You only know your lover when you let her go…
These lyrics from Passenger’s song sting my heart like a bee’s bite. I feel the cold pain, it sends shiver down my spine. A pain no anesthetic can diffuse.
Why did I let her go? I ask myself for the umpteenth time. Why did I let her go? Losing her is the tragedy of my life. I brought it upon myself. Yes, I brought it upon myself. I am my own nemesis. I shot myself in my own Achilles’ heel. Now, I’m bleeding even as it all replays in my mind. How I arrived here, in this dungeon of pain illuminated by the grim luminescence of hopelessness. Worse than the curse of death.
I never would have guessed in a zillion years that we would ever fall apart, irreconcilably. Never. Not even Nostradamus could have seen it coming were he still alive. The unbelievable unmasked itself few days after our first anniversary, which turned out to be our last.
December 31st last year was the day Nkem said ‘yes’ to me after several months of persistent pestering. Often time I got the cold shoulder from her. Early in the morning I would perch somewhere around her street not too far from her compound so I can have a good view of her when she steps out. I would walk her to work despite her refusal. All through the short walk to her working place I would do all the talking. Mostly things I have said over and over again, eulogizing my affectations and love to her. She wouldn’t even as much utter a sentence till we get to her place of work only for her to dismiss me when we get to her shop, much to her relieve. Some pest I was. I would call her later and talk for long, the usual monologue that ends with the monosyllabic response “ok” from her own end. Or is it the long love essays I send as texts that were never replied. I was bent on going the extra mile to win her heart, no matter the cost. Not even her disinterest could dissuade me.
For the joy that laid ahead of me, I kept on pressing.
Even when my friends advised me to let go, that it was a lost cause, she wass obviously not interested in me and never would be. They told me girls like her don’t date guys like myself, they go after ‘big boys’ with enough cash to spare.
Poor me, I had no money. I was the real definition of being broke. What more could you expect from an unemployed graduate? On the other hand she was the belle of the neighborhood.
The sort of girl who passes by the streets and gets the attention of passersby. Guys mostly. She had such a flawless fair skin that sparkled brilliantly like the morning star. Before I mustered the courage to woo her, I would stand staring at her whenever she passes by, wishing she were my girl. Her beauty captured my attention, but when I got close enough I realized I wanted more than her beautiful skin. I craved her heart. And was more than willing to give her mine in return.
I didn’t give up.
On the night of New Year’s Eve, I was alone with her in front of their compound. We sat on a bench left outside in front of Mama Oge’s tailoring shop.
“Nkem, please just tell me yes”, I pleaded. “Make me the happiest man in the world tonight, just say the three letter word. YES.”
“What if I say no?”
I was discomfited by her question. What would I do then, should she say no? I couldn’t bring myself to contemplate defeat not after coming this far, not after all the effort I had invested. I would be heartbroken. Since last month I observed she was no longer cold towards me. She no longer replied me in monosyllables. She laughs when I say something funny, which I did quite often. Once she had told me that she liked my sense of humor that I made her laugh. I felt like I had won a jackpot, hearing such from her. The thought of her saying ‘no’ snaked into my mind again and I shake it off. I brace myself. She won’t.
“Well, then I’ll keep on disturbing you like Ekpan fly until you say yes.”
She burst into laughter at the mention of Ekpan fly, she found it funny. But I hadn’t intended it as a joke, I actually meant every word of it.
“So what do you say?”
Her face lightened. I saw a hint of smile on the corner of her pink lips, those lips I couldn’t wait to baptize with mine.
“Okay, I will date you.”
“’Really? Is that a yes?” uncontained excitement was wreathed over my voice.
“Yes,” she cooed shyly.
Overtaken by joy, I scooped her off the ground and swung her carefreely in the air until she pleaded for me to let her down. My excitement knew no bounds. Yes! Yes! Yes! I screamed, like the wrestler Daniel Bryan. She was stunned by my histrionics. But she hadn’t seen the last of it. I knelt down on one knee, took her hand in mine and kissed it tenderly. “Thank you, Nkem,” I whispered. “I will never forget tonight.”
I never did.
Part 2 comes up next week. Keep a date. Thanks.
Photo credit: Colour Box