Damaged Goods

by Dawn Wilson

The wedding was the talk of the town for days to come. Everybody wanted to attend just to see who I was getting married to. For most of my life, I had been raised as a princess anything I wanted, I got. Never having to lift a finger to do anything and that was how I sailed through life.

High school was a breeze because I managed to get by on my looks. No one could resist me and I enjoyed every minute of it. The thrill was in watching young men fawn over me. Falling over themselves to be in my good books and I led them on. I remember one boy I liked mainly because his folks were rich and he always came to school loaded but was a serious dummy. I would play with the buttons on his school uniform using my sexuality to make him and the others crazy.

I especially enjoyed “absently” playing with his shirt button almost as if I did not know what I was doing as he squirmed obviously aroused because I also allowed my fingers lightly graze his chest a little. Sometimes. I would run my hand along the length of his arm before leaning in slightly to whisper what I wanted for lunch in a breathy voice designed to arouse him even more.

The idiot was putty in my hands. I know I made a lot of girls furious because their little boyfriends were so enthralled with me. I believe it was mainly because they were jealous of what I could do to the opposite sex which they couldn’t.

All of my power came from books. Knowledge is power and I found this out at an early age so I devoured every book I came in contact with. Books on sex, espionage, biographies, philosophy etc. you name it I read it all or at least tried to. To be honest however, I really had no interest in “small boys” that was how I viewed the guys at my high school. I had my sights set on much older guys. Guys in university and I worked my magic on them as well quickly realizing that most men thought with their lower extremities which served my purpose very well.

I played them for the suckers they were and got away with it. Due to the fact that I was always in the company of the opposite sex, a lot of people thought me extremely promiscuous. Mothers warned their children about me while wives feared me and always rewarded me with the evil eye as if I could ever be interested in their pot-bellied middle aged husbands. I loved my men young and sexy.

Eventually, I graduated and not long after got into the university. See young men everywhere. I had my pick of the litter. I was 19 by this time and that was also when I had my first sexual encounter which wasn’t as earth shattering as the books or movies portrayed. I mean, the guy was big enough and everything but for some reason the coupling was rather bland like a very weak tea and so I went off guys for a while believing sex to be extremely over rated then, I met him… Chris.

Tall, light skinned and rich well, his parents were anyway. The first day I saw him at the faculty I swear I nearly walked right into a pole. Luckily, he noticed me as well and before you could say “one, two, buckle my shoes” we were in bed together.

How it happened I have not the foggiest but that smile of his and the twinkle in his eyes must have had something to do with it plus I would like to say he must have used some sort of magic potion or juju but damn, the sex had my eyes rolling inside my head and my toes curling to breaking point. My eyes had seen the light. Sex was, is A M A Z I N G. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was like the flood gates had been opened and I was like some wanton wench. Weekends couldn’t come fast enough for me as I would race over to his house and we would couple haaaard till Monday morning. That was until I found out he was just a male hoe and was up inside everything that descended from Eve.

One day, claiming he had to read for our up-coming exams, I had stayed away that weekend just so he could study. By Sunday evening however, I was climbing the walls horny as mad so I hopped on a bike and took off to his house. The screams coming from his house when I got there seemed like someone  dying. “Take am! Take am! Na your own!” I could hear the bed hitting the wall “GBIM! GBIM! GBAM! GBAM!” The chick just kept screaming “na your own! Na you get am! Chop am!”

My heart broke. I had never experienced pain like this. Guess now I knew what all those boys I called “mumu” felt when I used them like trash. I stood at the door till one of his neighbor’s came out and saw me. He shrugged and gave me such a look of pity as I brushed past him obviously embarrassed to be seen there at that moment.

I fell sick immediately after thinking Chris would come but he never did. I guess my time with him was done and that was how I completely went off men. No man was good enough in my eyes from then on. I practically hated men so much that people began to speculate that I was a lesbian which was fine with me if that meant men stayed far away from me.

However, on holidays from school, there was this particular man who wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept coming despite my many rebuffs and appalling behavior towards him. I remember one time he had bought some lovely gifts…2 bags full of assorted stuff and when he came inside my home with the bags I treated him like a houseboy silently pointing where he could drop them whilst ignoring his presence.

Unsure of himself he stood for ages with me silently regarding the ceiling till he left then I picked up the bags, raced over to the balcony and called out his name. When he looked up, I dropped everything over the railing and they landed at his feet some, even broke. Proud man that he was, he stepped over everything and left. For 3 months I did not hear from him then one day a knock at the door and there he was…again. I had found my prince charming. I mean, any man that was willing to take such abuse must have a good heart right? So we got married. A small intimate wedding then, my hell began.

