If you ask tolani by Joy Humphrey


Tolani was starving. At least, that was what it felt like being deprived of Tunde’s love. For as long as she could remember, he was all she knew. He was her friend, her lover, her husband- he was her everything. She was so intertwined and dependent on him that she knew nothing else, she refused to know anything else. She couldn’t imagine living without him but now, she has no choice for all her choices had been taken from her.
“Tunde! Tunde it shall not be well with you!” She screamed as grief and anger ravaged her body and mind. She was mentally stuck in a loop that played out all his promises that she now knew were empty and the scene that shattered her world. Maybe it would not have been so bad if it had been with another woman but it had to have been with Kehinde, her soul sister, her best friend. She had been hurt so badly by the only two people she had left in the world and her heart felt like it had shriveled up and died inside of her.
“What did I do to deserve this?” She cried. “I have done nothing wrong, I have only ever been good and kind, I have done nothing wrong! Ha! It feels like my head is going to explode! My heart o! Ha! It feels like I am going to die! Tunde! Kehinde! Why?! Why would you do this to me?!” If you could ask Tolani later, she would tell you that she was running mad. There was no other explanation for what was happening to her, at least, not that she knew of.
It had been a little over a week since they had ruined her, quite unapologetically it would seem, as they had not come to beg for forgiveness or even apologize for their sins and yet, she could not leave that moment. Still, even with all that she now knew, her body craved his touch, her heart yearned for his love, her lips sought the laughter that she shared with her soul sister, her mind sought oblivion. She had not eaten in the days following their betrayal, her already tiny body looked frail, her once full cheeks, sunken in. She did not even remember how she ended up in the hotel room that had witnessed her sorrow, it was all a blur.
Tolani struggled and finally, she was able to lift herself off the floor. She wanted to try, to try to move on with her life but for all her efforts, she had depended on Tunde for even the air she’d breathe. So, when she went into the bathroom and saw her reflection in the mirror, all she could think about was the reflection missing next to hers. She stared at herself, even her beauty had faded in the passing days, her lips dry and chapped, her brown eyes, once full of joy lay before her, dull and lifeless, she looked like a ghost. How could she not? She had lived for them.
In that moment, as though overcome with a sudden revelation, she traced her sunken cheeks and cried silent tears, thinking, “I lived for them, perhaps maybe, it is only fitting that I die for them as well.” With that, she turned from herself, picked up the razor provided in the overhead cabinet, filled up the tub with water and got in. The iciness was nothing compared to the cold in her veins. She held her wrist above water and slit it.
With no fanfare, no poetic declarations, not even a suicide note, her life drained from her body.
If you could ask Tolani later, she would swear that she felt nothing, not even the initial bite of pain. All she felt was relief. The world had taken and taken from her until she had nothing left to give. Instead, she gave the only thing she had left, her life.
It was not until three days later that her body was found, speculations arose about why the woman in the hotel room committed suicide. It was not until later that they realized it was probably because of her husband who had come to claim her body with no tears in his eyes and his hands in that of another woman. The world called him wicked, they called him evil, they even called Kehinde a witch. It was however, what they called Tolani that hurt most of all. They called her a fool, a stupid woman who could not keep her husband and instead of trying to fight to keep her marriage together, she chose to kill herself. Some said it was good that she died, for a woman who could not keep her husband and had no children had no better use.
It was sad really, that no one knew the woman who had died, who had suffered misery upon misery, she had no one to defend her. She would forever be remembered instead, as ‘that woman who committed suicide’. That was to be the sum of her life.

Joy Humphrey likes to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of the world. Like a hidden puzzle, she’s far from the limelight and that gives her the chance to simply be, in all her simplicity and complexity so that she can shine brighter than the brightest stars.

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.