This is continued from last week’s installment(https://www.360nobs.com/2011/02/fatherwood-letter-to-my-unborn-child/) and there is more to go, so keep it clicked with Franque’s letter to his unborn child.
2: Trading Places
“Move in with me.” She said.
They had been out to catch a movie and were on their way home. She was driving. He had been fiddling with the radio, surfing stations in search of music.
His entire body went completely rigid, his brain processing the question. Not just the word but the nuance, body language and how casually she had asked. He slowly pulled back from the radio, rested his back against the seat, reclined the seat back and closed his eyes. Very slowly he let out his breath. Deeply but slowly he breathed. Very deliberately he inhaled and exhaled.
Turning his head toward her, his eyes still shut he said, “What was that again?” “Move in with me.” She repeated. Now he smiled, and then very slowly opened his eyes.
Being fiercely proud and feeling he has very expressive eyes, he had taught himself the breathing exercise to protect those he loved from seeing his flashes of irritation when he felt someone was calling him out. Usually, by the time he opened his eyes, the fires would have banked and anyone watching would never know the internal battle he was fighting.
“Have you finally found a place?” He asked her.
She had been talking of moving out of the family house, and was looking at apartments.
“Nothing that I particularly like.” She answered him.
“Then this conversation is pointless, no?” He said
The temperature seemed to drop a few degrees as she gave him the full benefit of her glare. “I need to know that you are willing to move in with me, make a place – our place – with me when I find the right apartment.”
He took a deep breath and then said “No. No I won’t. You know I have a place of my own. I am happy with you getting your own place. I will retain my place, and it will be nice for you to have an address of your own for now.”
Looking crest fallen she said, “How can you say you love me and still not want to co-habit with me?” He gave her a rueful smile. “Knowing me like I do, I am certain I will spend more time at yours than at mine, but I think it is for the best that we maintain our separate places – for now.”
For days she would wear a long face anytime they were together. Eventually things came to a head and he broke up with her.
But only as long as two weeks, during which she made no effort to contact him, let alone discuss what had gone wrong. Then he went back to her to see if a compromise could be reached and their differences resolved.
This was to mark the pattern of their relationship.
During the two week hiatus, two things became clear to him: If they were to work, a lot of sacrifices would have to be made by him; and that he loved her enough to make those sacrifices without begrudging her them.
She finally got an apartment in an Ultra Modern housing estate. Well appointed, with access roads that were more than the dirt road leading to his place. The roads were tarred. Even the estate was tarred. There was water, electricity supply was better than at his place – though a generator was still necessary.
She got really lucky and got an apartment that had barely been lived in.
Before she got her place, she visited him a couple of times, and slept over even less. She complained about everything at his place. From the absence of wardrobes, to the size (or the lack thereof) of his kitchen, to the absence of furniture or utensil. All these without any attempt at remedying the deficiency.
Now with a place to call her own, she put all her energies into making it a home. When she was done with it was indeed very comfortable by any standards. She was comfortable at her place, he was comfortable at his. They probably would have lived happily ever after, but then she told him how she had never really stayed by herself, and how she dreaded nightfall. He decided to spend some nights at hers while she was adjusting to living alone. All in a bid to show her what could be done for someone one truly loved.
From the odd night and change of clothes, he woke up one morning and realised he was practically living there.
His boys would call and tease him.
“Ol boy how far? No work today? Make we track nau make we play Pro Evolution soccer. Wait o where you dey sef?” To which he usually answered “I dey house.” Then he waits for the inevitable pause before the next question. “House where? Your place or madam place?”
He did not mind the ribbing too much.
When his family called, he could never really tell them where he was. That ate at him some.
But what really killed him were the excuses he had to make to visit his own place.
He rationalised that because they had both built their lives around each other and wanted to spend as much time as possible together, his boys coming to chill with him at his place took away from the time. He slowly started to drift apart from his friends.
It is said that sometimes you do not know that you have crossed the line until you are on the other side. Of course at that time it was too late. For him, the gate had already been shut and locked behind him.