Prose

Knocking Menopause

I love that Korede Bello song—Mungo Park. But the second verse of the song makes me think about my miserable life: Aunty Patricia Pati Patricia, men have been knocking. Then the next line! Oh, that piercing line! It makes my mind wander to my mother—Sade, when will you marry…? Time is going o.

People keep reminding me that I am getting older. Isn’t it a normal thing? Don’t we grow every day? My mother keeps on pestering me. My friends too tease me about my age, but I am not pretty. I don’t have the best figure either. I am plump and short. I have a big round nose. So the chances of attracting a man is slim compared to some of my friends who have pretty faces and good figures.

Once, my fears and insecurities for the future all seemed to vanish when Gregory approached me out of the blue. He was not the best-looking guy every girl would hope for. Sebi they say women are not interested in the looks of men, so in my eyes he was okay. Besides, at my age, I didn’t need Korede Bello to remind me to pick one already. Well, that’s if they were more than one. Time was going, so any man that showed interest in me was good looking. I didn’t care as far as he was loving, caring and God fearing.

********

On a Saturday morning, I got a call from my mother, who lived in Keffi, Nasarawa state. She told me she wasn’t feeling well and that I needed to see her. My father had died a long time ago so I couldn’t afford to lose her too. I quickly rushed down to Keffi—just about an hour’s drive from the hub of Abuja.

When I entered her house, what I saw shocked me. My mother was seated in front of the TV watching a home movie. She wasn’t looking sick at all. She was looking strong, although her face was a bit gloomy, but there was still no way to conclude that she had any health problem.

‘Ahan, mummy, how are you? You don’t look like someone who is sick.’

‘Welcome Sade, how was your trip?’

‘It was good mummy. Are you sure something is wrong with you?’ I asked, looking at her critically to detect any sign of sickness.

She stood up and hugged me. ‘My dear, sit down. I made your favourite tuwo.’

‘Mu-m-m-m-my-y-y,’ I said, using my tone to seek an explanation.

She didn’t say anything. She just walked into the kitchen. From there, she said, ‘Just sit down and wait for me. You will soon know why I called you from Abuja. Actually, what I called you for is very important, so sit down and wait for the food.’

When she was done, she came back to the living room with a plate of tuwo and okra soup. She sat beside me on the sofa. I was surprised that she brought the food to me. She would normally call me to serve myself.

‘Mummy, why did you ask me to come? It doesn’t look like you are sick at all.’

‘My sweetheart, just eat your food. I am ill but my sickness is emotional, not physical. I need you to eat to regain the strength you have lost from the journey.’

‘Okay, I will eat.’ I already had a clue as to what was on her mind. I knew she wanted to talk to me about my single status at the age of 35. I was long overdue and there was no man. I didn’t know exactly what she wanted to say. Before then, she’d told me on the phone that she was banking on me. I was her only hope for a grandchild. Her junior sisters already had grandchildren. She had told me never to take any man that approached me for granted.

********

So Gregory came into my life. He didn’t have the best lines— not even the best swag. However, one thing he had going for him was a good body. He was tall and trim, though he had a rough face. I didn’t notice all this when we both boarded the same cab. I had forgotten my mother’s hint to make sure my look lasted longer on any man that was gazing at me. She’d told me not just to look but to smile at them. According to her, it was the only way to encourage a man— to make him know that you are available and you don’t mind him chasing you.

None of this was on my mind when Gregory sat beside me in the cab. I was probably thinking about how all the eligible men at work had been snubbing me. It was in this brief moment of wild thoughts that I realised that they were all married with kids.

It was the usual overloaded green cabs plying fixed routes within Abuja metropolis. What else do you call a cab that carries five passengers—four in the back seat! Some even go as far as squeezing two in the front seat. I was the third to enter, which meant I had to shoot out—plunge my body forward to the front seat to give more space for the first, second and fourth passenger. Gregory was the second passenger. I didn’t know he had scoped me well and was preparing his lines for the last bust stop.

When we got to the last bus stop—carwash as it was called, we all came down. I was about to climb the pedestrian bridge that led to my neighbourhood when I felt someone pat me from the back. I almost froze.

‘Sister, please I’ll like to talk to you.’

I almost protested but when I saw the smile on his face, my brain quickly picked on the idea that he was a much-desired suitor. So I obliged him, eager to ear some elusive sweet words.

His performance was far from enjoyable. He had nothing to say about how I looked to him. He had nothing to say about how attracted he was to me. All he said was that he would like to know me better. He couldn’t even complement me on the clothes I was wearing (although my friends have always complained about my fashion-sense). He only greeted, asked about my day, told me he would like to know me better, asked for my name, gave me his own name and then asked casually for my number. Well, I was more than happy to give it to him. I couldn’t recall when last a man approached me.

I took consolation in the thought that he must have found me attractive to have stopped me. Maybe he didn’t know how to express himself. Most of all, I reasoned that he was for real. Most of the heartbreaking playboys girls love to go out with have sweet mouths. Their words soon turn to bitter-leaf as you chew them and you end up being used like a piece of toilet roll. One of my friends once told me that the genuine ones don’t use too many sweet words.

And the story continues on Wednesday…

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