His love was her burden. For thirty years he watched her drink her life away; silently watching her slip away. He knew better. He knew he shouldn’t aid her vile addiction but he just couldn’t seem to stop himself. With each passing year, she gradually transformed from a lovely swan to the ugliest of ducklings. But each night he breathlessly heaved her drunken body up the stairs, he looked upon the face of an angel.
He was the kind of man who never made a promise he didn’t intend to keep. So each day, he promised to love her and he loved her the only way he knew how; each day, placing a bottle in her haggard palms.
He watched her gulp the content of each bottle down as though it were nothing but water. But he knew and so did she. Those bottles; those stained glasses had long forgotten the taste of water. She enjoyed the strongest of liquors and would make a horrible mess on the bedroom floor and on the kitchen floor and in the now custard-coloured sofas in the den and in the faded blue sheets of the guest bed. She left her mark everywhere, everywhere but the cold porcelain of the toilet bowl.
As she spewed out the contents of her stomach, releasing a sea of alcohol and vile odours, she would weep. Moaning and groaning, as though mourning the death of her life; of the life she knew she once lived but could scarcely remember.
She would weep, hurling insults at him on the best of days; leaving him limping or bleeding on the worst of days. But he was the kind of man who never made a promise he didn’t intend on keeping. So each day he continued to love her the only way he knew how.
Their home was trapped; trapped perpetually in the stillness of the night, and the curtains, refusing to be drawn with each passing day, provided a permanent abode for dust and cobwebs. The sun refused to shine through those curtains but the eerie night always found room within.
She would roll over on the bed each morning, her breath sending the hair on his neck standing. She would angrily kick him off the unmade bed, screaming for her bottle; for the bottle that took her away from him. Half asleep and tired, afraid and consumed by a substance far more dangerous than the bottle, he would slowly descend the stairs and bound up them again, clutching his prize securely against his chest.
As she pushed him aside, snatching the bottle from his hand, she smiled to herself. Content that he had made her smile, content that he had seen that smile once more he allowed himself to finally rest; gently shutting his eyes as the faintest of smiles formed across his tired wrinkled face.
They found his body in that room, leaning against the old chest of drawers. They found her body too; lying prostrate in the withered bed of roses in the front porch. They said his heart just stopped. His heart just stopped beating. They said her liver gave out. It just couldn’t take the pressure.
His heart just stopped; the only drug he knew finally gave out. Her liver could take no more. The only drug she knew finally did her in.
He was the kind of man who never made a promise he didn’t intend to keep. So each day, he promised to love her and he loved her the only way he knew how. He loved her each day, until the day he could love no more.Sedem Agbolosu is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon.