My sweet sweet love, we’ve been together for three years. They haven’t been easy. We’ve had our good moments and our bad. Our very bad moments… But, we were happy. We used to be anyway.
Remember when we’d just sit in the car in silence, communicating as if telepathically, knowing just when to turn and look into each other’s eyes? Remember when we would talk on the phone for hours and then get off the phone and then text for hours more? Remember how I used to laugh at the way you stubbornly chose to eat your eba with a fork, rolling it into a ball on your plate before dipping it into the soup? I thought you were just forming for me, trying to look cool instead of showing me yourself in all your Igbo glory.
Remember our first kiss? I could never forget. I was wearing a tank top that I had to cover with a jacket earlier that day at your house because you didn’t want your dad to disapprove. We eventually left the house for you to see me off home and just before you got out of the car, you said “I so want to kiss you right now”. And I said “I so want you to kiss me”. And we did… It still brings a wistful smile to my lips.
Remember how we used to finish each other’s sentences and know what the other was thinking? How we used to brush up on our vocabularies because it was always a contest of who could use the most esoteric words? Remember how puzzles and poetry and music were the tapestry of our love? We’d listen to your unending collection of music all day, and in the music, I’d hear the words you were trying to speak to me. We used to write as well. A lot. You were my muse and I like to think I was yours.
I still remember how we met. Through my best friend, at his friend’s house; a friend you both shared. I remember watching you from the corner of my eye but doing everything in my power to look like I didn’t notice you. I made the first move, you know? You’ll probably argue about it, but I made the first move. I asked my best friend for your number and I sent you three riddles, one after the other. The third riddle was “Who am I?” Gosh, I could be so silly. Still can. But you eventually guessed who it was, after several tries. And I believe that’s when I got you hooked.
After you guessed who it was, you took your sweet time before calling me. You were probably trying to erase my first move, so that the first move would be yours. You were probably worried that you’d seem too eager if you called me immediately. But you called eventually, that memorable night, the last match night of the EPL. My team was playing yours, and we were whooping your arses. And you were surprised that I liked football, and disheartened that my team was beating yours. But it didn’t matter; we had just found each other.
I remember when we both had to go off to NYSC – You to Uyo; I to Minna. It was a hard time, but we made it work. We were probably the best customers of MTN midnight calls. You used to fall asleep a lot during those calls and I would shout your name to wake you up. I remember struggling not to doze off in class while I was teaching because I had spent the night talking to you instead of sleeping. But I would remember something you said and it would make me smile. That always gave me the energy to go on.
I remember how I would sit on the steps in front of the Corpers’ Lodge, talking with you over the phone until you ran out of credit. Then I would call you back and we would talk until I ran out of credit. Or was it the other way round? Can’t be sure now. But I sometimes went to buy more credit – my credit for next week, I would say to myself – and I would call you again. We could never get enough of each other. And when I think of it now, I can’t for the life of me remember what we used to talk about.
I remember how I would come to yours after church every Sunday, and how your dad would ask me to join you guys for breakfast. You weren’t sure how it would pan out the first time. But it went well, and it didn’t seem so awkward subsequently. I also remember you coming to mine once, and I had to cook for you. You stood awkwardly in the kitchen the whole time, and I swear you only told me the food tasted good just so you wouldn’t hurt my feelings. I don’t think you enjoyed that meal…
I remember us watching your parents get ready to go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, and how we talked about wanting to be like them when we got married. I remember how I went to great lengths to make your birthdays really special. I got you your first football-themed cake. I got you your first iPod, then, when iPods were phone-size. That thing cost me almost half my salary, but it was well worth it when I saw the combined look of disbelief and pleasure on your face.
Then you went off to Makurdi for work, and Valentine’s Day came and I was alone. In the hospital. On an operating table. Having my appendix removed. I remember the surgeon asking me if I was sure I wanted to have surgery on Valentine’s Day, and whether I didn’t have a boyfriend that I wanted to be with. “He’s not around”, I said to him. You didn’t call me that day. You knew I went into surgery and you didn’t call me. Not to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day. Not to ask if the surgery was successful. You didn’t even call me the next day. I called you. From my hospital bed. That really hurt. Your brother came to visit me, bless him. And so did my best friend. But it would have made a world of difference, if you had just called me.
I remember that I stopped calling you every day after that. I called every other day, hoping you would take the hint and call me on the alternate days. But you didn’t. I would debate with myself on whether or not to send you a message. Two days would pass, then three and sometimes four. And I wouldn’t be able to take the radio silence anymore, so I would call or text. And you always seemed fine, like nothing was out of the ordinary. I guess out of sight was out of mind, for you anyway.
I remember how even when you were around, you were still distant; I had to work to reach you. I remember thinking that you were holding back, that you weren’t letting me in. You were going through stuff; but I didn’t know it then. You wouldn’t tell me, because you didn’t want to be vulnerable with me. It was like there was this wall I kept bumping into when I tried to get to you. I hated it. Oh, how I hated it.
I remember that I started to detach myself because I didn’t want to hurt so much. You watched me get detached and you didn’t say anything, do anything. Coming to yours became a routine. We still spent a lot of time in silence, but it wasn’t companionable. We talked a little then realised we really didn’t have that much to talk about. We never had sex, even though we made out a lot. We were good kids. We were going to wait till the time was right. Eventually, we stopped making out. I just couldn’t bring myself to. But neither of us seemed to have the courage to talk about what was going on.
You didn’t ask me why I had changed. It was almost like you didn’t notice. Or maybe you didn’t care. It didn’t matter that I didn’t stay for breakfast anymore. It didn’t matter that I only spent a few hours with you then rushed home. It didn’t matter that I didn’t quite want to kiss you anymore… and still you said nothing.
And now, I’m sat in my room, writing you a letter. My bags are packed and the things I’m not taking with me are strewn all over the place. I just got home from yours. I just told you I’m going off to the US for my Master’s degree and that I don’t think I want to continue with us the way we are. I just broke up with you. I could see the sadness in your eyes. I could feel your soul reaching out to me to stop me from leaving. And I hoped you would fight for me. I wanted you to fight for me. But you just shrugged, and said “Ok. If that’s what you want.”
So, I left.
Why didn’t you fight for me? Was I so unworthy that you couldn’t lift a finger to fight for me? You could have asked “Why?” You could have said “Stay”. You could have brought out your hands from your bloody pockets and held me. You could have apologized. I might even have felt better if you had gotten angry, or yelled at me even; at least that way I would have known that I made you feel something. Instead, you walked me to my car and smiled wanly at me as I got in and drove away. I saw you through my rear view mirror, standing there until I turned the corner. You didn’t even wave…