Promised Land by Nnamdi Vin-Anuonye


You spend weekends tasting bliss off each other’s bodies. But this weekend, like the last, you are alone, surrounded by an eerie silence.
Davido’s Ekuro is blasting on your boom box: Eh when I look into your eyes. You are a blessing in disguise. You make me wanna do the ring around the roses…
Forlorn, you log in to your Instagram. In the reels you watch, the Nigerian couples are holding each other in that furtive way that deceives, and you wonder what the comment section would look like if you and Chuma ever posted on your socials. Maybe girls will grieve the loss of husbands they couldn’t ever be theirs, and maybe boys will cover their ynash with the blood of Jesus.
The music ends. You get up from bed, unsure what to do as everything reminds you of him: your formal shoes stacked away from the collection of sneakers and those also away from the boots just the way he liked them sorted; the smell of his perfume on your sheets, your pajamas, around your apartment; your freezer now stocked with egusi (a soup you dislike) but cooked because he prefers to eat it with his boiled rice. You remember discovering this for the first time and asking him what greater atrocity a man could commit in a lifetime. I mean, Who eats white rice with egusi?; and he had laughed, calling you a hater in between mouthfuls.
You miss him so much that you feel your chest tightening from unshed tears; the weight tangible, as if a rock has replaced your heart and its weight was crushing down on you.
It is almost nightfall when your doorbell rings.
You had imagined scenarios where you’d run into his arms when next you saw him, now he is pressing your doorbell and your legs do not move. You look at your clean-shaven head, smooth as a pebble, in the fancy mirror beside your closet. You scoff; your face looks like grief.
“Cheta, please let me in. Let’s talk this out”, you think you hear a pain in his voice.
You don’t know how long you stand behind your door— your head against the peephole, your mind a riot, your body weakened. It feels like a long time, when, desiring but unsure, you act on your first impulse.

Before Cheta your life was a rollercoaster of nothingness; like glass abandoned in a toddler’s care, your happiness was a fragile, breakable thing. But you found Cheta and he healed your aching being. And now, to fill the void of his absence you immersed yourself in work. Sochi often complained about this: your ability to block off the noise in your life by working like it was your last day alive. But you did not care about Sochi, if anything you wondered what it was about her that made you let her in, each time she returned to you. With her, it was one week of peace and three of conflicts resolved by rounds of aggressive sex. Repeat. During the last fight, she described you as mean and emotionally unavailable, and you had sternly told her that she was unnecessarily clingy. So fuck off! you said. ‘unnecessarily clingy’ was something you would never say to Cheta, you know this, and he knows this, too. No, Cheta was not the first guy you have been with; and yes, each of them wanted more after you fucked them in dimly lit hotel rooms. But you told them to give it time, that their fascination with you was because they were ‘dickmatized’. Truth was, you knew who genuinely felt a thing for you, but you were scared. The sex was great, yes; but how could you be in a relationship with another guy? You could also go swimming in the desert. But Cheta was not any of these guys; something about him made you want all of him, to possess him; and it worried you that if you looked away for one small second he would be snatched, gone with the winds, far, far away from your reach. So when you were not with him, you fought the urge to call him, to text him, and in a bid to not give in you sometimes had to keep your phone away. And even then you only ended up thinking about him more. It felt as though your life was paused for so long that now you’ve found him, you had no stomach for anything else.
You spent weekends at his place, bringing along a small bag with a few pieces of clothing that you barely need because half the time you laid on his bed, smoking, naked, and fucking from the sitting room to the kitchen to the dining area and once, by the poolside at midnight. You never forget how he asked you on the first day you fucked, just before you slide in, “Ready?” his hands cupping your face, searching, leaving you feeling both shy and surprised, as a tenderness travelled through you, melted your heart, weakened your knees, and yet hardened your erection. But this weekend, like the one before it, you’re alone in your apartment. You have called and texted and even reached out to his friend, Joy— or was it Joyce?— who promptly told you off.
You miss him so much you could cry if your tears ever dropped. But they don’t, no matter how broken your heart was. And you hated yourself for this.
Cheta petted you like a mother would her precious child, in a way that unlocked a tender part of you you had tucked away like old clothing in the deepest part of your closeted life; it was Cheta who unlocked this version of yourself you thought died long ago.
Tonight, you hold his hand and tell him, “Can I call you Moses for parting the Red Sea of my life?”
“Well, I am Moses,” he says, chuckling, “Welcome to the promised land.”



Nnamdi Vin-Anuonye is a Nigerian, recent law graduate and storyteller. He’s on twitter @vin_anuonye & Instagram @ callmennam

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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.