Titi - A Love Story

by Tony Bennett

I awake from another night of undiscovered moments of my mind (dreaming). Another night thinking, fascinating over this image, this women, this spellbinding creature that awakens my soul. Her image has been invading my thoughts for three weeks now and I don't know why? Trying desperately to get out of bed. I roll over, I attempt to sit up and as I look towards the mirror, the first glimmer of morning light reflects through my balcony's window; it rays hit my eyes and blinds me momentarily. I rise my hands to my eyes desperately trying to prevent the rays from shining in my eyes; and as the rays diminish in their strength, out of the corner of my eye I see the image of her in the mirror. It was like the morning rays had again awaken memories of her in my mind. She wouldn't leave my thoughts. I wondered through what strange twist of fate had my mind created her; were did she come from. In last night's hot bed dreams of her where again rekindled. Her body, tall, dark, as smooth as the peddles of a hyacinth. Her face so regal, captivated me and engulfed my soul. It felt as if each touch, each kiss from her embraced the very core of my existence. As her image faded from the mirror and my eyes began to focus, I noticed what appears to be oil smeared across my chest. I wondered, were it could have come from and tried to remember what I'd done the night before. As I began wiping it off, again images of her returned. Again that dream, those thoughts; as if real - haunted me and held me fast in the mirror, wishing that her image would again appear.

As I stood there looking in the mirror, touching the areas where her image just was, the doorbell rang. Gathering myself, I darted towards the door; still in somewhat of a daze, I'd forgotten that I'd left my laptop on the floor of the living room, in a feeble attempt to begin writing a tale of love. Rushing, as I passed the couch I jammed my toe against it trying to avoid stepping on it. As I feel to the floor and grabbing my toe, I could see my toenail was welling up with blood. I stood up and began hopping to the door and fell again. As I began applying pressure to it hoping that it would stop the bleeding, whom ever was at the door was still knocking which now was becoming annoying, seeing that I could get to it quick enough and my toe was hurting like hell; so I yelled out come in. They must not have heard me because they continued knocking and I yelled again, this time at the top of my lungs "Come the Hell In Will Ya". As I bent down in pain I heard to door to my loft open and this figure pass by. Between the pain and blood, I managed to ask who it was? I heard someone say "Where are you towels" I told her, but then noticed that the person now in my house was a woman. She'd seen that I was bleeding and gone to retrieve a towel to help.

She bent down in front of me and began applying pressure I couldn't see her face, but as she was squeezing the towel against my foot, her hands caught my eye and my mind flashed backed to the women in my dreams. Her hands were so long, soft and beautifully shaped, I was at once mystified and as I sat there this wonderful aroma engulf me. I still couldn't see who she was so I reached to lift her head. I reached out and touched her cheek and began lifting her face upward. It seemed that our movement was in slow motion. And as her face began to appear the fragrance again began to overwhelm me. It was sandalwood, gardenia and what seem like a hint of lotus. And now her eyes and then face became clearer. She presented me with these big wonderful eyes. They were brown, with what appeared to be a hint of crimson. It was like looking into the outer edges of a fire. You know, the edges that seem so pleasant but are the hottest, almost hypnotic. I was getting lost in them, it was the most wondrous thing to see. As she turned towards me I now saw that this beautiful creature standing before me was none other than Titi, my neighbor from across the hall. Titi, Ah, Titi. She was the most beautiful black woman that I'd ever seen. Her skin was the color of myrrh, her fragrance from some far away land, her eyes hypnotic and her smile was as if licked my moonlight.

