Fumnanya Pt 2-The Boyfriend
The early morning bouquet of rosemary pressed toast, cinnamon infused hot chocolate and freshly cut grass seeping in through open bay windows that next morning, lifted Fumnanya's emotions, as she tried to arrange the cornucopia of jumbled thoughts in her head from the previous evening to construct some kind of logical panacea for the hypnotic 'quiet storm' that was Jelani . Moving her in ways she still could not quite pinpoint, did not fully understand, yet did not feel she needed to explore for today was her two year anniversary and she had to be grateful-right?. Her internal narrative sparked up 'Okay, so he doesn't fulfil me in a lot of ways but, who is ever really fulfilled by a significant other?'
Fumnanya felt the 'Who am I trying to kid ' knots tighten in her stomach, the sudden queasiness threaten to overwhelm her. Hands now either side of the bathroom face basin to brace herself. The mirror capturing an expression of unease in the clear eyes and full mouth Fiadh had been drawn to her for.
" Hey babe- Got breakfast ready "
The baritone infomercial on breakfast cut Fumnanya away from her absorbed thoughts .
" Okay-Down in a few "
A dozen deep red-Long stemmed roses. A neatly gift wrapped medium sized box draped with magenta lace and oversized card sat in the centre of the well-laid mahogany kitchen table.
" So " Fumnanya moved into the early morning embrace-eyes taking in the well put together table display of breakfast plantain. Blueberry, spinach and red onion rosti and home- made crab cakes " This is so cute Fiadh " An affectionate peck into a warm but brief kiss stilled her . " Listen I got you a card and a gift too. I left it upstairs- I'll go get it? "
" No don't worry- I'll grab it on my way up - so-sit "
Slipping into her favourite chair opposite the view of a rising sunset through the bay windows Fumnanya slowly dismantled the envelope and pulled open the card to see the words ' To the one I love-Then. Now. Forever. Happy anniversary babe, Fiadh xxxx'
" This is beautiful Fiadh-Thank you "
" I just wanted to do something special this morning for you- Also made you your favourite rosti "
" I know and I appreciate all of this it's just that you never really make a fuss over me these days- For anything. Even the last anniversary "
" That's why I'm trying'a make it up to you with this anniversary because ....."
Fumnanya sensed the sheepish pause
" Because? "
" I have to work today babe "
" Fiadh it's our two year anniversary - why would you..... "
Fumnanya felt hot, burning tears flood the backs of her eyes, threatening to brim over- had to get away from the breakfast table and now her source of discomfort- Fiadh.
Their childhood park space housing a water park, a spacious bandstand. Majestic pine trees and a nursery play area had experienced many changes over the years Fumnanya reflected while stretched out on one of the many colourful benches dotted about the park.
" So - Whoop. He done did it again "
Arjana placed a consoling kiss upon Fumnanya's forehead and slipped down next to her on the park bench as she took in the indifferent expression decorated by the red - tear-filled eyes.
" Sorry A.J- I said I wasn't gonna do this whole crying thing again because of him "
" I know, and you know what I think about his nurturing skills right? "
Fumnanya pulled air deep into her lungs and steadied herself.
" Not sure what I was expecting A.J. Maybe in my head I was trying to replicate what mum and dad had before he passed "
" And is still carrying that flame. Hell, she only just pushed the boat out again. Maybe you should take a leaf out of her book and do a little soul-searching here "
" It's been two years A.J "
" Yeah. Two years of him trying to bind your spirit every time you rise sis - Think about it. In-fact - Why are we even giving him space on our time. Today is gonna be our day. So let's use a pretend scenario here . We have this incredible friendship but we lose contact with each other for two years on this day because you left to marry some plum named; let's see- Fiadh. We bump into each other by chance where we are now and decide that to celebrate our, finding each other again. That we're going to hang out like old times. Get in a few squash matches to help you burn off your frustrations due to the failed marriage."
