Grasses and Sunshine
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Grasses and Sunshine

Grasses and Sunshine by Adaobi Rachel

The sitting room was quite simple, with its white polished walls and windows on both sides for ventilation, supported by light green curtains, its glow turned the room into a shade of lemon.

A center table stood in between a long couch and two other identical armed sofas. Opposite the long couch, was the HD television hung on the wall, adjacent to it was the air conditioner.

Udoka sat on one of the identical brown sofas, smoking a white papered cigarette. Tolani made herself comfortable on the long one.

“I sacrificed my mental strength for that idiot!” she gritted her teeth and took a blunt.

She gave out a hysterical laugh.

Her hair was damp from sweat and stuck to her face. She looked out the window from her sitting position. She turned to face me. She faces no one. A tear ran down her face. The outburst was easier than expected.

Other sessions were less fruitful, a little talk here and there. This was the highest risk she was taking. Listening to details she knew before.

“When a woman loves, she loves for real. Her heart, soul and body and spirit is bon voyage,” she tipped her cigarette on the glass transparent circular ash tray a couple of times.

“He is my madness,” she laughed again while trying to puff another smoke.

“What did you do when he sent you packing after he found out you were cheating on him to get him a promotion?”

Udoka turned to face her again like she was seeing her for the very first time. She replied bitterly, almost stammering.

“I… I… I moved in with his boss. Knowing, he will forgive me once he got the promotion. He doesn’t have anyone else. He will want to celebrate. I was just bidding my time. Waiting for the green call.”

“The green call?” Tolani raised her left brow.

“Yes. Meaning it was time to move on.”

“Oh. But you said you loved him. Why did you cheat?”

She smiled. A very sincere one.

“Kunle is timid. If I left him, he wouldn’t have gotten that promotion. It brought me to tears to think he worked so hard for so little. It was going to be a waste of time if I left him to wait when I knew I could do something to help my baby.”

“You worked in the same company?”

“Yes.”

“And no one knew of your affairs?”

“If they knew. It didn’t bother anyone. I liked my boss too. There was something about him. He had authority.”

She blew out and continued, “He was a man of authority. I love it when a man is in charge, when he flaunts his ego. So, yes, I was attracted to my boss. That’s why it was so easy to cheat on Kunle.”

Tolani was angry and jealous. She hid it behind a faint smile. Here she was, giving her all and yet it wasn’t enough. She felt used. Kunle didn’t love her anymore. He never loved her.

“Can you describe Kunle?”

“Don’t call him that. His name is sweetheart. Sweetheart brings better memories. I only call him by his first name when am angry with him.”

Dropping her cigarette on the ash tray, she tried packing her hair, but her hands shook so badly. She let it stay in its haggard state.

“Oh well,” she brushed her hands on her nightgown as if she were trying to straighten it, as if she wanted to free a wrinkle.

“We have forty minutes left before this session will be over,” Tolani said.

“You want to leave so soon?”

“I have other clients.”

“Oh it’s your job. I totally forgot.”

Tolani nodded. There was no need explaining she had her own worries too. She took a new stick of cigarette from the pack.

“Do you care for?” she asked impatiently before tossing it aside.

Tolani was tempted to smoke with a client. Not that she enjoyed smoking.

“No thank you,” she said politely.

Udoka lit it with so much carelessness.

Kunle must have loved that about her.

“I finish two packs daily. Kunle loved to smoke. We smoked together. We used to take turns to buy. Smoking was our toy. A play thing. We never wanted to grow up. It’s called child love. Yet, it hurts so much to be apart,” she said.

“How did you meet your sweetheart? It must have been such a fairytale.”

She must have misread her intentions for asking, because her mood went up north in defense.

“Are you making a mockery of me?”

“No, that will be terrible,” she dismissed with a wave of her hand, smiling.

“Udoka, I am trying to tackle something here. What is love? What is sacrifice? Why is there love in sacrifice? Why do we sacrifice for love? Having a knowledge of how it all started will make it more complete.”

She dragged her almost withering stick a little longer. She puffed and dragged repeatedly.

“Grasses and Sunshine.”

” Grasses and Sunshine. We met sitting on grasses and collecting a dose of sunshine. It was Christmas. My parents took me out to the park. We were childhood friends. It doesn’t explain the bond though because I know there are people who bonded in less than three days than childhood sweethearts.”

Udoka didn’t feel the need to go through details. They were so young and just wanted to play. It didn’t seem harmful for two children whose parents knew each other to play together. The problem was they got too comfortable around each other and didn’t let anyother person in. That was then.

“Do you mind? I want to play music. I will pay you double for today,” she said.

Tolani wanted to decline at first but she was persistent.

“Please stay with me, it is tedious going back and forth with the memories in my head. It’s like a dark place that is hard to find. When you get in, you just want to collect all things necessary because you don’t want to make another trip. Especially if you are afraid of the dark.”

Tolani understood. Udoka found the remote to the music box. Soft music, the type that calmed the nerve penetrated through, its hushed rhythm gliding through the humid air.

“I need to brush my hair,” she picked up a handy pink hair brush under the glass center table and brushed her hair gently to the nape of her neck.

She looked better. More like the girl Kunle admired. She removed a rubber band from her right wrist and held her hair firmly together. She stood up and switched on the air conditioner. It blew gentle cool breeze and was fast to eradicate the hot air in the living room.

“It is cooler now, I was so hot earlier,” she said sitting back gently on the sofa.

“I noticed,” Tolani remarked.

“You said I should describe Kunle?” She asked rhetorically. Tolani nodded, tapping her pen gently on her notepad.

