THE VISIT: The Perfect Ex, The Imperfect Husband, The Legal Distraction.

THE IMAGE

On days like this I simply want to end it all. Life is beautiful they say yet I see thorns. Life is beautiful they say and yet I see darkness. I am depressed and I am past reasoning but these I do when I’m depressed mostly in this order;
I shop till my card declines.
I eat till my intestines turn.
I write till I empty my emotions on a clean slate.

Writing gives peace and I don’t fall right into another depression like I do after I shopping. That usually kills me because I end up with ugly clothes, “broke” and angry. Oh well, eating just increases my waist line and It’s just plain sad.

Today I do not care and I’m off to First Store to shop. I think their clothes are affordable but somewhere in my head, I still think they are overpriced. Life is obviously not beautiful today. Glad I’m not going to be eating as my thighs are clapping already.

Mike.

I wish he knew that was sending me into depression with his recent behavior of avoiding me and damaging myself image. He rarely touches me these days and everything i do irritates him. It is only going to make me fatter. Just the way he hates it. We have been married 5 years, 3 kids and I weight 66kg.

Give me a break!

I deserve buckets of ice cream and if you weigh less, na you sabi. I dey try. But then it would seem only I thought it was okay to add a couple of kgs. Mike’s speeches these days are peppered with the dangers of overweight and eventual death if I placed one more mustard seed in my mouth.

For the life of me, I never thought I would get to this point; I loved Mike so much but now I wondered what I saw in him in d first place.

“I will say no evil’

At first, I thought he was Salami’s replacement and God sent but now?

“Again I will say no evil”

Salami Handal.

Salami worked in Nigerian Customs Service. He was wealthy and as they say the Lord blessed him in all things. At 32, his bank account was reading six figures and counting. We met at a photo exhibition at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. He loved art and he was a collector-as many as he could afford he often joked. A hobby we shared. I remember now as if it was just yesterday. He was the biggest buyer of the night and I hated his guts and big pockets. He bought my art! Well, it wasn’t exactly mine but the moment I saw the painting-like photograph, I knew my two months salary was gone and I was going to speak to the artist for some sort of payment plan. I envied his cards and above all loathed the fact that he seemed to purchase only the painting and framed photographs I liked, not like I could afford them but why was he buying every piece of art that I desired? Maybe he noticed we favoured the same pictures or maybe it was just me. He asked what my thoughts were on a couple just before he bought them and I snubbed him in justified anger. I really didn’t care, I hated him and that was it.

How he got my number I still can’t tell but what is it that money can’t buy? He was the biggest buyer of the night, retrieving a phone number from the attendance register won’t cost him even a smile. After series of “don’t call this number again”, I gave in and decided to see him.

In a deliberate attempt to make light of the date I choose to see him at Millennium Park on a hot Saturday afternoon. Of course the park was full to capacity and we could hardly hear ourselves without shouting. At the end of the day, we finished our conversation in his white range rover sport. He was a perfect gentle man and I found him simply sweet.

He courted me, yes! Courting as defined by the dictionary and the aristocrats. I became his “woman” as he fondly called me and of course had all the perks that came with it. He got me a car and a driver. I took the car without the driver. Oh! How I love driving. Who doesn’t anyway? It’s like chocolate, everyone loves chocolate.
But really, I love driving. I could take up driving as an occupation if the price is right.

Salami loved to see me eat. He said I reminded him of his niece who had to be forced to eat and that I ate like it were a chore. But in all honesty I think it is or rather it always feels like one. What I loved was the attention and his continuous eyes keeping track of how much I had eaten.

Once I thought to myself as I read from the Bible ‘the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus’ where he said to her, “…I will give you living water and you will never thirst again”.
It would be so grand to have that living food, where I’d never get hungry and never have to eat again. Where can I get a living meal that will erase hunger forever? I still ponder.

We were very fond of each other and it was as if my thought somehow imprinted on his. We communicated in codes, signs and gestures.
“Annie! please eat just a little more so I can have a little flesh to hold” he really loved my curves and wanted to feel them.

Mike loved bones.

