Perks of Being a Lone Soldier

Perks of Being a Lone Soldier

My fondest memory of me wanting to end it was the eve of Dad’s passing away. He went to bed and did not come downstairs for morning devotion. When Mom went up the room to scream at him, it was different. Everything stayed different afterwards.

As the eldest, it fell to me – the task of hiding the knives from Mom, which was pretty interesting for a nine-year-old. I remember thinking she did not love us, Sophie and I. Dad died, and she did not want us anymore. I kept wondering if she ever did.

Soph would be fast asleep before I’d reach for the stack of knives under my box to fondle all six of them, conjuring up pictures in my head, of which knife I was going to bury in where. I found peace, a new, quiet and loving home with them, one solid as rock till I turned 15. That was when Bayo came into my life.

Maybe it was his coy smile or how I thought the edges of his khaki could cut through butter, but he was the thought that dominated my mind while I fondled the knives, and even after I no longer did. It was confusing, and sweet, and the dash of danger left a pleasant after-longing. We were as tender as cotton, our longest fights were usually over the lamest things, but he was the absolute love of my life, and I knew it.

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We wore the same clothes (actually ‘I’ wore his clothes), ate, bathed, read and slept together (lay down beside each other and slept off. He snored, I didn’t.)

It took Mom four years or so to get the sheets of her life back together although they didn’t quite fit as well. I could go weeks without needing to say “Good morning” to her.

She had learnt to cook using the knives, without singing about going to join Dad. Sophie was in boarding school, I was awaiting Jamb, and everything was fine. I very much believed this until the week Dayo told me to start applying for scholarships. His brother applied on his behalf and secured him admission into the University of Dallas, Irving. He was to resume by the end of the month.

It’s been seven years since then. Seven years of turning in enthusiastic applications and babysitting beige reject letters. Soph graduated from Lagos State University and has a budding career being an OAP at Wazobia FM.
It was my American Visa or nothing.

Now, Mom and I are besties. Every now and then she teases me on how I have built my existence around a man and said no to the rest of life. Other times, there is guilt in her eyes, as she blames herself, apologizing for having a thing to do with the way I am.

“I’m just so glad you don’t want to kill yourself,” she said to me on one unconventional afternoon when the sun was having a day as lowly as ours.
I looked at her and was glad she heard loud and clear in the silence, the untruth of her statement.

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