Home Blog Toxic Ghost by Peace Habila-Okwoli

Toxic Ghost by Peace Habila-Okwoli

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When it happened, I didn’t have the courage to lift my head for fear of becoming the meat on bloggers’ tables on social media. Picturing myself on each blogger’s page with captions like ‘Proposal Gone South’ and how they would add what didn’t happen to spice things up as well as attract the gullible kept me still. I would rather remain in this position: one knee down, eyes fixed on the ground and tears flowing like a river till the mockery-induced laughter and smirks fade away.

I blame myself more than I blame Adunni who propelled me into this mess. I was too foolish to forget how she had jinxed great opportunities for me in the past. I hate her guts yet enjoy her company. She is my only friend and because we function like the negative and positive forces of the universe, I had held onto our friendship like life.

On the day she got engaged, she couldn’t hide her displeasure over my inability to get Dayo to man up and put a ring on my finger. I recall how we sat on the floor like two hopeless birds mourning the death of the wind before she snatched us back to reality with

“What if you propose to Dayo? It is the 21st century, girl”
“Come on, my ancestors will disown me’’, I added as quickly as I could before her words settled in my bones.

Days turned to weeks and I began to rationalize her suggestion. Dayo was beginning to act sweet. He was the sweetest shade of himself.

Then the demon possessed me.

”Hello Dayo, do you have a minute to spare?”, I asked over the phone with the words quaking through my vocal cords due to fear.

”Sure, shoot babe’’, he replied swiftly.

”I want us to do dinner tonight’’, I added almost immediately.

“Ok, I will pick you up after work. Our usual spot, right?”, He asked.

“No! Dayo, I will send the address to you and I will find my way there, don’t worry”, I replied.

”Ok”, he said before dropping the call.

Fear welled up from my tummy racing for my throat to choke life out of me. I wondered why he didn’t add the usual “I love you” closing. It got me anxious but the thought of wasting 10 years of my life and the possibility of another 10 gave me faint hope.

I rushed to the makeup studio to fix myself. The red gown was perfect for the day because it was Valentine. When I was ready to step out, I loved what I saw in the mirror- I was intimidating to the eyes yet soft on the heart.

Dinner was beautiful but the thought of what was ahead made me uneasy. Thankfully, he didn’t notice it.

”Dayo, I love you so much’’, I said as I let my feet enjoy the freedom of stretching. Like a robot, I walked to his side and knelt on one knee.

”Please, marry me’’, I said.

”Get up, you are embarrassing me”, he said.

I asked again and again till my voice lost discretion and got people around clapping.

Guess he really couldn’t take it as he hurried out, leaving me to my fate.

I felt empty yet determined to salvage what was left of my self esteem. I stayed there for a while, enduring the arrows of shame and mockery that were directed at me.

When my romance with fear was over, I started counting the feet of people leaving the restaurant.

The restaurant was almost quiet when someone tapped my shoulders. I lifted my head to a cute young man urging me to get up.

”You have punished yourself enough’’, he said. He wondered why I allowed them to take pictures of me.

His indirect speech confirmed my fears. The only available consolation was the hope that none of them got my face.

I am Samson but you can call me Sam, he said as he disrupted the silence that had engulfed the table we sat at.

One thing led to another and I found myself in love with Sam barely six weeks after meeting him.

He wasn’t the conventional Abuja guy. I enjoyed his pranks and the air of mystery around him; it kept me longing for more.

My mum was excited the day I told her about Sam’s proposal. I was over 40. That explained the over 1000 congratulatory messages that glazed my social media timeline.

However, the low key wedding was disappointing to a lot of people. They expected us to throw a big party. My mother concluded that I was overprotective of Sam.

“E no easy to see husband”‘was all I had the courage to say in response to her question.

She had so many issues with Sam and how he couldn’t get his people to show up for the wedding but what doused her fears was that he was working on his papers to relocate to Canada. It was only decent to rush the wedding and process our documents as a couple. That explanation calmed a lot of wagging tongues.

After the wedding, he moved in with me. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of joining him in a hotel where he had spent about 5 months plus.

Like they say, marriage is an eye opener but in my case, it opened my eyes to the beauty of love. I enjoyed waking up to his bright eyes jealously watching over me.

I felt so much in love and wished Dayo could get to see this in addition to knowing that I got married two months after he walked out on me.

He was my world and I threw myself helplessly into his net of love.

All was going well until this same Adunni called to register her concerns.

”I think your husband is a narcissist’’, she exclaimed.

”You are in his web o!”

“Do you feel fulfilled?”

“Are you truly happy?”

“Can’t you see he has gradually taken you away from friends and family?” She thundered as though being chased by a lion.

”He is good to me. I love him”, I replied.

”Ah! Oluwa! He is love bombing you.”

“He will change and your guards are so low at the moment”.

“I am just realizing that months after the wedding you are yet to process any paper.”

“Did you visit any embassy? Did you get to talk to his family?”

“Just you and him in that house.”

