Panic

The man on TV is upset. Every time the presenters on the morning talk show ask him a question, his voice pitch shoots up. There is a volley of questions and soon his voice, the pitch, reaches cartoonish proportions.

Screech!

Screech!!

The issue is serious; there were floods recently in Ogun and Lagos state. Which is bad enough, but there has been nothing done, no reparations from the government, so the man is incensed. I listen closely, but I am bemused. When the questions dim in intensity his voice drops down to a more natural baritone. He does this a lot, it is obvious, the vocal gymnastics, to portray hurt or passion. But I think, this is discourse, not an aria, there’s no need.

I am standing in the bedroom watching the news. I slept over, took a shower and now I stand in my underwear with my blouse in my hands. The man in the room with me, in whose house I have spent the night has a very bad habit. When I put my arms up, to pull my blouse over my head, he immediately comes behind me and digs his fingers into my armpits. I have slept over fifteen times and he has a 100 percent hit rate. I stand watching the high-pitched man and his voice mirrors my panic. I am terrified of putting this blouse over my head.

Deji doesn’t do much to get me here. On Fridays, fifteen in a row save two or three; he will slide by my desk at work and ask very casually what I am up to that night. I will feign indifference and answer equally casually

“Nothing”

On the first Friday, we did the pretense of going for a movie and dinner, but the point was always this bedroom and everything that comes with being here.

I just did not bargain for the armpit attack.

Now, when I am alone in my house, in my own room, I feel scared to put on my blouse. I have developed a phobia for putting my arms up above my head. At various points of an otherwise ordinary day, I get a shiver of disgust, and feel fat poky phantom fingers digging into my armpit skin, the cave of soft flesh there.

I have rationalised that he has a fetish, and fetishes fit into the game we are playing here, and as long as I continue to play, for as long as I say “nothing” every Friday night and sleep over, this is the way it would be.

So, I have decided to burn all the blouses I own and purchase button down shirts. Just to be safe.

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