Susan stepped out into the streets. It’s what it’s called around here – each portion of the community that lacked the shelter and exclusivity which the confines of walls and doors bestow on real estate. The uniformed door attendant unlooked Susan’s bewilderment at the building she just stepped out from. Once a block of flats for local government employees. Later a motel. Now it houses a Sports’ betting shop, a computer school, two Pentecostal churches, and the pharmacy from which she just bought an item.
There are streets, and there are streets. But Akinlade road is a clash of street civilizations. Gang fights, police raids, an open air crusade by a church, a Town hall meeting, and a wake keep procession could all be happening at the same time while the clouds are mildly threatening a downpour. And on some days, there’s just not one activity. Not even a little more sunlight or wind speed. Not a shy moon. And on this day, not even one faint sign of Emeka.
“On this day in history” Emeka would usually say referring to the night of their engagement, “we made history”. And Susan would smile, making a mental note to tease him about his use of day instead of night. Their engagement night was magical. She felt certain that the air around them was full of charged particles and invisible sparks, most of which formed a sensual field between her skin and her dress. The feeling left a taste in her mouth. The raw taste of respite, after jetting off a vicious loop of stubborn hope on one day and hopeless despair on the next, on the single matter of a prolonged spinsterhood.
There’s no such thing as a brief spinsterhood in a patriarchal society. Spinsterhood is always long, and some are longer than others. Once a girl is old enough to marry, then she should be married. This means that every single day until she marries, she bears the stigma of being unmarried. Being unmarried is a terrible social infirmity with a stigma, and thankfully the misogynists who discovered this disease also have a cure – marriage. Or rather, they had a solution, so they created the problem so that things will even out. How nice!
Initially, Susan couldn’t believe her luck. She’d broken up with Emeka twice, and on the evening of their third make up, he held out a ring and popped the question. Of course, she was reluctant about the date in the first place. She skipped consulting her ‘date checklist’ – venue, make up, meal, dress, cab man et. al.- which she downloaded on one of them relationship advice websites. “Emeka is good for nothing but heartbreaks, but what would a single-to-stupor lady do?” she said to herself while managing to put on something nice. Now that he has proposed marriage to her, what’s there not to love about him?? “Sweet Emeka!”.
Today marks the sixth anniversary of their engagement day/night. How do you begin to celebrate that? Ok you should be thankful no matter what, even if bae isn’t taking your calls on this special day. But how do you celebrate the sixth anniversary of an engagement which basically serves as a reverse moral license and apology-in-advance for your fiancé’s sleeping with your friends. Well, Susan is thinking. Her gaze just shifting from the building to the path on the right down Akinlade road, through which Emeka walked her to his house just after their engagement. They had stopped at the pharmacy to get some condoms, which he didn’t use eventually – which he hardly ever uses. Today, she stopped at the pharmacy to get a pregnancy test kit.
On this day in history, six years ago, she walked down the path to the right with Emeka. Today, she looked down that path intensely, but walked away in the opposite direction, alone.
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