They are sat next to each other on a wooden bench across the road from the cathedral they were honourable guests in a while ago. Beside the bench is a kiosk selling small chops and for over a minute now, Urn’s been staring at the white overfed cat grooming itself in front of the shop. He can’t tell for sure if she’s bargaining for a little more hope with herself or if she’s blowing wishes without blowing at all. Without turning her gaze from the primping cat, she asks with a lazy tone, “what if the worst happens? “ He loses a half-arsed stare down match with the ball of fur, then rests his gaze back on this gorgeous woman that has failed to understand that he couldn’t possibly see her with the eyes she has grown to see herself, and he replies, “You, I don’t mind being a phrase in the story of you; you don’t have to prove worthy. Darling, I choose you because I didn’t have to, I stay because you never have to make me stay.” She tilts her head to face him, smiles in earnest, takes his left hand in her palms and stares at it as if palm readers who read the inside of palms are frauds. He relishes her delicately soft hands, and as expected, they shiver ever so slightly.
You, that’s the name she has grown accustomed to with him, sometimes ‘Urn’, but mostly You. Her mother named her Ruth, after the lady in the bible. Immaculate was the name she was christened as, but Urn, that was the name she gave whoever wasn’t distracted by the shade of brown in both her eyes enough to ask at courteous introductions. Urn, that was the name she gave me when they first met that Morning, on that Monday, that third month ago.
Urn had forgotten her glasses on the bus which she had boarded from work that evening, on that Monday, that third month ago, but it wasn’t until she had walked a distance from the bus stop to her rented apartment that she remembered. Her sight wasn’t so impaired that she couldn’t work the key to unlock her door, or worse, failed at unlocking one of her neighbours’, no, her eyes were functional enough for the keyhole as well as the burn from whatever spicy atrocity the pregnant Yoruba lady in apartment 7 was working on. The air was filled with a medley of aggressive flavours, burnt paper or cigarettes being one of them. She had rented her apartment over a year ago. The entirety of the building she otherwise calls home is a mid-middle class type compound housing 12 rooms structured to face each other, making six on each side. Urn has eyes that shouldn’t need glasses given what they should be worth on the black market, but she was diagnosed of something that didn’t make any sense to her even after she had weaned off random interrogations about it on both her parents, so she wears glasses to read sometimes, and that was and is that.
Urn made for the kitchen on opening the door, flinging onto her bed the thin beige scarf that had earlier warmed her neck beyond demand. The walk to the ceramic plates and the knee-high fridge two generous steps away from her thick mattress dumped on the cold tiled floor was her destination, and she celebrated her arrival with a gasp that battered her face into the shittiest Monalisa west of the Zambezi-Urn had overshot the quantity of the jollof she had left over from the previous evening. So, she did the honourable thing, she feasted on the cold salty grains of rice, emptied the cereal box, and lawfully made enquiry into the can of coke-zero she had bought while stuck in traffic on her way home and had neatly concealed in her purse.
In the not-so-distant past, Urn was, for lack not a better word, a junkie. Caffeine was the logically deduced demon, but she was convinced it was the genius sweetness in coca cola that was her drug. She had long laid down her weapons and conceded defeat to the bubbly god of sweetness since when she was still patronizing computer socks in primary school, and it was until this morning when she stumbled upon a documentary on twitter about diabetes that she had ‘a moment of great revelation’. Although the documentary made mention of coke containing a volume of caffeine that could leave its consumers somewhat dependent on it, she sought restitution for her sugar craving in making peace with a new rebound boo, coke-zero.
Urn is an old school kind of s–t. She is a sucker for charm that could easily be independent of denomination. She is somewhat hedonistic and would rather a conscientious man with a delectable sense of humour than a money bag. Her ex called her a sex addict once but she couldn’t understand sex as an addiction. She had one demon she battled, she recognized one war in her life, one of taste, one of which she claims flawless victory, and that was and is that.
Urn collapsed her weight on the fridge, she had can in one hand and android phone in the other, a sluggishly painted wall behind her, a crumbled heap of books of random genre selection to the left of her feet next to the bed, and a brightly coloured mobile wardrobe lodged in the corner of the room to her right. She sat with a carelessness that would make indulging art if a lens were to immortalize that moment.
Urn does this as a ritual. Her twitter timeline has a time slot before work, at work, after work, and also when work is not until Monday. She resumed her ‘eye of god’ investigation, without soiling the nakedness of her profile of course- Urn has a blank black photo for an avi, a header of a cropped photo of Van Gogh’s starry night, zero tweets or 722 retweets, 1,544 likes, zero follows and 7 highly probably Chinese followers. She remains an absent presence online. In fact, her most notable presence online is on Facebook and her profile there contains five photos of which only 2 portray what she looked like 6 years ago. Urn has one friend and one favourite Jean overalls. She has much more commonness to her name like daddy issues, unattained dreams, and a sweet spot for coke, but if she were to pen a suicide note today, it would probably end with a directive to an old childhood friend she rarely talks to about which retirement home to send her jean overalls.
