Did you ever imagine that life is a cycle and that what goes around comes around? Did you envisage it back in the university when I was your man?
You probably didn’t. You were the type of beautiful girl who knew she was beautiful. You flaunted it ceaselessly. Remember the times that I told you about the fiery irresistible glow in your eyes? Do you remember what you used to say then, how you used to say it? What was it between us? What was it that bonded us together at that time? What is it about you that made me such an elegant fool, a lover with the boastful folly of a child? Was it even love? Do you even understand love? Were you not just the pretty lady who milked me dry?
Those times we stared at each other, those times our eyes seemed to be in a tête-à-tête, what was it? Please do not say it was love. You were not capable of loving. You couldn’t possibly have been in love those times we were alone and when you let me kiss you, when you moaned and whimpered in pleasure.
Was it fun for you, my drama queen? Wasn’t that part of the grand plan, a plot to which you were the chief actor? What was that thing we used to play together… that game you loved to play? Oh! Truth and Dare — do you remember how we used to play it, how many of my questions you had no answers to? Why did you love that game so much? Was it because of the dare part, where I’d pay a thousand naira for every dare I couldn’t perform?—I dare you to dance naked, I dare you to taste urine, I dare you to miss an exam. Was that not all you could come up with? It was for the money, wasn’t it?
You couldn’t possibly have imagined it turning out this way—you couldn’t in your wildest dreams have seen this letter coming. Did you think I was dead or rotting away in jail? True, I was in jail, locked in a dark cell in Kirikiri—where the female warder reminds me of you, where her sassy ass sprouts memories of you!
Do you ever read the Bible? Do you believe there is no peace for the wicked? Was it your watchword as it was mine? Did you think we’d had closure to our story? Did you think me serving ten years, and you, living merrily ever after was the end of this chronicle? Did you cry for me or did you thank your Chi, your revered ancestors, for destroying me? Or was it Jesus you thanked? Did you go to mass to offer prayer to the graven man sprawled on a cross? Did you see his face, the eternal engravement of pain on his countenance?
Did you wonder if that was Jesus grieving for me, for you, or for both of us? Professor Nelson must have been so happy, wasn’t he? When he witnessed against me and you corroborated his tale, did he hug you?
Did he tell you how convincing you were, how those tears looked real, how the judge was absorbed in your theater? Did Nelson fuck you hard after that? Did he buy you a car? When the judge read his sentence and convicted me, was your elation real? Did you truly weep for joy? Did you enjoy my tears; was my plea for mercy music to your wicked soul or did my plea for compassion pinch your hardened heart? When I called you Amara mo, and writhed on the floor, did it stroke your heart; did it remind you of who I used to be to you?
Was it so painless to forget that night? Did it fade away so easily from your memory like steam from a pot? Does it come back occasionally, do you see that scene in your reverie, and does it haunt your mind when you sleep? You thought I had travelled, didn’t you? You thought I was gone for seven days like I said. Did you not notice that it was the first day of April? I wanted to make a fool of you, but you made an eternal fool of me. Do you even know what it felt like—to have walked home late that night eager to surprise you, holding flowers and a teddy bear, to imagine you jump at me, then scold me for tricking you?
But why did you ask him to come to my apartment? Why did you not bother to bolt the door? Why did you not switch the light off? Why were you moaning so loudly? Was it fun caressing his overstuffed body? Was he better than I was? Was his grip firm on your breast, and did you call his name? What did you call him? Was it Professor, or Nelson, or was it my name you called him? You couldn’t look at me that night.
Didn’t you want to see my eyes? Were you truly ashamed, or was it fear… or just contempt? It was disrespectful for you to have avoided my gaze, to not look into the eyes you hurt. What did you think I was going to do? Why didn’t he run when he had the chance? When I dropped the flowers and the teddy bear?
While I was away, did he ask you who I was? What did you tell him? Did you say I was just a friend, a mere acquaintance? Did he continue to kiss you, or did he stop for a while? You didn’t believe I was gone, did you? You weren’t that stupid. I am sorry I broke your arm; you broke my heart too, you broke my existence. Do you know what it feels like to be discarded, to be thrown away like a cold Akara in the hands of a toddler? The cudgel was meant for his head, why did you put your hand between us? Was he worth breaking an arm for? Do you see me as the monster, and you the knight? What did you feel when he overpowered me? Did you see the way he threw a jab to my nose, did you see the trickle of red, did you feel my bones crunch under his grip, and did you enjoy my desperate squeals?
What was it you told the police that night? Why did they let him go? Do you know how devastated I was when Corporal Obinna read your statement to me? Was I really an abusive lover like you claimed? Did I truly fracture your arm because you wouldn’t sleep with me? Was the professor really your rescuer, the one you had made a frantic call to when I attempted to force you? How did you come up with that story?
How does it feel to be paid back in your own coin? What does a handcuff feel like? Was it like those bangles that you had your drawer full of? Was it fashionable and trendy, like those chains??
Did you see your husband, his cold fixed gaze of death? Tell me what it feels like to wake with a bloodied knife in your hand, to have your dress smeared in his blood. Did you plead for mercy? What did you tell the police, the judge? Did they dismiss your story the way adults wave off a childhood ghost legend, did you see the look on their faces, and does it hurt; to have people look at you like that? A murderer? Did I ever cross your mind?
Emmanuel Fehintola teaches literature at the Polytechnic, Ibadan. His work, Radio Biafra, a collection of twelve short stories was published by Emotion Press in 2018.