It won’t hurt him

“It is really not what you think.”

“I just know it is.”

My husband and I are still in bed. It is a Saturday morning and our two children are sleeping in. This is our Saturday tradition. We, Mayowa and I, are having a suspicion induced conversation that many married people have at least once during their married life. The difference is that right now, as opposed to most cases, I’m the one on trial. Not directly though.

We’re talking about my work colleague, Mark. It doesn’t help matters that Mark and I do a lot of travelling together for work. Mayowa is clearly fuming now. He’s saying he caught Mark openly staring at me twice. The first time was when Mayowa came to see me at the office and the second time, we ran into Mark at a supermarket.

“I even gave him ‘the eye’ the second time and the son of a bitch raised his eyebrow at me. Can you believe that?”

I laugh a little but my mind is going a mile a minute. I have a very good memory. I remember things in details too. One of the reasons why I’m a very valuable employee and a mother that can’t be fooled easily. Now, I’m remembering Mayowa fondling me all of a sudden while we were buying groceries. I was meaning to ask him about that later but I forgot. I didn’t really mind at the time but it all made sense now.

“You’re just making stuff up. Nobody defies ‘the eye’.”

He is giving me a different kind of death stare now because he can tell that I’m making fun of him. I meant the second statement. The children don’t mess with the eye. That is why I’m the cool parent.

“Just don’t go anywhere alone with him, okay? I get that you have to work together but no late dinners at the office or when you travel on business. I know I may seem a little crazy now but just do that for me.”

“None of that, I promise.”

I follow that with a quick peck on his right cheek and struggle to continue with the book I’m reading.

The truth is Mark has made advances towards me. In fact, I’ve asked that he be sent on trips alone. My excuse is that my children need me and my husband is extremely busy. I made it clear that I’ll keep doing my part of the work Mark will take along. Our boss holds me in high esteem so my request was granted, much to my relief. I feel guilty for not telling Mayowa. Especially since he feels this way. At the same time I can’t help but love him more for his reaction. Women logic, I think.

I don’t want to tell him now because he’ll be mad that I didn’t before. I’ll be taking his advice. I guess what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Let’s just enjoy the weekend.



Dave Coba. Sony Photography Awards

They asked why we are no more

How could I let you go?

Said we were peas in a pod


How do I explain

That I cannot be loved

That at first our love was beauty

But like always I got tired of that beauty

And drained it

With insane jealousy


Lies and deceit


How do I explain

That me

With my mocha skin

Curvaceous body

And the face of an angel

Am not worthy of you

Or anyone

Hence, I abuse love


How do I explain

That I am damaged

Cannot be fixed

Or nurtured

And can only self-heal


So I say you cheated

I say I left you

Because you hurt me

My usual excuse


They always ask

I fear that they do know the answer

But refuse to believe


I’ll stick to my story

Because my truth isn’t pretty enough

We Are


I grew up in a pool house
Far away from here

My mother
The maid of the main house
Kept our home spotless
My room always ‘cleaned up’
Me, always furious
Because I liked my junk

Why do we always have to clean?
Why can’t I put posters up?
My teenage self
Mouth full of questions

My friends would ask
Why is your brother dark?
I lied
Said I did not know

How do I explain that my mother was jilted twice?
First by a black man
Her first act of rebellion
Against her snobby white parents
The result, Jamal
We all call him Jay

The Father-Daughter dance
Jay went with me
People whispered
Snickered as we danced past
With head held high, he paid no attention

His father’s gift to him
I suppose
Our mother is no brave woman

Make no mistake
She has her virtues
Her hard-work
Her unconditional love
Her efforts to give us the best

She’s proud now
Of what Jay and I have become
The best gifts she gave
Constant reminder that we are not our fathers
That we could muddle through tough times
That we are who we choose to be
And we are.

This is not a letter

This is not a letter. It is a statement of facts that I feel you must be made aware of.

Far be it from me to judge you for the choices you make. The people you choose to talk to even though I openly express my dislike towards them. Take Paul for instance, who is obviously a gigolo. He does it to get through school? I don’t care. I just don’t imagine that there is much else he can talk about besides women. If that makes me a snob, I’m fine with it. Miss fancypants too, whatever her name is. You’ve refused to see that she has designs on you. Which makes me doubt that you can see well even with those nerdy glasses. She wears pants that look like they might come apart if she takes more than a tiny step but she’s ‘nice’. Asks about me. Someday, I hope you realise she’s asking to know so she might jump on you at the slightest opportunity.

Then there are the habits you’ve refused to drop. Like stealing from my food while I eat, which I find especially irritating since there is always enough for two. You also take arguments too personally. I wasn’t really pissed the other day – even though I pretended to be. Unlike you, I don’t sulk.