The pain must have subsided because I felt nothing at this point. I was lost in the beauty that was Titi. Just then I remembered her fragrance it was something that I'd smelled many times before coming in the building. I'd seen her many times and was so overwhelmed with her, but could barely put together the words to say hello. It must have been the pain that stopped me from remembering that fragrance, because whenever she'd pass me, it would stop me dead in my tracks and take my breath away. She was from Nigeria and when she spoke it rang of French and Petwa to my ears. It would always tickle my ears to her hear he speak. But even as I was engulfed in the beauty that was Titi, my mind wondered aimlessly on last night's dream. She helped me to the couch and brought a bandage for my toe, but as she walked back from the bath area, I couldn't help but notice her body. Long, thick arms and legs, wonderful thighs, hips; and breast, my God her breast, they were so full and swayed gently from side to side as she walked. I'd never seen a woman so wonderfully created. After she bandaged my toe I told her that I was going to welcome to stay and fix herself breakfast if you liked, it was the least I could do for all her help. As I ran my bath, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Your see, my flat was an open one; no walls, lots of space.

So from anywhere in my house you could see everything. She asked me if she could play some music. I told her "sure, but I don't have any Rap or House". Stupid. She responded saying that, "although she did like some of it, it wasn't what she normally listened to". Her taste was more along the lines of Trane, Billy, Miles. She even liked Plush Lush, Maxwell and classical, my favorite was Gustav Mahler, which also was a favorite of hers. Her taste was as mine in many ways and with the knowledge of this my heart was rested. It had been many years, two in fact since a women other than my publisher (Sharon) had been to my loft or in my life and now Titi here in my place my space, what more could one ask for. But was I getting a little presumptuous. It seemed that

I'd always settled for women that I thought I could love, but only to find out later that I had nothing in common with. Instead of allowing myself to fall in love with someone who had the same want, needs and tastes as I, well I didn't and my 2 years alone is a testament to making the wrong choices. And now to seeing that someone does exist that had (or seemingly) the qualities that I longed for, just warmed my heart. As I began taking my bath I could see her from across the room. Her body, tall shapely, she was simply wonderful. As I lay there, I could hear the music of "Embria" play in the background and I began to drift back to the night before. As this mystery woman's face became more distinguishable, this marvelous aroma overcame my senses. My eyes opened and her vision was again lost. I tried to see what my nose was smelling but couldn't. I could only see Titi's wonderful body sway along with the song and the steam rising from the pots. I always loved to cook and fancied my self as somewhat a good one; but the fragrances that were arising from my kitchen, truly excited me. I laid back in my bath once more and began to drift. As I closed my eyes the song "Everwanting: To Want You To Want" played.

And as I lay there enjoying it, I could feel the presence of someone. You know like when you're laying on the bed and you love leans over you and just before she kisses you smile. Or if she's coming in the house and you feel her presence before he key hits the lock. So I opened my eyes slightly to see; and in my surprise, Titi was there just sitting and swaying to the rhythm with this gentle smile on her face.

It was like and angel's wings had just kissed her. Her arms were like soft branches of a Sonia rose. Her hands, my favorite part of a woman's body was so long and full. It almost seemed that I could feel the strength that exuded from them. It's said that the eyes are the windows to the soul; well if this is true then the hands must be the vessels that open them. Only the lips are more erotic in their touch. As she opened her eyes, and our eyes touched, words seemed to escape me. We never spoke, not a single word was uttered, only distant glances. But looking at each other was like seeing each other for the first time and knowing each other forever. I began to rise from the tub and as I looked in total admiration of her beauty, my body awoke with pleasure. In any other situation I'd probably would have covered myself, but for some reason she made me fill so comfortable that I never thought of my nakedness. She walked over to me and took the towel from my hands and began to dry me. As she began touching the softest now hardest parts of my body I felt so relaxed I never flinched; it was almost like having your mother wipe you off when you were a baby. Her touch was so welcoming that I , I began resettling with my emotions. She never attempted to arouse me it was just comforting touches. Her touch was so gentle that I felt more comforted then aroused, but I knew that my body had awaked from the moment I stood up from the tub. No one had ever touched me, made me fill this way and at that moment the vision of this women, the women of my nightly dreams flashed into my mind.

