#Opinion: ‘How to have an affair’ – By Ucheoma Onwutuebe


There you would be, sitting in your corner, minding your own business. You will not be in conscious search for distractions. The seams of your life are properly tucked in place like the way your woman lays the bed, like the way your crisp shirt stays in place beneath your trousers each morning as you dress for work. Your woman does not drive you to the rooftops with grumblings of unfulfilled yearnings. There is occasional peace and quiet and everyone knows their place and offers the other space. Your life is on fleek, your naughty nephew would often hail before he goes on to ask you for handouts.

The first day, she would walk into the bank for some transaction on a busy afternoon. Hers is a regular face. Broody young woman, who wore no lipstick. A service hitch is keeping her longer than necessary. You ask her questions in the way of striking up a conversation while you wait for network to be restored, but she pays you little heed. You yawn and think of lunch.

A month later you find her on the queue and for no reason you beckon on her while the other customers grumble. Maybe you try to make up for the other day she spent too long. Then you market a product to her: the bank’s mobile banking app and she shocks you with her eloquence and makes you find forgotten words like “disparate” and “unanimous” in your arsenal of words. She is the type of woman who is not striking at first sight, just occasionally put together, but each banter unpeels a layer of beauty only the mind can recognise. And it shocks you, just as it shocks her, that you noticed today, she wore a faint coat of nude lipstick. You tell her you like it and she rolls her eyes and walks away.

Each day she shows up, your colleagues direct her to you because they notice the rapport and tease you about it. Your stony-faced babe is here, and in your mind, it is all harmless.

Someone must have whispered to her about your birthday and she brings you a bar of chocolate her boss brought from Kenya on his last vacation. She hugs you happy birthday and you say, I don’t even have your number.

Your woman has come to spend her two week vacation with you. She made your favorite dish: white rice and ofe akwu, and for presents, she gives you silver cuff links and H&M shirts. But it is the taste of dark chocolate that lingers on your palate.

You ostensibly slave away on your thesis for your Masters program all through the night while your eye never leaves the red light on your phone that indicates another chat. The next day at work, your eyes are too heavy to type correctly.

Two days after your woman leaves, she chats you up on WhatsApp again, you ask what’s for dinner and when you find out it is beans and plantain, she asks you to drop by and when you do, you gist into the night. Her collection of books is the most impressive you have seen in recent times. You borrow Cyprian Ekwensi’s – ‘Jagua Nana’ but you do not make it to the door. It starts to rain and then you sleep over.

She makes you read to her while she lays on your hairy chest in her little apartment that reminds you of your secondary school cubicle. She records your voice on her phone and says you missed your calling as a radio presenter. She plays the recording again and again and teases you, says she will touch herself to the sound of your voice when you are gone.

Your friends don’t like her. She does not greet them when you bring her with you on a Friday night out. She returns to her broody self and keeps checking her wristwatch. She says she can’t stand alcohol and misogynist talk. You take her home and do not return to your friends as you promised. That night you tell her of your woman and inwardly, you feel mild shame and betrayal that you spoke of your woman in the light of something detached from you, like a spoilt child who never sees virtues in his parents after all their sacrifices. She rocks your head and says it is okay and makes you read Jeannette Winterson’s Written on The Body to her.

Two weeks pass and there is trouble in paradise. Your woman knows. She came by the weekend and read the chats, of literary rendezvous and while she spits fire and brimstone the only lines you can say in way of defence is, why did you read my chats? She says she is done and you think of last Christmas when you took your people to her people. When your mother taught her how to extract oil from palm fruit, the hair extensions and clothes she bought your little sister after her last trip to Dubai. The way your father speaks fondly of her, asking you to hurry up and fix a date for the wedding.

You knew she would come back if you begged her. But you wonder if it is all out of compulsion and you are deterred by the thoughts of your voice on someone’s phone: a stimulant, the collection of slow music you have listened to these few weeks while you held her in your sleep. The sweet banter of deep words ordinary minds cannot comprehend, and you are confused.

Image Source: hellobeautiful.com

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