The places you go to that I could never enter. Like that awful looking diner you claim makes the best burgers in town. Remember when I had eaten the burger with sighs of satisfaction in between bites not knowing you had gotten it from that ugly place? I don’t hate you for that. I also don’t hate that you can eat a mountain of crap and still look so good. When I comment on this, you say I look awesome. My argument still stands. If I eat like you do I’d be obese.

I don’t blame you for giving in and smoking nine days and five months after you had already quit. It was a rough day and I understand now. I didn’t at the time, made a huge fuss about it and made you feel awful about yourself. I’m sorry that I was difficult. However, I’m not sorry that because of that you haven’t smoked ever since. 1 year, 8 months, 15 days and counting.

I’m only a tad bit annoyed that your taste in clothes is better than mine. I remember the last time you went shopping with me. The sales attendants were in awe of you. How you knew what I shouldn’t pick and what would look fabulous on me. It really should have been the other way around. I wish I wasn’t so useless in that area.

You’re the god of clutter. You say that you are getting better but you end up wearing mismatched socks. Your reason being that half of each pair hides in the washing machine. I know better. I’m the Santa who finds those ‘hidden half pairs’ – in weird places – and matches your socks. I won’t say much about the cushions and the coffee stains on them. A result of your propping full mugs on them while reading.

They say actions speak louder than words. I’m sorry I’ve failed you in both departments. You with your thousand and one little gestures that make me feel loved. Sometimes flustered but always loved.

At first, this may not seem like the declaration of love that it really is. You must read again from the beginning because I want you to see that it is. Even though the words constantly elude me, I’m still in love with you. Coffee-stained cushions and all.

Our Love Is War

I am exhausted
From the yelling matches
How you seem to think you’re winning
Even when you don’t make any sense
Like right now.
I’m especially mad
That you expect me to give it all up for you

You know what saddens me?
I did try
I stopped being picky
Went with the flow
Didn’t think of all the differences
Letting you convince me that it doesn’t matter
It seems you lied

We’ve thrown glasses
Aimed at each other
Made up passionately
Swept it under the rug
Tried arguing in dangerously calm tones
But it appears we’re a lost cause
Since we keep coming full circle

The time wasted
That can never be regained
I had just about checked The One off my list
Because we are damned good together
I complete you.
As our differences drown us, I wonder
Why is our love not enough?


I don’t believe in love.

I used to. I was young and gullible and he was handsome. Extremely charming too. So much so that I was always wondering why he chose me, of all the girls around. I am not blessed with a womanly body. I am certainly not beautiful. You couldn’t call me ugly either. I walk the fine line in between until the beholder decides.

He said he liked that I was exactly two hands full. Literally. It made me blush and giggle. I didn’t know I could make such a sound. It seemed foreign. Like I was listening to someone else. The pain will be gone in a flash. He was right. I think that’s the only truth he ever told.

I would dream of him while I helped Mama cook, silently wishing the clock would follow my instructions. Why will your hands not move now but pass so quickly later?

We would meet at the uncompleted building. Two streets down, a left then an immediate right. I thought Mama could see right through me every time I volunteered to go to the market but I told caution to wait a while.

It was a dream. He would read me poems he had written for me. I only understood a little English. Couldn’t read a word of what he wrote in his little brown note but I felt it. Oh I felt it! The way he would drag out a word, causing me to lose my breath. He promised to teach me how to read, then solve arithmetic. He said I’d begin to talk like an English woman.

So many empty promises, fiery looks and probing touches.

I rubbed our hidden creation. It might have been as beautiful as he.

I tightened the noose around my neck and kicked Mama’s favourite stool.



Not tomorrow
I want to love you
Because I don’t have another day
To hold you so close we are meshed
In spirit and soul but not in body
That you may remember me
Cherish my memories for every but that one togetherness

A week ago
I wrote you a story
Of how I pictured us in my dreams
Graying hairs and wrinkled skin
And very much in love still
That story I have hidden
For you to read only when I am away
Gone, for forever and after

When I was staring at you
You remember?
I was not memorising your face
Because after the morrow there’ll be no remembrance
Of what could have been that was not
I was savouring your plain looks
Wondering how you are capable of such affection

Last month
I saw a wedding dress at a bridal store window display
I went in, tried it on as my heartbeat fastened
Not with trepidation at the impossibility of our future
Just joy that you’ll get to see me yet in one
Oh my delight! In taking a picture
It has been attached to our fake story
Whilst the real one ends with a shocking period

Two nights ago
I made you promise to demand happiness
You thought you’d have me always
You laughed, I winced
Didn’t you see my swollen eyes?
Did our love consume you so?
Or was there someone else?
I won’t know and happily so

To soon be gone
When you’ve had true love
They say it is good enough
I say I don’t know
I have no one to compare notes with
No choice to make
You swore to find joy again, dear one
So I await tomorrow while I savour today.