“I am afraid for you’’, she added.

Every fibre in my body hated her after the call. Her words felt like jealousy for the mere fact that I got wedded before her. My happy home probably kept her restless, I convinced myself.

While I was still basking in hatred, hell sent its furnace into my home.

All of sudden, Sam fell distant. He started staying out late and soon, loneliness ate the best portion of the affection in my heart. He was not verbally abusive. He was just cold, as cold as the one-year-old beef in my deep freezer.

I yearned for the taste of love he once served but it wasn’t within my reach.

He was hardly home so I gave the audience to Adunni’s words and like magic, they made some sense.

When I finally reached for my phone to call her, I was overwhelmed by guilt and shame.

”Hello Adunni, come’’, was all I had the strength to say.

When she appeared, she couldn’t recognize me.

”How can you claim to be happy and look this messed up Ann?”, she asked.

She pulled out her phone from her bag and soon began to talk to someone at the other end.

She also made a warm meal for me because I had not had any decent meal in weeks. She left when the sun had gone to rest.

A few days later, she came for me. She had booked a therapy session. She drove me there but left to see a client. I felt better after the session but I didn’t feel fixed.

To reconnect with the world, I took a long walk before joining a bus heading to my street. The ride was soothing because I couldn’t remember the last time I took a public bus. I enjoyed the view, the noise and everything in between. We were sandwiched in a scary way but the warmth from the young lady next to me made me feel alive. We were minutes away from my junction when my phone rang. It was a bit late when I pulled it out. While trying to navigate my way to the caller, the lady next to me let out a loud cry.

”Jesus, Jesus!”

Everyone was perplexed. She rushed out of the bus as soon as the driver pulled over and was gasping for air like a lost puppy.

After her display of madness, she was asked what the issue was. To my dismay, she pointed at me. I had to sniff my armpit to be sure I wasn’t emitting some offensive odour.

”What did I do young lady?”

“I have enough on my plate, please don’t add yours’’, I replied angrily.

”Your screensaver looks like my late brother”.

“We just buried him today. I am on my way to pick up the coal to seal his tomb. It is my duty to seal his tomb”.

“I don’t know why Samson is haunting me”, she reeled out while grasping for air.

I quickly dismissed her words but remembered she said her brother’s name was Samson too. Then she pulled out her phone and she had the exact picture on my screensaver. She confirmed the surname and narrated how his wife murdered him in his sleep on the day we met.

“It took the Police a while before releasing the corpse to be buried. While I was still trying to process everything”, she added, “hope you didn’t serve him yam and red oil. If you did, you have tied your soul to a ghost”.

”Ah! Yam and red oil was his favourite meal. I am dead’’, I exclaimed.

That was all I could remember.

I woke in a pool of sweat. It was all a dream, a horrible one at that.

……

Then I thought to myself while confronting my soul and essence.

Love!

Why are thou far from me?

You let me touch your claws and feel its tenderness yet you elude me at every given opportunity

Do I need to dance with the dead to feel your warmth?

Do I need to borrow strange tongues to call on you thee at dawn?

Love, why is my shadow faint when I call on thee?

The trees and birds have mates

They kiss and hug in the wind

The same wind that blows my secret to the East

The rocks romance in public

Yet

I have no one to hug.

Why are thou selfish?

Why do you spread your wings on some but flog others with your wings?

Are we the dreg of humanity?

Are we the forsaken sons of the disgraced wife of the favoured man?

What is our offense?

What did we do wrong?

But

Today, I choose to wait on thee!

Crush or save

I will wait.

Mar or make

I will wait on thee.

Let me taste the sweetness in your name.

Let your honey grace my tongue.

Let me feel the fragrance of your sweat.

Let my knee bend to the rhythm of my heart.

For my voice longs to tell the daughters of the land of your beauty.

My lips quake in anticipation of your song.

My heart awaits the warmth that spreads from my tummy to my heart.

I wait.

I long.

And

Only you can quench this thirst.

For the sons of the land despise me

My dark ebony shoulders sing the songs of their hatred.

They mock my beauty and thus deny it affection and admiration.

They say coat it yellow

Make it red

Color it fair

That we may judge thee fairly.

But

Who am I to cook ebony red?

I dare not!

Let them offer not love.

Let them shout in the street.

I am deaf to them.

Deaf to those who claim to offer love.

I will call on love though she is mute

She will answer with wailing and thunder one day.

She will make black shine like ebony.

My ebony will shine like silver.

She will satisfy me.

She will make me dance in the square at noon.

Then the sun shall radiate the beauty of love

She shall wrap her arms around me to the envy of the sons of the land

Then shall they call my name at dawn

They shall sing this song of love

They will testify of your strength

And I will become the envy of the village.

While I wait, I shall keep singing thy name.

You are love

Mother of strength

You have a face and it is beautiful.

I am confident of this truth.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-pTKRjLyGhH3xrUJfdj08be7R3FkXfsjydtORINJ9Ko/edit?usp=drivesdk

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