Christmas, Chicken Head And Lost Love


Christmas means merriment and celebration and happiness. I have no problem with it. I mean why not? It means happy and everything that means happy is good, right?



It’s Christmas today and even if you are not happy, you are pretending to be. I’m not happy. I’m not pretending to be happy and no, I’m not even sad. How? Allow me to tell you a story. Well, only if you want to hear it. You may only want to think happy thoughts on Christmas and I don’t want to come between that.

Tayo hates me and the feeling is mutual. I hate Tayo. We know this and respect it. It has nothing to do with the times he sees me with men, calls me a whore and beats me to a pulp. It wasn’t because he did things to me and denied them in family meetings, in my presence. It doesn’t even have anything to do with him fighting me for not feeling ready to have a child. It has nothing to do with any of that. These happen so often it has become a part of our lives. Our hatred for ourselves doesn't come from any of that.

I met him in my first year at the university. He was the course rep of the final year class and it was he I asked if that was the computer science department. It was one of those love at first sight kind of thing. Even though lanky and lanky wasn’t my thing, Tayo made quite an impression. He was tall, dark and had a beautiful face. It was one of those faces that didn’t fully leave the childish form and didn’t fully embrace the adult form either. It was youthful and innocent. His voice, the one I heard that day, was sweet. It could only belong to someone who can do no wrong.

Why did I say the voice I heard that day? You see, Tayo is one of those people who know how to be on their best behavior at the right time, the first impression for instance. He put up the act and that completely got me. On every other day, his voice is husky and dry but of course, I didn’t know that then. The story told from his angle; when the fair, beautiful girl walked towards him coyly and asked if she was in the right place, he knew his future depended not on the answer he’ll give but on how he’ll give it.

We started dating shortly after that. We had a lot in common and thought alike. You won’t be shocked to know he was my first. Isn’t that how these stories go? It happened in the dormitory. I don’t know what he told them but his roommates quickly gave reasons to be elsewhere as soon as I walked in. We were only too eager to accept. It happened on the top bunk of a double bunk bed. Up till now, I don’t know why we chose to do it up there. Farther away from the world perhaps. It has  uncomfortable, painful and awkward.

Soon we became inseparable. The love wouldn’t stop ‘shacking’ us. Not even after our first year together. It felt like we only just began dating. We could not get enough of each other. I did notice that he had anger issues. He would bang his fist on the table when we had arguments, breaking the plates in an eatery twice. He’d create a scene if he as much as saw me acknowledging the smile of another male. It was nothing right? We all have flaws. I wasn’t even such a great cook myself and I was very clumsy and careless. He was putting up with all that too without complaining. Isn’t that what love is all about? The prep talk I gave myself did it. We got married 4 years later.

With marriage came a different aspect of our love that was totally new to me, to us. The love stopped ‘shacking’ us at this point. We became too comfortable with ourselves and took a lot of things for granted. We no longer had time for frivolities or the silly display of affection. It felt like business. If you don’t act right, your pay will be cut. We began to notice the little faults and get irritated by it. I cannot walk barefooted no matter how neat the place is. I wear my flip flops everywhere. This gravelly irritated Tayo. He made love to me with so much reckless abandon like I am his whore. Even though I used to, I didn’t like that anymore. I am his wife now. He did things sometimes that made me feel like flogging him like a baby. I’m sure he also felt the same way about me sometimes.
I don’t know what it was that got us; that we expected that marriage was some fairy tale but were disappointed when everything remained the same, that we have ourselves now so we stopped making efforts, that there were now lots of responsibilities, that we can’t deal with who we truly are. I don’t know what it was but something got us. We spent less time and rarely did anything together. We were only just bearing ourselves. There was an unspoken problem. We both knew it.

Once, he heard me talking on the phone with a colleague and picked a fight. It ended with him calling me and whore and slapping me twice across the face. That night, I went to my room and packed my things but halfway through it I stopped, where would I go? I cried myself to sleep instead. That would be the beginning of such fights; Tayo getting jealous because I looked at a man and beating me to a pulp, severally in public. When it just started, I’d have my brother call a meeting between his family and mine and he’d look me in the eye and deny everything.

Soon, the child issue came up. It was the third year of our marriage. Why wasn’t I pregnant? Tayo wanted a child badly. I wanted one too but not in that kind of environment so I stalled and he steamed. We didn’t hate ourselves then. We only tolerated ourselves. The turning point happened on Christmas day, that same year I think.

I had just finished cooking the Christmas rice and stew and since we hadn’t had anything to eat all day, I served the meal immediately I was done. We had long stopped eating together. I served Tobi a mighty plate with the fat chicken drumsticks, just as he likes it. Iya Deolu, our neighbor, I also dished a generous portion of food for and for myself, I kept a small plate of rice with the chicken wings and of course the head. Chicken heads were the death of me, anybody who knows my name knows this. When I was younger, nobody dared drag it with me. Not even my father. My love for it is like a copied assignment, as they say, I can’t explain it!

When I came back from giving Iya Deolu the food and exchanging pleasantries, I couldn’t find my food. Tobi’s was untouched. Did I forget to serve my own meal? The search continued for about 5 minutes and when I saw it was leading nowhere, I decided to ask him. I met Tobi eating chicken wings from my already empty plate. I almost had a heart attack. Almost? I think I had a mini heart attack. I grabbed him by the collar and shook him like a mad woman. Where is the head?! The more he kept silent as if to understand what was going on, the more enraged I was. Where is the head? Where is the chicken head? I went on and on and on. Not much damage was done. Let’s say clothes were torn, teeth clung tightly to flesh and it took Iya Deolu hearing my scream and coming to the rescue to separate us. He has the marks up till date.
Tayo hates me now and the feeling is mutual. I hate Tayo. Anyone who can eat your chicken head is capable of murder.




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