All Stories, General Fiction

Yellow by Jessica Aike

Rain in Richmond was like no other, on that Wednesday in June.

David, the cab driver had parked close to the gate as I made my escape from the endless rain. As a regular, I recognised the art enthusiasts who frequented the gallery, but I had never seen him before. I had always believed art was to be publicly admired and privately dissected, in the comfort of one’s walls, an intimate ceremony, but the intrigue his face portrayed felt inviting. I was deep in thought when his gaze startled me.

 ‘O lewa’ he smiled, as he walked towards me.

‘Sorry’ I said, perplexed and irritated at my nervousness.

‘O lewa, its Yoruba for beautiful’.

‘Hm. He’s tribalistic. Great’ I muttered.

‘My name is Ife’ he chuckled, ‘What your name?’.

At 15 I questioned why marriages reached milestones, only to disintegrate on a warm Wednesday afternoon. Why the line between love and hate was so dangerously thin. I ruminated, until one day at 33 I was left with notions now meshed with my matter, playing for my ears alone.  

Ordinarily, Ife should have gifted me hives, for I was assured he was the kind to send a person into the brittle, potent arms of psychosis. The madness that roamed the gritty streets of Camden Town, sometimes immersed in the hustle and bustle of Lagos. Yet, as time stretched on, nothing. I searched, I checked, I watched, I waited, for signs that the man the gods had sent, was indeed a gift from hell. Ife was too transparent, too playful, too mature, too ready to settle quarrels with love, too loving of my fragmented self. Ife was not to be trusted. Ife had committed the cardinal sin; he was a man.  

It was cousin Solo that showed me at age eight, sometimes ten, and throughout the entirety of thirteen when my growing breasts reminded him of the grapefruits he liked to suck, that men who crept into the beds of little girls by night, and carried an air of ease as they applauded woman empowerment by day, were the worst kind. And so, I dug, for dirt, for lies, for anything that would quench the thirst of my bitter child, for etched beliefs itching for a grand finale. Still, nothing. 

Ife side stepped every mould I laid for him, instead he chose to gift me intentionality. We were two months in, deep in giggles and stories as I offhandedly spoke of my love for antiheroines and superheroes. By the seventh month my walls held timeless drawings and paintings of my favourite action stars. Ife gave.  

It was the way he massaged my lower back on the days I bled different shades of red. ‘Pele baby’ he would say. 

It sat comfortably in the art we displayed when our bodies intertwined, mouthfuls chasing mouthfuls. Ife was a man of depth, skill, selfless was his origin, his name. ‘Are you ready to rumbleeee!’ he would shout in jest, eyes filled with playful glee. But when I rode his sturdy thrusts diligently, like the over achiever I was, our bodies mimicking the sound of the creamy pasta we sometimes ate on Sunday afternoons, those eyes bled unadulterated, unmistakable passion.  

Ife did not believe in complicating the uncomplicated. ‘I suffered in childhood; I refuse to suffer in adulthood’ he would say, with an assurance that lacked the familiar façade. It was his nature to lay himself down at the altar of ease.  

A year had crept by before I realised how much of his free-spirited nature, I had made home. 

The wind was thick on the Friday afternoon I got the call. ‘Esodina, where you dey?’, Ife’s best friend’s voice cracked on the phone.  

As the days grew into months, I realised that sometimes, the enemy we seek for in others lies in the arms of death.

 Jessica Aike

Image: –

7 thoughts on “Yellow by Jessica Aike”

  1. Hi Jessica,
    I enjoyed this. It was an interesting parallel between the observations on love and abuse. It was brilliantly judged as the one didn’t merge into the other which so many overplay.
    This had a brilliant tone to it, that is something that cannot be taught, you can either do it or you can’t, you can. There was melancholy, passion, resignation, acceptance, mistrust and trust. The asides show superb thoughts of rebellion which I thought were especially well done.
    This is a very interesting piece of work.
    Hope to see more from you very soon.


  2. Jessica
    Interesting and contains the subtle sadness of preconceived (though not necessarily incorrect) ideas getting turned around, reexamined, changed yet slightly reinforced at the same time and arriving someplace new, that has its own complications.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.