Things are not love. He has always known this, yet he brings home things, and more things.
An alpaca wool scarf from Peru, emerald earrings from Colombia, diamond brooches from South Africa, a rare Jaeger-LeCoultre from Switzerland, Austrian chocolates, perfume from France’s most renown apothecary, chopsticks made in Kyoto, sandals created in Laos…
“Thank you,” She says every time with a smile that never reaches her eyes. And then she starts to undress.
When they are spent, he feels like a fraud and not like a husband. He is always trying to make up for the time he is never here with things. The house is overflowing with things. Things do not make a home. Things are not love.
He can never quite sleep well in their bed. It is more her bed than his. He could probably count on one hand the number of times he has spent three consecutive nights in the bed. Yet he brings home the best Egyptian cotton and silk bed sheets money can buy. Things are not love.
He feels guilty a lot but he consoles himself with the fact that she had known about his travels beforehand and still chosen to marry him.
It had been a quick courtship. One minute he was getting her number at the bar he frequented in Milan and the next they were saying their vows in a chapel in Bogota. Bogota because it was her favorite city. He had no favorite city, no home.
Five weeks ago, he had returned from another business travel to meet the house empty. It was late at night. He had waited for her for the next six hours. With each hour that passed, irritation had turned anger, and anger had became full blown terror that finally she too had left him.
He had fallen asleep on the couch and awakened to find her standing wearing nothing but the silk night gown he just brought back from Malaysia. That night, they had made love in places he hadn’t even known existed in the house they called home.
They finally ended up spent in the basement, his body bruised beyond measure and then and only then had he burst into the tears he had wanted to cry since he came home to meet her gone.
“I will never leave you,” she had whispered in his ears that night as she cradled his head.
He likes to think she meant it but his mother had said the same words a million times too. In the end, she too had left. Moreover, he knows now it is not her leaving he fears. It is his.
She had sent a text last night.
“Got a pregnancy kit today. It is positive. 5 weeks.” Like him, she is a woman of few words.
He canceled the 3 more meetings he had left in Budapest and for the first time since he could remember, he had nothing to bring home. No silk scarves, no caramel popcorn, no expensive cigars, no jewelry, no hand crafted leather goods, nothing…
The flight home felt like the 48 years of his life; long. It had taken him this long to find home.
They made love on his return except this time, it felt like a first time, like it never felt before, like love. They lie on the silk sheets he bought from his last trip to Saudi Arabia. She lies facing the sky while he lies on his belly. There is a slight bump in the usually flat belly. He holds her hand as he watches her belly rise and fall with every breath she takes. He wants to name the child Durotimi, ‘Stay With Me’. If it is a girl, they will call her Duro. If it is a boy, they will call him Timi.
He waits till she is sleeping soundly before he finally gets up to do what he knows he must do.
In the living room are the two bags he always travels with. One is a familiar bag, the contents of which he packed this very morning. The second is a smaller bag, made of durable brown leather. It is in briefcase style with a combination lock.
It is this bag he focuses on now. He starts to unpack it slowly, almost afraid of what he will find after more than ten years of leaving it unpacked. At the bottom of the bag is a framed photo of his mother. He decides will find a place for it in the living room, tomorrow.
It is hard to be left when you are always the one doing the leaving. His father had left them when he was only 5. Then his mother died and left too when he was 17. He had been leaving since then. Girlfriends, friends, cities, places. His life, a bag already packed, and ready to leave.
There had been another woman before now. In Lagos. He had stayed long enough to meet her parents and begin plans for a wedding. He had even unpacked the bag and left it behind as he left for Morocco one morning. He had thought she would be the one he could stay with. The flight to Morocco had first been delayed for three hours , then finally canceled. He had returned home to find the woman he thought was home in the arms of another.
He shuts his eyes and heart at the memory now and goes back to the bed where the mother of his child sleeps. A few minutes more and he too will awaken in dreamland, a place where no one gets left behind, a place that has finally found its way into his reality. After all this time.
A child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts
Song of the day: Rihanna – Stay