He tells you how electrifying your poetry rendition had been; how deep the words and emotions you poured had sunk into him, and you tell him that you had seen him staring too long at you even when you descended the platform. He smiles and folds his arm across his chest, and you want to tell him to be snappy and tell you why he had pulled you by the arm past the crowd of students streaming out from the Faculty Lecture Hall, where the Spoken Words evening is held.
He tells you he had always been a poet, and you only grunt, not even sure he hears it because he continues immediately telling you how he had stopped when his girlfriend burnt his books of poems on the evening they separated.
He tells you it was good riddance. “How sweet it is to let go of people who would toss you to the fast wind anytime,” he says.
You ask him why he does not consider returning to poetry, that his line is emotive. You say them, patronizingly because you badly want him to go. The voices of the students swallow yours. You think he will leave now. But he speaks, looking up to meet your face because he is almost two feet shorter than you are.
He asks you why you love the poem, “Masturbation”, and you don’t want to tell him because telling him is like turning the vegetation that masks your life into an arid plot that is so bare and un-claimable. You don’t even know him.
But there is an affinity that springs up whenever he speaks. That affinity grows like hunger in your stomach; it grows with a feeling of secureness and a part of your heart tells you that he will understand. But you will not say. You just tell him you are fascinated by how people talk about it.
“I do it, and that’s why I was touched,” he said, not stopping to see how sharply you turn your head. It is as if you are seeing him anew. An eccentric guy, who walks up to another and begins to tell him about his privacy. You didn’t listen to other things he is saying. You are only thinking of how you will make a poem out of this.
His stare is now poignant, and you fear that he sees through you. He speaks again telling you how finely shaped you are, with the muscles threatening to burst through your shirt.
You don’t know what to say. You have been told how charming you look but you haven’t been told so by a man. You ask him, “Are you gay?”
You expect him to swear at you, curse and storm off, but his eyes are vacant now. He bursts into a peal of laughter. It resonated through the Faculty of Arts complex, and you join. Laughing, you feel you’re just alone with him, making poetry.
Okorie Divine hails from a dusty town in Imo State. A fiction writer who reads, writes and argues. His works can be found on Brittle Paper, Fiction Niche, Writers Space Africa and elsewhere. He is the prose reader for Fiery Scribe Review and loves Adichie and Emecheta staunchly.