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‘Paradise.’ Jite said as soon as the airplane landed on Pemba Island.
‘Baba Paradise.’ I agreed.
I felt energised as I breathed in the air. I began to take pictures, the last six hours completely forgotten. Apart from the five-hour flight from Lagos to Zanzibar, it had taken another thirty-minute flight from Stone Town airport to get to the Island. I was tired but didn’t want to miss a thing and so I snapped away.
We took a taxi from the airport and got to our lodge after another fifteen minutes. I knew then that it was a fact that the most beautiful places on earth are usually the hardest to get to.
The house we rented was exactly as advertised. One of the first things I saw was the terraced garden that had made me fall in love with the house when we were booking and then the outdoor pool and the reclining chairs beside it.
‘Heaven!’ I exclaimed linking my hand with Jite’s.
Our hosts — the owners of the house — met us at the door. They were there with their staff and gave us a very warm welcome. We were immediately offered refreshing cocktails inside pineapple shells. I was thrilled.
The room was so beautiful it seemed surreal. The bed hangings, lamps and cushions were all Morrocan. It was also painted lavender, my favorite colour, and smelled of spices.
Jite relaxed almost immediately we entered the Island and by the time we entered our room, he was already sporting a smile, holding my hands and rubbing my shoulders. I decided the Island wasn’t just Paradise after all and so I christened it Miracle.
Barely thirty minutes later, we were treated to a freshly prepared meal of prawns, lobsters and pilau – the famous spicy rice of Zanzibar. Our host also provided us with a map of the Island which contained some of the available sights, and activities to engage in.
When we got back to our room after the meal, I read out the activities and did a little tap dance with each activity that I read out.
Diving with the Dolphins. Tap
Wading in Shallow Sandbars. Tap tap
Volcanic Stone Massage. Tap tap tap
Snorkeling. Tap tap tap tap
Visit to World Heritage Site of Stone Town. Tap tap tap tap tap
A Local Dhow Sunset Cruise Which Includes a Picnic in a Secluded Mangrove Area. Tap tap tap tap tap tap
I had Jite giggling nonstop throughout the reading and I felt a warm glow spread through my body with each giggle.
Omoboye was really excited and I was too. I was finally feeling happy about being married; it felt good. My resolve began to weaken as thoughts ran through my head.
‘Hey Jite, why don’t you allow things to remain this way?’
‘Yeah Jite we would allow things remain this way, everything except the unprotected sex.’
‘You are just a block head.’
I was still watching Omoboye dance as I had the conversation with myself. She looked so beautiful in a red sun dress that barely covered her lower thighs. My eyes widened as she stopped, and in what was barely a second, removed her dress and expertly threw it on one of the cushions in the room.
‘I didn’t know I married a stripper,’ I said, making sure I was smiling so she would know it was a joke.
‘There are lots of other things to find out about your wife, Jite, and guess what; you have a lifetime for that.’
‘Yes Omoboye, we do have forever,’ I replied.
My boxers suddenly felt uncomfortable as she did another strip tease and removed her Kente bra. She was the only girl I knew who could use Kente material as underwear and make them look super sexy.
She stood there naked except for her Kente g-string. It was the perfect moment for an embrace, a kiss and at least an hour of mind-blowing lovemaking on the bed that smelled of exotic spices. It was a rare moment, one that we didn’t take or that I refused to take. I broke the eye contact first and picked up my phone from where it lay on the bed. I decided it was a good time to call our parents.
Omoboye wanted our phones off; she had talked about it months before the wedding. We could occasionally call our parents and make updates on BlackBerry but that was it. I was itching to open my twitter page, I knew there would be numerous mentions and direct mentions waiting for me, but I had agreed with Omoboye that it wasn’t proper to get back into social media so soon.
My heart bled for the moment lost but I was grateful Jite was coming around so I couldn’t complain. I consoled myself with the hope that more would come and decided to join him on the bed. I sat in his lap with my legs facing forward, my crotch strategically placed on his, and my bare breasts practically in his face. It was something no full blooded man (especially a new husband) would ignore.
