both; damned if you don’t, damned if you do.
And so you do. Next week Thursday.