I got married the day after I turned 30.
My husband, Hannu was 18 at the time.
It’s not that much of a big deal, the age difference. I thought it would be, but it wasn’t. He loved me and I adored him. To us, that was all that mattered.
My parents had money and when they passed on, I inherited everything.
Hannu was very comfortable. I made sure of that. He had a fleetof cars- 3 vintage BMWs, a couple of Ferraris and a Porsche. We owned a private jet, I got him a Yatch too, but he never really cared about all that stuff.
When I’d complain that he spent too much time in the library, he’d joke about his research being for the “betterment of all our lives” and then he’d pin me against a bookshelf or a desk and do things to my lips that made me shut up.
I learnt quickly and stopped buying him cars and all such toys. I started buying more books. Great books, until we had to tear down the library and build a bigger one. It was an awesome project. We both loved it and it made him love me more (I think, if that is possible).
And just in case you are curious, I wasn’t the only one giving. Hannu also gave a lot. He couldn’t buy me anything I didn’t already have so he gave me Poetry.
He made me understand what life really meant. He was simple in a very mysterious way and mysterious in a very simple way. His idea was very different from that of my parents. They only knew how to make money. He knew how to make money, and he also knew how to make love.
He had the most amazing hands, the richest of baritones and a killer smile.
Our love making was beautiful. Poetic. Spiritual.
Then we decided we wanted to make babies.
We intensified our efforts… Remembering those nights make me curl my toes in excitement, till today.
After 9 months, we were rewarded with Taye and Kehinde, fraternal twins.
Presently, I cross the living room and step into the kitchen.
I can’t help but notice how much stuff has changed.
My Hannu doesn’t derive as much pleasure as he used to, from reading. Nowadays, he spends more time drinking or watching TV.
Never talks much. Smiles only once in a year. Never looks happy, even when I talk to him about the kids.
I know he has no mistresses and I know he is not sick. I hope he will change soon.
Dinner is cooking. I hope it will cheer him up a bit. I’ve got Semovita and egusi soup and all ’em condiments.
He never jokes with his morsels, my Hannu. I see a hint of light in his eyes and the beginnings of a small smile when I serve. But they quickly disappear when I call out: ‘Taye! Kehinde! Come on in, dinner is ready!’
When the kids drop the toys they have been playing with in the backyard and as the bound into view, I tell them: ‘Wash your legs and pull off your shoes. I don’t want you putting mud on my rugs!’
They do not listen because they can already smell the food and they begin to bounce up and down in excitement.
I don’t mind that my nice Persian rugs are now stained, I tickle them in the ribs, make them wash their hands with soap and water and allow them to eat.
The way they were jumping around like a pair of oversized puppies, one would have thought that they could finish the pot.
They do not eat as much as they used to. Maybe the time has come for me to try something more interesting.
Taye announces that she has been chosen to represent her school in a junior spelling bee competition.
Kehinde has been made captain of the school’s soccer team.
I tell Hannu what they say, but he doesn’t seem interested.
When I repeat myself, he looks up, grabs a wine bottle and heads outside.
The kids understand, so they do not cry.
When we finish eating and it’s just me in the kitchen washing the dishes, I hear him behind me.
‘Love,’ he says leaning on the door post. ‘We can’t continue like this, y’know?’
I look up and ask: ‘What Do you mean?’ Even though I know. We’ve had this talk a hundred times before.
‘You can’t continue pretending they are still around, Hannunia,’ he says patiently. ‘It’s been 3 years since.’
I like the way he rolls my name on his tongue… Hannunia, but I reply defiantly:
‘I’m afraid I don’t understand you,’
He looks at me and looks at the three other plates in the sink. I call out: ‘Taye! Turn down the volume of that radio, will you?’
That’s when he snaps.
‘They are gone!’ He cries. ‘DEAD.’
I drop my plate in shock.
I relieve that dreadful day again.
Two cute darlings stamping around in the mud.
They didn’t see the electric cable that fell.
‘No, no… It can’t be,’ I whimper. ‘Taye and Kehinde are not… Not…’ I cannot say the word.
But I know it is true. From my spot in the kitchen, I can see how Dead the Living room looks.
Hannu comes and wraps me in a warm embrace.
‘We have to get past this first, Babe,’ he says. ‘They are no longer with us.’
But I still do not want to believe him. I do not want to believe that my babies are late.
‘Hannu?’ I say quietly into his shoulder. ‘But if they are… if they are gone, who keeps visiting, leaving these tiny muddy foot prints on the rugs?’
‘What foot prints?’ My husband begins. He is slightly frustrated. ‘I-‘
Then he sees them.
His eyes roll backwards and he slumps in a faint.