As she wiped my face, the first true touch of her hand reached my body and I could feel the moistness eluding from my body touching her, and only at that moment did I ever feel embarrassed. As I looked down, so did she. She noticed but never said anything, just wiped it off, looked me in the eyes and told me that she had something that she wanted me to try. As I walked to the kitchen, my nose was awakened by the smells. I began to ask her what it was she'd cooked, but just as I began, she started telling me that the things she'd cooked were from her homeland. Nuts, fruits, berries, fish, wonderfully exotic foods. She told me, "go get dressed in something comfortable and come back, hurry! I'll fix you plate". I began wondering was I dreaming? It was like being in a dream, only that I didn't want to awaken from. As I dressed I could see out of the corner of my eye her gentle and embracing eyes; that smile that had enchanted me for so many months, that now was opening my heart as never before. It made me melt and brought a gushing smile to my face, not one of ego but one of pure passion. I wanted to question her intentions but couldn't. It felt too good; to good to just is a day of someone's passing fancy. As I sat, she presented me with this wonderful dish as and as I ate she told me that this meal was meant to nourish and cleans the body. As I continued eating she prepared a drink for me. It was a mixture of Irish Moss, Passion Fruit and Guava. She told me that it was to awaken me from within after my meal. The food was perfectly mad and had a taste of some far away place somewhere in and out of time.

During the whole meal there wasn't much talking, just passionate looks and gestures with hands and eyes. As I finished the drink, I unknowingly left a creamy mustache on my face. She said "wait you have something on you lip". As she came close her fragrance engulfed me and I closed my eyes. I could feel her breath whisk slightly across my lips. Then she gently licked the cream off my top lip and the between. I couldn't move, the shock, the excitement was just overwhelming. When I next opened my eyes she was reaching for my hands. Ss she guided me to the couch, I began stumbling like a baby when first learning how to walk. As we sat, she held my hands and as she gently stroked them she began telling me about herself. She apologized for not getting a chance to talk to me sooner, it was something that she wanted to do but didn't know how. She said that she'd wanted to many times but didn't want to seem too forward. In her country things are done differently. But she realized that she wasn't in her country, so she could be a little more liberal with her thoughts and actions, she didn't have to live up to all her country's customs her. As she talked about her country and family I could see from the look in her eyes that she was actually going back to every moment that she was now reflecting on and I was being propelled along with her. No matter what the vicissitudes of her country, her memories were so wonderful - so intense was her thoughts I could feel her body tense and then release with excitement and my heart was moved with her.

We talked for hours, about our dreams, desires, loves, the good and bad. There was nothing that we didn't share. Time just seemed to vanish. Before I knew it, it was evening and it seemed as though we'd just sat down and hour ago. I asked her if there was something that she wanted or needed to do, because I'd had no intention of taking up her whole day. She looked at me and said "I'd planned on spending my entire day with you, I only hoped that I hadn't been too presumptuous". It was like this woman knew all the things that I'd longed to hear. So, I reached out for her and kissed her eye lids and the palms of hands. I asked her if she was hungry and she said, "no, are you"; I responded "no" and feed of her beauty. Her words and countless touches were nourishing me, nothing else was needed. When hunger did come, we enjoyed the fruit of each other's arms and warm drinks of each other's kisses.

For dinner we dined on a soothing bath, played in each other's arms and kissed talked. After leaving the bath she guided me to the bed. Although courageous, at no point did I presume, nor did I question whether we were going to make love; my God we'd made love all day. The actual physical act never seemed necessary. This was what I'd waited for my entire life, just held to be held and touched and to be able to talk openly with someone I liked. As I lay hopelessly awaiting her bodies touch a surprising smell filled the room. It was Egyptian Musk and Ood. She asked me to turn over and began rubbing a mixture of coconut, cantoco and cauris body milk into my skin. She massaged me feet and hands with peppermint foot jelly and fashioned my lips with almond lip butter.

