Chikwado loves romance books like none other, Obum will have none of that, she believes the things she felt about love were never the reality painted by the books. Chikwado goes to explore the reality of Obum’s claims in the big city. What does she discover? Who wins the argument? Read on!
She didn’t have all the mushy feelings that came with a new love, the types that followed the manuals she was used to. Because of this she questioned her woman feelings. Maybe he was not the right one or there was something wrong with her woman system. From what they say, a girl’s heart was meant to skip, to dance, to tingle, to miss beats and her brain go in a dizzy-frenzy-rush of hot sensational adrenaline. Her abdomen was to rattle with every word from his lips, her breath should cut… or was that not what the manual prescribed? Why she wouldn’t feel this way baffled her, yet she swore she loved him.
He was not like the rest she had been with. They sucked, chewed and threw her away – those ones. Not that they really did in the real sense but most people believed they did because of her free-hand with them – they never did. She no longer let that affect her, what they thought didn’t really count – at least not anymore. None of them really understood her; she was the outcast, a leper of sort – her class was weird and her ways fogged to their vanity. An outcast of their prescription but it was up to her how she really wanted to be, how she saw herself. She had no one’s expectations to live up to and as sweet as that sounds, it left sores in her.
She wished she had someone who could have a mustard hope in her little abilities to woman her territory without the prescription tablet. She no longer wanted what the manual said, if it worked that way, fine, if not, there should be some other ways to finding love. Her need was for someone who cared to listen to her silent whispers, someone to laugh over her folly with and number the birds when the sun sets in the west.
People often told her she had too much of fantasy going for her, that her utopia was a fairy tale where no godmother exists, her dream of a prince charming was fictional, absurd and surreal.
Chikwado never really saw why she couldn’t have that kind of experience, a magical moment. Even if it would last for a blink, she was content to know the stories aren’t fairy tales. The more she thought about it, the more her head banged. Still, not a thousand drowning aches would kill what her mind read. The song her heart sang was of pure pleasure, the pleasure that came from acceptance and above all that butterfly kind of feeling. The type that sweeps you off your feet and makes you go tinga-linga-ly.
“You silly girl, you have soaked yourself in these stupid books yet. What do they ever teach you except to imagine nonsense?”
Her sister would bark at her, snatching the book from her. Obum thought she was a wreck. How in the name of sense would one believe that the craziness of a romance writer on a piece of paper was real in the world of men?
“But someone wrote it and if it hadn’t happened, it wouldn’t have been written.” She would say still in her dreamy state.
“You are sick, ogini di, what is it?” Obum would flip the pages of the book. “Negodi, look at them. Is this one like any of the boys you see around?” she would say pointing to the cover page with the well chiseled male adorned with carved muscles and a hard as rock tanned body.
“If they’re not here, I will go to the city. They must be there.”
Mtchew, Obum would hiss, pointing to the woman in a state of what she wouldn’t know, she’d say “Ngwa, look at this one, the woman. Oyituru gi, does she look like you. Negodi her woman dignity outside, is this what you want men to do to you? Tufiakwa.”
“I can work towards that, it is called…” Chikwado would try to remember the right word. “Yes, they call it workout and watching your weight. Please give me the book.” she would plead.
“Mba, how can you believe something that is not real? These people are living in the book not in the real world. Ihia bu ihe eji na aghori madu, it is deceit. These people just make a living off you silly girls.”
“No, it’s not. In the book, they suffer too but in the end they are together. That is the lesson.” Chikwado would try defending the ideology of the books, Obum would never have any of such silly excuse.
“Nonsense, you think I don’t know what they teach you inside the book abi.”
With glowing interest and feigned ignorance, “Teach us, how? Is there any other thing they teach?”
“Oh, you think I don’t know that they teach you how to be in charge.” Her emphasis at the end makes it hilarious that Chikwado would barely refrain herself from the laughter that follows.
When she cools down, “Be in charge as how. Control the man?”
With irritation, “No, I mean, you know…”
“I don’t know, tell me what you know sister.”
“They teach you how to make love to a man.”
Chikwado would go giggling closing her ears, screaming “Aluu, how did you know they do such. I am suspecting you.” Her laughter echos sarcastically.
“Suspect all you want. Am I lying? Is that not what all of them teach you. And you keep reading them one after another. Don’t you ever get tired of the routine?”
“But is it bad for the woman to be in charge? Or are you hiding something I don’t know?”
“I am not hiding anything, it is the lies they tell us. It is a different thing here and now. Our men don’t even have time for all those play they tell you to do before the main performance.”
“But I read that things are changing. Moreover how are you sure abi i tastey gwo, have you tasted?” Chikwado would laugh hysterically at her mental picture of Obum with a man.
Slightly irked “I haven’t, just that I hear a lot.”
“Oh you do, tell me, our men don’t like women in charge? Why?”
“I don’t know but Ama was gisting our mother that her husband pounces on her and doesn’t even look at her while he is performing the something.”
“He must be a brute then. I will go to the city and find me one like these.” Chikwado concludes. Her sister only shakes her head in return hoping someday she’ll learn to face the reality.
She had been here and had seen it all too clearly. Her sister was right after all. All they ever cared for was the color of what laid between her thighs, nothing more. She had lost count of how many she dodged, their wanton arrows like atomic missiles from Somalia. The vividly painful one was the church brother who had asked for a quickie right after a prayer vigil. She was shocked; to be repulsed was far from her mental state.
Since then, she had avoided anything that looked like a man with a bible. She rather prayed in her closet even if it was “Na afa nna, na nwa, na mo nso. Amen.” – In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen, she was better off.
She was bothered. Everything in the city was the opposite of what was written in the books. She had stopped reading them but the fantasies outlived her.
The books were oddly right she thought; only that it didn’t tell her the ones she’d meet would be marred one way or another. Unlike the reality, the people who lived in the books were effortlessly charming and could conquer all fears. How ironic!
She saw and met them, the chiseled ones but that was all they had to offer – nothing more than hard body built to intimidate. They were vague, nonintellectual like the ones in the book and they understood nothing next to treating a woman right. They cursed, shamed and degraded women with carelessness. She would have nothing to do with such folks. She’d rather go back to the village, confess to her sister that the wisdom of the elders are priceless. And afterwards, she would give consent to Nsukka, the village teacher that was always on her heels before she left for the city. Better a lean cow with a healthy tail, than a fat one with flies perching.
But she had kept to her end, yes; she had enrolled in a gym immediately she got a job to support her schooling in one of the city’s prestigious university. Her female companions admired her body, they lolled and adored the charisma with which she held her frame. She didn’t make much but she was judicious in money matters.
Years have rolled by, she was getting frustrated. She was angry too, at the books, the things she felt about love was absolutely missing.
“How come they make it so sweet, everything so perfect.” she thought to herself one night. She had finished late at work and was held in traffic, her mind feasting on the lights that lit up the city’s urban space. Everywhere was beautiful in the mask of the night but her adventure hadn’t started. Her mind wandered to him, this time she would play but not by the books feelings or no feelings.
She concludes “Romance books are objects of frustration, a phantasm to escape reality but never the elixir to living it.”
Then she found life and it was nothing like in the books. The things she felt about love were buried inside her, she could almost see them bloom with time.
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