taking great pleasure in reading some of my writing today. at the risk of oversharing, thot i'd post this. a nothing passage, really, part of something much larger, but i like it. this is my voice. i feel it much stronger now. --AL.

I rest my head on the seat, watching the palm trees on the horizon as we make our way over the hilly, unpaved road leading from the village back in to town. My driver, Ekemini, turns the radio on to a station playing American R&B. I am content and at peace and without a sound. Speechless. It has been a great day. A success. I have spent time with my Uncle Joseph, listened to all the old stories about my mother. Am beside myself with pleasure, so much that I can feel it bubbling up and out of me like a divine radiance.

And I want to feel love, to be touched, to express my joy on somebody. Badly. So badly that the feeling squeezes my womb and turns my insides around. I want to see A— tonight. To smother his face in kisses. To love and be loved. As we turn onto the main road and the bars on my cellphone return, I see he has texted me a message, likely hours ago, that he is coming to the house. I send a reply that I am on the way home from the village, have been swallowed in a bad network for hours. He replies, see you later, which I know could mean hours or days.

Leaving behind the peace and tranquility of the village, we descend through a police checkpoint into town. Surrounded by the chaos and friction, the lusty feeling in my gut fades as my insides harden up again. I sit in silence all the way home until I hand Ekemini a fistful of Naira notes.

"Is that enough?" I ask, glancing back into my lean wallet. Money is depressingly short these days.

"Yes, yes. Aunty, thank you. Thank you very much." He gives me a wide, boyish grin, his dimples shining from cheek to cheek.

And I am grateful for this man--the only one in my life who shows up when I need him. I thank him for his time and wish him a good night, slamming the car door behind me and walking in through the front gate.

My mind drifts back to earlier today, when I sat drinking a cup of coconut water in Uncle Joseph's backyard and Ekemini wandered in to ask permission to leave for awhile. The sun cast a beam of light across his face and lean shoulders--clad in a rumpled green shirt--and I felt myself drawn to him for the first time. I saw his patience and devotion, his willingness to accept whatever it is that I give him from my heart. At times like this, when I am lonely, I find myself wondering whether he could love me.

As I walk into the house, I think that I should give him something to remember me by when I leave. Yes. I will buy him a new shirt.

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