BLOOD RED DHALIA

When I think of my ex-lover Somadina, I think of some of the wilted flowers in the small garden behind his Ikoyi duplex, the stems of roses bent to submission, weak and dry like what we had. I think of how often I watched Somadina remove the weeds on his flower beds, each pull from the soil faded my senses into oblivion.

“Our children will really love it in my garden, Dhalia”, he would say with a certainty that forced me to endlessly count the pinnules of the ferns in his garden, searching for ways to distract myself from the scary thought of the future he imagined for us.

I liked Somadina and his love for plants, how he named me after his favorite flower - ‘Dahlia’, he immersed it into my heart until ‘Amaka’ stopped feeling like my name. I wanted to always hear him call me ‘Dhalia’, I loved the way the words fell off his lips, into my ears and down to my heart.

He never forgets to water the plants that flanked his staircase except he looses himself in his writing. I had helped him water them on a Sunday afternoon, I watched as the water trickled down the can and into the flower pots, they looked beautiful, like the words he said to me afterwards,

“Thank you Dhalia, I cannot wait for our daughter to watch while you water our plants”.

I loved how safe my tongue felt in Somadina’s mouth whenever we kissed. That night, when we made love in his dimly lit room, I thought of how he said ‘our plants’. It felt good to be included in his friendship with his garden, our garden.

Somadina knew what to do and where to go with my body until he didn’t, until he stopped calling me ‘Dhalia’, until he stopped seeing our future and all the children we had in it, until I found out he wanted to spend the rest of his life with a fair girl he calls ‘Gazania’. He wanted to have kids with a thick girl he calls ‘Tulips’. Until I found out ‘Pretty Lotus’ reminded him of his late mother’s grace and he wanted to bask in that feeling forever. I was ‘Dhalia’ for a while but he was done writing his book and I was only a character in a love story.

I wonder where he would love to be buried…in his garden? Surrounded by all the 42 species of Dhalia.

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We all think we are living, don’t we?

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Ugochi Okoli

Ugochi Okoli

We all think we are living, don’t we?

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