29 November 2009

The Saxophonist by Anengiyefa (Part Two)

I stepped back, closely observing Moses' face. The body language suggested that something was not right. The woman came closer, she had seen us and was coming straight towards where we were standing, now a few feet apart. They greeted each other but the greeting was short, as of two people who know each other well and spend a lot of time together. Later on while thinking about this I thought Moses had handled it quite well, as he had calmly introduced me to her as a friend.I stepped back, closely observing Moses' face. The body language suggested that something was not right. The woman came closer, she had seen us and was coming straight towards where we were standing, now a few feet apart. They greeted each other but the greeting was short, as of two people who know each other well and spend a lot of time together. Later on while thinking about this I thought Moses had handled it quite well, as he had calmly introduced me to her as a friend. This woman was his wife. I was taken aback at first, because he had given me not even a hint that he was involved in a relationship of this magnitude. But then I could not hold this against him, because, after all, the time that Moses and I had spent together since we met would in total amount to no more than an hour. It was I who had allowed myself to become so hopelessly infatuated with someone who I hardly knew and about whom I knew next to nothing. This however begged the question, why had he reacted to me in the way that he had done the first time we met a few days ago, and since?

Anyhow, since three is a crowd even in the best of circumstances I knew that the sensible thing was for me to withdraw. And so I did, wondering when the next chance would come for me to be with this man again. I greeted Mrs Moses courteously and excused myself, quietly leaving them. I was careful not to look at Moses as I left, because I was fearful that my eyes would give us away, especially as I had heard all those stories about women and their intuition. I had chosen to come to the Shrine on my own tonight and I felt alone. I knew that in this huge crowd gathering outside on the street, forming itself into queues, there would be people I knew from the university campus. But I wasn't in the mood for raucous banter. The person I really wanted to be with was somewhere inside this building behind me. And he has a wife! The realisation of how untenable my position was suddenly hit me. But even his wife could not stop me from watching him while he was on stage. And that is what I did, having joined a queue, paid the entrance fee and made my way to exactly the same position beside the stage where I had been last Tuesday when we had first met.

I had been standing there for about 15 minutes, sipping a Guinness from the bottle when Mrs Moses who I later learned is called Grace, brushed past me. She turned to say sorry and then her eyes lit up when she realised who I was. "Oh, its you", she smiled sweetly at me and I smiled back acknowledging her, although feeling a bit awkward. It was clear to me that she was here for the exact same reason as I was, to watch her (or was it 'our') man perform on stage. Forward of where I was standing were some seats. At the Shrine there were only a few seats arranged close to the stage, but in truth there was hardly any need for seats in this nightclub, since most people just stood and watched and danced and jumped when the show got going. But there were seats arranged in rows at the front, many of which were reserved for special guests. I watched Grace from behind as she made her way to the very front row of seats and perched herself on one of them, delicately, in a way that only a woman can. There was an air of importance about her, sedate, demure, and the feeling that went through me at that moment was a combination of admiration and envy. Envy because it was this woman who got to enjoy Moses, the man with whom I was so besotted.

The show went on as usual. Predictably my eyes hardly left Moses, but I would take the odd glance at Grace who herself seemed to be enthralled by the music. She remained seated, calm and composed, but from time to time she would sway with the rhythm. At break time, I looked up expectantly at Moses and saw that he too was staring at me. I noticed that Grace had left her seat and gone in the direction of the ladies room at the far side of the hall. Moses left the stage and came straight towards me, as he had done last Tuesday. But as he approached me I sensed his uneasiness. He searched my face as he drew closer but I smiled reassuringly, my heart leaping as I now knew without a doubt that this man wanted to be with me as much as I wanted to be with him. Seeing my smile, his uneasiness visibly vanished and again without saying a word he took me outside, holding me by the hand. I suspected he was taking me away from Grace and others.

We did not stop when we reached the street as we had done the last time. Instead we walked through the crowd outside, Moses acknowledging greetings from a few people he knew. We pressed on and continued down the street, still holding hands, him leading the way determinedly. The Shrine is located in a residential area, such that once away from the immediate vicinity of the club it was dark and quiet with cars and vans belonging to the local residents as well as visitors to the Shrine parked on both sides of the road. We were a good way from the lights and noise of the Shrine when Moses led me behind one of the vans, the rear of the van facing away from the direction of the club. Here we were completely hidden from everyone and it was in this dark place that he pulled me into his body with an urgency that surprised me. We embraced tightly and kissed for the first time. We stood facing each other, close together, our arms wrapped loosely around each other's bodies as we talked in low tones, almost whispering, staring into each other's eyes, an urgent fervour to our actions. He talked about himself and his life and many other things. And we kissed again. I just listened to his voice, wishing that this dream moment would last forever. Then we kissed again, and again... And I never felt such excitement in my life...

