A thousand drops of water trample on me as if the pain is not ample on me, to make an example of me–to preach to me in a million screams that their wrath knows no bounds, but my knowledge knows their wrath and their wrath fears me. I sit with one thigh pressed over the other and my feet slightly pointed as the breeze scarcely blows, but too curiously pokes me and angers me. I rub my fingers against the bumpy skin on my shoulder and my nose fiercely twitches. The pain intensifies until I hear nothing, I see nothing. Maybe I am nothing.
But in my nothingness, you are my everything. And for my everything, the darkness and the pain will feel like nothing.
My hair. I always wanted you to play with it—to feel your jittery hands touch about my neck and my scalp, to pull my heart back and shoot it childishly into the sky of love and me and you. I wanted you to embrace the beast that was my pride, to know my demons by name, and take the ori and the ilarun, and comb them out slowly, gently. Be slow, be gentle. I wanted you to pull it back with your fingers in it, and submerge yourself in my kinks, knowing they will never be curls but understanding their beauty and loving them wholly. And then I wanted you to speak to me until your heartbeat resonated with mine, and your warmth ran through me, to soothe the pain.
But all that pours onto me are my tears. All that pours down my back, is the water from my hair. I can’t hear. But I can feel. I can feel the laughter that rolls off their dark tongues and vibrates through the crooks in their teeth and off the curves off their lips. I can feel their whispers pinch mercilessly at my flesh as their smiles extend from deaf ear to deafer ear. I can feel their teeth screech as they sharpen them against their hatred and jealousy, praying in a thousand dark tongues and hoping in a thousand spiritual arts for me to come out. More than anything, I can feel the target you put on me when you told me you loved me.
But I couldn’t feel it right then. I couldn’t feel it when I looked down at your brothers, as their glass beads and Agbada courted my mud floors. I couldn’t feel it when your servants, with their hands red and their faces scorched from harvesting and rolling yams into my house, threw their humble bodies alongside your brothers’ to beg my father for me. I couldn’t feel it as you yourself threw yourself at his feet, like gold before hay, and humbled yourself and your crown for me.
Aremu, your crown was at my feet, but around it were spears. One chance. I could dance on your crown, until I could just stand on it. One chance. Until I could not breathe on it… It was not being able to hate, but not being able to love and then not being able to feel.
And I prayed—I begged—that I would one day be not be able to hear. I wanted—I needed to stop hearing about the one curve that was too high, and the other that was too wide and the one stew that was too perfect, but probably not perfect enough.
The icy water slid out of my eyes as the thoughts detached from me, they both collapsed onto my thighs. The final repulsive wave of warmth ran up my spine and the final set of tongues and fingers and spears came at me. I realized—slowly, quietly, elegantly, that the voices in my head, were not in my head at all.