When I once thought of colours, I thought of the beautiful red rose. I thought of the rich golden brown colour of freshly baked bread, the lusciousness of the half bitten cherry, the blueness of the sky up above and the silvery twinkles of the numerous stars on a beautiful night. I thought of the colour of love floating happily around me in shades of the hottest pink, magenta and white. I watched with glee as they invaded my being so effortlessly and powerfully. I thought of the colour of blood that signified the life I once had. Now, all I see are the colours of words. Their colours are so strong that they evoke death and murder life. I think of the colour black and watch as it collides into me when the caves that they call ‘mouths’ are opened to release the fluid whips that scar me daily. I see fearful shades of gray as I stagger in fear and cower as the clouds of black come closer. They dare me to move, dare me to look them in the eyes. They dare me to free myself from the shackles they gave me to imprison myself. I look down at my ankles and remember that I have the key to my freedom in the tight grasp of my hand, but the colour of their words cloud out all of the colours of strength, of love, of confidence and of faith”, Adaobi said.
“What the heck are you going on about?”, Chike asked looking genuinely puzzled. He knew he shouldn’t have asked her how her day went. He was in no mood for a boring narration of all of her many feelings. He knew his patience was fast disappearing and made to get up from the sofa he had been comfortably sitting on. “I am talking about you”, Adaobi says with a rise in her voice as she looks up to meet Chike’s now furious eyes. “I am talking about you, oh glorious painter! I am talking about all the many colours with which you have painted your words. I am talking about the art gallery of condemnation and sorrow you have sentenced me to”, Adaobi screams. Chike knows that Adaobi has finally lost it and stands up quickly from the sofa. He shakes his index finger at her and rushes to their bedroom in anger.
Adaobi rushes after him and stands in front of their full length mirror. She cannot believe that she sees the colours of black above her head. As she opens her mouth in an attempt to speak, fumes of gray escape weakly. She falls to the ground and weeps staining the cream coloured carpet with droplets of pain. Chike has had enough of her madness and walks past her out of the bedroom. He grabs his car keys from the tv stand and leaves irritatedly. The sound of the starting engine in the background causes Adaobi to raise up her head. She was tired of the colours. Tired of being a muse to the sadism he now reveled in. She used to think she was beautiful. She used to think she had the courage of ten lions but Chike happened.
She remembers the first day they met. The wonderful friendship they enjoyed for years. She remembers him leaving to the States for his undergraduate degree and how broken she was. He promised that he would return for her and she mended her heart with the ‘truth’ of his words. When they were together, beautiful shades of orange and yellow zoomed around. You could smell the freshness of their love untainted by lust. Their love was bouncing with life and their kisses bore forth rose petals. After five years, he came back. They got married and she moved to the States with him. She left behind everything excited about all the colours of the rainbow they could experiment with.
But less than a week after her move, Chike was no longer the enthusiastic painter she had fallen in love with. Chike despised her. When she tried to kiss him, she was violently shoved aside. She was told her mouth reeked and her lips were too fat. The same mouth his tongue longed to adventure in…the same lips that he would stare at and moan about seductively. Fine, if they reek, a little brushing here, some mouth wash there would remedy the situation. But alas, it was a new thing every day. Her calves were too big, her butt too rotund, her boobs too small, her IQ too low for him to have educated conversations with. Gone were the days that they made rose petals. Their bedroom that bounced with colours of pink was now darkened with outrageous colours of black.
She remembered when she first cried black and how he looked away callously. He looked away and she never forgot. That day, the little glimmer of white she illuminated died. His words came to life with every breath. Their house was one big dark canvas and she had had enough. She looked at herself in the mirror and for the first time ignored the colours. Walking to the closet, she brought out her suitcases that had been packed for months and for the first time grabbed them out of the bedroom. She was a butterfly and had been kept for too long away from the garden. She was dressed in nothing but a simple dress and bathroom slippers. That was all she needed. As she wheeled her bags out of the house, she looked back at the mansion they had built together. A mansion so fearful and dark. The bats flew around in circles and the cobwebs moved despite the stillness of the air. She looked away like Chike once did. As she took steps away into the darkness of the night, the colour of her got only brighter while the clinking of her shackles made sweet music.