And so it was that Moses and I were hidden in this dark place, the only place where we could be alone for those precious minutes before needs be must he return to his job, and his wife. We held on to each other, both of us acutely aware of how fleeting this moment of joy was. I stroked his face and his moustache and ran my finger across his lips. Moses grabbed my hand, pressing it against his lips and kissed my fingers. "I want to be with you always, Moses..", the words spilled out of my mouth before I even realised that I had said them. In response Moses pulled me closer and hugged me tightly. I clung to him my cheek brushing against the stubble on his chin. "How can we baby?", he asked, whispering into the back of my neck as he held me, his breath causing a tingling sensation. "You understand the way things are, don't you?"

"Yes", I replied, my head resting on his shoulder, "I do understand, but.." I did not know how to say what I was thinking. Indeed, I did not even know what to think. Here was I with a man who I had met only a few days previously, but with whom I had become almost totally obsessed. In the last couple of hours I'd found out he has a wife, but I had also learned that he is just as interested in me as I am in him. Where would this lead us?, I wondered. But just then, as if he knew what I was thinking, Moses whispered again, "Don't worry baby, it'll be alright. We'll work it out somehow." In reply I said, "I don't wish to cause you trouble, you know...but the truth is that nobody has made me feel as I do now..."

Moses responded by pulling back and looking into my face. In his eyes I saw that this man felt exactly the same way as I did. Then suddenly, reality came crashing down on us. Moses had to return inside the club to join the band. Oh, how time flies when you least want it to. He kissed me on the forehead then we smiled into each other's eyes like two conspirators, the feeling of guilt was mutual. Ours was a secret passion that was to remain just between the two of us, a passion not to be shared with, or revealed to the other people in our lives. And so as we walked back to the Shrine we made a conscious effort to appear innocent. I knew that after this brief but enjoyable encounter with Moses, there would not be another chance to be alone with him tonight. He understood that I lived in a student hostel on the campus of the university and I knew that he lived with his wife. So the only chance we were going to have to be together again would be here at the Shrine, on another day. It was clear to me that I would become a regular visitor to this place for the foreseeable future.

At the end of the show that night, I lingered inside the club not wanting to let Moses out of my sight for as long as I could manage it. He was good. He would steal glances at me, but I knew he was being careful because Grace was right there, up front by the stage. Apparently, she was well known by the staff and the other musicians, which was lucky because chatting with them kept her from noticing that Moses was not concentrating fully on what he was doing with the musical equipment. I slowly moved towards the exit in the now near empty hall and turned to wave goodbye to Moses. With my hands I signalled that I would be here again next Tuesday. He nodded and smiled. I knew I was in love with this man.

It was the last week before the start of the end-of-semester exams. I had failed that dreadful compulsory Psychology course two semesters running and I was to resit it this semester, again. And there were all the other final-year courses and that all-important Project, (as the dissertation was known at undergraduate level). I knew that I was behind with my coursework and that this week would be the only chance I would have to put myself back on top of my academic work. I had to put my head down and study; and study I did, whenever I could get Moses out of my mind. This was in the days before the Internet and mobile phones, the days when telephones were a luxury. There was no way of knowing where he was or what he was doing, or who he was with. And I just sat and thought and wondered about this man and the magic that had developed between him and me.

The university is located on the shore of the Lagos Lagoon. The water of the lagoon is at the rear of the campus, such that the shoreline is far removed from the centre of campus life. At the lagoon front is an expansive grass lawn and just at the water's edge on the far side of the grass is a long quiet road along the shore, which leads up to the Vice Chancellor's residence. Palm trees line the road and wooden benches similar to what you would find in a park are placed under the trees close to the water line. It was in this lovely and quiet place that I would spend long lonely hours, looking out over the calm water of the Lagos Lagoon, wondering if Moses was thinking about me too. None of my friends and acquaintances on the campus knew that I was not straight like they were. For them life was good, girls were aplenty. I did not know anyone who had the same feelings as me and there was nobody I knew with whom I could share this thing that I was feeling. This was a time in my life when being gay felt to me like a curse. There was nobody to talk to, but there was Moses, on my mind, always...