" You think I'd be stupid enough to marry a man that decides work is more important than me? "
" Yes my conflicted other because you've done it for two years as his girlfriend- but we digress. We then catch a movie. Check out the new rum bar in town and end the evening with an amazing meal at Vegan Bliss-What do you say? "
" I say - I love you for life. Let's do it. "
Far-fetched though it may have seemed for Fumnanya to take in; she could not imagine ever losing contact with Arjana, though had to take the tenor of the scenario rolled out earlier seriously as both worked their way through Arjana's energizing programme for their day - Their second viewing of 'City Of God' and its rawness mixed with white rum shots later at the rum bar intensifying conversation as they reached their final destination-Vegan Bliss.
"So-Wait. You're saying that the disenfranchised state that that group of young men found themselves in, precipitated by the drugs- The violence. The abuse-The emotional disconnection from self is peculiar to only certain places globally? "
" Of course A.J.- Braulio Mantovanni did an amazing job reshaping Paulo Lins's book into that striking cinematographic story-line, but- It was based loosely on the book. And if you read the book you very quickly get to understand that the depth and level of social injustice and political apoplexy was something very peculiar to Rio's 'City Of God' for that time. It's clear that the subject matter spoke volumes about this one place because of Paulo lins's authentic voice, writing from an insider's perspective, and, that, my friend, is why you will never ever see that exact scenario anywhere else because it came from an experience unique to one man-Paulo Lins "
Almost as if on cue as she finished her final sentence a waiter stepped up to their table.
" Can I ask if you're both ready to order now ladies'? "
" Would it be possible for us to have a few more minutes, I can see that you've introduced some Moroccan dishes to the menu and we'd like to explore that a little "
" No problem whatsoever. Take your time and if you need any help with the new menu . Just let me know. "
" Thank you very much "
" So- I guess when you break it down like that, it makes sense because that story could only have come from his hands about this one favela, in this one part of the world?"
" There you go-and I'm ravenous, so what are we having? "
" Good question-let's check out the new additions "
Scouring the menu, silent, with concentrated effort, the familiar voice, thanking the waiter broke A.J's perusal; eyes now trained on the figure by the bar and his companion obscured by the bodies around them.
" Oh my God! "
" What? " Fumnanya noticed her friend's inquisitive stare in the direction of the bar broaden into an open smile "
" Am almost sure that's Jelani at the bar but I can't really see 'cos the bar's ram man but I recognise the voice "
" A.J "
Fumnanya watched A.J's slight frame pull itself up to its full seated height; her neck the stem for fixed periscope-like gawking.
" A.J "
" What? "
" Tonight is our night-remember. Fiadh-free zone so we can just hang out and have fun for the whole day like we've been doing "
" Okay " A.J shifted her full weight back into the centre of her chair; eyed her friend quizzically "
" What's with the amused expression? "
" Nothing-Just that Jelani isn't Fiadh and he does look like he could be orgasm making material "
" Not sure how that relates to what we're choosing to order "
A.J let out a gentle chuckle-watched her friend resume her examination of the menu.
" Okay, so let me go check, five minutes - If it is him, it would just be nice to say hello-I'm not gonna invite him over-unless he wants to come over and say hi-and....... "
" Now you're just feeding pregnant scenarios so you need to go and have your five minute grope fest', or whatever "
" Thanks-Be back in a few "
Artfully weaving her way through the sea of high-spirited, chatty bodies A.J found herself two bodies away from the clean-cut figure. Spun her way around them, stepped into the clean-cut figure's space settling behind him and recognized the lean gym fit body in a fitted long-sleeve t-shirt and casual slacks; realizing at that moment that his companion was Omowale. Pressing a finger to her lips in hush mode to alert Omowale and reaching forward with both hands either side of Jelani, A.J cupped her hands over his eyes pulling him lightly into her, the momentum making him step back into her as he turned to evaluate the person behind the touch.
