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Falling In Love – part 2

by Jera
26 Nov 2018 at 22:53hrs | Views
Late at night, Patie and I would call each other and talk for hours, until we fell asleep or our phone batteries mutinied. Once a month, I would book a room at a hidden-away bed and breakfast in Famona, far from the prying eyes of her mother's church friends. I would take Friday off and drive down to Bulawayo where we spent the days at my weekend lodgings.

Our first time


I remember the first time we made love. After hours of teasing her and circling my target like a shark gliding around a capsized boat, I unhooked her bra. She grabbed a fistful of my dreadlocks and slammed my face, mouth first into her bosom. Ever since the day we met, in my head, I had feasted upon the caramel orbs until they were six shades of purple. When she shoved me into her bosom, I should have pinched myself in disbelief. But I pulled away and gazed at the upper part of her left breast. At this point her big eyes were narrowed and she was breathing heavily like she had run a marathon. She attempted to pull me in by my dreads, like a rider tugging at a horse's reins, but I stiffened my neck.
I stroked the upper part of her breast lightly with my forefinger, trailing the outline of her tattoo – a heart with a zigzagging fault line which broke it in two.

Broken-hearted


"What's the significance of this tattoo?" I asked.
"Not now" she said, breathlessly.

She attempted to rein my head into her bosom a third time.
I could hear the snap of hair strands but resolutely kept my neck stiff.
She let out a deep sigh, perhaps in frustration, before speaking.

"Does a broken heart ever need explanation?"

With my finger still stroking the tattoo, I returned her question with another of my own.
"But why would you want to have a broken heart on you..." after a brief moment, I added. "Forever."
At that point she bit her lip, the heavy breathing became slower. Then she picked up a pillow and hugged it to her chest.
I figured I had ruined the moment. I began buttoning up my shirt and looking around for the TV remote.
After locating the remote which had fallen under the bed during the mad rush to disrobe each other, I sat on the edge of the bed with my back to her and tuned in to some animal documentary whose subject matter I can't even recall. Even though my eyes were on the TV screen, my thoughts were with the once-in-a-generation opportunity that I had blown with the girl of my dreams. When I heard a voice, I assumed it was my own voice of self reprimand.
"My last two relationships were disastrous." The voice was too soft to be mine.
I pressed the TV mute button and swivelled round to face her.
She hugged the pillow even tighter.
"After my baby's father vanished without so much as a voetsek or goodbye. And…." She paused to bite her lip. "I came close to taking my own life."

I pulled the pillow away from her and drew her into my arms.
I held her, without speaking, for about half a minute. On my shoulder, I felt the warm trickle of a tear. In-between sobs, she began to speak.

"After they pumped the pills out of my stomach, I was placed on suicide watch. A doctor came in holding a clipboard. On it she pointed to a printout of what I recognized as an ultrasound scan. At the time that I took 11 tablets to kill myself, I had been 10 weeks pregnant and didn't know about it."
She sniffed.

I gently pulled away but didn't let go off her shoulders entirely.
"Baby, if this is too difficult for you, we don't have to talk about–"
"No I want to tell you, please."
I nodded.
"Right then I knew I had something to live for. There was a life growing inside of me. A month after I was discharged from hospital, I got the tattoo. As a reminder, to myself. Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded of the pain that I have overcome. The decisions I have made and will have to live with. It's a private thing. That's why I chose to have the tattoo on a concealed spot that only I can see."

I was overcome by the mismatched emotions of sadness and arousal. Without speaking, I leaned into her bosom and kissed the zigzagging fissure of sub-dermal ink that ran down the middle of her broken heart. I kissed it a second time.

"I will do my damndest to heal your broken heart."

I looked up to see her smiling through teary eyes.

"I believe you," she said, wiping a tear with the back of her wrist.

Our lovemaking was gentle and lengthy. Afterwards, we lay in each other's arms, talking about the month that had gone by since our last meeting.


Taking things to the next level


She never spent the night with me though. I knew her daughter would miss her. In the evenings, I would drive her back home and park under the leaning Bhalabhala street sign. We would exchange hasty kisses, because of her fear of the "talking church women". On the sixth visit to Bulawayo, under the crooked sign she swivelled her hips in the passenger seat and sat at an angle so she faced me before placing her hand on mine. Even after months of being together, the contrasting skin of her caramel hand on mine still fascinated me.

"Sthandwa sam'… there is someone I would like you to meet."
She exited the car, walked the 30-40 metres to her parents' house and a few minutes later returned with a little girl, penguin-walking beside her. She held the child's hand as they crossed the road and walked to my car. The child was miniature version of her mother, with skin the same light shade of brown and wide eyes set in a state of permanent surprise.

