Being Halima (Part 2)
It was one of the hardest decisions Okedike had ever had to take in his life, making Halima have that abortion. He really wanted a child, but Nnamdi didn’t think it would be fair to Flora, and neither did he for that matter. Even Halima had agreed it was too early in their relationship, and had employed very creative cautionary methods to prevent conception since then. And even though they never spoke about it, he knew she wouldn’t mind having his baby, and he didn’t dare tell her that he wouldn’t mind either.
“So oga, will breakfast be ready by noon tomorrow?” Halima’s teasing voice broke his train of thought. She had soundlessly appeared in the kitchen, clad in his shirt from yesterday, buttoned from the bottom to her ribs, hair tousled from last night’s dance. In that moment, he thought she was the best breakfast a man could have. He wondered how her feet always made those noiseless steps that didn’t sound on the tiles in the house. It was a marvel really, because Flora’s feet always made a pattering sound, announcing her before she would arrive. Sort of like a child. He silently willed himself to stop the comparison.
“I’m all done here, sorry baby” was all he said, and led the way back to the bedroom, tray in hand, Halima in tow.
And so it was that they had breakfast, teasing and laughing. After breakfast they did the love dance some more, and fell into sleep after. They woke up hungry, and this time it was Halima who microwaved some jollof rice and grilled goat meat, and then they crawled back into bed and danced and slept some more.
“Do you want to take a walk?” Okedike asked her on Sunday afternoon, not particularly because he wanted to walk, but because a certain gloom had come upon her after breakfast. She was trying to hide it, but he could tell that she wasn’t herself, and he knew it was because he would be leaving for home in a matter of hours. He wished she wouldn’t make it harder on them. To her credit, sometimes she was such a good sport about it, laughing and joking and teasing him, helping him pack his luggage, and driving him so crazy he couldn’t wait to see her again. But once in every while there were those Sundays when she would be withdrawn and distant, and those eyes would have a deep sadness in them, and he hated it because he always felt so helpless.
“No,” she replied. ”I don’t feel like a walk”. He wanted to shake her. She didn’t feel like a walk, didn’t want to see a movie, wasn’t up to a game of chess, didn’t know yet what her plans for the week were. She had spent the past two hours on the couch, staring quite unseeingly into the current edition of Ebony magazine. Okedike decided firmly that he wouldn’t be frustrated, and he would remedy this if he had to shake it out of her. Armed with his new resolve, he walked across the room to where she was curled up on the couch, and picked her up, cradling her in his laps, as he sat. She used to protest this move, saying she wasn’t a baby, and he always firmly told her that she was his baby. But not anymore. These days she would smile and snuggle deeper, and that’s what she did now. Okedike heaved an inward sigh of relief. This wouldn’t take long, he thought. For a few minutes he was silent, just rocking his baby from side to side, kissing her wide forehead. Then he told her the words she badly needed to hear. He told her how important she was to him. How he cherished every minute they spent together. He told her how much he would miss her, how much he loved her. How he planned to see her very soon. She was still silent, only nodding occasionally at something he said that required her to respond. But he knew he had appeased her, when she hugged him so tight he thought his back would break, then spent the next two hours watching TV still cradled in his arms. And when it was time for him to go, she walked him to the car, gave him one last kiss for the road, and waved to him till she couldn’t see the car anymore. It was then she went back to her apartment, and cried her heart out. Cried for the one thing she badly wanted but didn’t really have, cried for a love that had an expiry date that she didn’t even know yet. Cried for a love that was doomed from the word go, yet was the greatest love she had ever known. She cried for hours, until sleep finally took her. And when it was morning and she beheld her swollen eyes in the mirror, she knew she had to do something about it. But first, she would wear sunglasses all day today, even in the office, so the sun better back her up and blaze away.