He didn’t flinch, he only adjusted to accommodate me better; the gesture ensured my centre rested perfectly on his.
‘It’s been so long,’ I murmured, as he told me he wanted to call our parents. He smiled. He understood I wasn’t referring to the calls.
We spoke to Jite’s Mum and my parents. His Mum sounded really excited; she just got a call about another contract, she told us. The phone was on speaker and I gave a whoop that I hoped sounded genuine enough. I have always believed something was fishy about the way she got the strange and suspicious contracts that she did now and then. But she was my mother-in-law and as long as we benefited who was I to complain?
Dad was cool as usual. My Mum however kept asking if we were having fun, laying emphasis on the ‘fun’. The way she said the fun reminded me of how I needed to get pregnant fast.
Time was running out and we hadn’t even started.
She wants me, I know that. I want her too.
The atmosphere seemed too perfect for me to use a condom or withdraw so I knew I had to provide a distraction. I rolled her off my lap and lay on her. She closed her eyes and I felt guilty about what I was going to do. I kissed her neck, her earlobes and her forehead. Everything in me wanted to go all the way. I wanted to kiss her lips. I wanted to lose myself and immerse myself in the depths of her. More importantly, I had a sudden urge to wipe away the memory of the horrible sex we had on our wedding night.
But I didn’t.
‘Sweets, don’t you think we should head out to the pool? I would like to find out if that water smells of spices too,’ I said, smiling and pretending I didn’t see disappointment cloud her eyes.
‘We could take a cool swim, head for the beach and then…’
‘Wait, Sweets, do you think anyone would see us or mind if we decide to make love on the terrace later tonight?’
She smiled then, her face brightening.
‘I guess we could try, Husband.’
I was disappointed. There had been something in his eyes, something that held promise of bliss, of love- the type we used to have before the pregnancy and the Cripple, but it went away and I couldn’t even stop it from leaving. I wasn’t too disappointed however; at least there was hope for later.
I could wait.
He had called me Sweets. That felt good. My Jite was on his way back.
‘God, can we stay on Miracle forever?’ I asked under my breath.
After our swim, we headed for the beach.
We both glanced at each other the moment we saw the other couples on the beach.
Omoboye made a face.
‘I thought Miracle was ours only.’
‘Miracle? I thought we agreed that it’s Paradise?’
‘It’s still Paradise Jite, but I couldn’t help naming it Miracle too given the circumstances.’
She smiled then, not wanting to say everything on her mind, and I smiled back, perfectly understanding the things she said and didn’t say.
‘So Sweets, maybe we should call it “The Miracle Paradise”.’
‘No, Jite. Miraculous Paradise.’
‘No, Sweets, Paradise of Miracles.’
‘Uhn, uhn’ she said in a voice so soft it sent tremors through my body.
‘Uhn, uhn Jite. Paradise la Miraculous.’
‘La Miraculous ko, La Mira cooler ni.’ I replied, grabbing her waist as she giggled.
It suddenly seemed as though we were the only ones on the beach, as our eyes locked again and our lips met.
She tasted so good. My wife. I tasted spice, cream and warmth. I didn’t want to let go. I almost turned her back towards the house but I didn’t. Instead I broke the kiss and we walked in silence towards a hammock that rested between two palm trees.
God, I think I’m tired of almost, I murmured, sending another supplication to heaven.
I could tell Jite almost turned us both back to the house but he hadn’t.
The kiss was great however. It was different from the one we faked on our wedding day. He tasted just like old times. Mint and a whiff of what I simply called ‘Jitefume’ for want of an appropriate name.
We walked hand in hand towards the hammock. I looked at the other couples as we passed and wondered if we were the only semi-happy ones or there were others like us.
There was the couple that looked like Ghanaians. Sitting on the sand and building a castle like children. I looked closely; they were building what looked like a bungalow. They would playfully slap each other’s arms away and argue intermittently.