"She is beautiful," I said.

Patience smiled before turning to the little girl and baby-talking to her.

"Sweetie, this is Mr Jera. Mummy's friend."
I stretched out my hand and extended to fingers towards the little girl. She took my two fingers in her little hand and shook them.

We spoke for a couple of minutes before she reminded me of the talking church women. I thrust my chin out the window, as invitation for a valedictory kiss.
She leaned forward and kissed me. It wasn't the usual brisk hen peck that she reserved for our goodbyes under the half fallen Bhalabhala signpost. It was a long passionate kiss.

When finally our lips parted, she kept her warm forehead pressed against mine. The heat from her nose entered my nostrils.

"You know what this means right?" she said.
"Um, it means 'see you next month end?'"
"No," she said softly.
She kissed me a second time, with a gentleness of one who feared that her partner had a sore tooth which might hurt from sudden contact.
"It means you're special."
At that point I recalled a conversation from the first week of our meeting in Njube. "Until I meet the right man, nobody gets to meet my child".

When lovers become family

Six months later, she took a job in Harare. Long distance relationships are the same in that the infrequent meetings are like a series of honeymoons. Living together, though, can change things; familiarity breeds contempt.
I feared that our life together in Harare may never match the intensity of our monthly honeymoons in Famona. I have never been more pleased to be wrong. Our relationship deepened. Being together felt less like the well-prepared dates which involved me shaving and her getting her hair done and became more spontaneous without the preparatory preening of neither my Gillette razors nor her visits to the salon. And the third person in our midst was no longer "the child" but someone I introduced to my friends as "stepdaughter". Kodwa, akula libala njalo, esiNdebele. After a while, stepdaughter became just.... daughter, a word which filled me with both joy and fear in equal measure – the joy that comes with the deepening of our union, the nervousness synonymous with the terrifying knowledge that my life's plans were no longer just for one but for two very special people.

****

My little princess

As always, when she left for her morning jog, I drove out with the other woman in my life, seated in the back with her pink satchel already fastened to her back like she couldn't wait to jump out the car and join the other kids at crèche. Her pretty little face, in the centre of my rear-view mirror, is the spitting image of her mother, other than the cute satellite dish ears, a feature my daughter and I have in common. On days when I have my locks tied up, she will point to my Will Smith ears and say "look mummy, daddy and I are twins!"
I am the only father she knows – physical presence trumps absent DNA donor. She is four now and her little mouth is a machine gun, rapidly firing questions nonstop.


"Daddy, how come you are darker than mummy and me?"


"It's mummy and I, sweetie" I reply.
"Why can't I say mummy and me?"
"Because it is bad English, princess."
"Isnt bad English saying swear words?"
"Yes, that too."
"That man is talking on the phone and driving. Isn't that bad daddy?"
"It is very bad. You must promise me that when you're big enough to drive a car, you will never speak on the phone behind the wheel."
"What's behind the wheel, daddy?"
"It means when you are driving." I tap my hand on the steering wheel. "This is the wheel."
"What about those black things under the car that go round and round, aren't those wheels?"
"Yes, they are wheels. But this is the steering wheel".


Her mother's favourite song comes on in the radio, Memory Lane, by Nas. The protective stepdad in me wants to shield her from the profanities of American ghetto culture. I reach for the radio to change the music, then I hear her voice, lisping along to Nas' hook.

"Now let me take a trip down memory lane. The most dangerous emcee is comin outta Queensbridge".

The only feeling that eclipses my surprise is swelling pride.

At the school gate she leans forward between the two front seats and hugs me before jumping out of the car. She runs a few steps towards the waiting teacher who is aproned against the anticipated avalanche of snot and wax crayons. As if she has forgotten something she turns and calls out to me.


"Byebye daddy".
I smile and wave.


Writer at work


Five minutes later, I am back at my laptop working on the conclusion to The Hitchhiker, a story I had neglected for weeks. With every keystroke, I draw nearer to protagonist's home in Bulawayo. I found love in Bulawayo. Heart-warming thoughts of Bulawayo distract me from my writing. The keys of my laptop fall silent as my mind floats like dandelion tufts in the wind. My thoughts drift to Famona afternoons and kisses under the bent Bhalabhala street sign, where Patience revealed her deepening affection for me in the most unique way – "Jera, there's someone I want you to meet."


I hear the squeal of running shoes at the door and my daydream ends.


