07 February 2010

The Saxophonist by Anengiyefa (Part Three)

Tonight's show felt different from the others that I had seen. I felt restricted not only because I was seated at the Shrine, which itself was strange enough, but there was a woman sitting right beside me whose presence was uncomfortable to say the least. I wondered if she thought anything of the fact that Moses had sat me next to her, but as far as I could tell she seemed completely unconcerned.

We had exchanged greetings when she had first arrived, but since then I might as well have not been there. I didn't mind being ignored, indeed I quite welcomed it. What was uncomfortable was that I could not enjoy watching Moses as I had hoped I would, there being a constant reminder sitting just inches from me that this man was unattainable in the way that I desired. Its not as if I didn't already know about her, or that I ever imagined that I could take Moses away from her. But I did not need to have to be constantly reminded of who she was and what role she played in the life of this man with whom I was so hopelessly in love. Moses himself had not looked away from our direction all night and that was pleasing. But because of the lighting, it was hard to tell whether he was looking at her, or at me. For the first time I felt a bit jealous.

At end of the set I got up and made my way outside without once looking in Moses direction, perhaps to send the message that I wasn't entirely happy with the evening so far. Outside I made sure to stand conspicuously under the lights by the entrance. Moses would come after me if he cared anything for me. He must have noticed that I was acting rather strangely, I told myself. And sure enough, Moses did come out and because I saw him before he saw me, I saw that he was casting his eyes about until they settled on me, where I was standing pretending not to have noticed him.

However, he wasn't alone and it was a few minutes before he managed to extricate himself from the group of people and then come towards me. There was a look of concern on his face and I felt sorry that I had upset him. But I needed to let him know that it was not comfortable sitting beside his wife. Moses seemed to understand immediately as he looked into my face, I didn't have to say a word. He came up so close to me that I could feel his breath on my face. I couldn't help myself and said "I'm sorry". Moses said nothing. He put his arm round my shoulders and steered me in the direction we had gone the last time we were together. I put my arm around his waist as we walked together. I didn't care anymore who saw us, or what anybody thought. In this place, he had more to guard against than I did, yet he had come after me and put his arm around me in the open, in full view of everyone. I must mean something to this man and the thought of it warmed my heart.

We walked down the street and slowed. I turned to face Moses and put my other arm around his waist so that both my arms were wrapped around his midsection. I placed my face sideways against his chest and before I knew what I was saying, said "Moses, I love you..." Moses held me, right there in the middle of the street. He is so gentle, this man. I cannot bear the thought of living my life without you Moses, I thought to myself.

Moses then told me that Grace was due to travel upcountry to her parents' home somewhere in the hinterland. He said the visit although already planned, was not yet set for a specific date. He needed say no more, because we both understood what this meant. That we, Moses and I, would get the chance to be together, on our own and soon. How blissful this would be, I thought. I looked into Moses' eyes. This man loved me, I could tell. We held on to each other for as long as we dared, not saying much, just enjoying the moment, feeling the warmth from each other. Reluctantly, we let go, because it was sensible at this point for us to return to the club and see out the rest of the show. Much of the communication between us was of the kind that is not spoken. We seemed to know what the other was thinking without having to ask. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Moses. I had never felt this way about any person in my entire life.

And so we returned to the Shrine, but I did not go back to sit beside Grace. I went to my spot, on the left side of the stage, closer to where Moses was than was the seating area. I wanted Moses to know that although I was in love with him, I did not want to be a part of his marriage, or affect it in any way whatsoever. Ours was a homosexual love. It was different from what he had with Grace. And that was fine, as long as he kept her out of our relationship. My reasoning was that the part of Moses that was attracted to me and which reached out for me, was not a part that Grace could satisfy. He wanted me to fulfil that part of him, and I was there for him. I wanted Moses to have all of me, since there was no part of me which he could not fulfil. I loved him and I was going to prove it when we had the opportunity to be together. I returned to the campus that night excited, in anticipation of the day when Moses and I could have each other. But at the back of my mind was the exam that was due to start next Monday. I hoped that on Friday when I returned to the Shrine, Moses would have some good news.

