Dedicated to battered women who constantly seek water for solace…
“Water: a liquid without color, smell or taste, which falls as rain, is in lakes, rivers and seas, and is used for drinking, washing, etc”
- The Oxford Learners Dictionary.
What was his name again? Yes, that erratic Afro-Beat King?
The one, whenever he performed on screen, Mama always sent us out of the living room. That was when we were little. Mama said he wore dirty white pants and we would see his ‘utus’.
I remember him now! Fela! That was his name! Fela Anikpolakpo Kuti! Such a musical name! He once sang a song, that water had no enemy. What he failed to warn me was that water could be such a ‘good’ friend, which would one day shatter your whole life into thousands of tiny fragments. Fragments so miniscule, that they filled you up with nothing.
Yes, absolutely nothing.
My name is Mrs. Crystal and the therapist my husband hired for me says I have a severe form of aquaphilia.
What sort of medical jargon was aquaphilia? In the words of Dr. Sandra, the therapist, it was a rare case – an unusual sexual attraction to water. She had walked into my room this morning, dressed all prim and proper. In that professional way, she opened the curtains of my room to usher in the sparkling morning sun. I was dazed and confused, my scalp tightening around my skull. The window drapes were surprisingly crisp-looking this morning; they glistened as the bars of sunlight seared their brilliant white edges.
It took a while for the events of last night to gently unfold in my head. I could now put it all together, gradually, as they transpired.
I was yelling at my mother and Philip, my husband. Why did he cut off all the water supply in the house? There was no water in the kitchen taps, in the refrigerator, in the water condenser, in the shower or in the bathtub. Mama was pleading with Philip to calm down and soften his superfluous show of manliness. I recall running to the toilet, the one in our room. The handle of the water cistern swayed aimlessly as I pulled it – no water!
Then, I lowered my hand into shady blue water in the toilet bowl. A familiar rush crept over me, a sensation – into me – and just then I felt the blow fall upon the back of my head.
“You emasculating bitch!” Philip’s voice reverberated around the inside of my aching skull.
“Stop it Philip! Do not hit her, she needs help.”
The last voice I heard must have been that of my mother. She still maintained that phoniness, a faux sense of calm, to her voice – that same tone she used when extricating herself from all the problems she had caused. Her voice continued to swirl around my head until their woolly shadows merged into one dark cloud of oblivion.
“Good morning Mrs. Crystal, how was your night?” The therapist asked in a feathery like-I-caretenor.
“Who are you?” I asked the woman in my room.
“I am Dr. Sandra, of Advanced Human Sexology and Uncommon Sexuality from University of Harvard,” she answered in a matter-of-fact way.
“Wow, so you’re a shrink?” I was feeling disgusted now.
“We prefer therapist. We frown upon the word shrink nowadays,” answered Dr. Sandra.
“Thanks for that correction. Well, shrink or therapist makes no difference to me. Just a bunch of people who help others but cannot help themselves,” I responded in a flat tone.
The sight of a strange woman in my room nauseated me the more.
Dr. Sandra adjusted the frame of her spectacles and carefully laid her handbag and a file on the bedside table. She opened her handbag, brought out a bottle of water, opened it and started drinking. My pulse started quickening in that instant, I felt like snatching the water from her. My eyes followed the rhythmic movement of her throat gulp by gulp, soon the bottle was empty. She brought out another bottle and reached for the glass cup near the bedside table and filled it with water.
“Do you care for a glass of water, Mrs. Crystal?” Dr. Sandra sounded innocent but my guts told me that she was devious and manipulative.
I stared at her, then the glass cup and back to her. It was done in the most robotic movement you could imagine. Her face had that smirk look of satisfaction; I did not want to give her more of that. I had to reject the offer. Yet, the gentle sway of the tiny bubbles in the glass cup were simply too irresistible to resist. I wanted to feel that crystal clear liquid gently rush down my throat and ignite my being with all the passion Philip locked away for years.
“If you don’t mind,” I answered in shaky tone.
I reached for the glass of water and the therapist extended her hand for me to hold the glass cup, but it slipped from my finger and shattered into varied sizes of grainy diamond-like pieces on the floor. I jumped out of my bed and pounced on the floor like a cat that saw a bowl of milk. I started sucking off the moisture off the spot where the glass of water shattered. I could feel my cheeks becoming warm as hot streaks of tears tumbled down my eyes. The sharp edges of the glass that shredded my skin did not stop the overwhelming sensations and sparks of fire that ignited every fiber in me. I was brushing off the tufts of rug that stuck to my lips when I saw Dr. Sandra’s figure towering above me. The syringe sharply pricked my arm and the woolly shadows, again, started to merge into one dark cask of oblivion.