When she returns from her morning run, she is always desirous to embrace me from behind while I sit caressing the multiple nipples of my stiff, black Hewlett Packard laptop.
I know what she wants when her reverse embrace – breast to back – lingers longer than the usual two-second hug. When she presses her baby soft cheek against my stubbly jaw, I hear the music spilling out of the earphones.

"The most dangerous emcee is – Coming outta Queensbridge...."

Thick cup of coffee

She has had many before, but only I, she says, can give it to her the best.
I wheel round on my swivel chair whose rolling casters noisily grind the ceramic floor.
With her sweat moistened bosom still lodged between my shoulder blades, I roll my swivel chair into the kitchen where the mottled granite counter top is bare. She yanks the earphones out of her head and Nas whispers the last words of Memory Lane before she muffles him with finger on the stop button of her MP3 player. She slaps the guinea fowl feather pattern of the granite countertop with her open hand.


"Right here," she whispers. "I want it right here".


"I have never disappointment you before have I?"

She shakes her head which looks like Nandi, the mother of Shaka Zulu, with that sweatband she wears to catch the beads of perspiration when she runs.


New packet of fresh milk in my hand. Just as I did several times at our secluded BnB, I tear open a corner of the plastic packet between my grimacing teeth and spit out the triangular shred into the kitchen bin. She mock claps, as she always does, applauding my good aim.


"I have never been known to miss a gaping hole" I quip, winking suggestively.
Like a juvenile on his brassiere unhooking debut, I firmly squeeze the cold milk packet in the middle aiming the torn corner at a coffee mug. I ejaculate_three gloobs of milk into the cup, like a man at a fertility clinic, aided by germ infested girly magazines.
I look up and see her watching, as she always does, no doubt attempting to learn the secret to my secret – hers is always flat, unike mine which, without fail, comes out thick and creamy, like a professional barista helped me.
"Shall I put it in now?" I ask, with hand on oven door.
"All the way in," she says, giggling girlishly. "And make it hot".
I insert the big brown mug into the oven, shut the door and turn the calibrated knob to three minutes.
She seizes the opportunity to extend our risqué wordplay.
"Ooh, just three minutes? That's pretty quick for a man who claims that he never disappoints".


"It's a quickie," I reply.
I position myself between her tracksuited thighs and make conversation about Patience' ritualistic morning jog to Parirenyatwa and back.
In the background, the microwave, with its interior ablaze, hums its song. I nuzzle her perspiration-scented cleavage, inhaling the sweat of her daybreak gallop. With my forefinger, I push the neckline of her top to reveal her upper left breast. I plant three soft kisses on the broken heart tattoo – a ritual that has endured our two year old romance.


Ping! The oven bell brings an end to our sparring.
I reach for the cupboard door and swing it open.
"Jacobs Kronung or Frisco, my dear?"
She stabs the pouted underside of her lip with forefinger, as if in thought.
"Uuuum.. I'm feeling a little..." she giggles "....Frisco".


I peel away the plastic coffee tin lid beneath which is a virginal hymen of tin foil.


Between index and thumb, I grab the little silver labia protruding from the edge of the tin can.
"I promise I'll be gentle" I say to her.
Her comeback is another giggle.
I peel away the thin foil sheet, revealing the brown contents of the coffee tin.
"Virginity broken" she chuckles mischievously. "Now make it thick and creamy".


I slowly sink my long spoon into the opening and ladle a spoonful of coffee before letting it fall into the piping hot milk. Immediately it bubbles on the surface, before it turns into a chocolatey foam. This is the sudsy outcome she demands and expects, always. As I reach for the bowl of brown sugar on the shelf behind her, she holds my wrist. Her yellow fingers on my chocolate skin look like molten butter dribbling down the sides of slab of fudge. I look up to her large eyes.
She shakes her head.
"Skip the sugar hun, I know I'll get plenty of that from you later."


I stir briskly, raising more foam before I convey the mug to her outstretched hand.


She lifts the cup to her parted lips and, at the moment of contact with her mouth, shuts her eyes.
A noisy slurp. Then her throat moves.
She pulls the mug away slowly from her coffee moustachioed lip.

"Perfect....." she whispers. "As always".


I lean forward and lick the foam off her lip.


"I have a story to finish, my dear. Drink up and take a shower".


She feigns disappointment.
"You're gonna leave a lady feeling...." she pauses and holds up the coffee tin. "….Hot and Frisco?"


"Alright then" I rise from my writing chair and head to the door. And, over my shoulder I call out to her.
"Join me in the shower."

Ten seconds later, I hear the squeal of running shoes approaching the bathroom. And I am reminded that the honeymoon is far from over.


My pen is capped.
Source - Jera
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