This is not your scent. This is not how earth recognizes you. This is not how the air carries you in.
This is not your body. You’re moving like a timid ghost that is unsure of its abilities to pass through things and so is treading lightly, full of fear of everything around – the ground, doors and door knobs, key slots, tables, onion bulbs, cabinets, ceilings, and people.
This is not your face. A face that is divided into halves – part happiness and part anxiety. Who can look this happy and yet carry such heavy worry in bags under their eyes? You know, she can tell when your stomach is in many tiny knots – when your insides are at war with your outsides – and the confusion is reflected on your face.
These are not the words you initially thought to speak. Metamorphosis has taken place on your tongue. This is not even your tongue. You don’t speak this fast, as if you’re afraid the words will disappear, as if you’re afraid your rehearsed speech will slither back into your stomach – like a snake that has suffered the shame of defeat – if you don’t tell her as quickly as you can, if you don’t answer the questions – where have you been?, who have you been with?, what did you do? – she hasn’t spoken with her mouth yet you hear with your ears and see with your eyes.
Now you’re quiet. Your tongue has lost all the potency it swore to bequeath you when you strode in. This is you here, standing alone, naked, stripped of all your power. You’re standing here, unable to talk – knowing that the long thing in your mouth has finally become useless against this non-speaking female standing there looking at you, calm, not sweating, not angry, not screaming, not crying, that you have brought another woman into her home. Another woman, who unlike her, does not taste like vegetables and boiling palm-nut soup, or smell like gas and fire, sponge and Sunlight dish washing liquid. Is it here you attempt to greet like you normally do when you are full of guilt with a stingy kiss by the kitchen door and then walk straight into the bathroom? What is it you think you are washing away? Is it the smell of another woman’s perfume that has attached its arms and legs to your neck and ears, or it is the smell of unguarded sex and multiple ejaculations?
Look down to your feet, at the water that is rushing down the drain, are you expecting it to be a different colour? Black maybe? As is usually used to depict dirt, filth, sin, Satan, and all things dark and unholy? Is this the colour you are hoping to see running down so that you are convinced that you are no longer guilty? That you are free of sin? Is this your repentance? Is water your redeemer? Are you being baptized by the sprinkling, of shower water, on to your scalp? Look at how you sleep. Do ‘born again’ people sleep this way? Do nightmares take on female names and simulate sex with their victims? But they do, they can, and you already have an excuse for the woman lying beside you, hearing you moan and coil and wriggle and say names and mention places – an excuse you yourself will laugh at on any other day, “believers are so gullible to believe in stupid things like spirit wives and spirit husbands and spirit things”, and you say it with such mockery and disdain. But is it not the same excuse you will give by the morning? That you, the high and mighty non-believer, was seduced and sexed thoroughly by a passing thing not of this physical realm – a passing thing with a name you know so well you can say in your sleep, and a body so familiar your hands and fingers can trace in the air while you sleep. And what about the places? Are there hotels in the spirit world? Are there king and queen-sized beds or do you suspend mid-air as you devour your out-of-this-world bodies?
Yet she, she will listen to your excuse of spiritual infidelity by the morning, and even assist you in binding this Susanna or Dorcas who is taking over your body while you sleep. Is this not the woman you hoped for? A woman who would stand by you through thick and thin? Is this not the woman you paid for when you paraded her in a carnival and showed her off with a loud ringing to anyone who cared to hear and watch your shiny trophy pass through the streets in an explosion of colours? So let her, then, pray with you. Let her deliver you to the heavens, while you drown in guilt on your knees, listening to her pray in many different tongues and covertly plead for your early passing so she can be rid of your perfidy. So that when you die, she can bury your stinking body in a demon-shaped coffin of that Susanna or Dorcas, evisioned with a face of a buffalo and a chest full of falling breasts, out of sheer spite. And now that you have sealed that prayer with an amen, may it come to pass.
Bio: Victoria Naa Takia Nunoo is a Ghanaian writer, poet, and a reader with recent bias towards reading African Literature. Her works of fiction have appeared in The Kalahari Review and Brittle Paper, and is forthcoming in other literary magazines. She currently lives in Greater Accra, Ghana.Twitter: @naatakia