When she'd finished, she excused herself and walked to the bathroom area. As I lay on the edge of the bed I noticed her walk over to the bathroom sink and began washing her hair. As she walked back to me her body seemed to move slowly as she dried her hair, gently patting it dry, leaving just the hint of moisture. She stopped just above my head, bent over me and kissed me. The kissed allowed both our bottom lips to touch. You know the Karma Sutra says that this is the most sensual kiss that a person can give another. Her hair smelled so wonderful and it's wetness made my body quiver after each touch. She now lay beside me, my body flinched as each touch of her lips massaged and caressed mine and her hair lay on my chest, damping me with cool comfort. I asked her to look on the table nearest her and pick up the velvet box that lay there. She opened it to see two platinum thumb rings and three ivory and two platinum bangles. I'd brought them in Africa years ago and save them for the women that I'd truly loved. And me, always the one to act on emotion; felt she was the one. I told her that I wanted her to have them as a reminder of the time we'd spent and how very special it was to me. It was hard for her to except them, but she did and again my heart weep.

As she lay with her head resting on my chest, she began talking about us and what things were to come. She told me that she'd waited all her life to experience the pleasure that awaited us. At that moment I thought this beautiful woman was about to give her to me. But, strangely enough that wasn't what I wanted or needed. But she wasn't talking about physically given herself to me, what she was speaking of was the ultimate fulfillment, that of two people sharing their lives together forever; and the intimacy that we shared over these hours awakened a warmth within me that I'd never felt before. Warmth that I never thought I would experience, that had somehow escaped me in my past relationships. I reached out for her face, kissing her eyes and then the palms of her hands. The touching, holding, kissing tasting, smelling were so orgasmic that I'd wondered how I'd ever existed in a relationship before without experiencing this kind of magic. How I could have ever felt pleased. She began telling me that the time we'd shared together was a ritual that the women of her tribe shared with the men they've chosen as their divine mates. As our bodies embraced I could fell the moisture from her, as I was sure she could feel from me; it only seemed to enhance the moment. Sex was never something that I thought about as we lay there for hours. As night grew into morning we fell asleep in each other's arms. The feeling of comfort that I was experiencing gave me hope that after so many years of being along, after so many disastrous relationships, I'd finally found the person I could spend the rest of my life with.

The comfort of her body embraced me, as I lay rested within her arms. My sleep was one of pure peace. I'd slept so sound that I'd not felt her get up or leave my flat awaken that morning. As the next day's morning light hit the mirror and again reflects its rays in my eyes, I thought; "I've got move this bed". As I rolled over and reached out for Titi the area were she'd lain was empty. I thought my God, where was she? Were could she have gone. I got up looked around, but there wasn't a trace of her anywhere. I ran to the door, opened it ran across the hall and knocked on her door hoping that what I'd experienced wasn't a dream, that she'd just left for a moment and would return. But there was no answer. I couldn't call her (at home or work); I knew nothing about her except what we'd talked about during the day and night before.

As I walked back to the bed I looked in the mirror and now the stream of oil rushing down my chest and thought, "My God", it was all a dream". But at least now I knew whom I'd been dreaming about all this time. Just then a knock came to the door. I rushed to open it, thinking it was Titi; knocking things over and stubbing my toe (again?), I fell to the floor and holding my toe trying to hold back the blood, my mind wandered back to yesterday, or was it just me dreaming again. I couldn't tell if the toe I'd stubbed was cut before, it was bleeding too much for me to determine. As I managed to open the door, I fell back and the person noticed that I was bleeding and ran to the sink and got a towel. I thought, Oh its Titi, but as I looked up I saw that it was only the delivery women.

She'd brought a package from my nephew, a clown for my birthday. Dawn, I'd forgot that it was my birthday. But the thought of my birthday could not outweigh the thought of her; she'd totally engulf my thoughts. A couple of days went by and I'd not seen nor heard from her. I still wasn't quiet sure if it was a dream or if what I'd experienced was in fact real. I finally got up the nerve to go over and knock at her door. After knocking for several minutes the door began to open and I thought it was she, but it was only the cleaning women. I ask her was Titi was, but she was Spanish or Brazilian and I couldn't understand a word she said. As I tried to explain to her that I was Titi's friend and that I was looking for her, I soon understood that the conversation I was having with this woman was going no where. She tried to show me a note that Titi had left for her, but it was as Greek to me as the words that were spilling from her mouth. She didn't understand neither me, nor I her.

