Bare by Kayode Olla


It felt like a continual cycle of déjà vu. We'd had exchanges like this before, when I would have to bring it up to his face and let him know that I’m not dumb, and I know what he’s been up to with other women. This admirer that’s dying to be with him; that guest artiste on his show or recording, yet another new dancer that “just breaks damn good” in a break-dance audition finals—and blah, blah.

But it was the silence that ended all the arguments: the unanswered questions, his sweet nothings, the unanswered questions.

This time around, my question was more direct. It is so obvious the ladies want him—and maybe he wants them too, and he does have them when I can’t know; and he wants to have me—own me—at the same time. It kinda feels close to being… well, violated.

The heated exchanges fell into a silence, a screaming silence.

But then, the way he turned around from the window blind he had raised only a moment before, where the influx of the early morning sunlight had cast his manly build into a silver-framed dark silhouette—the way he turned around and whispered in a low breath, “How could you have thought I would do that?!”— I could only flush with sweet embarrassment, my pulse racing and my breath already stolen away.

I watched as his dreadlocks danced to the rhythm of his body movements as he spoke. It was as though he was on stage already, performing with his acoustic guitar and flaunting his long dreadlocks. I admired his build, and the incredibly charming manner in which he spoke.

I felt like sinking into his broad bare chest and feeling his strong arms hold me close and tight. I dreamed of hearing his deep-toned whisper reassure me as he said, in his characteristic way: “You know I love you, Eni, don’t you?” I heard those cool words in his manly voice  before I realized I was in his arms already.

I wiped a tear off my cheek and looked up at him. I caught him wipe beads of perspiration from his brow, which I would only later take note of in reminiscence. I looked into his eyes and called him by his stage name but added my endearment in Igbo, Nkem.

I whispered “PauliNate nkem…” as a shiver ran down my spine and through my hips, and I yearned to feel him inside me, to feel him secure inside me.

It all boils down to this, actually: I am really proud that Paul is a star artiste and that I am his, and even that he is every girl’s dream—but I don’t want him to be every girl’s man, too. Especially now that we'll be getting married sooner or later.

I fear to lose him… I hate it more to share him.

 I attempted again, “Paul dear, did …?”

He disengaged me from his arms. “Eni, I’ve got a deal to strike out with my manager for 9 this morning,” he said, yanking his towel onto his shoulder—“we can’t keep talking about nothing.”

He didn’t answer; he never did. There was no answer; maybe, too, there was no question. Perhaps it’s nothing after all. Perhaps there’s even nothing. So far as we both assume—maybe, believe—there is nothing.

Kayode Olla is a lecturer by daytime and a writer by dusk, with heart issues and mind themes being his muse’s fondest things. Together with his wife, he publishes Bravearts Africa, an online and PDF magazine of the arts. His books are a novel Sprouting Again and two poetry collections Softlie & Seven Loves, Seven Hates. He keeps a personal blog at

Creative works (literature, art and culture) emerging from Nigeria.

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