Where do I begin? Should I say I rushed into marriage without knowing him? Did I make a hasty choice based of off that one encounter believing he would walk through fire for me? Did I choose wrong? Yes. I made decisions with my heart and not my head. I mean this man had chased me for 4 years. Talk about persistence. Is it possible for a person to pretend for that long? Books will tell you that it takes about 3 to 6 months to know the agenda of any suitor. I had given this one 4 years. Where had I gone wrong? How had I failed to see the signs? I mean, the man was a raging alcoholic well, in his defense, he was a functional alcoholic. Functional in the sense that he could work and drink at the same damn time. He would start from say 9 am as he did his jobs delivering materials to companies in need of his services and he would keep drinking all through so that come evening, he was already plastered and ready for the real fun.

In the evenings, he would drink till he couldn’t see straight nor form coherent sentences. As for the sex, completely nonexistent. In all my high and mighty behavior, I had failed to test drive his motor believing everything to be fully functional down there. Fully functional my left ass cheek and that was how we lived. I had all the money in the world and could go anywhere I pleased but I was like a frustrated old prune. Dried up and always angry. Guess that’s why when some women act out, the men say go and get laid. I was like a freak tornado. You never know what might set me off. I was that starved and angry.

One night in a drunken haze, he would beat me up so badly for daring to question him that once I had recovered well enough to see out of both eyes, I packed up my things and left. I was tired of waking up to the reality of what was now my life. I would spend days reminiscing about my younger days and how I had the world at my feet as opposed to what I had settled for. Yes, I had settled for nonsense. I hadn’t known the first thing about marriage and in an impetuous moment had trivialized the sanctity of holy matrimony by marrying a buffoon but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. Marriage for me was over and so was dating anything called man ever again.

I moved. I moved far away from him and anyone who knew us choosing to relocate to Abuja, I took off without telling a soul and managed to get a job that took care of my bills because Heaven forbid any yeye man should come sniffing around me or start buying things for me so, I worked hard and took care of myself alone.

One day craving some afang and pounded yam, I went to a popular eatery at Wuse II to eat and took a seat far away from everyone whilst waiting for my order to get ready. I busied myself staring unsightedly at the television when this man blocked my view forcing me to focus on him instead. “Hello.” I looked at him with such disdain but he continued “why are you all alone. It doesn’t look right.” I continued looking at him like bird poop that had dropped in front of me. Next thing he pulled out a chair and sat down. I was instantly horrified and began scowling.

“Aren’t you going to tell me why you are seated in a corner when you are one of the most beautiful women in here? You should be seen by all.” This guy must be mad I thought as I picked up my bag and moved to another seat only for him to follow me which instantly reminded me of my ex-husband’s persistence and I lost it. “Are you insane?! Why are you following me about like a crazy stalker?! Did I take something from you?! Now get lost before I slap you with my bag!!!” I must have seemed mad because the way he backed away from me was almost comical and I would have burst out laughing had the circumstances been different.

People stared at me like I was truly mad. Some threw me looks of sheer disgust which didn’t bother me one bit. None of them were feeding me so they could all go and lick a tree for all I cared. I sat down again to await my food and ate with such relish when it came, paid and left with my head held high. Gosh I hated men and focused on that not realizing how broken I was.

4 years later with my mum worrying me to come for the Christmas holidays, I finally agreed. It would be good seeing Port Harcourt again so, I hopped on a plane. It was all hustle and bustle at the air-port everyone had holiday fever and I had fun people watching till my flight was called and I boarded for the hour long flight back home. I had an aisle seat which I hated as I loved watching the clouds and was slightly irritated at not getting a window seat and so fuming inwardly, I set about sorting my overhead luggage when the bag popped open and everything spilled out. Thongs, bras I mean everything. I was mortified. The man seated beside me got up to help as my stuff tumbled everywhere. I could see he was irritated at my clumsiness and my embarrassment doubled. Finally sorted we took our seats for the flight with me doing my best invisible man impression till we landed in Port-Harcourt.

Mum was over joyed to see me and I settled in for her pampering while taking in the sights of Port-Harcourt. Not much had changed save for new hotels, shopping malls and cinemas. Nothing else was new. The taxi drivers still drove like the entire road was one huge parking garage and so held up traffic as they liked. One day a friend of mine who worked in a radio house knowing I was around for the holidays, invited me for a Christmas program she was hosting and I thought it would be fun to participate in the racy program. We talked about men, women, relationships and the importance of size in the male anatomy in relationships. It was fun and the callers were hilarious. A particular caller, called in and began flirting with me. I played along. It was radio and I was never going to see him so I let lose my inner vixen. Flirting dangerously and even dared him to come to the radio station if he was man enough. He claimed he was already on the way as we were talking which I laughed off as we cut him off to take other calls. I had never laughed so hard as I did on that program and was sad when it ended. Making small talk with my friend, I proceeded to leave with her walking me to the gate to hail a taxi. Still talking we passed by a black range rover and were mildly startled when we heard “excuse me ladies.” I jumped and turned to face the stranger who was smiling at the both of us. “So, which one of you is Seria?” I raised my hand slowly. “I am Dan. I believe we just spoke over the phone.” I burst into laughter.