By now I was totally confused. If what I'd experienced was a dream then it was something that I could get over? But if it wasn't then I'd lost the women that I'd waited for all my life. I knew I had a vivid imagination, but if I had spent the night with her, what had happened? Why would she leave without saying anything? Had she brought back the warmth to my heart, lost for so many years, now, only just to leave. What was happening? I sat there thinking (not knowing if last night was a dream or not), "see that's exactly why I've been alone for so many years. Shit like this just keeps happening to me".

Days, weeks and months went by and nothing. Not a word, a phone calls, letters, telegrams, nothing. There was no sign of her. I'd actually decided within that it was nothing more than a dream, something like the women that kept intruding on my nightly thoughts. But, I'd also noticed that my dreams of her stopped the night after Titi's disappearance. But by now I paid it little mind. After 9 months of tormenting myself over the loss of her, her memory brought out words, thoughts and the passion that my writings had lost. My flow had returned and I'd put out three new stories, a book of letters and started my first book "I Black Man The Struggle For Human Existence", which after sending the first three chapters to my agent, began pushing me to complete it as soon as possible. My short stories and poems were beginning widely excepted by many, especially women, (which was my intent, they were written for them). After the book was published and was well received, my publisher thought that it was time that I went on a book tour.

So after a few months of cleaning up some past obligations I was off on a twenty-city tour. Although hectic, it was somewhat of a relief. I'd been working so hard the tour seemed more like a vacation then work. The second stop on my tour was San Diego. My nephew (Tionne) lived there and I'd not seen him since his mother's (my sister's) wedding. It must have been 3 years now. He was doing well, working for a large telecommunications firm and writing and singing. He and his group had made some great strides over the last year and it looked as though they were going to sign to a major record label, so as you might think I was the proud uncle in all my glory when I got to San Diego. After my three day signing, I had a 5-day break before I had to move to the next city. Little did I know at the time, Sharon my agent had set this up so that I could spend some time with Tionne and his fiancée. We had a wonderful time and I'd not felt so welcomed in my entire life. It was good. Joy returned to my heart.

But it was now timed to move on to the next city. As the tour wound down and I was headed to the next last city on the tour (Washington, D.C.) my hometown, my feelings became stirred. On the flight home, I began reading this wonderful article on Nigeria in one of those airline magazines. The pictures were breathtaking and I thought maybe after this is over I'll go there. But further into the article I began reading about one of the oldest families in Nigeria and how a year prior the matriarch of the family died suddenly in an automobile crash. The article was written by Omishola Ogokinwha and native of Nigeria and as I continued reading the article I realize that he wrote of his homeland and people with such passion, just like Titi. Titi, my God, I'd not thought about her in over a year. I didn't realize at the time that I was reading about her homeland. Titi, my God (I wondered). At that exact moment I took a moment, whipped out the trust laptop and began writing Titi. It was a five-hour flight and some reason I was gushing with words. I realized that I had three other projects that I could be working on, but I couldn't stop writing this story. I couldn't stop, couldn't put the laptop down. It was holding me just as the thought of Titi had held me for more that a year. It held on to me like a newborn baby to its mother for the first few months of its life; and would only stop suckling me after I'd completed nurturing it. Until it could stand on it's own. I had to write this story. Actually it was writing itself. I completed it just as we landed at Washington's National Airport (Sorry Reagan National, Yeah, right). When I got home I called Sharon and told her about Titi, but of course the businesswomen in her reminded me of my other obligations.

At a dinner party on night, a couple of friends ask me what I was working on. At first I was a little apprehensive about telling them of Titi. I almost thought it would be telling more about me than I wanted known. But I gave in and they thought the idea was a good one, but as most of my friends are they wanted more. Madelyn (Puff), who was an excellent cook, set a date that we would all have dinner and have a reading of Titi.