The Wednesday and the Thursday that passed before I was to see Moses again were the longest two days ever. But the pain of waiting was reduced by the fact that of necessity, I was confined for hours studying in that airy reading room near the amphitheatre of the science complex, one of my favourite places on the campus to sit and study. Very light and bright, with large windows providing views of the lagoon and offering a strategic view of Jaja Hall, a hall of residence for men. The sea breeze off the lagoon and the agreeable surroundings were supposed to help to focus my thoughts on my work, but every passing student was in my mind immediately compared to Moses. It always came back to Moses, whatever I did. There were many men in the vicinity and I've often wondered if I liked this place so much because the rooms of Jaja Hall had windows from floor to ceiling, such that it was quite possible to see right inside the rooms from where I sat. I did the best I could with revision and preparation for the exams. I desperately wanted to become free from studying and education generally, so that I could do all those things I'd always dreamed of. And the way out was to pass these exams, graduate and move somewhere far away from home and family. But there was this new complication in my life, my relationship with Moses. It was a distraction that I didn't need, but one which I had no control over.

Friday finally came and I arrived at the Shrine, careful not to arrive as early as I had done the last time I was here. Even before I turned into Pepple Street, I saw Moses standing at the corner looking in the direction from which I was approaching. He had seen me and it seemed to me that he was out there just to meet me. I was surprised, but I realised then that he must have been missing me too, perhaps almost as much as I had missed him. I thought to myself how unkind this world is, that denied us the joy of rushing towards each other and jumping into each other's arms. I loved Moses and I could see that he cared for me too. Smiling at each other from the moment we made eye contact, we came together, him walking towards me. I saw that he was being careful not to attract attention to us, so we just shook hands and walked side by side towards the Shrine.

The gate was already open and he led me in, past those waiting in the queue and past that handsome bouncer who I kind of fancied the first time I came here. Moses nodded to the bouncer as we passed. It was a strange feeling I had whenever I was with Moses. It was a lovely warm feeling, the feeling of being where I am meant to be. Nothing seemed as important as being with him. I had never felt this way before, but I also knew that this was a feeling I never wanted to lose. The Shrine already had some people inside and it was a bit noisy. Moses and I went to a quiet corner and then he told me that Grace had left to see her parents this morning. There was excitement in his eyes and surely he too would have noticed the joy that was in mine. We agreed that we would meet at the street corner where we had just met. I was to proceed there after the show and he would meet me when he finished what he had to do.

The show went on as usual. At break time we looked at each other knowingly, but made no move to do what we had done each time since the first day we met. I has happy. Here was Moses right before me. And he was mine, even if only for tonight. All thoughts about Jurisprudence, Trusts Law, Psychology and all exams were banished from my mind. Tonight belonged to Moses and me and I was going to enjoy it. I was excited and danced as I loved to do to Fela's music.

Eventually when the show ended, I went outside and waited for Moses. It was nearly an hour before he came out and even then, he wasn't alone as is often the case in this place. Still, I knew that I was leaving this place with the man I loved, so no amount of waiting was too much. Moses left his colleagues and came towards me. I moved further forward and turned the corner so that by the time he reached me, we would be out of sight of his colleagues. We immediately clasped hands and headed towards the Ikeja bus station, a typically rowdy and chaotic bus station even at this late hour, and potentially dangerous at night, as is any other major bus station in Lagos. But I was with Moses and felt in no danger.

We boarded a taxi and headed towards Ogba where Moses had his home. Before now, I had tried not to think too much about what would happen this evening after the show and in particular, where we would go and what we would get up to. But this was unfolding right before me, even before I'd had the time to think about it. We were seated in the taxi, at the back. Our bodies were pressed against each other and Moses casually swung his arm around my shoulder. It felt to me as if he was asserting his claim over me. This man owned me and I absolutely loved it. Traffic was unusually light and we arrived at our destination after only 15 minutes of riding in the taxi. Moses paid the fare and led me through a locked gate which he opened and relocked.

