You are looking at me like you always have. Like I am the shining example of magnificence. Like you would kiss my feet if I asked you to. We are talking over ofada rice and you take a sip of water after every spoonful.
“see? I’d do anything for you. See how my eyes are watering because you said you wanted us to eat ofada”
I want to tell you that everything is too spicy for you anyway; this cannot be that much of a sacrifice but you are smiling and my heart is beating too loud for my brain to think. Instead, I say
You ask me about Italy as you do every time you speak to me. Do I miss it? Should we visit soon? When you have enough money, that is. Maybe we should honeymoon there. My throat feels too thick, too hot when you ask that.
“I have to go. Mama Atinuke is bringing me fabric today”
You do not show your displeasure, but I know it is there, buried under all your love for me. My heart is beating faster again because I am afraid. I am afraid to chase you away and yet I am afraid that life will pull us apart anyway. The world is small. I know the world is small because I met Ricardo at The Palms last Thursday. I looked into his green eyes and I’d never felt more claustrophobic. I want you and I want to love you but I also want you to love me. And you cannot love me. Not if you knew.
So I say goodbye. I pack up my ofada and get into the car Aunty Tejiri lent me. I tell you I will call you at the end of the day. I’m not sure I will. I cannot call you when your eyes on me make me feel as guilty your love did when I was away in Italy, going to fashion school during the day and pleasing men at night.
I don’t know how to tell you that Ricardo wants me to work for him again.