" Hey " The familiar face. Open smile and Jelani could not help but drape himself over A.J. in a warm embrace " What are you doing here ? "
" I could ask you the same thing -Hey Lele "
" Hey- you "
Both traded a familiar hug
" You're not here on your own are you? "
" Errr....Noooo, but yes. Kind'a sort'a "
" What does that mean exactly ? "
" Am here with Nanya. She had a bit of a rough day so am just trying 'a cheer her up, she's not really in much of a social mood but I heard what I thought was your voice Jelani so I told her that I was gonna come investigate "
" But she's okay right ? "
" Lele-One word. Fiadh "
Omowale let out an exasperated sigh
" You know how many times I've told her about that guy ? "
" Listen-I hear you and I'm not bleaching. I just care about her; you know, and wanna see her with someone that cares about her, and you did not hear a single word I just said jelani because she would have my arse-in-a-sling so fast "
" I have a masters in 'confidential' so you're good "
" Look, I was just finishing up here with Jelani. We've been going over some of the workshops he's planning to set up at 'Seven Souls', and he's not been here before so I thought it would be a good place to chill before I head home "
" That beautiful wife of yours is making Waakye again innit? "
" And her mum and dad landed yesterday, so if I want my marriage to last "
" You need to leave pretty soon. I hear you bruv. They didn't name her flame by mistake "
Her statement drew hearty laughter.
" Jelani, my wife's name is Amandla and they nicknamed her 'flame' because she'll consume you if you act like a fool in her space "
Jelani smiled whilst nodding approval " Seems appropriate to me "
" So I'm gonna make a move in a few but not before I say hi to Nanya. Wanna give her a hug before I leave. "
" Lele-Hey " Cut away once again from her study of the menu Fumnanya turned into the path of Omowale's poetic tone and an affectionate hug
" Hey babe- So this one tells me she's been spoiling you all day. What's the occasion?"
" It's a long story Lele "
" Well if you wanna talk....you "
" Yes I know where you are.... " Fumnanya watched the 'caring' in his smile take shape, kissing his cheek to reciprocate the love. " Thank you "
" Ah-It's all good "
" So what are you doing here, didn't you tell me a couple of weeks ago that it's this week that flame's parents are over?
" Yes, that's why this is a quick hello. Am here with Jelani. He's at the bar ordering to eat in "
" So- You were right "
" See. She thought I was being neurotic "
" It's been known "
" Whatever Nanya "
" So is he gonna to be eating on his own? "
" Yeah- He didn't wanna encroach....He "
" Jelani " Fumnanya watched the coy smile form as he approached- Her eyes; helpless, briefly dancing over the fit frame as he embraced her. A light kiss on both cheeks Mediterranean -style. "
" Goddess Oya "
One of the most powerful African Goddesses. Rooted in the natural world. Able to affect inner and outer transformation. The Goddess of clairvoyance. psychic abilities. Intuition and rebirth. The patron of feminine leadership. Fiercely loving. Passionate, fearless, sensual and independent. 'The Bringer of Change'. Seeker of Truth and a powerful ally.
For a brief moment Fumnanya braved the undiluted gaze. Her smile engaged to him. " Someone's clearly done their homework "
" Bredren- Dat was smoove...... Not even smooth. I mean smoove, and at this point I have to inform you that Nanya's only looking to dine with me tonight. so you'll be eating on your own. "
Omowale could not help his outburst of laughter. Fumnanya's look of incredulity evident. " Okay, and on that note. I'm out - Jelani- I'm praying for you "
" Funny man "
" ladies "
Goodbye hugs and kisses exchanged. Omowale took his leave
" Why the Cruella Devil infected stare - You said....that "
" Yes...Thank you - Thank... you. I know what I said. Jelani maybe you'd like to join us seeing as we already have a table. We can just get the waiter to bring us another chair. Which will give us enough time to discuss your 'orgasm making material qualities "
" Oh.....Sweet Jesus. She didn't " A.J whispered; barely audible. Her gentle table head-butt; telling.
" Am I missing something? "
" No Jelani....you....are....good. I think A.J might want to order some white rum shots with her meal though "
A week day - Vegan Bliss. Filled to capacity with the walk-in latecomers still prepared to wait well into the evening for a seat to eat and or drink at the bar in the welcoming African themed ambience. Eye-catching West African Batik prints. Yatenga Masks. A conglomeration of sounds in the forms of Youssou Ndour. Fela Kuti and Yemi Alade intermingling in the ample space, lit with burnt orange tones, appetising vegan fare, a mellow mood and love for all that passed through its doors. The perfect environment for all three to unwind in as they steadily worked through starters, mains. Toying now with dessert .
" So I'm orgasm making material A.J? " Curious about the amusingly reckless line, Jelani had probed throughout dinner for an answer- Fumnanya eventually revealing all.