And so it was with much anticipation that I approached the Shrine on that Tuesday as I turned the corner into Pepple Street, the small side street where the Shrine is located. A group of men stood in front of the club entrance engaged in a conversation of sorts, one of them waving his arms about agitatedly. In my eagerness to see Moses again I had arrived rather too early, because it was obvious as soon as I turned into the street that there were only a few people about. I felt a bit awkward, but surprisingly among the group of men standing by the entrance was the man I was here to meet. We must have spotted each other at exactly the same moment, because the reason I had noticed him was because there was a sharp movement of his head. He jerked upwards, slightly, in the way that one does when one suddenly notices something of interest from afar. Our stares locked, before he turned away quickly and muttered something, perhaps an excuse to his colleagues in the band with whom he was standing. I slowed my pace and came almost to a standstill, not sure what to do. But Moses left his colleagues and came towards me, looking genuinely pleased to see me. He extended his hand, which I shook in the way that I would any friend. Those in the group whose backs were turned to us, turned around to see who their colleague had left them to meet. But their curiosity quickly disappeared when they saw me, the nondescript unremarkable young man that I must have appeared to be.

It was awkward indeed. It was quite early in the evening and Moses had things to do before the show started. He clearly hadn't expected to see me at this hour and I felt a bit guilty for being the cause of his discomfiture. I apologised to him for turning up this early and confessed that not seeing him had become unbearable. He looked at me in that way that makes you think that he can see right into your mind and read all of your thoughts. I knew he understood. It was annoying that I was not allowed to throw my arms around him right here and now, because this is what I would have loved to do; to feel the warmth of his body against mine, to be held once again by this man. We were standing in full view of everyone around us but there was no denying it, I was helplessly in love. Moses said he was expecting Grace to arrive any minute now. The last time we were together he had told me there was always a seat reserved for Grace at the front, because he liked to see her while he was on stage. He needed to know she was safe, he'd said. Moses asked me if I would like a seat in the front tonight, and of course I was not going to refuse the first thing ever offered to me by this man. Besides, the idea that he even wanted to have me constantly in his sights was exciting. So of course I said yes. At least, I too would get an undisturbed view of the man I had come to the Shrine to see. I will take in as much of Moses as I can tonight, I thought to myself. Enough to allow me bury my head in my books until Friday when I will undoubtedly be back here again.

Leaving me, Moses rejoined his colleagues and shortly afterwards they all entered into the building through the stage door. Outside, I wandered around for a while. It was too early to gain entrance to the club as the gate was still locked shut, so I moved further down the street and found a quiet spot. I sat on a bench by the roadside under a tree, a place which I assumed was a hangout for local residents, where ayo a traditional board game was played. From where I sat, I had a clear view of the Shrine and it was not long before a taxi pulled to a stop in front of the club. Two women alighted from it and I immediately recognised Grace. I couldn't help noticing how elegantly she carried herself, a true African beauty this woman and I could see why Moses had married her. Both women disappeared into the club through the stage door.

As night fell, the street became noticeably busier as more and more people poured into the area. I realised that I ought to return to the entrance gate in order to claim my position in the queue as one who had arrived early. The gate eventually opened and when I entered the club I made my way straight towards the front. And I had not been there long when Moses emerged from the backstage. He seemed preoccupied with his duties, walking around the stage, then saying a few words to one of his colleagues and then to another. They were doing all those things that members of a band do with their instruments before a performance. I hoped I was not being a nuisance. Moses looked out across the hall where a few people were already milling about. He didn't notice me straight away, so I made myself more noticeable by moving into the light and within his line of sight. Moses acknowledged me with a nod and then went back into the backstage area.

I went to one of the kiosks that was just opening and bought a drink. As I turned around to return to the front I saw Moses coming towards me. We smiled at each other and following him we went together to the front where he showed me the seat that he had reserved specifically for me. I was unused to the VIP treatment, indeed, such had never happened to me before and I was unsure what to make of it, or how to react. Anyway I sat down, although all of the other seats were still empty. Turning around, I saw that the crowd was rapidly increasing in size behind the seating area and I wondered if anyone I knew from the campus would see me sitting at the front like an honoured guest. It wasn't long before the seats around me were occupied by others, strange people quite unlike the sort of people I was used to seeing at the Shrine. These were respectable folks, not people who jumped and danced wildly to the music when the band was playing. Well, I felt important and I was just adjusting myself to this new status when to my astonishment Grace wafted past in front of me and sat down next to me. I wasn't sure if I was excited, or if I was horrified. She smiled at me, obviously remembering me from the last time. I greeted her politely, secretly hoping that this woman would not even conceive of the idea of striking up a conversation with me. Thankfully, she didn't, and to my great relief the band emerged on stage just then and the show began. If only this woman knew what her husband and I were up to. In a way, I felt in a superior position, because I was sure she knew nothing about the erotic relationship that her husband had with me, nor was she aware of that side of her husband that craved the love of a man. I knew her man better than she did.