For some reason that night I was on a wonderful high. Needless to say that all faded after I got to Puff's house. There had to be fifty people there. I walked in and began wondering had I come on the wrong night. This was supposed to be a small dinner with friends and a reading. Well Puff, I love her dearly; being the artist/writer/poet that she is has always loved my writing and had always ask me to read my stuff aloud, whether it was my poetry, short stories, anything. But, I've always had a phobia about reading in front of people, somewhat like stage fright. But tonight it appears I had no chose. She'd even invited Sharon (my agent) to the affair. The food of course was wonderful, the people many that I knew were as always great and me I was nervous an ever. So, I thought of the most calming thing I could to relax (it was Titi) fluffed up some pillows and began. After I finished the story I felt great. I'd not only gotten over my phobia and had given Titi to the world, well at least a small portion of it. I never looked up to the guest that was there during the entire reading, I guest this helped me with my problem. It was hard for me to lift my head up upon completion, reviewing the story in my heart and mind brought back oceans of feelings and I began to weep. But to my surprise many of the women and some of the men were doing the same. It made my heart sing to see this, just as Titi and her story had.

That night Sharon drove me home and during the drive we discussed Titi, the story then the women. She couldn't believe that someone like that existed, either in female or male form. As we arrived at my flat, I asked Sharon if she'd like to continue the conversation over a glass of wine. She agreed and we sat for hours talking about them both (Titi and the story). She expressed that she'd never read nor had ever felt love in the way described in the story. We'd gone through about two bottles of Pulee Fusse and as I began opening another Sharon leaned over and gave me the most passionate kiss I'd had in many a long time. I almost lost it. You see not only was the kiss great but Sharon happen to be one of the most beautiful women I knew and I knew a lot of women. I mean if I wasn't still so enthralled in Titi (the women) I would have probably taken her right there; not to mention it had been well over a year since I'd been with a women. The truth is told it took everything I had to hold back. If you'd seen Sharon, you'd probably ask was I crazy. She expressed for the first time that she'd always had a desire to make love to me, which came as a big surprise to me. Sharon not only possessed beauty, but she also possessed grace and although horny (as I was) bowed out gracefully and we ended the night. I'd never thought of Titi being published, but Sharon said that if she could experience the orgasmic pleasure that she'd wanted from me that she'd get it by publishing Titi and have everyone feel her as she did and make a small fortune doing it. That's my girl. She will get off one way or the other. But you best believe it will be profitable one way or the other.

Well, Titi was first published in a nationally recognized black woman's magazine and from there went I guess you could say international. It was even read in Paris, were I'd visited right after it was published there as somewhat of a publicity stunt. That Sharon she's always thinking. Paris was a great city, a great place to meet people and I did. For some reason I felt like I'd left a part of me there when coming home. On my arrival in back in the states I laid over in New York to see some friends and little did I know that Sharon had already call them and told the to have me call her as soon as I got back there. As I picked up the phone and began dialing, there was no sound so as most of us do I started yelling, "Hello, Hello". To my amazement as I was trying to call Sharon she was calling me. It was somewhat funny to say the least, but she ended that quickly and told of a new project she had in mind. Since Titi was published there was resurgence of my work, especially my poems; mostly by women, but men were buying them also. So, Sharon idea was to have a signing/reading a major bookstore in D.C. pushing the love theme of my last stories and poems with Titi as the featured piece. I agreed that this was a good idea and that she need only give me a date because I'd intended on staying in New York for a while. Sharon, always thinking, told me she'd set a date three weeks from the date of our conversation. I spent 2 1/2 weeks in New York gathering information about a project that I had in mind (marriage). It was nice being home after months on the road. My place almost seemed to be a stranger, but received each other well and got reacquainted quickly.

On the day of the signing/reading, I had the funniest feeling come over me. Titi was deeply on my mind. I thought, "let me go over here and knock on this door", but as I start to the door the phone rang. It was the driver, Sharon had sent a limo for me. I grabbed my coat and walked out of the door. As I turned from locking my door, I noticed that Titi's door was slightly open. I walked over to it and looked in. I didn't call out for anyone, I guess I was being noisy. Her place was magnificent, then from the distance I heard someone talking in a Spanish or Brazilian voice, oh shit the maid so I turned around and left but closed the door (habit). As I got to the car, I began thinking, I've been gone for sometime and had not walked in my neighborhood in a while; plus the bookstore was only about two miles away from my house. I've always loved were I lived (the U Street Corridor). A multicultural community, nice people, family oriented; a nice place to rise a family. As I began to walk a comfortable feeling came over me and I somehow knew that the signing/reading would turn out fine. As I approached the bookstore, I noticed that there had to be, what seemed 300 people waiting to get in. This was a very proud moment for me and as I walked pass the crowd, hearing the mumbling of the people it only helped to boost my spirits. I head someone say "That's him". But one voice brought chills to my soul. It was so soft and sounded just above a whisper, but as I turned there was no one that I recognized.

