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Rain Dance


Dave Chukwuji

The rain had begun to fall. Long sheets of steely strands gushing down from heaven like jets from high-pressure pump. Soon the street was flooded, and open drainages began to stir, snaking sluggishly away. He could not tell how far they would flow, he knew, however, that they would not make the ocean. Drains in his part of the city were never designed to be efficient. They only flow in circle only to return with burden of refuse and debris to where they were picked up.

He saw the children run into the rain, and they began almost at once to dance, to play football. The ball was made from plastic. It floated as they kicked at it relentlessly. When the street became too swollen with rainwater, they abandoned the ball. They began to dance. It was a primitive, an innocent dance, totally without guile, without inhibition. It was a dance of movement and motion, devoid of design, something no choreographer could have orchestrated. Yet, it was robust and a delight to watch.

As he watched the children dance in the rain, he marveled at their innocence, the abandon with which they carried themselves. They were so removed from worries of any kind. So pristine and unblemished with lies and deceit they were. He had, as a child, danced in the rain like these children, but he never thought so much innocence could exist in a world were putting up a good façade, no matter how false, was as important as breathing. He turned from the window, the rain and the children. When did he stop dancing in the rain? When did he start living a lie? The picture was on a shelf in the sitting room. He looked at it. They were frozen in a permanent pose; their faces lit up with smiles as the camera captured that moment in life forever. It was their wedding day, the happiest day in their life, their wedding day and they had been truly happy. He looked at the photograph and he knew that somewhere, somehow they had lost something. The smiles, the laughter, they were all gone. Where did innocence go? He looked more closely at the photograph and felt guilt wash over him. There was pain in the pit of his stomach. He looked at Evon, his wife; her smile was infectious, full of radiance, an invitation to share. And was also hope in that smile, the hope of a blissful marriage. She had, with that smile, invited him to share her life and she had expected him to be a true husband and live true to his vows to her, vows made in the presence of God.

He turned away from the picture and back to the window. The rain had let up a little. The children were back at playing football. They had been married in a Catholic Church, a small affair that involved only family members and a small circle of friends. Life had begun beautifully for them. Evon had expressed lack of interest in the corporate world regardless of her possession of a university degree. Her father, an industrialist, had given her a stunning wedding present, a fully stocked supermarket. On his part, he had gotten a job with as a brand manager in multinational company. Life couldn't have been better; what with a good job, a brand new car and a beautiful wife. What more could a guy ask for?

But there are guys and there are guys. With the benefit of hindsight, he realized that his wife had almost him to the glamour and trappings that came with his job. Brand management is fun. That is if one concentrated more on the social part and over looked the hard work and the long hours. It was the social part that he had savored, and taste had intoxicated him and held him captive. Oh Lord, how did I sink this, he asked the walls. He swished imagines in his mind and went back the time he began to sink…
June was a model. He had been at his desk going over Agency proposals for the launch of the new range of hair products when she walked into his office. He did not notice until after a minute or so. When he became aware of her presence, he tore his from the proposals and just stared at her.

"Good afternoon, sir. Dayo…from the Agency sent me." She had long hairs that cascaded fell in luxuriant waterfalls to her shoulders. Her eyes held lots of magic; they were large and dreamy. Her lips were full and daring. She was beautiful to say the least but more than that, she had an enchanting presence, which was accentuated by the strange look in those dreamy eyes of hers. It was a dreamy, lost look that cast doomed aura about, creating an effect that was at once sexy and fragile. That what he was looking at was pure trouble in full colour was not lost on him.

"Do sit down", he croaked, completely bewitched by this girl that provoked strange thoughts in him. What was happening to him? She was not the first girl in skirt he had. Yet, she was in many ways different. She sat down as she has been invited, using her left hand to straighten out her skirt before sinking into the chair. It was an ordinary mundane gesture but it was enough to cast a spell on him and drew him into a snare.
"Dayo said I should see you about modeling the new the hair products", she said. Silence filled the space between them. They looked at each other. Words stayed at bay. She turned her neck, throwing her hair into the air like fishing net meant to capture him. "As you can see", she said I have naturally beautiful."
Yeah, you sure have really beautiful hair. But that's not all. You have much more than just hair. It would be nice explore them all, he thought to himself.

"I guess I like what I see. Tell you what. Come and see me on Wednesday; I need to confer with Dayo before I make my decision."
"What time?"
"Launch time.”