My oblivion seemed to have lasted forever. When I finally opened my eyes, I felt sick and queasy. A spiky load was heaved on my chest, it was obstructing my breathing. I touched it and felt the roundish skull of Junior’s head. Junior was my five years old son and only child. He was sniffing hard to keep himself from crying. Why was he crying? What had Philip told him? I buried my fingers, all the ten of them, intohis thick spiky curls of hair. It was then that he noticed that I was awake. He jerked up, almost immediately, and slowly rose up with a mixture of fear and surprise. This particular gesture filled me with shame! Was he scared of me? How could he be scared of his own mother?
“Junior I am sorry.” I was almost chocked with tears. I was apologizing to my son for no apparent reason.
“I love you, Mom. Daddy said that you have water issues. You will get better,” Junior said almost in a whisper.
“Junior”, I raised Junior’s head,” I need you to get me a glass of water.” I pleaded earnestly as I tenderly held my son’s hands.
“No Mom, Daddy said that you would melt away like Mr. Biggs ice cream.” By now Junior was quivering with fear.
For one thing, Philip was right. I would melt away into rollicking moments of ecstasy that he denied me since Junior was born. Junior hurriedly left the room as Dr. Sandra entered almost immediately. This time she was not wearing her professional apparel this time. That therapist of a woman, I must confess, was looking homely in that evening dress. She walked in leisurely carrying my husband’s laptop. I sat up as she approached the bed. Only God knew what therapeutic tricks she was about to play. Dr. Sandra sat down on the bed and selected a video- Health Issues I, on Philip’s laptop. It was the video of me savagely sucking the moisture off the rug in my room. I looked hideous, shameless, derogatory, disparaging and barbaric.
“Mrs. Crystal what would be your reaction if Junior sees this video?” Dr. Sandra asked in a subtle tone.
Hush, I was hushed. What if this monster of a doctor had shown this video to my son as part of her therapeutic procedures? What if Philip had shown Junior this video to ridicule me? What would Junior think of me? A mother of low self-esteem and worth! Surely he would scorn me when I restrain him from picking up his cookies that fell on the kitchen floor.
“No, you could not have shown him the video. He is just five years old!” A blend of fear and anxiety was evident in my voice.
“Too late, he has seen it. He has seen it,” Sandra said in that same exasperating ton.
“How on earth was I videoed?!”
“We mounted a secret surveillance camera to monitor and document your progress,” the woman sitting close to me answered. She answered my questions so briskly as if she did not know she was infringing on my private life. I would be suing this woman and my husband the moment I leave this house. I would not give as much as two hoots about how her actions aligned with her professional ethics.
“My progress! I am not a psycho, I am not retarded. I just have a weakness like everybody else. My weakness is water. In fact it is not my weakness; it is my strength, friend and companion. It is what has kept and sustained me when Philip starved me physically, emotionally and sexually because of his big CEO job.”
I was now in tears, those tears that flow from the bottom of the heart. I never cried easily, especially in the presence of people like Dr. Sandra. Now I just cracked open like an egg. Dr. Sandra pulled me closer and whispered words like: “Let it go, let it go, don’t suppress the tears, it is part of the healing process.” This irritated me the more, for crying out loud, I do not need healing. When I was done crying, Dr. Sandra brought out a big notebook, a green fountain pen and dropped it on my lap.
“Mrs. Crystal, I want you to repeat this ten times: ‘Water, you are inanimate and you have no power over me.’”
The therapist lifted the laptop from the bed, stood up and started walking towards the door. Her behind looked ravishing as they swayed under her evening dress. It had to take my strong African moral judgment not to stare for too long so that I may not be a lesbian. Her evening clothes accentuated them in a provocative manner. Was she sleeping with my husband as part of the healing process? Then I recalled that women had stopped turning my husband on ever since he got his big CEO job. What turned Philip on, now, were contracts, business and deals.
“Water, you are inanimate and you have no power over me,” I whispered gently to myself. I could not say it completely; it chocked my throat and looped into a lump too painful to swallow. To me water was not inanimate. He was a strong man who knows how to give his women pleasurable feelings. Feelings so intense that it would make you cry and wonder why you married a man whose manhood has been taken away by his big CEO job.
