The moon outside was full, but inside people were preparing to sleep. Two pillows separated Idoeh and Cecelia. An adjustable standing lamp, next to a partially draped glass window closer to Cecelia, provided illumination in the room. While Cecelia watched the television, Idoeh read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. mykindredlife
When the show ended, Cecelia stretched out her hand and switched off the lamp. Idoeh’s new habit of reading in bed was driving her crazy.
Like we all do when scrutinizing others, an observant Cecelia believed she saw in Idoeh what he could not see in himself. A husband who got his priorities back to front, she believed.
Idoeh’s scowling face turned to her enquiringly. ‘Stop reading useless nkirinka books!’ Cecelia yelled. Of late, she had become one of those spouses who come to dislike any change, good or bad, in their husbands, preferring to see in them a status quo, a gradual but steady attrition to oblivion.
‘What would you have me do at this time?’ Idoeh inquired, extricating himself, like a chick out of an eggshell, from the weight of the blanket that was covering his legs, propped up on a foot rest.
Thinking Idoeh was about to escape confrontation, Cecelia jerked up, turned away from the edge of the bed and went to face him in the middle of the room, under the slow whirling ceiling fan.
The couple stood at arm’s length and scrutinized each other’s faces. Unlike what Idoeh thought about himself, Cecelia had the kind of face that gets prettier the closer you get. She wore a night-defiant glistening red lipstick.
Under the fan, they censured each other as many couples do when love departs.
‘You are too old to understand life,’ said Cecelia.
‘You are too young to embrace life,’ Idoeh countered.
‘In my family, we travel the world.’
‘In my family we stay close to home.’
‘Does reading novels translate to money or wealth?’
‘Then why waste the time?’
‘To know what others have to say.’
Outdone and on the defensive, Idoeh found the goatee beneath his jaw and rummaged through its whiskers. ‘Graying, barrel-shaped, huh?’ he thought idly. He was hoping for a triangular-shaped goatee. The cylindrical version reminded him of his Sunday school catechist.
The teacher’s voice from thirty years ago, lurking in the shadows for so long, had suddenly returned, cajoling him once more, telling him he was created only to worship and praise God.
Perhaps he had suffered from a bad dream, he thought. The kind of dream that vanishes when one wakes up. Freeing his goatee, Idoeh pulled some hair at the right temple. The pain confirmed his wakefulness.
The voice in his head got louder. ‘The ticket to eternal life comes from years of faithful worship and prayer.’
‘Talk to me,’ Cecelia demanded, jolting Idoeh and interrupting his reflection. He turned slightly, revealing an engorged vein on his right temple.
A remorseful but sanctimonious Cecelia continued. ‘I wish you could see my point. Life is too short; it’s wasted reading books that hold no material benefit. There is one life to live so why don’t we do things that matter, like traveling the world? Like visiting Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and Judea, where Pontius Pilate judged others, and locating the trench where the resentful brothers threw Joseph before selling him to Egypt?’ diagnozujmy
‘Doesn’t everybody wear their purpose of creation like a fingerprint? Aren’t we all groping through life to find unique answers to our own purpose of existence? Imprinting yours on others hardly works,’ Idoeh mumbled under his breath, mindful not to ignite the fury building inside Cecelia.
Remembering how futile similar dialogues had been in the past, Idoeh’s legs ached and his tic threatened a comeback. He wanted to get on with his book as soon as this episode was over.
Praying for an exit, Idoeh rediscovered his goatee. Inside the goatee, he found a stubborn knot. The thumb, index and middle fingers of his left hand tried but failed to undo the twist.
The right hand received a signal for help, but Cecelia got there first. The touch of her palm exuded warmth and strength. The gap between them closed, with the smell of red lipstick getting heavier as both spouses drew near. Love had returned. Noses crushed, and a taste of salt, sweat and wine replaced the red lipstick smell.