I felt the timbre of sensation rise from the base of my spine all the way up to the vertebra that connected my cranium and my spinal chord. The heat spreading all over my body, reaching every cranny and finding release through every conceivable pore.
The way she had called…the way she had sprang from the bed like she had been bitten by a cobra. I feared something was amiss and my guilty conscience, always ready to jump to the front of the accusatory queue, did just that as if on cue- jumped.
All of a sudden, I was an accused standing before a jury. It wasn’t but a moment ago that we were clinching together in intimate communion, our lips curled and locked together in an unholy dialogue.
No, it couldn’t just be the effect of the piece of news I have just delivered to her.
There must be something else. And it was that something else that got me all in a jitter-box. Yes, my knees were knocking together. Anybody could hear it from a mile away, the way they knocked against one another where I stood. It was like that radio jingle where that lady was always saying – we are constantly rocking your box.
My nerves were being rocked alright. And I was sure she could hear them right from across the tiny room where she now stood, apparently staring me down and hoping I will know she was doing the one thing I hope she would not do – stare at me.
At this stage, I could not keep looking at the ground forever. I’d have to look at her…face her, even if I know what facing her would do to me.
I looked up… the accused facing the jury, the judge and the executioner. I had little to say for myself, nothing. I forced my head which had been lowered all along slowly to look at her…..
I looked into the huge, round eyes luminous with soon to be shed tears. My eyes, traced the arc of the brow, how they turn up at the edges like they also are bent on expressing the pain and tension which resided in the bearer of those lush, dark mesh of hair; down to the aquiline nose that suggested some long hidden or forgotten European lineage, all the way to the full sensuous lips that had been willing participants in countless kisscapades.
All of these details I took in in one swift, brief glance. I could not afford to look more longingly at that beatific face. No, my guilt and shame forbade me to.
I could feel the sweat trickling down my back, from my armpits down my sides. Heck, I could feel the moistness underneath my boxers as I sat there transfixed. It stuck in all those places that will cause you massive embarrassment in public – those places you couldn’t reach, but which itch like mad.
I just stood and looked at the opposite wall. If I looked at her for too long, my eyes would betray the secret that I tried to drown out in my heart. For now, it seemed I am still only accused before this jury.
There was still a chance, even if it was a slim one.
Thankfully, my mouth was too dry for me to even attempt a response. I just did my best not to look at Kunbi, as she stood on the far end of the small room, arms across her chest like she was trying to console herself – in the almost telepathic knowledge she was not going to get any warmth from me.
“Tayo!” she called again in that tense voice; she was rocking on her feet now, trying very hard to keep the tremor out of her voice.
When I did not answer her after this second plea-cum-call of my name, she began to sob. They were wracking sobs that cut deep into my heart. I didn’t like that she cried, but I couldn’t do anything to stop her.
She should be happy for me. Yes, she should be happy… my mind urged me on stubbornly. She should be happy that I was finally getting out of this hell-hole of a country, even if only for a short time. At least, I would be able to gather some funds for us to settle down by the time I came back.
But, her reaction when I had told her of my planned travel arrangement had been one of bereavement rather than joy. I still didn’t understand why she would react that way, not when I was trying to do something positive about our future.
Kunbi shifted from her position and moved to the single mattress, she sat and urged me to sit beside her. So, I sat and waited, I could feel the heat emanating from her. I could also sense her body trembling furiously like a scarecrow being buffeted by stormy winds. The temptation to hold her was too much. But, I knew if I did and if I looked into her eyes I would be lost.
“Tayo, I know what this travel is all about. I have heard about it from a source I now have no reason to doubt. But, at the time I heard it I discredited that source as a ‘busy body wannabe’. I didn’t even want to believe you could do such a thing,” she paused and bit back another sob. “Please, I need an explanation. I think I deserve one. Tell me, please…why you are doing this?” she was sobbing uncontrollably now. Quiet, short bursting sobs that troubled me even more than the tone of her voice earlier.
These sobs seem to be coming from the deepest parts of her bowels. It was like those of a woman crying over a dead child. It made me cringe inwardly. I was silent, not because my throat was dry this time, but because she had said something that had wrung all the blood out of my heart. For a few seconds I found it hard to breathe.
“W…wha…what are you talking a..ab…about, Kunbi,” I stammered as I struggled for some composure.
“You are asking me? You are seriously asking me that Tayo?” Her eyes flashed briefly with anger, but it was quickly replaced by pain, fear, betrayal and lastly love. Love that was so pure and naked it made me shut my eyes hurriedly against its brilliance. I couldn’t cope with that, not at this late stage in the scheme of things and with my commitments to this course in my life already made. No, I cannot turn back. Not now, not even if I wanted to. The stakes were too high and the consequences of failure or reneging even too gruesome for me to contemplate. I needed to get away from her before she overpowered me the way she always did – with those eyes.
I made to get up – to get away from her before her body heat and sobs could get me to spill my guts. But, she pulled me back on the mattress and held me tight and in doing so she got me to look into those huge, round luminous eyes. She got me to look at her eyes and see her look at me the way she always did when she wanted to hear the truth…I fell deep into the depths of that look and I got lost.
Before I knew what I was doing, my mouth was open and I was telling her all about the long and messy story.
The story of how I planned to make our future together better, how I had been introduced to Sherif by Dipo and how it came I was temporarily warehousing ten kilos of cocaine, which was to be delivered to the cartel courier once I landed safely in Mexico from where I was to head to the USA.
I told her everything….