I picked up my pen and started to write my story, this story you are reading now…
My name is Crystal Mbose, I was a top financial consultant who had to quit the unusual splendor of the corporate world to settle down into a nice family life. My husband Philip worked as a director in one of the strongest financial houses in Africa. I have a sweet son Philip Jr., so to that effect I am a mother. My life changed some Monday mornings ago at the breakfast table. It had been eight months since Philip got his big CEO job and that was when things started falling apart. My husband was working himself to death, he had no time for his son and I was the last on his priority list. He always came back late at night and would not touch his food. Whenever I reached out for him on the bed he would feign tired and asleep. In rare cases when in his words, “I feel up to it”, he would lie on me limp and more lifeless than a log of wood.
“Honey, I would be coming back from work quite early today”, Philip announced almost excitedly at the breakfast table that morning. His honey wavered through the air and died out, it was not meant for me, that I was sure of.
“Yes!” Junior screamed with an equal excitement.
I pretended not to have heard him and focused on my food. I alienated myself from my immediate environment just like I always did when Mama would rant about how my younger sister was better than me. The problem with Philip was his bloated ego. The anger surging through me was enough to bash his head on the table. He announced his returning from work with so much zest as if he was one rare commodity or a species of Siberian Tiger going into extinction. I was still picking my food when Junior’s school bus hooted at the gate and he left the table.
“Honey, what is wrong?” Philip asked demandingly as Junior left for school.
“Oh, when did we resume being on Honey terms? Look at you, so conceited, proud, arrogant and full of yourself. ‘Honey, I would be coming back from work quite early today’, like one of the Olympus gods who has chosen to spend his weekend with the Greeks.”
“Crystal, you understand the nature of my job. I am a man and society demands that I provide for my family.” Philip was angry and that was what I wanted.
“So you want to tease me with money? For the records, dear husband, I was a seven figure earning financial consultant before you married me. I threw all that away to be a good African wife. I am not asking you to come back home and wash your flimsy clothes”, I was ripping apart with rage.
“What is there in washing my clothes? Alright, fine, I will do them myself,” Philip responded sanctimoniously.
“I bet you cannot do it yourself. Do you know how awful the stench of your boxers is? They are slimy and I have to sanitize my hands before and after I wash them!”
“Where is all this coming from?” Philip asked as he stood up, lifted his suitcase and made for the door.
“It is coming from a woman who has not felt her husband’s touch for eight months. Philip, I have needs and you are denying me of those needs. I wonder if you are married to me or your big CEO job. Is it a crime for Crystal to enjoy what other married women enjoy? You can make all the money but I cannot sleep with a sack of money.”
I made one final push. I stood up to where Philip was and grabbed him in the sultriest way I could think of. “Philip, I need you to make me a woman again.” He pushed me away and rushed out of the door like a scared rat. What sort of man was this? I stood there feeling rejected. Unwanted.
He caused all this.
If he had heeded to my yearning it would not have started. I carried my sorry self to the bathroom, locked the door and started crying. Then a crazy idea occurred to me: fill the tub with cold water and cry there just like those pale faced actresses in foreign movies.
The instant I soaked myself into the tub, I met him.
I called this new friend Mr. Crystal.
He transported me faraway from Philip and his chauvinism, from Mama’s ravings for another grandchild, from Junior’s subdued tears whenever I and Philip break things in the course of our numerous fights and from everything. In the tub it was only Mr. Crystal providing all my needs. He was even better than Philip during his active days; he delved into the dark crevices in me that have been untapped and unopened. I basked in this new world which I never wanted to end. The small tapping of the bathroom door round swung my being back to consciousness.
“Mummy! Mummy! I got ten over ten in my mathematics test!” It was Junior with his usual filled-with-life manner.
“Honey, I am almost done with bathing,” I responded and reached for my towel. I looked at my phone on the edge of the bath tub; it was 2:30pm. That was an exhilarating time and worthwhile as well. I felt almost different, renewed and transformed all thanks to Mr. Crystal. I went about my remaining chores singing my recreation of Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Thank you Mr. DJ:
“Thank you Mr. Crystal for saving my life
Thank you, thank you I’ve been waiting so long
It’s hard to say how I missed you
I thought I was lost but now you found me
You drove me crazy, you made me mad
I stand the trauma and I felt so sad (Felt so sad)
Hmmm, felt so sad (felt so sad)
I have suffered like I used to before (suffer suffer)
Thank you for being helpful and kind…”
I danced to the rhythm of the song I was singing with my spirits so high, and felt lifted. Junior was surprised and at the same time happy for me. My feet felt light as I swayed in this new-found world. He was used to see a moody Mrs. Crystal, but not anymore, I have met my Mr. Crystal, a caring and understanding man, mywater man. He was not even over-demanding and chauvinistic as Philip, he agreed to answer my feet name, he allowed me call him Mr. Crystal, he did not insist on me answering his name.
