When you wake up in the morning you close your eyes and you thank your God for allowing you to see a new day. You tell him to bless it and let it be abundant. Of course he’s an intelligent God and he knows abundance means different things for different people. If you’re a family man, abundance means a happy wife. If you’re a bachelor, abundance in this rainy weather means a good woman. You seal the prayer with an amen and send the envelope to the man upstairs, fingers crossed. Of course he will open it in his own time because like you, he might be nursing a headache wondering how Bran Stark is king of the seven kingdoms. Oh wait, six.
What you never pray for is that once you get that good woman, may you know that she’s the one. May you not be foolish enough not to, so that another man whisks her off. And if she’s whisked off you never pray that your paths don’t cross, especially not when she’s on her way to sample wedding cakes and she’s glowing because a wedding and the anticipation of a honeymoon have a way of making anyone look like they have been bathing in glitter.
You bump into her at the mall. Petite. Wide hips. Tiny waist. All these things you have seen before. They are what attracted you to her in the first place but there is something different about her. You can’t put your finger on it. Could it be giant’s milk? It’s all the rave at the moment. You ask her if she’s in a hurry and if maybe you can have a quick coffee because you partly want to catch up and mostly want to shoot your shot again.
You get the niceties out of the way and more than once you entertain the thought of leaning into her, tilting your head at an angle and frenching the hell out of her glossed lips. You smile. ‘If you can conceive it in your mind you can grasp it in your hands.’ The power of positive thinking, aye? You thank the gods for all the Paulo Coelho’s of this world and get lost in her brown eyes.
She doesn’t tell you, not immediately anyway. You hear it after she picks up her phone. “I’m sorry, I need to take this.” She was always one for courtesy. You don’t believe it, not at first because you don’t want to. “So where were we?” she says after thumbing the red receiver and placing her smartphone on the table with those tiny delicate hands, oblivious that she was on the phone going on about wedding locations, dresses and giggling amply.
“You were telling me when we’re eating your rice?” you say it the way you usually say it to women. Jokingly, to know the status of their romantic relationships but secretly knowing that they will laugh and say something like, “Aki wewe, it’s my cousin getting married.” But instead she wears a serious look, the one she wore when she broke up with you, and says she’s, in fact, getting married and she’s there to sample wedding cakes.
Your mind momentarily goes numb. You always thought these things happen in movies or to suckers. Foolish men who wouldn’t know a good woman if she slapped them with love, care and support. It’s a classic telenovela. A foolish man has a good woman but doesn’t seem to know it, he loses her to a man who actually knows she’s worth her weight in gold, and it opens up the fool’s eyes. He finally realizes that all along he had gold within reach but he was too busy chasing brass and copper because they were shinier and now-to-his-chagrin of very little worth. Of course by then it’s too late and Prince Charming is already riding into the sunset with Miss Gold, oh wait, Mrs.
You gulp and you can actually feel your saliva hitting the pit of your stomach along with the knot that had its hands wrapped around your neck. Its long, cruel nails leave trails of scratches along your throat, making you cough. “When is the wedding?” you say while coughing some more. “Am I invited?” You wouldn’t want to see your face because all the blood is draining from it and you’re slowly resembling a corpse if not a white walker. Students of psychology could use you as a master class for jealousy.
“We haven’t decided on a date yet.” She says and goes quiet. You’re not sure what is more disturbing, the fact that she is now talking in terms of ‘we’ and there is no ‘you’ in that ‘we’, or how she didn’t mention if you’re invited or not, or that your face is feeling brick-stiff because all the blood is in the pit of your stomach along with the knot and all your saliva.
You cough again. Your lips cracking because your mouth is dry.
“What cake are you guys considering? Chocolate cake?” You hear yourself say. You were always the cake connoisseur, weren’t you?
“No, just kawaida cake?”
“And the dress? Oh, I was at this expo late last month they had discounts for everything. You could have probably gotten a dress and a bed for a good price.”
“A bed?” She looks at you with a raised brow, wondering who invited you into her business.
You try to swallow and you cough what you’ve always been full of, hot air. There is nothing left in your mouth that can go down your throat unless you swallow your tongue or pull your teeth, which is what the conversation feels like—pulling teeth.
You wipe the beads of sweat forming on the roof of your upper lip with the back of your hand and continue. “Yeah, a baby bed—a pram. You could have probably gotten it for half the price.” Christ! You have moved from being a cake connoisseur, to her family planning doctor and now you’re her chief accountant. You cough again. Hot air. You swallow. Nothing. The knot tightens.
She regards you for a second and smiles. Her smile is still magic. “I should get going,” she says in an effort to put you out of your misery. If you were her you would want to get going too.
“I’m really happy for you,” you hear yourself say. Your voice two octaves higher so that you sound like a Sunday School choir girl and nothing close to genuine. You watch her walk away. Petite. Wide hips. Tiny waist and that glow that can only be giant’s milk. You attempt a cough. Hot air.
The next morning when you wake up you adjust your prayers. You thank your God for allowing you to see a new day, you tell him to bless it and let it be abundant. Because he is an intelligent God he knows what you mean by abundance. But if at all you’re foolish enough not to pay the abundance any mind, may he not let you bump into the abundance, and much less right when she’s on her way to sample wedding cakes and pick a wedding dress in another man’s honor.
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