Considering I cannot remember the last time I had a blog post up here, and the number of message and “threats” I’ve got, I knooow I should apologize. But you see… life has really been happening a lot lately, lol. And I’m learning to be kinder to myself. So, while I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long, I’m also saying please understand. And I’m saying thank you to everyone who checked on me, everyone who’s been asking for Akaa and Alima, or any writing at all. It’s coming soooon! And hopefully, you will be wowed!
I visited Chicago in January, and met an amazing group of people, and they were the inspiration for this. (Yes, I started writing it in January, lol). “Sayo” is probably also going to be a long story…I’m nowhere near done, and I’m struggling to find a title… But this excerpt looked good, so I thought to share. As always, let me know your thoughts, and if you have any ideas on what I could do with this story!
With love and kindness, and back with a small bang,
Once again, KB woke up annoyed. The bakery downstairs was making something that wafted up into his room, taking him down memory lane.
“You smell like this glazed roll I ate once as a child. I can’t remember what it was called, but I love the smell!” He paused for a second.
“And I smell it in coffee shops sometimes, but I’m not sure what it is!”
She laughed and looked at him. “You don’t remember what it is? Or you don’t know what it is?”
He thought about it. He probably didn’t know what it was. She got out of the bed, walked out of the room, returning with a brown curled up tree-bark-like item he’d never seen before. She held it up to his nose. His eyes grew wide. “Yes! This! Exactly this!” She couldn’t help but laugh at his excitement. “What is it?”
Even when she’d just woken up, even when she’d been working out. Sayo always smelt like cinnamon. And that made it so hard. Because even after this long, the smell grated on him. Every coffee shop that was his solace was now a reminder of his loss. Every visit to his friend Nina’s would have him breathing in the rich aroma of cinnamon in apple pies, or pancakes or sweet crepes. And all of it reminded him of how she’d effed him up!
He got out of bed with a jolt, snapping himself out of it.
It all really started in Chicago – his first winter in Chicago. That terrible winter when even with full apparel on, KB could not feel his fingers or toes. When regardless of his size, it felt as though the wind was pushing him out of the way.
He had only planned a short visit. He wanted to know what this America was all about. It was a big deal, and he wanted to visit his uncle. He’d saved up enough to make the return trip. But his uncle had other plans. “I’ll find you a nice girl here to marry so you can get your papers and work. It’s not so hard. What’s in Ghana?”
It was a suggestion. He could have said no. He should have said no. As a photographer, he had quite a following back home. But with Covid and restrictions, events had dwindled. His on-and-off girlfriend for the past year had decided that “mind-blowing sex” wasn’t all she wanted …. He was surprised she’d actually said that to him. He hadn’t thought that the sex they had was mind-blowing in anyway. But then perception was dependent on the perceiver, right?… or maybe she felt she was softening the blow for him? He would never know.
She’d suddenly wanted marriage, and he was not ready for that. She left him, marrying someone only a few months later. So, he’d decided, why not? There wasn’t much to go back home to. He might as well figure out life in Chicago and make enough money to maybe pursue his photography professionally.
He had arrived a little after noon on what was perhaps the warmest day that summer at Chicago’s Midway International Airport. His uncle picked him, rushed to drop him off at the house, and then returned to work. He got instructions in a hurry and tried to make sense of the things that were said. “Only put the AC on after 6PM. Otherwise the bills go up much more.”
He stayed indoors all day…. Marveling at the heat, and at how he could hear almost everything the upstairs neighbors were doing. They probably had a toddler, he mused… wondering how a toddler could have such heavy steps. And if it wasn’t a toddler, why would an adult run around the floor so loudly when he had neighbors downstairs?
That summer had been pretty uneventful He’d gone around and taken photos, vivacious pictures of the skyline in the sunset, of the bean… the tourist attraction that had him wondering what exactly the fuss was about. He met a few friends here and there, went to house parties and late-night rooftop bars. While it was quite a good experience, America was not living up to the hype.
His uncle worked as a security man at one of the universities nearby. It intrigued him when he found that out, because this man had been a great metal scraps dealer back home and was considered a big-time businessman by the family. And KB realized rather sadly one evening, that he was scrimping on any of life’s luxuries, so he could send money back home.
Somehow the cold crept in and gradually the winter came. Nothing could have prepared him for that way the cold bit him whenever he got outside! He had bought warm clothes in the summer, warned by his uncle and a few friends. yet he had downplayed the cold.
The day he met her, KB had walked with his uncle towards the University. He was to get some groceries, at a shop just after the block where his uncle would be working that evening. It had snowed earlier in the week, and the ground was that disgusting mix of melting snow, mud, and footsteps. The temperature was well in the negative Fahrenheits that day – he hadn’t yet figured out the unit of temperature of America. The wind made it so much worse, and he had his hands in gloves and in his pockets, walking down the street after saying bye to his uncle.
From afar he thought she was a child carrying books. Then he got closer and realized she was only a short woman. Maybe short was not exactly the right way to put it, because she was probably just slightly below the average female height. Yet relative to him, she was very short.
Although he would never admit it to himself, the first thing he thought after realizing that she was really a curvy young woman with thick black hair tied in a bun, was “too small for me.”
If only he had known!
KB was bulky. Bulky was really the only way to describe him because he never really fit into any size category. Some called him fat. But he really wasn’t. Some called him huge, because his bulk and height made him relatively larger than most people in the room.
Sayo – Oluwasayofunmi Adesina, was an associate professor – the first black one in the Physics department. And that was a very big deal. While her size was not her best asset, she considered it an asset still, because it had everyone underestimating her. “What, the small black woman?” She’d heard that a million times… and had grown to enjoy the look of astonishment on whoever’s face as they asked that. Because 90% of the time, it was because of some great feat.
That icy evening, as she struggled to carry in a bunch of books into her apartment, determined to make it in one trip, knowing that she was being stupid in the process, she locked eyes with KB. His eyes were questioning. It was almost as if he was going to offer to help.
He looked at her intently for a bit, and then glanced away, his gait faltering slightly.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, his uncle’s words came to him from one of those days they’d had time to talk. “People in America will tell you they don’t need help. They’re not like us. Even the smallest favor, they somehow consider it a debt they need to pay back. You will see an old woman struggling to grab something in a shop. She will look you in the eye and tell you “I’ve got it” if you attempt to help. It’s just something you’ll learn to get used to.” He frowned.
“And sometimes, what you assume to be help, they will consider intruding. So, my friend, dey your der!”
He wanted to help the small lady. But this was America. This was Chicago. He didn’t want trouble.
Then she almost tripped, somehow managing to catch herself and drop only the book from the top of her pile. He had to offer at that point. “Would you like some help?”
“I was really hoping you would ask!” She said. Her voice did not match her body – the rich, thick voice that sounded like it had been taken out of the voice box of a 6ft 2 woman and placed into her barely 5ft 2 frame! He grabbed the eight or so topmost books out of her hands, giving her a nod, silently asking her to lead the way. The view from behind her was beautiful! She led him into the apartment building, fobbed the door, and asked him to place the books in the couch across from the concierge. She took off her facemask and said “My husband can grab these from down here when he gets back.” She was strikingly beautiful, and his eyes went instinctively to her left hand, looking out for a ring. She had on gloves, so he couldn’t see. She noticed his eyes move that way and gave him a look. They locked eyes for longer than was comfortable. Her eyes were lovely. Her lips had him wondering, was she really too small for him?
“Thank you, sir, for your help.” Her words snapped him out of his thoughts.
“No problem.” He said… heading out of the apartment as quickly as he could.
KB returned home without the groceries.