When the doors opened, I noticed that most of the crowd either had Titi from one of the many publications that had printed it, short stories, poems or my book. Seeing this brought a truly harm feeling over me and my heart was open, a feeling that I thought lost after my first and last night with Titi. I was surprised that Titi had opened so many people up to work that. There were people of all cultures there, I then understood that Titi the women and the story had given me more in one night than I'd experienced in a lifetime. This would lead up to a very different reading. As one woman put it, "your passion for this woman, whether fiction on not captures what we women want to feel from our men. She real or not is a very lucky women." I then told hear that "Titi was real and that it was not her that was lucky but I." I would have many such encounters from many of the people who were there. I saw then the power of the word and this only through a story, from an experience; but I guess that's it there're many stories, many experiences. Many that we here about are bad and have ugly endings few good and loving with happy endings. Many people that day asked what happened to Titi, most not knowing that Titi was not a fictitious character. My only response was that the story was about two longing souls that united and abruptly parted; but that I truly believe that if they were meant to be, nothing not ever time itself could or would keep them from finding each other again. In all my travels before and after Titi, this was the best. It seemed she somehow had brought out all the good in these people. Just being home seeing faces, some familiar and others for the first time, seeing all these people form all walks of life enjoy her kept her alive for me. There was a humbling and quenching feeling that showered me that day.

As the line got smaller this wonderful fragrance wish by my nose and I thought, Umm!, that's Titi, but no it couldn't be her. Just at that moment these wonderful hands laid a desk and I, in a daze and afraid to lift my head; my heart raced as I reached out to touch them. She laid her hands on top of mine, reached out, and lifted my head and our eyes met. As she began to speak my heart weeped. It was her, it was my Titi. I began to laugh and cry at the same time. Then I froze. I thought "were in the hell have you been", but didn't utter a word. She was wearing the gift that I'd given her on our first and last meeting. She wore a soft linen dress that flowed over her like clouds caressing the moon at twilight; and my heart. She placed a box in my hand that held a platinum/ivory bangle and three bans. When I looked into her eyes I saw happiness, fear, and the passion that made me love her from what seemed like the very moment I laid eyes on her. I couldn't talk, but muttered I'll be finished shortly, wait for me.

The crowd behind her was becoming a little restless and she couldn't hear what I was saying and walked off. As I got up to caught her I realized that there was more people waiting and as I sat down this wonderful older woman looked me in the eyes and said "that's her, that's her isn't it young man; that's Titi". I said "yes ma'am it was and now I've probably lost here forever". She told me "go, go to her my son". I looked at her and "said what about your autograph" she turned and said "it will get signed, go, go now, our Beloved awaits". I dashed out the door looking in all directions, its seems at once and didn't see her. At that moment the older women came out of the door and said to "there she is, what are waiting for". She had entered the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Ave. I rushed across the street trying to dodge traffic as I scurried trying to reach her. She was sitting at the bar as I walked in, I could see that she was crying. I walked up to her and said, "Hello my Beloved, I've missed you"! She looked up and grabbed me and gave me this wonderful embrace. Her body trembled with what felt like fear and excitement all at once. We sat for a while to gather ourselves and, she began trying to tell me what had happened. I stopped her and ask her, "do you love me, are you leaving me again?" She said, "yes and that nothing would ever make her leave me again"; and I told her then there's no need to explain anything. I reached out for hear and kissed her eye-lids and the inside her palms and she asked me wiping the tears from her eyes, why I'd always done that. I explained to her that I kissed her eyes to let her know that through her eyes she'd opened my soul and through her hands she held my heart. We walked around for a time, she picked up some roses from a little flower shop and grabbed a few things from the wharf to cook for later and went back to my flat for dinner.

