I like to think of this as “a letter to somebody you used to love/somebody you thought you loved who is now in possession of your favourite shirt, and you can’t retrieve it because you stopped loving her or started wondering why you loved her in the first place, and in the second place why you kept on loving her when you knew it was a road that was going to end at the edge of a precipice and she would tip you over with a word and…”
fuck, I should just get to writing this letter already, so, here:
(or not so dear anymore for obvious reasons of malice and such shit that makes your stomach turn when you think about it in the bottom of your mind,)
Sorry to interrupt your anger (or whatever other red emotion you might be feeling towards me at this moment); you see, I’ve been thinking to reach out to you as much as I’ve been thinking to reach out to grab the balls of a rabid dog, but then, I have a small request to make concerning an important matter – my favourite yellow shirt. I left it at your place the last time I was there (and if I’d known that would be the last time, I wouldn’t have left it). Well, I left it, and we’re here now, and I need it back and would be eternally grateful if you could send it.
Here are some of the reasons why I’d like this shirt back (I know you hate Roman numerals because it reminds you that i am number 1 and won’t give you half an inch of a chance to come 0.5 metres close to me in privilege, because, you already know, the big P-word, patriarchy, which ever since you knew how to put the ‘a’ and the ‘r’ in the right order you became a feminist and it became your favourite buzzword), but fuck all that, it doesn’t matter anymore, I just want my shirt back and these are some of the reasons why:
I don’t want your new man wearing it, and stretching it with his ‘chairman’ stomach (if you decide to go for one of those types who keep their money stuffed in their belly and pull it out of their anus when they want you to know that money ain’t shit in the manner typical of people who have become wrongfully wealthy), or another one stretching it with his Terminator torso and shoulders (if sadly that kind of lumpy-headed sort becomes your preference).
I don’t want you to use it to clean your shoes, or mop the floor, or dust your furniture, or wipe up the scum that men are. Yes, I know you regard me as a piece of rag, but please leave my shirt out of this hatred; the poor thing is not the culprit here, it just happens to be caught in the middle of an unpleasant situation, and it wouldn’t do well to treat it as shabbily as you would love to act towards me, it doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment, it wasn’t the one who… you know what, let’s not begin to go over who did what and all the why-nothings, let’s just keep it at leaving my bloody shirt alone.
Worst of all, I don’t want you to burn it in some kind of ritual amounting to exorcising the ghosts of the past and memories of me, while dancing round the bonfire chanting my name and screaming fresh curses on me…see, I don’t really mind the curses (aren’t we all cursed with mortality?), but leave the poor shirt out of this ritual.
I don’t want you to take it to your “baba” (I know you probably have one of those; you know the kind of ‘baba’ I’m talking about, the one who’s not your father or Sugar Daddy, not related to you but could and usually would turn you against everyone who is related to you, yeah, that kind). I don’t care if he’s a woli-type or a full-on babalawo variant, with the entire gear and stuff, please just leave my shirt out of that chicken-and-blood mess. You can take one of my pictures; I hear pictures are more effective than clothes in these juju things, yes, a picture has a face and the hex would likely go straight at the person, but a shirt is just a shirt.
This is the least likely of the lot, but I don’t want you sleeping in my shirt – no, not because it would remind you of me and you’d begin to weep and mourn because you loved me and lost me, then they would find you dead from an overdose in my shirt by morning, no, it is because that shirt is too valuable to become a mere nightshirt, especially not a nightshirt for a witch, because then it means you’d have to wear it for your midnight meetings that you go to from your sleep, and I wouldn’t be able to wear the shirt without hearing witches’ old wings flapping in my head.
See, I didn’t intend to sound like this, it’s just how desperately I want my shirt back. Thank you for understanding. And for sending it back as soon as you receive this letter.
As a gesture of good faith, I’m sending with this letter everything you’ve ever left at my place to “mark territory” and assert psycho-emotional proprietorship of my poor soul. Plus, I’d be looking forward to you reciprocating this kind gesture by sending back my shirt, and only then can we be even and really be considered proper enemies of each other, as exes should be, and bloody well carry on in jolly oblivion as if our paths never crossed, which I’m sure we both wish they never did. But then, this is not about that; it is about my shirt — send it back.
I don’t even know what to call myself in relation to you… Nothing. (Or just ‘Demon-in-residence’.)
About the Author:
Olubunmi Familoni writes plays, screenplays and short fiction. His debut collection of stories, “Smithereens of Death”, won the ANA Prize for Short Stories in 2015; his play, “Every Single Day”, headlined the Lagos Theatre Festival in 2016. His work has been published in Panorama Journal, Afridiaspora, Jalada Africa, Bakwa Magazine, and elsewhere. He is working on a second collection of stories, and works on radio at Lead City FM, Ibadan, Nigeria.