Urn has had quite the history with jeans more than overalls. The first few times she was raped before secondary school, 4 out of 5 of the men who were introduced to her by her parents as uncles wore jean trousers; she had her first kiss with her third love surnamed Jean (thanks to his parents’ taste for exotic fruits); and her most abused house rag happens to be an old Jean bum short her bum has outgrown. Urn sat unrelenting on that fridge. With itchy eyes, she searched for poetry pieces to like and reality checks to scroll past. She was smiling at a photo of Segun Arinze’s overdramatic eyes photo shopped into Shrek’s face on her phone when the suddenness with which the lights went out drew a hiss from her. Even though the inconstancy of light was expected where she’s from, it didn’t mean it hurt any less whenever it did go off.
Urn had chosen two thick red curtains for her room, both of which hung on a rod that ran the width of her room such that when stretched to full, the golden floral pattern on the curtains displayed on the interior of her cocoon, covering the entirety of an atrocity for a window as well as a 6-feet tall door positioned directly opposite her fridge. She had her landlord burglary proof her window with iron rods when she earlier moved in, mostly for the fear of ridiculously athletic cats that could make the jump to the window than that of human burglars with honest intentions. It wasn’t always so. Urn once had a cat back in the old house. She named her Stephany and knotted a thinly cut piece of silk cloth around her neck for the fun of it.
Stephany was her first best friend, but that was not until Stephany pissed and took a s–t in the left foot of her Christmas shoe on the eve of Christmas when she was 6 years old. Urn had picked that pair of pink flats herself from a choice of four that her mother had offered her. She had plans for those shoes that Saturday morning. Urn ended up crying for the first 30 minutes she tried and failed to get the smell off the shoe. Her mum eventually applied a considerable amount of cologne on the shoes which didn’t really change the history of the shoe par say (there was always a cringe worthy scent of s–t and daffodils that trailed her). But she did make it to the Christmas service that morning to sing her part in the children’s choir’s adorable butchering rendition of Joy To The World. One of the kids made mention of a horrible stench coming from her direction just after the closing prayer, and that was it, Stephany was Urn’s first heartbreak and Stephany and her kindred were never to be forgiven.
Urn had dragged her curtains apart when she had initially entered her room, so when the lights went out and she was still sat on her fridge fighting the urge to leave a comment under an ignorant tweet about weaves and African women, she didn’t concern herself with the stranger who was making meal of her ivory complexioned chubby build from the room opposite hers.
Their first meeting was earlier that morning when he was moving in. He was reluctant to say hi so as not to come off as thirsty, but he did either way. There was a momentous pause and a stare before she smiled, then she uttered a string of words that sounded more like a ballad sung in flawless falsetto to him. She told him her name, Urn, short for Saturn. He wanted to make mention of how close to Ur anus her name is, but he had a strong feeling she would end up laughing at him than with me. “I’m titty, short for Titilayo” he said. That drew what could easily be interpreted as a smile of pity from her, but he took it with all the gratitude in the world. “Isn’t that a name for girls though?” she asked. “I’m gender fluid” he replied. This time, her smile didn’t make it to her eyes so he was certain his flirtation had gone sideways. He had to cut his loss. He fluffed the blanket in his embrace, gestured to her an awkward nod instead of saying the generic ’goodbye’, and then he walked past her without waiting for a courteous reply.
Abdul is his name. He has no idea what the name Titilayo means or what gender fluidity really implies, and that’s why small talk isn’t listed on his resume as a skill he possesses. He presumed she was off to work after their uncinematic exchange that morning after he had shamefully dragged his bore of a self into his new apartment to make do. He had noticed the burglary proofing on the window of the room opposite his and he was unsure if the owner of the room knows shitty apartments only have s–t to lose, but granted, it none of my business.
He’s presently in recovery from a break up his ex had skilfully engineered with her ex. His emotional baggage is reason enough for him not to be indulging in herbs for mostly recreational purposes all on his own, but a little arizona in the darkness of his room never hurt nobody. He was sat on his bed with his back against the wall when she arrived from where he presumed was work and wouldn’t stop hissing aloud. They are yet to have a proper conversation. Urn, that was the name she gave him; syrup, that’s what he’s almost certain she’d taste like. They could be friends, he could walk to her door and initiate another conversation between them where he presents himself as more of a gentleman, or he could wait for chance and fate to make a clearer compromise, but Urn, that was and is her name, he knows that because she told him, and that was and is that.
She has his hand in hers; he, I have my head and heart somewhere between Paris and the Borghese gardens of Rome.