“Well, Kunle is a sacrificial goat,” she laughed.

“Take it that way. He has the ability to sacrifice his time, his money,” she used her thumb to make a count, “his strength, his love, his peace, his pride.”

“He is such a gentleman.”

“He is more than a gentleman and I took him for granted.”

“When I was his therapist, he told me everything. You got pregnant for another man. This time it wasn’t your boss. You told him you wanted to remove it. He didn’t have money, he dipped into his investment to ensure you had a safe abortion.

Times without number you have run into debt. He paid every dime. He tried to curtail your escapes, frequent travels, expensive lifestyles. True. He is a sacrificial goat. Only to you.”

“I am crazy,” Udoka cut the silence.

“You are. After all you were his fire.”

It cut her heart recalling Kunle’s words when she was his therapist.

“Why do you think you are crazy?” she scribbled the word crazy.

“Never mind. To move on, you have to be willing to share, if not, you will never be able to get a clear picture of what you want the future to be.”

“I feel like I allow fear to carry me, like I embrace fear, it tells me, hop on my back. I obey. We fly across the world and all of a sudden fear disappears. I dispatched it along the way. I am left to be happy alone. This is me trying to prove I am afraid of nothing.”

“You became crazy in the process.”

Without a word, Udoka nodded and heaved a sigh of relief.

“Have you thought about your own death?”

“Yes very often.”

“What does it feel like?”

“Death, reminds me I need to live to the fullest,” she tipped the cigarette on the ash tray before dragging yet another smoke.

“The more reason why I have no choice but to move on.”

“It’s one life, and there are a billion men out there,” Tolani said.

“True.”

“It will be a fresh start for you. Besides none of us is leaving here alive.”

“I agree. Its common sense, common logic.”

Tolani wished Udoka meant those words. Moving on and all. She wanted to force those words down her throat, if only it will help to break them apart.

“Do you think you will ever fully love again?”

Udoka was silent. She needed to taste those words. Love again. She crossed her arms, resting them on her knees, her cigarette burning away. She dropped the burnt cigarette on the table. Tolani waited patiently tapping her pen absentmindedly on her notepad.
After a while, Udoka answered, “When I mean am giving life a chance, it doesn’t mean I will give it my all.”

“Skeptic?”

“No. No. It’s not about being skeptic. Subconsciously, I believe I have lost that ship. It sank when he left me. I saw it sinking and I allowed it to overwhelm me. I gave the pain of losing it the power to control me. And being able to fully love again requires a higher will power than the latter. I will have to reach into my subconscious for another journey. That is too stressful.”

Tolani wrote down the word maturity on her notepad.

“It’s maturity’” she said to Udoka.

Tolani felt guilty, “I snatched your man from you. He still loves you.”

She hugged those words tight to her chest sorrowfully. Kunle is deviating. He can’t pretend he is happy to be in the same space with her anymore. Back then she knew he wanted to prove he was a step ahead. He said she was his perfect spark.

{“We have this spark, can you feel it Tolani?” “I can feel it Kunle.”}

She let his poetic voice drown her. She was high on a desperate bargain.

{“She is full of fire. You are ice. I want Ice.
I don’t want to be burnt to ashes, Ice is all I want.”}

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes.”

“You looked lost for a while.”

“Oh really,” she shifted uncomfortably, trying to adjust herself.

“Husband palaver? Don’t you love him? He doesn’t love you?”

“Oh dear, you talk as if you know me so well, and your questions are enough to make me speak. I am not here for me, I am here to serve you. And you are paying me for it.”

She closed her notepad, “Let’s reschedule another day.”

“I hope I am healing,” Udoka beamed.

Tolani nodded in confirmation.

Kunle stepped on the front porch that led to the sitting room. His heart pounded against his chest. He turned back but decided against the will to run away again. This should be his third trip. He was on the verge of losing his mind.

“You shared more than I expected. I believe this is the best we have had so far and this is what I have to say, if you will take it,” she paused and took in a deep breath.

“The best way to love is to let go. Not letting go is obsession. Obsession plays out when you are scared there is nobody than can replace or give you what you had with that person. However, the truth is that there is always a better person out there.”

“Well, that’s a commercial word,” Udoka said smiling.

“It is, yet, still the best opinion ever. As a matter of fact, am speaking to myself as well. Believe me, we both had this session. Appreciate what you had, but move on. Let go. Focus on your new self and new goals. Focus is key to attracting the right circle.”

“I will let go. Thank you.”

Tolani felt relieved, more to herself than to Udoka. It is what it is. Kunle got to the door and knocked.

Udoka was not expecting anyone at the moment.

Who could it be?

The door knob turned and gently it slid open, awaiting the grand entrance of her unknown guest. He walked in and closed the door behind him. Hands in pocket to save him from acting like a woman. Tolani dropped her notepad into her unzipped handbag that sat close beside her.

“What are you doing here?” Udoka asked.

“I think it’s time for me to leave,” Tolani announced as she carried her bag.

Kunle ignored his wife, stepping closer to his ex, not knowing what to do anymore, he knelt down and held her hands. He lost some pounds. She observed.

“Go back to your wife.”

Tolani stopped in her steps. She knew.

“You knew?”

“Yes all along.”

Tolani was shocked. She wanted to be swallowed up, by anything, something, she wanted to disappear. She left immediately.

Udoka sat motionless and numb, she felt pity for Tolani.

“I will lose myself and everything, Udoka,” he squeezed her hands like it mattered more, perhaps, it will show the depth at which he will go to have her back.

“It’s over Kunle. Go back to your wife, you chose her not me.”

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