It was a block of four flats, typical of this part of town, two flats downstairs and two upstairs. Theirs was the one downstairs on the right side from the front as we walked up the path leading to the building. It was dark and I was unable to take in all of the surroundings, but I sensed that it was a reasonably decent neighbourhood. Moses opened the front door, let us into their flat and turned on a lamp that sat on a cabinet near the door. The sitting room was tastefully furnished, spartan, in exactly the style that appealed to me. There were two two-seat sofas against two of the walls, a furry rug at the centre of the room and a glass coffee table on the rug. This was a lovely home, a nest that Moses and Grace had created for themselves. I instantly felt like an intruder.

Later, Moses told me that he was puzzled by my reaction when I had entered their flat for the first time. I tried to explain to him that I felt odd entering this place because it had the imprint of Grace all over it. It was his home, but it was hers too and I felt like an outsider, an interloper. Sensing this, Moses had tried to make me relax. He knew that I enjoyed being physically close to him and he made sure never to be in a position where I couldn't just reach out and touch him.

He poured some brandy, I guess to lighten the mood and I sat on one of the sofas. Moses put on some music, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Roy Ayers, Earl Klugh, Herbie Hancock, but the music was low and so was the lighting. He joined me on the sofa and we sat together just enjoying being together, luxuriating in this moment, alone and in private, not saying much. It was our first time like this and although I knew that he must be tired after the show, he seemed to be more concerned to see that I was relaxed and comfortable. He placed his arm around my shoulder again and pulled me close and then we kissed. This was the moment I had been waiting for all these days. I responded enthusiastically and from that moment on, what happened between Moses and me, suffice it to say that this was the most exquisite night that I had ever lived through; although I flatly refused to be led into their bedroom. He fetched some pillows and we curled up together on cushions taken from the sofas and placed on the rug, and in each other's arms we slept intermittently. Moses made me very happy that night.

The Saxophonist was written by Anengiyefa.

Copyright © Anengiyefa 2009-2010.

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...

Hmmm...still want to know how this ends.

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Myne Whitman, reading your comment I couldn't help thinking of that story about the curious cat and where its curiosity landed it.. :)

No seriously, I think the story had better come to an end at this point.. We don't want to risk offending some people's sensibilities, do we?

Thanks by the way. :)

Ozioma Izuora said...

I'm feeling quite cocky right now: I read the third part first, got really curious and went all the way back to the first and the second. I had a full meal whereas my mates had to make do with intermittent mosels! I enjoy your narrative style. It also satisfies for me, curiosities about what goes on on the other side which I have little first hand info on. It makes me appreciate similarities in our common humanity. You might want to stop the story here, but methinks you would leave us readers precariously hanging on your well developed cliff!

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Ozioma, Thanks for your comment. I suppose this was exactly the motivation; the portrayal in prose of the reality of life "on the other side", as you described it.

And also, I think its important too that the setting is one that is familiar to many African people, since it is hoped that it is we Africans who will appreciate more the fullness of the story and its deeper meaning, especially when taken in context with the attitude of contemporary African society towards this love, a love that has no name and must not be spoken..

Your comment is deeply appreciated Ozioma. Thanks a million.. :)

Jude Dibia said...

Ahhh, it comes to an end! I have really enjoyed this. This story can very well be extended to treat so many other areas of the same-sex relationship discussion taking place in Africa. I know this, because I have an interest in these sort of stories... the human angle et al... well done!

Anengiyefa said...

Thanks Jude. Its great to know that the 'human angle' element seems to have come through in this story.

This is a genre that has been neglected in African literature. And if what I'm doing helps to shed some light on it and create a greater awareness that the reality is of the existence in our midst of same-sex relationships, then this can only be a good thing.

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