My dancing stopped when Philip walked into the living room by 7:30pm, he kept to his promise of coming back early. He was surprised when he spotted the sparkling glow on my face. He had never seen me so happy in a long time. Junior ran and hugged him so tightly; my son was ecstatic on seeing his father twice a day. They struck up this unfamiliar father-to-son how was school today? gossip. How could Philip put up this sham world’s best dad after being the world’s worst dad for eight months? I hurriedly left to set table for dinner. “Dinner is served,” I called after sometime.
Dinner would have been horrible if not for Mr. Crystal. Philip was chewing his salad and drumstick noisily to impress Junior who could not help chuckling heartily. My son was happier than any kid in a candy shop, I was really happy for him because I never really had a father in my life. Mama said that the useless man left her to marry an Oyinbo (white) woman for common green card. I feared that Junior would face worse if his father continued at this rate.
Thank God I had Mr. Crystal now. I was downing glass after glass of water and this helped to set my new lover in motion. A lover that was so ubiquitous unlike Philip. Philip was always stashed away in his larger than life CEO office. It was not long before the ramblings at the dining table become incoherent; they suddenly seemed not to matter whenever Mr. Crystal was around. My new-found love was building up inside of me with every glass of water and before long he sent bursts of electrifying spasms throughout my spinal column. Dr. Sandra had described these spasms as mundane.
“Philip, I am going to bed,” I announced and left for the bedroom.
Some hours later, the door of the bedroom swung open and Philip entered. He sluggishly walked to the bed and opened the bedside drawer; he was apparently worn out as always. Philip opened a container labeledExtra power Mannish Capsules. He took the tablets.
What sought of man took erectile dysfunction drugs before sleeping with his wife.
Mr. Crystal certainly does not need those greenish capsules before catapulting me to a world of endless and pleasurable streams of passion. Philip reached out for me and started muttering, “I would make you feel like a woman. I lay down there, still as a piece of cold steel when my husband’s heavy frame fell on me. He was nauseatingly breathing hoarsely into my mouth, I felt like puking all over his. Soon he collapsed on top of me, drenched in his own sweat.
I pushed his heavy weight aside and ran straight to the bathroom and locked the door securely. I could not wait for the bathtub to fill before I jumped into it and all was hazy and lost at once in Mr. Crystal’s world. From then on I was hooked up with this mysterious man; Mr. Crystal. I would often stand naked above my water reflection on the water in the bathtub and confess my love for this gracious beautiful lover.
He opened up a new world for me, a world where all my needs were being taken care of. I would always wait patiently for Philip to go to work before rushing into the bathtub to reproduce my muffled moans of ecstasy as my new lover showcased his expertise. I must admit that he was never boring, he always charted new courses for us to follow each time we meet.
He drifted me away from the dining room when Philip started filling my ears with how much his bank was making daily, when I and my mother started arguing about having another grandchild, when Junior’s teacher invited me to talk about how my son is having a rough time in school, when my sister, Winifred, started boasting about her shopping rendezvous in Paris and Dubai. He drifted me away. Even during the terrible traffic jams at the Nelson Mandela highway. He was always there when I needed him the most and secluded a space where we can exit alone without any stranger element.
My relationship with Mr. Crystal blossomed for more than a year. When I was alone I would always talk to him in the bathtub. If I wanted to make an important decision of having to invest in DSTV or MTN shares, he was there to assist my decision making. He was not so keen on having a child as he did not want any speck of interference in our relationship.
However, Mr. Crystal confessed that he liked Junior and wanted as much as possible to strangle Philip for neglecting me. I would often tell him about my days working as a financial consultant at Finesse Consultancy in Johannesburg. I told him things I would never dream of telling my husband. Things like how my boss, Mr. Kwame, slapped my buttocks whenever I made a good pitch presentation; how the Spanish woman, Mrs. Wanita, fondled my breasts in the toilet. I told him how I slept with Junior’s principal to prevent him from telling Philip that he saw my vibrator in Junior’s schoolbag, how my two elder brothers took turns in abusing me sexually.