Wednesday was bright at the office. The air was pregnant with expectation. He took her to lunch. It was as simple as that. Joining the lunch break adventurers was easy. It took just one lunch date. His colleagues, who were members of the break adventurers club, congratulated on his outstanding trophy, which they agreed was a great feat for a debutante. He forgot his initial criticism of their attempt at being playboys. Thus making mockery of the righteous indignation he had poured on them for trying to initiate him into an amorous pursuit of momentary passion. Once he began to cheat on his wife, he crossed the Rubicon. He could only go forward. His hotel rooms, when he traveled, which was often, became suddenly empty and always in need of some company. At the numerous shows and promotional parties the company sponsored, he found convincing reasons to leave Evon at home. Yet, he was never unaccompanied. He wallowed in a life of deceit and sin. Lying to Evon became second nature; he became adept at lying; weaving fiction around truth that even he believed the hybrid that his tongue created. His eyes ceased to be windows to his soul, even to Evon. But yesterday changed all that. A phone call had come through when he was alone in the office…

The phone call came in during lunch break. For some reason he had not lined-up anyone for the day. So, lunch break found him working instead of cavorting with some girl. 1.40pm, the phone rang. He picked up the receiver. "Marketing Department; Zino, here." He said into the mouthpiece. "I'm afraid Mr. Martin Akindele is not in the office at the moment…hey, hey, hold on. He will be back in a few minutes; he's gone out for lunch… say again! …J-e-s-u-s! Okay… I got it. I'll take down the address and phone number. Okay?" He wrote furiously, then dropped the phone. He took a deep breath and relaxed. 1.55pm, Martin was still not back. Another fifteen minutes still no sign of Martin. Taking his car keys, he dashed out of the office. Affiz was ten minutes away. He drove there in four minutes. Parking his car illegally in front of the restaurant, he dashed in. he attracted bewildered snares from all and sundry. He looked around, Martin was no where to be seen. The place was almost empty, with only a couple of lunchtime stragglers at the tables. He asked Okon, one of the waiters, about Martin. Martin has not graced us with his presence. What will it be today? Nothing. Maybe you'll come tomorrow? Thank you, sir.

He checked out a few other regular spots without success and went back to the office. He was alone in the office at 2.33pm when Martin breezed in, luxuriating in the after glow of his adventure. He draped his jacket over his hanger and slumped dramatically into his chair and swung his legs onto his desk.
"Boy, oh boy! That girl was da bomb! A real bomb…she is still exploding in my veins. These teenagers…always coming up with some wild crazy things…blow your mind", he closed his eyes with a smart-ass smile hanging on his satiated face.

"Martin, I've been all the place looking for you. I went to Affiz and…"
"I didn't go to any of the usual place," he was actually gloating, "there's a new joint at Kilo. Air-conditioned rooms, the works. I thought I should check it out before making it public for…"

"Your wife was involved in an accident!" He threw at him. He was disgusted. So, this is what they have all become; a pack of hyenas slithering about, dicks cocked, aimed and ready to shoot anything at the drop of the skirt. He walked from his desk and the address he had down under Martin's nose. He was disgusted and strangely scared. Martin took the piece of paper with a hand that was not entirely steady. "A doctor called while you were… out; your wife is in critical condition. She needs blood transfusion or something."
Martin's mouth dropped open.

The rain had finally stopped. The children had also disappeared. The window no longer held his attention. He away from it and looked around the room, taking in the electronics, furniture, things carefully selected and bought for their home. This is home and he had avoided it for too long; stayed away because there was excitement outside or so he had thought. It was time to come back home. Time to strip himself of guilt and deceit and go naked before his wife. It was time to dance in the rain. The door opened, Evon walked in. he saw her and was on fire. Smiled on seeing, radiating warmth that expelled his demons and the cobwebs that had fogged his mind. He was set free. Set free by the love in Evon's eyes, brimming from inside her soul. At that moment he realised how close he was to losing her and all she represented in his life, and all because he was selfish and greedy.

"Zino", Evon cooed, "I called your office and was told you were out for lunch". Such innocence; such open display of love. He could feel his soul reaching for her. "You did?" he asked.

"Yes, I did. And somehow I knew you would be home. So, I came looking for you."
"Come here", he said in a voice so cool and seductive, it sounded alien to him. She walked into his spread arms. They wrapped their arms around each other. He kissed her deeply. She looked into his eyes and saw something she had not seen for a while. Something she had missed so much. "What's the problem, Zino?"
"I'm sorry, Evon, I'm truly sorry."

"Hey, baby, what's troubling you? She asked again. "Tell me, Zino, you're scaring me." Her voice was so soft it broke his heart.
"Martin's wife is dead. She died yesterday", he blurted out, his clouded with tears.

"Oh…what happened?" Her feelings distorted as she mouthed those words. Guilt. Relief. There was no time to dwell on anything. When she called Zino's office and told he had out for lunch, for no reason she known he had gone home. Seeing him at home had frightened her; she could not think of any reason his being home at that hour. She feared the worse.

"There was an accident. She was badly hurt. She need blood…having lost a lot of blood. A doctor called the office; Martin was out, I took the call. Apparently, she had a rare blood type… and only Martin's blood could have saved her life. He was not there for her…he was out…he was out on lunch break".
There was silence, punctuated by his sobs and a song on a neighbour's radio. It was 'human two' by Boyz Two Men.

"I'm sorry Evon…I'm so sorry. I'll always be there for you…always", he said.
She did not know what to say.

The end.

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