_CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS_
I opened the door of the car before Kelvin got to my side and he frowned but said nothing. “I don’t know what possessed me to even think of coming with you. This is a ridiculous idea” I said.
“Not as ridiculous as you trying to take your own life” he said as we walked into his apartment.
I looked at him. “There is nothing ridiculous about that. There is a limit to the pain one can endure” I countered. He was silent until we entered the house. The house was spectacular and beautiful – moderate in size for the bachelor that he was; if he was telling the truth that is. The sitting room was filled with equipment which looked totally masculine. I saw some picture frames and I nodded internally when I saw a lady’s picture.
“She is beautiful” I said with an odd smile on my face.
He followed my gaze and smiled too. “Of course she is” he said with pride in his voice. “That is my stubborn sister. She is beautiful but a pain in my neck most of the time. I love her anyways.” He smiled and his eyes shined with love.
I smiled genuinely for the first time. “I love sibling relationships, it must have been fun growing up with her”
He smiled and shook his head. “Most times, it was. Other times, you just wish she would just vanish; but then, she leaves the house for just a week and you miss her like hell” He smiled at me and I smiled back, thinking about the fun he must have had. “Do you have siblings?”
“No” I said immediately, and then froze. “That’s wrong” I murmured and swallowed. “I actually have a sibling. A brother” I said bitterly.
His smiled had vanished by the time he came to sit with me. “Amara” he called for the first time. He asked for my name in the hospital and since I told him, he has not called my name. He smiled softly. “Can I call you Ara?”
I frowned. “Ara? Why that?” No one has ever shortened my name that way.
He smiled. “I understand Yoruba language a bit and ‘Ara’ means ‘wonder’. I think the name suits you very well” he said smiling softly. He always looked handsome whether or not he was smiling but whenever he smiled like that, he looked absolutely breathtaking. The way he pronounced ‘Ara’ made it sound so sophisticated and pleasant that I almost preferred it to my real name.
“I like it” I said with a faint blush.
He smiled. “I like it when you blush this way honey”
I startled. “Stop calling me that!” I barked, instantly on guard.
“What?” he asked in confusion.
“Honey… sweetheart… darling…” I ranted. “I hate it”
“You hate endearments?” he asked with a soft smile.
I glared at him. “I see no reason why you should smile. There! I know why you fight with your sister often; you are annoying”
He grinned wider. “And do you fight with your brother often?”
I froze and stared at him. His smile faded and I shifted my gaze.
“Tell me about your brother” he said suddenly and I blanched. I shifted and played with my fingers. “You have been trying to prevent me from interrogating you but you know you can’t run away from it. You would eventually tell me, so why not now? Why did you attempt suicide, even in your condition? Why does the mention of your husband or brother have such a negative effect on you?”
No! I couldn’t tell him. He would surely run! I thought vaguely. How can I tell him that my husband and my brother are one? Who on earth can hear such rubbish and remain sane? The fact that I am still in my right senses remains a mystery to me.
“You can trust me Ara, I just want to be a listening ear” he said softly.
I shook my head carefully. “When I said my life was fit for a movie, I was not lying” I said. “I can’t possibly tell you, it is more devastating than you can ever imagine”.
He nodded seriously. “Please take pity on me and tell me, because if you don’t, I would just think my way into insanity, wondering what might have happened to you”
I sighed and stood up from the chair. I walked over to Kelvin’s sister’s photo on the wall and ran my fingers through it. “You must love your sister, more than anything in this world” I said and my fingers shook. “I am sure you would protect her from anything that might hurt her; you are not likely to bet on her virginity”
“Absolutely not” his voice made it obvious that he thought the idea ridiculous.
I turned to him with a faint painful smile as I fought back tears. I wondered if a time would come when I would tell my story without tears. “Oh, well, thank God for brothers like you”
His eyes widened as he gazed at me. “Why don’t you sit with me honey?”
