The mother of my children has long, wavy hair that extends all the way down to her back. She has stunning eyes, deep and probing, sensuous and demure. Her lips are perfect; small, rosy, with the lower lip jutting out slightly in an attractive pout. The mother of my children oozes radiance and grace…and is completely unaware of my existence.
I first saw her while battling to stay in a queue that led up to the admissions desk. She was gliding in our direction, and the few moments I wasted staring at her were enough to get me shoved off the queue. It took another minute to recollect my thoughts, and by then there was no hope of getting back in line. And since gentlemen don’t push and shove, I turned and headed for the back of the queue, noticing as I did that she had now joined it.
The mother of my children smells like an orchard in the spring. I recall the heady feeling of breathing her in, filling my lungs with the intoxicating smell and holding my breath as long as I could, then letting the elation whoosh out in an audible sigh. Audible enough to make her turn around and regard me with what may have been curiosity. And that was when I knew…that was when I had my epiphany. I had to make this gorgeous woman mine. And I would, even if it cost me all five of my appendages.
I have since encountered her thrice, the mother of my children. Each subsequent time she looked lovelier still, and each time she reduced my self confidence to a steaming pile of ashes. I took careful note of each encounter, because I knew someday my curious sons and daughters will want to know how it all began, and I am certain every sordid detail will be appreciated. Like how lofty their mother was, and how she regarded everyone within spitting distance with narrowed eyes, as though they were hooligans who would pounce on her Louis Vuitton handbag at the first opportunity; or how she could juggle two phones, one that looked suspiciously like an iphone, in one hand while keeping the other hand suspended in the air for the occasional wave and handshake, or more likely to display her perfectly manicured nails to the world. Ah, well, the heart wants what the heart wants.
The first encounter was incidental. A typical case of boy bumps into girl, girl drops the papers she was carrying, boy helps her pick them up, all the while responding to annoyed inquiries of ‘hauna macho?’ and ‘what’s your shida?’, with a constant stream of apologies, girl walks away with her nose turned up, expelling air through clenched teeth in a perfect imitation of the Nigerian movie star she was watching the other day. So it may not have been the best time to invite her for drinks and assorted snacks in my Jacuzzi back home. And that may not have been the most ideal opening line. Still, it was a start.
The second encounter was just as bleak. I had just escorted two of my friends to the pile of rocks that is the university gym, and we were on our way out. It would seem she lived in the neighbouring hostels, because she was suddenly there, turning onto the path that led up to the library. Today she was wearing a brilliant aquamarine top (apparently blue is never just blue), and jeans that sang praises of her physique. Then the testosterone took over. I puffed up my chest and tensed my muscles, although all I had done in the gym was walk around practising my signature on the dusty surfaces of the machines. I even introduced a little spring in my step, but for all the notice she took, I might as well have been a falling leaf. Once again, the mother of my children managed to ignore me completely and reduce me to a helpless bundle of nerves. It’s a miracle I didn’t throw myself off the roof of Hostel D.
I met her once more, this time in class. I had reserved a seat for a friend of mine, but when she walked over, turned those lovely eyes on me and asked if the seat was taken, I said yes before she was through with the question. Bro’s before hoes my foot.
She sat down, and I was suddenly afraid that she would hear the mad thumping of my heart. How could she not, when it was deafening in my own ears? Then again, I had always been invisible to her, and that was not about to change. And now she was rummaging through her bag, pushing aside a vast array of cosmetics, harmful chemicals, disposable sanitary…eh…items, one half of her dressing table and shoes, and finally pulling out a book. ‘100 Ways to Tell If He’s Cheating on You’ was splashed on the cover in loopy green lettering. Without meaning to, I let out an amused snort. And finally, after waiting for three weeks, the mother of my children turned and gave me her undivided attention.
I saw a flash of annoyance cross her face, then the briefest hint of recognition, and finally a scowl. She was looking down at me again, like I was something she had pulled out of her nose. I saw her wrestle with impulses unknown to me, until she finally decided that I was not worth it and turned back to her book. As expected, my heart gave a dull throb of pain. Clearly, I was even more insignificant than I had thought. But somehow, the fog had lifted, and I was thinking clearly for the first time. Maybe that was why I began to notice the flaws.
The mother of my children wears too much make-up. The red of her lips is not as alluring as I had imagined. Her eyes, once sensuous, now seem cold and unfeeling, suspicious and utterly overrated. Her poise is overdone, her dressing skimpy, her strut absurdly superficial. Her handbag is nowhere near designer-made, and her phone is a federal arrest waiting to happen. However did she pull me in?
The saddest part is that I still think of her in that way. In my dreams, she still fixes my meals and tends our children, still tilts our wedding photo every time she passes it on the way to our room. In spite of all indications to the contrary, she is still the angel I imagined her to be the first time I saw her. Gods be good, four years later, she will be the mother of my children.