It was so easy to confide in him.
Sometimes Junior would walk in and see me talking to myself, he would leave surprised. Whenever I asked Mr. Crystal whether to tell Junior about it he would decline saying, “he is not ready yet.”
During school vacations, I took Junior to my mother’s place to secure quality time for Mr. Crystal. One of those pleasurable evenings was when it all turned sour. I was unleashing those moans of ecstasy which Mr. Crystal was copiously showering on me in the bathtub when I opened my eyes and saw Philip standing above me. His eyes were filled with hate and disdain as he walked out. I securely bolted the bathroom door; I was not going to walk out on Mr. Crystal the way Philip does when his phone rings in the middle of something.
“You must be ashamed of yourself! You were masturbating in the bathroom!” Philip thundered the moment I entered our bedroom.
“I was not masturbating! I was with him, with Mr. Crystal,” I responded. That type of graceful response from a satisfied woman gives.
“Oh, the water in the bathtub is Mr. Crystal?” Philip’s scorn pierced icily through me.
“Do not reduce him to the water in the bathtub. At least he is better than Mr. Extra-Power-Mannish-Capsules. Believe you me, he is as solid as a rock. He is caring and attentive. On Junior’s last birthday, he bought him a box of candy.” I was now in tears.
“Mrs. Legion of Water Spirits, have you been teaching our son to scream ‘Easy, Mr. Crystal’ when he is in the bathtub?”
With this, Philip grabbed me and vigorously shook me how Junior shook his cough syrup that had SHAKE WELL BEFORE USE written on it. He pinned me to the wall, hitting my back against it. The tiny grains of the emulsion wall paint pierced my back. Philip slapped me till I lost count of numbers. Breathing hoarsely inside my mouth, he whispered things likeemasculating bitch.
I was dragged to the bed and before long I could feel the painful stabs of Philip’s manhood down the crevices I reserved for Mr. Crystal. Yes, I was raped because I could not bear to sleep with my husband again.
The next morning Philip called Mama to come over. By the time I woke up, I felt sore all over me. Stains of blood and blemishes of bruises were on me. I noticed them in the bathroom when I went to take my bath. I turned on the tap but it was dry. There was no water! I went to the kitchen and everywhere.
Philip had taken away one thing that made me happy.
I rushed into the sitting room to find Philip and Mama discussing in low tones.
“Crystal, how could you do this to me?!” Mama asked.
I rushed and grabbed hold of Philip’s shirt and started shouting at him. “Where is he? Where did you hide him? Are you now intimidated by the water in the bathtub?”
“Stop this at once!” Mama ordered.
“Stop what? You still want a son-in-law that would stock up your boutique, buy you new cars, pay your dues at SA’s Societal Ladies Network and sponsor your Paris and Dubai vacations? Sorry you are about to lose him.”
It was the uncommon boldness that Mr. Crystal gave me that I flaunted before Mama and Philip without reservation. Now I had to find him. I ransacked the whole house, I opened the refrigerator, I shattered glass cups and tore book. My mother and my husband looked at me with a mixture of fear and pity.
I needed no pity.
I rushed to the toilet and dipped my hand into the toilet bowl. In that instant, the floodgates of my passion went threadbare. This time my Mr. Crystal was ravishing and wanted to make up for the lost time. That was when Philip knocked me out and the woolly shadows started merging into one dark cask of oblivion.
In the distance, I could hear Junior crying even with the promises of mountains of candy Mama made to him. I could hear Dr. Sandra’s voice talking to my husband, “Mr. Crystal is the product of the figments of unrealistic and overactive imaginations. Prof. Finn of Harvard has it that people create fictional characters in times of isolation…” Even with her Harvard doctorate, Dr. Sandra was so wrong. I and Mr. Crystal were more real than reality.
After all these, I would demand for a divorce on the grounds of physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect. I would fight for full custody of Junior, and Philip must agree to all of these as he does not want his big CEO name to be tainted by the South African tabloids. Then I, Mr. Crystal and Junior would relocate to Cape Town and live happily ever after. I lay down fulfilled just thinking about all that has happened and almost felt like dozing off.
The shadows were still woolly but now they merged into large splashes of water which enveloped me. Yes it did!
Innocent Ilo is a Nigerian born writer, blogger and an economics undergraduate. He believes at this age that erotica should be equally weird as it is erotic. He preaches his gospel of ‘Flawlessness’ on his morning blog cast.