Wondering at my reaction, I shook hands with the handsome stranger. Instead of being annoyed at his intrusion, I was laughing like an ode. “I told you I was on the way. So, now that I am here, what will be my prize?” “You guys should go out for drinks. Seria was just on her way home which means she isn’t doing anything.”  Answered my yeye well intentioned friend. I was trapped. I obviously couldn’t behave like a cave woman this time around so, I agreed and we left with me threatening to get even with her for setting me up.

Dan turned out to be a good conversationalist and knowledgeable too. He also knew his way around food and took me to this gourmet restaurant with cuisine to die for. The mood so perfect I couldn’t even find my usual anger crutch instead, I found myself responding to his charm and when he offered to drop me off, I agreed. I got home, got out of the car and went inside after bidding him a good night so, imagine my surprise after I had bathed and tied a wrapper comfortable in my mother’s house when the doorbell rang and it was Dan at the door.

“Did you forget something?” I asked him through the wrought iron gates that formed a barrier between him and I. “I would like to see you again. I drove off without getting your number so I came back.” I looked at him like I had caught him being naughty whilst debating within myself. Finally, letting out a sigh, I agreed and reeled out my number. He smiled that Richard Mofe Damijo smile of his and left. Back inside and smiling, my mum did her amebo routine…”who was that?” I looked at her smiled and said “the ghost of Christmas past.”

Dan and I became inseparable after that. We did everything together. He made me laugh and sometimes for a little while I would forget all I had been through until the day he tried to kiss me and I cringed like it was the most appalling thing he could think to do. “What is wrong with me trying to kiss you? Or is this a game for you?” I winced when he said that but refused to reply. Finally he said “or is my mouth smelling or something?” I turned to look at him but still couldn’t speak. “Maybe I should just take you home then?” I still said nothing and then, he got up, picked up his car keys and said “meet me outside.”

Mentally kicking myself but still not saying a word, we drove in pensive silence. He dropped me off and left all without a single word and I went to my room to cry myself to sleep. I really liked him I knew that much but I just could not get out of my own head. I remembered Chris and that yeye ex-husband of mine. I remembered the beating I had received. I was afraid. For 3 days I heard nothing from him I was going out of my mind but I would not call him. However, early morning on Christmas eve, I received a text from him asking me to meet him at his place and I accepted.

I got to his place with my stomach in knots. Dan was not his usual boisterous self. No laughter or corny jokes I knew this was serious and maybe I was going to lose him. He began. “From the moment I heard your voice over the radio I knew you were special. You blew me away if not, why would I risk everything coming down there but this way you behave like everyone is out to get you or I have something bad in mind for you bugs me so much I don’t think I can take it much longer. When you told me you were practicing celibacy, I was all for it because I just don’t love you for your body, I am in love with your mind.” I looked up wide eyed when he said the word love. He just said he loved me I thought wildly to myself yet, I said nothing.

He was speaking again. “Cards on the table Seria. If you do not feel the same way about me, there is no need to waste each other’s time. I want something serious and I am not looking for a Christmas fling or someone to while away the holidays with so if you don’t feel anything best you get up and leave but if you do…just say yes.”

I said nothing but my heart was beating so fast I was sure he could see it through my thin blouse. I doubt a full 5 minutes passed when he sighed heavily. Muttering to himself, he got up, walked to the door and held it open. Yep I had lost him. Why was I so afraid and what was I afraid of? I asked myself as I picked up my bag and walked out the door through the living room and out of his life forever. I stood by the side of the road wondering what was wrong with me. I was clearly damaged I thought as I hailed a taxi and stood staring at the taxi driver while holding the car door open. “Madam, if you no dey go, close my door abeg!”  The driver clearly irritated pulled the door out of my hands and squealed away bringing me sharply back to reality.

I must have stood there for several minutes because I heard the gate to Dan’s house open and he stepped out obviously going to buy something and was clearly surprised to see me there. “Are you okay? If you can’t get a taxi, I can drop you off, I don’t mind.” He stated. What a nice guy I thought looking at him. He deserves better than this I thought still, looking at him. “Yes…yes.” He looked at me funny then in surprise said “yes?” I nodded “yes…yes…yes” and then I kissed him. At first, he was unresponsive maybe surprised at what I had just done and then his mouth opened up and the whole world was forgotten in an instant. I kissed that man with my soul. My entire being. “I love you Seria Ejiofor and if you will have me, I will love you till my dying day.” I burst out in tears and he smiled. He knew I loved him. It was evident in my tears. It is evident every time we make love. It is evident every time I cook for him. It is evident in the way I pray for him. It is most evident today as I walk down the aisle with my arm crooked in my father’s that I too will love him till my dying day.

But I have to wonder. Was it also evident that day my clothes spilled from the overhead luggage space barely 6 months ago?

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