Things we do for love. Ehn! Ajankolokolo. Da Love of My Life. She knows. I will do anything for her. I don’t care. Whatever. All that matter is Ajankolokolo!
What further confirmation do I need than hearing this confession of love from the horse-mouth itself. She said to me: “Thank you for plaiting your hair to honour me.” I was in the heavens when she finished this compliment. She had looked me in the eye to tell me this beautiful Thank you. Imagine that. She looked me straight in the eyes and told me how she felt about my new hair.
I could not hold my joy. I cried and cried, until she gave me a tissue to wipe my face. “Oh,…”, I immediately apologized for my mess. “I didn’t wish to mess up or make you uncomfortable with my tears. I was only too glad to talk in words. “I understand, My Dear.”, she assured. “Oh,” I thought to myself, “can you hear that? She just called me My Dear again.” By now, I was totally broken down for joy. Not even an extra tissue could wipe my tears. She continued, ” I did not think you indeed wanted to do that for me, you know. Now, that you have shown me what caring really is, I am going to give you my answer.”
I held my breathe for a moment. It seemed to last forever. Ajankolokolo looked me once again in the eyes, then she said, “I am so blessed to have you plait your hair for me. All for me. Thank you.”
I smiled a big smile. “You see, she recognised you did it for her. Cool.” In truth, I had been growing my hair for months. All for Da Love of my Life, Ajankolokolo. Then on Saturday, I moved an inch closer to my love. I did what I had to do to show it.
It paid off. Minutes after my hair was done, Ajankolokolo entered, saw me, and decided to give me an answer. After she said Thank you, she breathed and continued talking, but not without swallowing deep. She had to swallow her tears so she could tell me what she wanted to say. I was patient. Very patient.
Then, it was my turn to give her tissues to wipe her tears. I gave her gladly. I gave her more than enough. I helped to wipe as much as she allowed me. I was careful not to hurt her gentle face while I wiped the tears from her eyes. She thanked me again. I supposed she said “My Love” after the Thank you, but for having to breathe in one last time while I hurried to dispose the used wipes, I did not hear her loud enough. It doesn’t matter anyway. So long she called me that, I am fine. Or put differently, so long I could convince myself I heard her call me My Love, that is enough.
She called. I answered. “Ehn”. Then she asked: “Did I tell you this is exactly how Sango Olukoso plaited his hair to prove to Oya that he loved her beyond mouth can tell?” I said “No, I don’t”. Ajankolokolo continued. “You need to know. You need to come and see how Sango Olukoso was always dotting all over Oya, his wife. Their love was soo real. Each time Sango was angry, It was Oya who could calm his anger. She would come out, sing this beautiful love song. Sango only needed to hear Oya sing this song, and his anger would be gone, one time fiam, like it was never there.”
I did not interrupt. I just said “hmmn”. We kept eye contact.
“She knew Sango love her so well because he did not stop at hair plaiting. He showed her another thing. That thing was all she needed to confirm even more that Sango’s love was for real.”
When Ajankolokolo finished by saying a sentence I did not really follow, but heard something like “that thing eventually killed him…”, my eyes opened an inch wider. I almost shouted ahhh! I smiled. Our eyes were still glued to each other.
“You have started well. Just like Sango, if you keep it up, I am sure, very sure self, that I may end up marrying someone like you”. My heart leaped for joy. My breathing intensified. I did not know what to answer. I just groaned.
“Should I tell you something?” I said yes. My response was so swift that one could say she was not interrupted at all. So, she slipped on to what she wanted to tell me.
“You know what? Mummy really suffered in the hand of popsy gaan ni. Really.” I noticed the face of Ajankolokolo became sadness. I shook my head to show solidarity with her sadness. I could not have done otherwise. Tell me, what could I have done?!
“There was this one day when mummy caught him redhanded. He brought another woman into our home. Our one room. Mummy had been told by some neighbourhood backwatchers what they saw on mummy’s back when she was not there.
Hell was let loose on this day. It was as if popsy knew the kind of wife he married. I only saw something that looked like him as he ran with all his power. There was something wild in his desperate face. I saw his face like in a dash. Yet I knew he was scared like shit.
Mummy’s face was wilder. She could not be calmed. She was not pursuing her husband. She had in both hands an iron pail. Therein was a red content. Not until I heard the pepper grinder who was shouting out her irrecoverable loss did I realize what mummy had in her hand. Pepper! Real pepper!
She made it to our room and emptied it on the woman who had slept with her husband on their matrimonial bed. Come and see shout! Mummy was bent on killing the woman. The strange woman knew death was in the air, so that even as she dey shout so, she did not stop running helter skelter, looking for an escape.
Mummy did not as much as care about her presence after having bathed her with pepper. She was rather interested in her clothes and shoes. She packed them, took them to the backyard through which popsy had escaped, and set them on fire.
When popsy returned the following day, calmness returned into our home. They both never talked about the incidence, not even an hint that anything like that happened. It was as if nothing happened.”
I listened seriously to Ajankolokolo. I did not know what to say when she finished, so I swallowed spit, closed my eyes and opened them again. Finally, I said something. Very gently. “Is this what you wanted to share with me?” My face had a smile on. “Yes”, she answered, holding my hands. “I have not finished though. Oh, did I tell you that a longtime friend actually proposed to me. Funny enough, he told me he loved me. Me?! I was shocked. I wondered what happened to his wife who gave him children! Hmmn. Men are funny. I did not answer him o.”
Now, we were both smiling. “You don’t mean it?!”, I said. “Of course, I do”, she countered. We both laughed out loud. All the while I was congratulating myself she was yet to reject me outright, thankful I was none of those men she talked about.
“But really, Ajankolokolo, what is it you wanted to tell me. I mean, the answer?” My breathe returned to its held position as Ajankolokolo made to open her mouth. I was but quicker to open mine. “Don’t say it. Not yet,” I heard my own voice, and I was surprised I could say that, after having wished she had spared me the long detour so far. I was dying to hear her answer. Then this! Coming from me! “Unbelievable!”, I said loudly, like acting on reflex. “What is that?” she wanted to know. “Nothing. Really. Nothing. Now, you can tell me the answer”.
“Tell you the answer?! What else is there to say? Look at your head. Look at your head!!! Leave me joor. Isn’t it clear that you love me?! Even a blind man can see that you love me. Wake up to your own reality!”
Reality? What reality? Ajankolokolo! What reality? At my head? What is my head? What is on my head? Blind man? Ahh! What is this? I was about to say something when I opened my eyes. I touched my head. My Ajankolokolo was nowhere to be found. Gone! Da Love of My Life! Just like that? Hmmn.