The Saxophonist was written by Anengiyefa.

Copyright Anengiyefa 2009.

AnengiyefaI grew up in a suburb of the city of Lagos, Nigeria in the 1970s and spent all of my childhood and formative years there. That city more than any other, is my home. I fulfilled my childhood ambition of becoming a lawyer when I was admitted to the Nigerian Bar sometime in the mid 1980s and went straight into law practice. But it was not very long before I became disillusioned with the system in Nigeria. I persevered for as long as I could, but seized the opportunity when it came to relocate to the UK in 1996. I have been living in London, UK since then and have since re qualified and been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales. I enjoy the challenges thrown my way in the work that I do and my profession is a big part of my life.

But then I've also discovered another love, a new found love of creative writing. In February 2009, I surrendered to a long held desire to start a weblog. In writing the blog I gradually drifted towards writing stories, episode by episode, making up the details as I went along. The stories I have written and the ones that are still at the embryonic stage in my mind are all based on real life experiences and situations, of myself personally or of others I have known. But the accounts are fictionalised.

I stumbled upon ST while on one of my web surfing expeditions. I was moved by the fact that several other African people were similarly motivated to write creatively such that I felt a compulsion to join this group of African writers. And I was pleasantly surprised when Ivor Hartmann read one of my scripts and thought it good enough for me to be admitted as a ST author. I have never had anything published previously, save for the odd contribution here and there to Nigerian and British newspapers and magazines, usually one strong opinion or the otherr. ST is the first venue at which my creative writing is published and I cannot say how pleasing this is. I know this is supposed to be an autobiography, but I was not going to let slip the chance of expressing my immense pleasure.


Myne Whitman said...

This is still not a much talked about topic but I guess it happens. I'll look forward to the next series.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Myne, the idea I suppose is to present it in a realistic form..

Anonymous said...

I have been eagerly waiting for this next part and can't wait for the rest of the series, thank you Anengiyefa you are an inspiration. -Chiz.

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Chiz, thanks for your comment. Its inspiring to know that someone thinks of me as you do. Thank you.

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

I enjoyed reading this....Though not as much as the first part which was well paced as well as taut with tension, longing and lust.

Is this some kind of series? Please do not be tempted to drag it on and on and on and on and......(get my drift?

Bring on Part III!!!!!!!


Waffarian said...

I agree with Ayodele, the first part was...HOT...But I enjoyed this as well and I am curious to see how, where and when...very interesting and erotic.

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Ayodele. Thanks again. Is it some kind of series? I don't think I'll call it a series. It just happened to be such a long tale that I thought I could get away with making it into three short stories, sort of..

Well, due to the fact that the queue for stories on ST is so long, it appears that Part 3 will not be coming up for some months yet...please bear with me.

As for that critical literary review link, I checked it out, but was unsure why you thought I should be looking at it. Can you clarify pls? :)

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Waffy, nice to hear from you. Thanks. In these circumstances the English would use the 'chuffed' word, lol.

Maybe when I was writing the first part, my excitement caused my heart to beat faster and blood was flowing quicker through my veins..

Its great to know you found it interesting. I like the "erotic" in your comment too. :)

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

@ Anengiyefa, I was not asking you to check out that link o. Okay, not just you...everyone....I was doing a bit of shameless self promotion for my quite newish blog....I tend to do that once in a while to promote traffic that way.

Anengiyefa said...

Ohoo, Ayodele, okay now I understand. Shameless self promotion is allowed, so no worries. lol

Rox said...

You did it again Anen, but I really wish the next part would come faster, this waiting shall surely do me in! Such beautiful writing.......

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Rox, thanks for your comment. You know, I don't have any control over how long it takes for the stories to be published. The authors have to wait their turn, so there isn't much I can do about that. But thanks anyway..

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

@ Waffarian, Long time no see. I believe the last time I saw you on the blogosphere was when 14th and Serenity was running. Are there any plans to do another collaboration with the other writers?

Waffarian said...

I agree with Ayodele, the first part was...HOT...But I enjoyed this as well and I am curious to see how, where and when...very interesting and erotic.

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