“I’m a size 8 Sweets! Adding more weight is not on my agenda” was my classic reply but he never gave up. In as much as he knew I was lactose intolerant, he bought me loads of chocolates which I ate and farted uncontrollably. He would tickle me mercilessly when he thought I was hiding my feelings. He was fun, spontaneous and amazingly simple. He was God sent and I’d go as far as to say he was my soulmate.

Then he left me. Just as he came.

Two weeks to our wedding, he died in gun battle between Boko Haram and the Joint Task Force (JTF) at the Cameron-Maiduguri border where he was inspecting a newly acquired site. It took prayers, therapy and counseling to get me to forgive Balami for dying, the Nigerian government for accommodating such insurgence, myself for loving so much and God for allowing it to happen.

And he loved even in death.

Months after, I was informed that I was his next of kin and had inherited all he left behind and the so called compensation paid by the government. I could not keep it and gave back to his parents but they refused to accept it. I donated to charity organizations and supported arts. He would have wanted that. I thought as I tore out the Cheques.

But life was never the same.

I came back to the present as the uniformed guard directed the cars. I spotted a good position and drove in. The store is full today as I parked and walked into the mall noticing the multitude and I wondered briefly before it hit me.
“Sales”
Depression and sales. perfect timing, perfect impulse.

Unlike normal days, no one is here to attend to me so I pick few dresses and got into the dressing room but none fits. No wonder Mike is complaining so much I thought momentarily.
Yeah right!
He’s just mean and to make matters worse, the stores these days are “anorexic-oriented”. Exasperated, I sat and wonder again why isn’t there anyone attending to me?

Then as if on cue, a man walked in with two beautiful dresses. He was not handsome in the conventional sense but there was something about him-an air of confidence as he moved with grace and inner glow. I took the dresses he held out and moved behind expertly. His hands on my zip as he helped me out of my dress. Although inappropriate, I did not hesitate and in few minutes I was in one of the Little Gowns he had brought. It was beautiful. I loved it and smiled widely as I palmed my figure. He nodded.

“Exquisite”. He nodded again.

He unfastened the zipper without a word and gestured at the second. I wore it after stepping out of the first. This too was lovely and it was just perfect. He smiled.

“Divine”. He said before he walking out the same way he had come. I wanted to speak but couldn’t. He was long gone before I pieced together the first alphabets that could start a conversation.

“Hey”

Good thing was I liked the dresses and stood admiring the knee length black gown for a long time. The depression gradually easing off me. My eyes roamed the store as I picked couple of more items and headed to the pay point.
I stopped abruptly as I realized that he wasn’t wearing the store’s uniform. Who was he? Was he a new recruit? That could explain why he wasn’t on uniform. But then again, this was no ordinary day. It is summer after all.

After waiting on the queue for like forever, the tired lady at the counter managed a smile and said, “Your husband has paid”. I looked around for Mike but no sign of him then turned back and asked her where he was and she off handedly answered “outside I guess”.
I ran out but no sign of him. Surprised I picked my phoned and called him but no response, immediately he sent a text message. “In a meeting will call later”.
I walked back and waited around to make sure she got it right.
“Your items has been paid for” she informed me as it got to my turn.
I stood uncertain then she called ‘Next’.
I walked to my car and drove home wondering who paid for my items.

Its two weeks since the episode and a Sunday. Mike hasn’t said anything about the dresses and somehow, I kept forgetting to ask him if he sent anyone to pay for the dresses. Highly unlikely, but still.

Mike and the kids were having breakfast when I came downstairs.
“see mommy” shouted Zoe who had her mouth covered in bread crumbs. At the same time Mike,Sol and Josh looked up. Mike stared a while then turned to his food, Sol smiled then Josh said “Mommy you look divine”
The look Mike fed me with was terrible.
He didn’t say much when I took the kids to Church. He didn’t go to church these days. The service was really liberating and smiled as I walked to pick Zoe.
Just then I bumped into him.
The Man with the Dresses and he was beautiful.

THE VISIT is a short story by Soleil Danjuma, an image consultant and art lover writes when she is inspired. She tweets at @Dpartiality.

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