There was another couple snuggling on a mat. They even covered themselves with a blanket. The woman lay atop the man and they were sharing a lollipop.
There was an old couple, probably in their sixties. The woman’s head was on the man’s lap and he was reading aloud to her from a book. She had on thick dark goggles and there was a stick propped beside the palm tree under which they lay. I wondered sadly if she was blind, thinking how unfortunate it would be if she couldn’t see the beauty of her surroundings. At the same time I liked that they were old and yet so in sync.
As we lay in our hammock side by side I saw another couple come out of the waves. A white couple, each carrying a surfing board.
‘So white people come here too?’ I asked.
‘Why won’t they? We are the stupid ones you know, we Africans I mean.’ Jite propped himself up and took on his lecturing voice.
‘We keep going to the Virgin Islands, US, UK, Dubai when we have these exciting places in Africa.’
‘Yeah. True,’ I agreed. ‘There are certainly good holiday spots here in Africa.’
‘Sweets, God willing, I would like for us to make this a yearly thing.’
‘I mean we’ll go on vacations every year. The next however will be Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River. I hear it’s like being in the clouds.’
‘That would be nice,’ I agreed, not mentioning I didn’t see how yearly vacations could happen on an assistant lecturer cum makeup artist income.
It felt good being that way with Omoboye. The peace and the serenity was just out of the world.
I thought it would be great for us to take pictures and Omoboye smiled excitedly, asking herself why she hadn’t thought of it. She then opened her beach bag to make up her face.
‘Who brings a makeup kit to the beach?’ I joked.
I thought she looked good enough as she was but I knew how self-conscious she was about her looks so I didn’t say another word and just watched her paint her face and prop herself up in readiness for what should have been natural-looking pictures.
‘Jite, these pictures are so, so cool!’ I said excitedly when the photographer was done transferring the pictures to my BlackBerry.
‘Baby, lets update our BBM display photos.’
He shrugged in agreement and I gave him my phone so he could transfer whichever pictures he liked. I thought of what to use as my profile message and decided on;
‘The perfect honeymoon; sex, sand, water, spice and more sex…Yipeee…Forever is beautiful.’
I took the phone back from Jite and chose the steamiest picture amongst the ten shots that we took. It was the one where he encircled my upper body with his arms and his hand was practically on my breast. Another reason I loved the picture so much was because of the childish grin on my face. It presented a perfectly happy couple – exactly what I wanted my friends and family to see.
‘Bola can be so annoying,’ I told Jite.
‘Your maid of honour? What did she do?’ He asked, drawing me close so my head rested on his shoulders.
‘She is sending me a message on BB, imagine that. The girl has no respect for people in the moon ooo.’
‘You are funny. I guess she took your changing your display photo as a hint that you were available to talk.’
‘I guess so too.’
‘Baby’, I called drawing circles on his side. ‘I know we are not supposed to be communicating but can I just reply her?’
‘What did she say?’
‘See’, I replied, giving the phone to him. He read her message out:
‘Iyawo Osingin….shey na you dey wound bobo abi na bobo dey wound you?’
‘Answer her; tell we are not in a boxing ring so nobody is wounding the other.’
I laughed at his words, certain I wouldn’t tell Bola that.
‘Babe, what do you think na?’ I replied her.
‘I suspect say na him go dey win.’
‘Who for come win before?’
We both LOLed at that.
‘I am so happy for you Omoboye.’
‘Thanks Boladale. More thanks for being there all the way.’
‘My pleasure Darling.’
‘Hmmm. Boye, there is something I need to tell you ooo. I know you’ll be mad but I still need to say it.’
I took my eyes away from the phone for a minute and glanced up at Jite to be sure he wasn’t looking at the phone.
‘What is it Bola? What would I be angry about?’
‘Hmmm, Boye, I have betrayed you and I am so ashamed of myself.’
‘What is it now Boladale? Just say it first.’
‘Boye, I am pregnant. I am three months gone. I didn’t want to tell you all this while because I was afraid.’
‘No, Bola you cannot be pregnant. You had better not be.’