Do you know how to mend a broken mirror? It is very delicate work. Time-consuming, attention-demanding. You must be prepared for the little pieces that bruise your fingers, for the waves of doubt that urge you to let them go. You must be prepared for the voices in your head. They will tell you that your mirror cannot be fixed. They will say you are wasting your time, but you must stay strong if you must succeed, and you must not relent.

When you are ready, this is how to go about it.

You will sit up on your large matrimonial bed at 3 am, after trying, trying, and finally giving up on sleep. You will stare at the man lying next to you, his body curved and his legs folded in a fetal position, and a wide smile will form on your tired face. You will watch him snore lightly and envy his ability to fall asleep so easily, so peacefully. Then, you will plant a kiss on his slightly parted lips and whisper, “Wake up, Tunde,” in his ears.

He will grumble something about being sleepy, and you will tap him hard on the shoulder again and again until his eyes fly openbecause he has to be awake, because you need him.

“Fine, Fine, Layefa. I’m up. What’s so important?” he will ask.

Do not answer right away, or you will choke on your words and break down in tears. Take your time with it; your silence is enough. He will sit up too next to you, hold you tenderly in his arms because he knows— he always just knows. You will rest your head on his hairy chest now, sob uncontrollably, letting it all out. He won’t interrupt your crying. He won’t tell you that it is time you let things go, like people often do. He will rub your back gently and leave kisses on your forehead.

When your eyes are dry, the lump in your throat melted, you will look at him in the eyes and say “Darling, I want to try.” He will smile at you. The dying butterflies in your tummy will flutter with life for a second, only a second, and your heart will nearly burst with gratitude. You will be thankful for his presence because you are never alone. He will kneel beside you every day as you mend your broken mirror.


When you begin to mend your mirror, the first bruise will hurt like a bitch. You will feel it on a Tuesday, on your way back from Bible Study. In the Tricycle that you board back home, the nineteen-year-old seated next to you will bring out her breast from beneath her shirt and stuff her nipple in the mouth of a baby, about six months old. You will watch the baby suck with hunger and you will feel the pain in your own nipples, sharp, stinging. You will not need to look down at your white shirt. You will know there are patches around both your nipples: breast milk.

Do not burst into tears there, in a public vehicle. Wrap your hands around your breasts to cover them up, and wait until you step into the yellow and black gate that protects your home. You will run straight to the bathroom, peel your clothes off and sink into the bathtub. Then, letting the water run, you will wrap your hands around yourself and cry yourself to sleep. He will come find you, carry you to the bedroom and lay you on the bed. He will kiss your bruise until it hurts considerably less. You will not relapse. Must not.

This is how to mend a broken mirror: you will wake up every morning wanting to try again. You will wear a little make-up for the first time since it broke, even get your hair done. You will stand naked before your partner and try not to be ashamed. You will not rush back into your clothes; you will watch silently as he kisses parts of you that you have hidden from him—from yourself—all this while. Your breasts. Your arms. Your thighs. You will close your eyes as he kisses your belly, wondering if the stretch marks irritate him as much as they do you. You will expect him to turn his face away, to get up and leave, because you think you look disgusting. But he will stay, kiss every stretch mark, every fat mound, until you open your eyes and see that it’s not so bad, after all.


The voices in your head will begin their song when your mirror is almost fixed, and they will cause you pain. It will happen on his birthday. You will stand by the window, waiting for him to return home from work, chicken curry sauce and white rice set on the table. You will put on the black dress you wore to his company’s dinner the year before you got married, even though it’s a little too tight now. Yes, the dress you wore on your first night together.

Then, you will watch him drive into your busy street from the bedroom window of the storey building that you call home. You will watch him stop by the fruit seller’s stall, a few houses before yours, and you will watch him pick some fruits. Bananas. Cucumbers. Guavas. He will smile at the fruit seller and her little baby, and you will frown as you watch him carry the baby girl in his arms. He will raise the child up and down playfully and kiss her on the cheek before dropping her back into her mother’s open arms. Do not remain at the window. You will go downstairs and welcome your man.

When he steps into the house with the bag of fruits, a smile will be on his face, and it will disgust you.

“Laye, wow. You dressed up,” he will say, wide-eyed. Say nothing. Do not let your anger burst.

You will turn away and climb angrily up the stairs, and he will chase after you because he knows, like he always does, that something is not right. You will lock yourself up in the bathroom and sit on the cold tiles, crying. Do not turn on the shower so you can hear him talk. He will beg you to open up, to let him in, and you will sob even louder.

“What is going on, Laye? Are you hiding from me now? What did I do wrong? Did anything happen when I was away? Can we not communicate, like we always do?”

Question after question. He will not leave room for your answers because he knows you will say nothing. After an hour, you will open the door, and he will rush in after you. He will find you on the floor and cradle you in his arms, both of you silent.

When twenty long minutes of silence pass, say:

“I saw you with that baby girl outside. I saw how much you wanted her for yourself. It’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to us. We lost all three of them before they were born. They never had a chance at life. And Beulah, I really thought she would stay. I named her. I really thought she would stay. I know you must hate me. I don’t know how you pretend not to, but it’s commendable. My body is ugly because of them. My breasts have sagged, I am so fat and my belly is disgusting. I can’t even see my pubic hair standing straight. You asked me a while back why I broke all the mirrors. I cannot bear to look at myself. I am hideous, and I cannot carry a child, and I am going to leave you.”

You will watch your mirror crash all over again into a million tiny pieces, and he will struggle to catch each piece, to hold it together, even though it hurts. He will not let you fail.

“Layefa Temisayo. You will not do this,” he will say, looking straight into your eyes. You will hear the fear in his voice, you will feel him tremble.

“I don’t care what you think you look like. You are my wife, and I have loved you before them. I will always love you. So what, you added a little weight and your body doesn’t look the same. You are a fighter, my fighter, and it is okay to have scars. I love every bit of you today more than I did yesterday, and that’s not changing. We will work things through. You are more than this, Laye, and I will not let you ruin yourself. We will go out and eat dinner somewhere fancy, and then we will come back home, and I will make love to you if you will let me, and we will be okay.”

You will look in his eyes and you will know —you will just know— that he means every word of it.


In the morning, you will look at your reflection in the window and you will not feel nauseous. The stretch marks on your belly will not disgust you, and you will smile thinking of the night before.