Dust we are and onto dust we shall return.
The words are reverberating in my mind as I watch the busy shovels dumping soil on the casket that had Odiola in it.
I met him on a lazy Saturday. I’d gone out to buy bread and I couldn’t help noticing his extremely wide shoulders. He turned around and our eyes met and he smiled. He had a beautiful smile.
“The smell of that bread can wake Lazarus from the dead, I swear,” he said with a chuckle.
His mirth was infectious and I found myself smiling back. I wasn’t particularly in the mood for idle conversation with random people at the bakery, but there was something so expressive and beguiling about him that made one naturally gravitate to him. And I gravitated. He wasn’t a handsome man; his face was hewn in almost plain lines and he stood at a stocky average height. But his skin glistened like olives, his teeth shone a perfect white, and his muscles were rock solid. And those shoulders… They spanned a breathtaking width that made me think of lusty nights spent clinging to them.
I didn’t want my eyes to linger, but that was my problem. My eyes often linger, and very often on the wrong people. My immediate ex-boyfriend, Shola was a drug addict; I knew I had to break it off the day he stole from me to get his fix. The one before him, Ikenna, was a banker and a charmer; I thought I’d found the one when we started dating, but his charm extended itself through too many guys. He was a serial cheat. And then there was Ahmed, who seemed to believe that bathing was a chore and seemed to detest the touch of water and the smell of soap. He was just so filthy that what was the masculine musk that had attracted me to him quickly became the very thing that turned me off him.
I hadn’t been lucky in the dating department. Part of it was my fault; I had given up on myself and lost the value I had for myself. I took any man who came along as a gift of relief, and as it turned out, most of them ended up as a plague.
I can’t remember how Odiola and I became an item. What I remember is that we were in his house watching TV and suddenly his hands had started caressing my body. I didn’t say no. I’ve never said no. I could feel my clothes slipping. I could feel his hands groping. I felt his warm, vibrant skin. I felt his rock-hard erection insert itself inside my ass. I didn’t resist. I couldn’t resist.
In fact, resisting is not my strong suit. I didn’t resist when my older brother, Chima, held me down in his bed years ago. He was my mother’s oldest son. I didn’t understand what he was doing to me. All I knew was that I felt pain like never before, as his manhood shaved off my innocence and devastated my behind.
I remember the tears that dropped down from my eyes then, and then some more when, after telling my mother what he did, she screamed at me, “You are of the devil!!” She slapped my face. “You need deliverance! How dare you accuse your brother of such an abomination!” Everyone knew Chima had a girlfriend; he brought a different one home every day. It didn’t help that he was bright in school, on a sponsored scholarship at the time with an almost 4.7 accumulated GP. “He is the pride of my family,” my father always beamed whenever he introduced Chima to his friends.
I knew that day not to complain anymore and take Chima’s abuse with silence.
The nightmare is coming again. “You have the devil in you, little brother. I want to cast them off you,” Chima hisses into my ear as his hands hold me down on the bed.
Only this time, suddenly, they are not hands, but paws, gripping me, cutting through my skin, mauling me.
I let out a scream and wake up, flustered and sweaty, alone in my dreary room.
I do not know when things started going wrong in my relationship with Odiola. Or maybe I did, because when he first hit me, I was expecting it. Beating is part of love, I often said to myself. All the guys I had dated had at one point or the other slapped me around. I was too eager to please. I never could say no. So in a typical human fashion, they took advantage.
But I thought Odiola was different. I genuinely believed so. He was everything I wanted in a man, but it seemed I fell short in his eyes. It started with mild criticism couched with that infectious chuckle of his to take the sting away. Then they stopped being subtle. “You are a fool, you know.” “You are so dumb, God!” “Can’t you do a simple thing well?” And then came the slap.
And I would apologize. I had to. I didn’t want to lose Odiola. I’d been through many boyfriends, but he was the first I’d fallen in love with. So I apologized and everything would go back to normal. I gave him sex whenever he asked for it. I cooked him dinner. I did his laundry. I did my best to treat me like a king.
But even that stopped being enough. My WhatsApp messages were read but not replied. My calls were cut abruptly or not picked at all. I was deleted from his Messenger and I stopped seeing his WhatsApp profile pictures, an indication that I’d been blocked.
“Odiola, whatever I’ve done to you, please forgive me,” I begged desperately the day he picked my call.
“We are done!” he snapped at me. “Are you so dumb you need me to spell it out for you? We are over, Dubem. Get that into your stupid head!”
“What can I give you to make this right? Tell me! Anything and I will do it!” I was reaching the point of no return.
I got to that point with what happened next. His mocking laugh was what triggered me; the laugh wasn’t the infectious sound I’d always known. No, this one had the same sound my parents made when they laughed at a friend’s misfortune, the same sound my brother, Chima made when he introduced me to his friends as his weird brother.