" You know Jelani. It's amazing how- in an unguarded moment of personal indulgence. Those who claim to have your back. Tell you that they will always love and support you, care about your mental well-being and protect you from any shameful scenarios. In a second of lunacy I can't really account for. Do the very opposite.......Yes. I said it- I said it. We can get no more mileage from this "
" But you did kind'a open your blouse on this one so maybe I can explore the topic a little, and I say little because I can sense that your sheepish jacket is tightening a little " Jelani watched the amused expression take hold.
" You're loving every minute of this-Right? "
" No " Jelani could not help his laughter. " Humour me. So you think the female pleasure principle is tied up in. Orgasm? "
" No - That's not what I'm saying "
" Or, you're chasing the perfect orgasm ? "
" Look- What I'm really interested in is why someone as delish as yourself is single ?"
Jelani inhaled deep and let out a sigh. " So- My story is- That. Up until a year and a half ago I was engaged to be married to my childhood sweetheart and she stood me up at the altar. Told me she just couldn't go through with it. I asked her if she was trying to spare me immeasurable pain because of some terminal illness-No. Asked her if it was just a case of her needing more time-No. Asked her; and I deliberately asked this question last because I wasn't entertaining this scenario in my head on any level and especially not as the first question. Asked her if there was anyone else-Silence. Turns out that she got herself pregnant for a bad boy. The type that likes to customize disrespect for women "
" that's deep Jelani "
" I know "
" Then she clearly wasn't - 'The One'
" I tried to use that reasoning A.J- But how do you tell that to a healing heart still punctuated by someone else's presence? "
" You don't "
Jelani caught the contemplative look in the clear eyes. Sensed something a little deeper in Fumnanya's tone.
" Truth is Jelani. In this world there's a space for everyone- But not everyone can fill a space " Fumnanya felt the undiluted gaze upon her once more. Chose this time to hold the gaze. " Her loss "
" Thank you "
" No. Thank you, for that really amazing workshop yesterday. I should have called you when I got home to let you know I arrived safe but I.......well, I got caught up in some stuff "
" Mmmm huh. Is that what you're calling him nowadays- Stuff " Arjana watched her friend fight to keep a straight face
" Jelani. I sense that that verbal shot over my bough might be A.J's latest opus titled 'damage limitation came way too late 101' - So as I was saying.....I "
" You're such a heifer "
Both fed off of each other's laughter
" Would really love to do another workshop "
" You two are something else, but, yes. I'm actually organizing a poetry evening for newbie's to air their work. I love your poetical metaphors on life so your work would sit well alongside work from the other writers' "
" Hmmm. I'm not sure if I'm ready to sail out that far Jelani- I write to make sense of the moments we struggle through before we cut away the safety net. How do I share that? "
" By having a best friend that loves you and believes in every centimetre of your creative capabilities woman, and a brother who understands that and is giving you the opportunity to make it happen "
Arjana's words followed Fumnanya onto stage, through her performance, her nervous phases and into heartfelt applause some weeks later at the '1st Eye Readings' showcase Jelani had organised. A good crowd; appreciative and eager to support and elevate had made the evening a success especially for the hopeful aspirants pitching their verbal wares of lyrical dexterity in this exciting arena alongside the seasoned pros'. Arjana's belief in her originality creatively had been the linchpin she had used unconsciously to fashion her dreams out of, realising now that she owed her a massive debt of thanks for pushing her to get involved in Jelani's workshops and now the '1st Eye Readings ' showcase.
" Here she is- Woman of the moment "
Navigating her way through the high-spirited array of bodies, spilled out into the foyer, Fumnanya finally reached her friend. " I am honestly stunned at the amazing reaction to my poetry A.J. "
" Told you "
" Excuse me- Fumnanya? "
Fumnanya turned to her right to catch the warm smile of a tall, slender woman clothed in pastel shades.