I shook my head and turned away from him. “You want to hear my story? Well, you would. I can’t effectively narrate it on my seat.” I smiled weakly as I stared Kelvin’s family portrait on the wall. “I grew up with my father and mother. My mother was practically my best friend. I never really got along with my father but I loved him anyways. I had high dreams. I was and I still am a village girl. I grew up in the village and studied there. But because of my high dreams and goals, I read every book I laid my eyes on. I stole glances at our neighbor’s television and spent time with our teachers. You must feel that I don’t really talk like a village girl – well, I am like that because I adapt quickly to change. I learn as many things as I can and I try to put them to use; but where did that curiosity land me? It landed me in the arms of a viper in a corper’s garment. Because of my habit of spending time with teacher in order to learn more, the corper used it to his advantage. He seduced me and flirted with me endlessly; but guess what? I actually fell for him.” I laughed softly and shook my head. “I threw my ambitions to the wind and lost myself in the sweet words and flowers that the corper threw to me until I finally crowned it up by giving up my virginity”
I shook my head and fell silent. Kelvin was silent for several seconds and I could almost hear the ticking hand of the wall clock. “Hold on” he said and I turned to see his face looking incredulously at me. “I am trying to connect dots. Are you trying to say that your brother placed a bet on someone deflowering you?”
I smiled tightly. “That is precisely it” I conceded.
He jumped to his feet. “The Son of a b****” he cursed through clenched teeth. He looked furiously dangerous. “Forgive me honey but your brother is a stupid b******. How dare him?” he asked on raised voice. His anger was almost enough compensation for the trauma of reliving my memories. “And who is the b****** who actually perpetrated the act? Forgive me for being rash with my words; I don’t know how to say this. Who did that to you?” he asked angrily.
I laughed bitterly. “That is the funny part isn’t it?” I said as tears slipped unnoticed out of my eyes. “Wouldn’t it have been better if someone else had actually carried out the act?”
He stilled slightly. “What do you mean?”
I turned to face him fully as more tears flowed. “I was deflowered by my own brother” I declared. He froze and practically became a pillar of salt before me and insanely, I started laughing. “It is hilarious right?” I asked as I laughed uncontrollably. “It would make a great comedy” I said laughing until I discovered I was no longer laughing but crying. And when I started crying, Kelvin walked towards me but I stepped back. “Just… just leave me…” I cried. “I just… I just want to cry…” I said crying. “I want to cry until someone takes pity on me and wakes me up to tell me that this is just a really bad dream…” I rubbed futilely at my cheeks as my watery eyes swam. “I have tried kelvin… I have tried to wake up” I cried. “But this dream seems to go on forever. I am scared it might not be a dream after all… it looks more and more like reality with each passing day”.
Disregarding my attempts at warding him off, Kelvin pulled me into his arms and held me close; as close as my tummy would allow. He took me to the couch and held me in his arms. “It’s Ok” he whispered soothingly. “You’ll be fine. It’s ok” he continued to whisper until I almost found those words believable. My cry subsided to hiccups and then vanished altogether. Calmly, I gave him the full story and he listened with his arms tightening now and then. When I was done, it was like he was boiling with suppressed anger and his jaw was tight. When he opened his mouth, it was to change the subject. I was stunned and momentarily disappointed that he did not say anything about all I said.
“Are you hungry?” he asked and I raised my head from his shoulder, leaving the circle of his arms in an instant. I wondered what my problem might be. I have not gotten over what Alex did and here I am, in another man’s house. I am my own problem.
“You can trust me Ara; I am not Alex” he said through clenched teeth that showed that he was still boiling with hunger. How he could easily read my thoughts was still a major point of concern to me. Can I not think of anything without him knowing? He smiled softly. “I would get you something to eat.” He said and stood up.
“I can’t stay here. Even if I trust you, this place is too close to Alex’s house” I don’t want to have a cause of seeing anyone if I am going to stay alive and living so close to them might not achieve that. Besides, I can’t possibly live with Kelvin; that is too much. Apart from it being risky living with a man alone, I would not want to infringe on his privacy.
“And where would you go?” he asked.
“Anywhere” I said. “I can take care of myself.”
“You can but you won’t. I know I won’t be able to make you stay here” he said. “But I have a place not close by. It is a quiet and conducive environment; you would love the place. You would spend the night here and I would take you there tomorrow. I would have someone to be there with you, so don’t worry, I won’t be staying there. Would just be visiting”
I swallowed. “Why are you so kind to me?” I asked.
He smiled. “Because I can’t be anything but kind to you. Not everyone has bad intents Ara; I just want to make you smile again”