While I was preparing dinner, she felt the need to explain to me what had happened, why she'd left so suddenly. So as she began, I stopped cooking and set next to her and listened. She told me that while I laid sleep the doorbell rung and it was a telegram. It was actually for her but the delivery person couldn't slip it under her door and it has marked urgent so she decided that she would try my flat. Luckily she was there and after reading the telegraph, (it was from her father) she lost it and ran home got dress, packed, wrote the cleaning lady a note and whisked off to the airport on the next flight. She'd tried countless times to contact me by letter, phone, telegram and last month decide to give up until she read an article in a magazine while she was in Paris call "Titi" and after reading it she realized that I'd not forgotten her, but that I'd never stopped. I told her that it was just as much my fault as hers. All my mail goes to a post office box, my bills are sent to my business manager and my phone number isn't listed. But, what was so important that she had to leave so quickly. We'll, it seems that the telegram was about her mother who had died in an automobile accident.

At that moment I was transported back to the plane ride for the west coast were I'd read about it. And told her that I knew and understood. She replied "how do you know". I told her that "on my way back from a book tour, I'd picked up a magazine that had an article on Nigeria and what had happened to her mother; just that I didn't know that this was her mother. I also told her that I was in Paris last month when "Titi" was published there and that upon leaving I'd felt the overwhelming feeling of loss. We were in the city at the same time but fate would only play a dirty game with us. She'd seen the publishing company's address and phone number in the article and got in contact with Sharon. Sharon, yes Sharon. Why is it uncanny, but not so far fetched that Sharon's hand had played a part in this all.

It had been as awful for her as it was for me, not knowing, often wondering what had happened. I walked over to her, looked in her eyes and told here that we'd never be apart again. She gently lifted my face and whispered, "I've longed for you my Beloved, as I've hoped you've longed for me". I looked up with tears rushing from my eyes just smiled. We just lay there on the floor for hours resting in each other's arms. Hours later I awoke to find Titi gone. I cried out for her, while frantically looking about the loft. Suddenly, I heard her voice coming from the shower asking me if I was all right. I replied yes and walked back to the bed. What I'd notice in my momentary horror was that Titi had pick the pedal of the white roses she'd purchased and laid them around my head. As I stood there helplessly in awe, she came behind me and said softly, "Do you know what white roses mean". I replied "No, what"; and she said "they mean I'm I worthy of your love?" At that moment I became speechless, but managed to say to her "that we were both worthy of no such greater love as the one we both shared for each other. She kissed me softly and lay behind me, gently rubbing her toes between my ankles. As she held me and we quickly fell to sleep, I could only think that my life was now complete. In the morning she asked me if I would marry her (twice). I immediately said "yes" and "why twice".

She replied, because I want you to be my husband now, as quickly as possible; I never want you to be without me nor I without you, ever. The second time is for my mother, father and our families. I was delighted. We decided to go for brunch and cutting through Meridian Park (Malcolm X Park). As I looked up. I noticed an older woman in just in front of me. It was her, it's her beloved. Titi replied "who". There was this lady in the bookstore behind you on the day we were reunited. She told me to go after you. I never got to sign her book. As we got closer she recognized us and said, "I see you found her", "yes ma'am I did, thanks to you". "When is the wedding and I'm I invited", she said. I turned and told her sure, but we'd just decided to get married this morning. Well, we were married three days later and again within two weeks in Niger. We invited the older women from the bookstore and the park (Mrs. Jones) and she's lived with us ever since. She helps us rise our two children (twins) Ra-Shun (Son Of The Sun) and Idetoro (My Her Crown Never Be Captured). It's been a lovely 5 years with my Beloved family, this time has made me realize that no matter how many times you think that love has walked away, only one thing is true and that's that, true love never goes, it stays.

Titi - A Love Story by Tony Bennett

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