" I just wanted to come over and tell you how much I loved your poetry. Especially the ' Reason's I love My Mother " poem. It really resonated with me because it reminded me of just how extraordinary my mum is, so I could totally relate "
" Thank you so much that is so kind of you "
" You're welcome- do you perform anywhere else or where can I follow you? "
" This is my first showcase but I will be looking for other venues to perform at now. In terms of following me, by my name on the programme there's a link for my website so you can find all the details there for my social-media links and thank you for your kind words. It means a lot "
" You're very welcome, and just keep honing your craft you'll get there. We all have to start somewhere, right? "
" Absolutely-Thank you once again and enjoy the rest of the evening "
" Oh, I will, and you "
" So where's that non-entity you call a boyfriend?. I cannot believe he volunteered to come and see you perform because he never does anything without a hidden motive "
" You could be right A.J. I think he's trying to appease me for the whole anniversary debacle, but honestly I'm not sure that I can do this whole back and forth with my emotions thing anymore. He's gone to the toilet. "
" So-Then.....If " Her sentence cut short Arjana watched Fiadh suddenly appear from nowhere
" Hey babe " An arm placed about her waist. Fiadh placed a kiss on Fumnanya's cheek.
She had looked up half-way through her performance to see him, negotiating a careful path past settled bodies to secure a seat central to the stage and her. Was a little surprised but not all-together fired-up by his presence. A part of her; she felt had shifted into different space. " Hey Fiadh "
" Why the ice queen demeanour?-I've come down to see you perform and you're acting like I don't have it in me to support you "
" You do Fiadh but love for your studio work always comes first and support for my writing a sub-standard second "
" So it doesn't mean anything that I'm here supporting you now "
" You don't get it do you- When you decided to come down this evening was it because you knew you'd cultivated; finally, a deeper understanding of my work because you'd read pieces I was in the process of writing, finished or wasn't sure of; laying about the house ? Or was it a token gesture to smooth the way for yet another disappearing act emotionally, physically, mentally. I mean- I don't know. You name it "
" What- I came down to support you woman. That's a start; right "
" So then that means you're here for the rest of the evening to celebrate my debut with me; right? "
" Nanya you know that I have one more night's work on the new album. Carl's waiting outside to take me to the studio. Listen babes you knew this is how it was gonna be from the beginning "
" No I didn't Fiadh; but let's just say. I did. How many times have I come to the studio with you?. How many nights have I crammed in doing my own work, then work, helping you write lyrics well into the small hours?. How many times have I financed studio time?. Designed album covers?. Re-jigged your web pages?. Worried when badly put- together promo campaigns failed because of those numb-nuts you work with. How many times Fiadh? And so, you giving me -what; just over an hour and a half of your precious time before you rush off to the studio to complete God's work, is going to validate what I've achieved this evening? "
" Nanya "
" No Fiadh " She did not want her breath; again, suspended, to manage nettled tears filling her eyes because of Fiadh "
" Man- You just need to leave "
" And you need to keep ya nose out of our business "
" I'm not doing this with you anymore Fiadh "
" What are you talking about Nanya-What d'ya mean 'you're not doing this with me anymore. Don't get foolish now man, we'll talk later "
" No we won't Fiadh. I'm through "
The sudden realization; his expression. The hobnailed boots of affront walking through the pit of her stomach and over her heart. Light relief and more tears with his departure. She had fought hard not to reach this place. Had gone from grey to emerald green tones to facilitate the vermilion energy, that had brought her to him that day they had first met. 'A shop door opened, wrapped in a chivalrous smile. His eyes locked upon her. Attentive. Wishful. She had stumbled into his personality, not quite her type but confident. Persuasive, zoned into that part of her needing this attention. His attention. And now, the echo within of a million false promises ringing hollow. She needed to get away.
Time; the emotional barometer by which some clear the aging cobwebs from their muted dreams, whilst others frame them as if they are still life montages - Fiadh, feigning indifference at his long-time significant other's audacious conduct. An end he would not accept. He had a say in the way this story should play itself out. Had given her everything; okay. Maybe not enough of his time but they could work this out. Between the discontinuity and moments of preoccupation with the 'doing' and not 'being' he had set her on a backburner. Now-attentive, as in their first meeting she had removed herself from his courtyard of empty words.
Fumnanya- A woodland retreat. Time to think. Breathe. Acknowledge the collective whisper of nature surrendering its Frankincense and Myrrh timbre for her to meditate in a awhile and realign. She had never once questioned her love for Fiadh; it seemed like it would have been a counterproductive exercise on so many levels; yet now. Peace. Tranquil head-space. A reason to let go fully. Work would now fill the gaps she thought; staring through the '7 Souls' entrance from behind the front desk after her three week break away.