And then he said sneeringly, “What can you possibly give me? Your nyash wey I don fuck tire, abi na money wey you no get?”
The tears were coming, they were hot and stinging. I had held them in for so long, and this time they let themselves out.
I am dreaming again. This time, it isn’t a nightmare. There are naked youths dancing and chanting an incantation of the dead. I hear voices echo from the rivers. Their goddess has accepted their sacrifice. It is a human head. They set the head on fire, a tribute to their deity.
And then I hear his scream. The voice sounds familiar. I give a start when I realize it is Chima’s voice.
I visited Odiola the next day. His stocky frame blocked his doorway.
“I told you, Dubem! It is over,” he gritted out, looking incensed by my presence.
“Odiola, how can you throw away everything we’ve been through…” I asked, my voice threatened by an onslaught of sobbing that I was holding in.
“I’ve moved on,” he said. “Maybe it’s time you do the same.”
Something shifted inside me, something painful and hard. I swallowed hard and said, “Even if we are going to break it off, why not let’s do it the right way. Allow us to end it on a happy note.”
So he let me in. At first, the atmosphere was uncomfortable, strained. Then he made an effort by inserting a movie. It was the movie we watched on our very first date. It triggered so many memories.
“By the way, I’m hungry,” he said. “Could you make me something to eat?”
I was very happy to do so. I went to the kitchen and whipped up a good meal. When he finished eating, he took me into his arms, his embrace tender and reminiscent of the times we had it good.
“You’ve always been an amazing cook, Dubem,” he murmured.
I nodded in response.
“And God, you’re sweet in bed too, you must know that.” He’d bent his head to nibble at my ear, his breath hot against the side of my face.
I nodded again. My heart was full.
“The thing is I meant it when I said I’ve moved on. This guy I’m dating now – I’ve been chasing him for a year. I don’t just want anyone to get in the way. If you still want me, no problem. We can make it happen. But don’t call or text me. I’ll contact you. All you have to do is show up whenever I tell you to come.”
That painful something, the hard something shifted inside me again. I nodded a third time. It was better this way. It had to be.
So, when he turned my head around to connect my lips to his, I didn’t resist. His mouth tasted like the spice I used to cook his meal.
“Please me!” he commanded gruffly.
And I did. My lips found his wide, black nipples and I longingly sucked on them, one after the other. Then I traced my tongue down to his flat hairy torso, till it found the shaft of his manhood. It smelt of soap and sweat. I nibbled at it first, then I devoured hungrily, till it was hard and erect. My tongue slid down his legs till it found the opening between his buttocks. His legs jerked wide apart as I tongued him down there, finding the tiny opening behind and licking away. He groaned with crescendoing passion, and eventually, couldn’t take it anymore. He flung me to the bed and soon began thrusting ferociously away at my behind, fast and furious like a beast. His balls slapped the back of my thighs, and his muscled physique kept me steady and compressed. He was writhing. I was writhing, till we came in perfect harmony, our stifled screams echoing in unison.
“Dust we are and in it, we shall return,” the priest says over Odiola’s casket-bound body.
They found a knife buried in his chest. The suspect in his murder was unknown, a thief they said made away with his cash, laptop and phones. The police have reported that they are on the lookout for the stolen devices, through which they hope to find the culprit.
The dreams came again last night. The tribe of youthful dancers was engrossed in their dance. The queen of the ocean had risen again, and she gave her approval. The crowd erupted in a thunderous roar. They delivered the sacrifice in a platter – a human head. And for the first time, I saw the face of their leader; the man who was dancing in their lead. He bore a shocking resemblance to the man I see in my mirror every time I looked in it. This leader tossed the human head into the fire, and it began to shriek. The screaming voice was very familiar. And then I caught the eyes of the burning head, and through the flames, it smiled at me. It was Odiola.
Stories often end the way they began. Life and death have always worked together. While life brings tears to the born, death draws tears from the living.
I am off to see my parents. It has been months since they lost their oldest son, the pride of the family, my brother, Chima, to a ghastly accident involving engine malfunction. No one could understand how it happened, considering Chima was reported to have visited the mechanic the day before.
But like I said, life and death are such good neighbours.
I’ve managed to forge a good relationship with my parents. I haven’t had any nightmares in a long while; I am hoping they are gone for good. However, the throbbing in my head and itching in my eyes are telling me to find out for sure.
I ring the doorbell to my parent’s home. The door opens and Chima is standing there.
“Hello, little brother.”
I let out a shattered scream as I stagger backward. I hear voices of startled neighbours, and through that, the cackle of someone’s laughter – that unmistakable sound of Odiola’s derision.
“What is it, Dubem? What is going on?” I hear my mother call from somewhere in the house.
And I blink and find myself staring at a vacant doorway.
Written by Foxydevil