" Hey-Nanya "
Her ruminating expression drew another amiable salutation
" Hey - Fumnanya "
Daydream phase broken Fumnanya eyed Jelani standing the other end of the front desk.
" Hardly anyone calls me by my full name, that's what caught my attention. - Hey Jelani "
" You were miles away "
" Just thinking "
" Yeah, I could see, so how come you're on front desk? "
" Standing in for Maria till Lele gets here. She wasn't feeling too good "
" Oh-ok. Nothing serious? "
" Broke up with her boyfriend last night "
The chuckles between them both; reciprocal
" Sweet Jesus, as A.J might say. Must be the season."
" yeah - Tell me about it, so what's up "
" I need a favour. I asked A.J and Omowale but they're both tied up. So, my mother has to submit a business plan shortly for a vegetarian lunch bar she's looking to open up in town "
" Nice "
" That's what I said to her. But-bless her, she's stressing about the sample dishes. Thinks they might not be up to scratch. It's actually vegan and vegetarian and she's stressing about the accuracy of distinct flavours, textures on the palate, popular tastes and appropriate seasonings and from what you ordered for everyone that evening at Vegan Bliss, I can tell that you have super keen sensibilities gastronomically , I think you'd be a perfect candidate to try some of the sample dishes "
" Wow-Sounds good "
" Great. So- Requirements. Mum's got the chef who's going to be working at the lunch bar coming round tonight to put together all of the samples. There'll be some other tasters there as well but just a small handpicked crowd who are on point in terms of discerning taste relevancy; like yourself. All I need you to do is turn up and sample "
" I'm there. Wow. Thank you "
" No-Thank you. It's about getting broad feedback so that she nails it with the food and then she'll be able to loosen up a little "
" Hearing that, so give me a time "
" Errr-Let's say seven, should give the chef enough time before everyone starts arriving "
" Cool. I'll be done for five here "
" Great- I'll pick you up about half six "
" Sounds like a plan "
Jelani's mother. Gracious, intuitive. Nurturing. Regaling her with stories amidst the taste testing of spicy edibles and convivial laughter of her journeying through the Sudan as a teacher; mentor, beholder of lives enriched by simplicity; it's people. Invaluable experiences that had shaped her. Found her an indissoluble ally. A counsellor at a nearby school not too far from where she had schooled the next generation of life's hopefuls. He-Sudanese and proud. Painted her into his world as his queen. Africa and the Caribbean melding to yield Jelani.
Fumnanya was soothed by this presence that felt like; home, to her. Comforted by the calming touch that had opened her heart's notebook where she had found, placed on its pages. Ingredients for a healing balm, and faith that she would once again warm herself in the benevolence of another's untainted spirit, as she found herself a spot on the decorative, wrought iron garden bench filled with an assortment of cushions and a large Cashmere throw which she would not need.
The cozy patio with its neatly coiffed lawn, ample decking and low lighting sat well in the balmy summer's evening, bathed in the full moon's magical glow against the night sky. Chattering souls' lining the outskirts. Fumnanaya inhaled deep into the reflections of her polychromic odyssey to this point. Was thankful for the uninhibited social flow into kindred-fed space; space she had filed away under 'Fiadh comes first' exhaling slowly -Jelani now settled next to her.
" Hey "
" Hey Jelani "
" You okay? "
" Yeah " Fumnanya allowed the silence too steep for a moment, her eyes documenting the hasty aquatic activity from the clear lake running along the foot of the garden, before meeting the cool gaze. " You guys set this up right? "
The ease of the relaxed tone-holding her gaze-allowing her verbal inquiry to wash over him " A.J. and Omowale didn't want you saturating your home-space with thoughts, only of work for the third week running. They asked me if I could help break the rut you were considering stepping into "
The sweetness of Wisteria flowers caught by a cool breeze. The words unsaid but sentiments read by those that cared; selfless, only for her re-birth. The buried cellular-cry delivering her back to the surface and light tears "
" and You're mum? "
" I told her that I worked with inspiration that was doubting her authentic self after a cage was removed from around her heart- She told me to bring you home "
And final release- Her tears now overflowing. Though this time for initiation into her awakening to love; unblemished.