I saw a worn out picture of you fading away in the soul of my writing book. The corners were lined with creases, and touching it left crumbs of disillusioned pixels in the patterns of my fingers. But I could still see you laughing.
I remember when I took that photo. It was a Wednesday afternoon; we had just left the dining hall. I remember what day it was because we only ate beans and korkor on Wednesdays. I was giggling and giddy with excitement as I clutched two love letters to my almost non-existent bosom.
I never received love letters. I got two that day. I was thrilled. You were teasing me silly and it tickled me further.
I miss those days. When our biggest worries dangled at the tip of a pendulum; swinging between receiving a love letter and getting good grades. I miss the anxiety felt in waiting for a letter and the pleasure in replying them. I miss sitting on top of the roof before midnight and musing on everything from the physics teacher’s cuteness, our subjectivity on what defines cute, to what the future holds. I miss us sharing a dairy and writing what we couldn’t talk about. I even miss the flower garden competitions we used to have. I miss you.
We assumed a lifelong friendship. The kind of friendship you work through a length of time, through adversity, uncertainty and unfading joy; like an aged Neem tree that’s been through all the seasons, but its leaves still heal. We would each have the career and men of our dreams. We would meet over drinks and chatter seamlessly about our lives. We would paint smirks on our faces for the right decisions we make, and learn from the wrong ones. But above all, we would remain true friends.
Growing up had changed a lot of things. Decisions we made put us on different paths and we floated into a generation where absence had a minute fraction of making the heart fonder, because there were so many replacements and distractions. And the once-in-a-long-while phone calls were never enough. We were still best friends, but our friendship had lost a bit of its sweetness, its carefree-ness.
Sitting here going through a pile of school letters, in an attempt to re-capture the days of my innocence.
I’m writing you this letter, I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to posting it.
But oh, how I miss thee.
You do remember Kobby right? My first love.
You never got to know him and I blame myself for that. I never did a proper introduction. I didn’t tell you about him the first time we met. I didn’t tell you about the butterflies. The late night calls, the croaking masked as singing. I didn’t tell you about the gradual climb from friends to lovers. Or the first kiss in the shadows, the petty fights and the memorable make- ups. I just dumped the existence of a boyfriend into your lap. I told you naught but a summarized half page of ten lengthy chapters of my life. And for that, I apologize.
I don’t know how much change it would have brought but I wish you had gotten to know him. His over-protectiveness boxed me into a gratuitous shell. I knew he was way too intense, but I reveled in it because it was a new experience.
We broke each other’s heart. But I may have been the ultimate devil. I cocked his heart in the grips of my fingers, and held on when I should have let go. I had every right to let go, but I still held on, languishing, dragging my feet. For God knows what I do not know.
Or maybe I did…
Then came Hanson, who you heard me speak of just once. I met him at a non-resilient point in my life.
I grew up believing I was going to meet the man of my dreams immediately. I wasn’t going to be one of those girls who drove through six or seven relationships before getting to the final destination. I didn’t want that. I couldn’t stand the heartbreaks.
I didn’t want to live a life where I walked away from people I once loved and begin all over as though nothing ever happened, with voluntary blank minds and malnourished hearts and eager lips, ready to nibble someone new.
I didn’t want to be that girl. My idea of how a relationship ought to be was much simpler than I ever imagined it would be…but simple doesn’t mean easy to attain.
Hanson was a charmer. He was spontaneous and calculated at the same time. He always had more than one thing going on. He was a connoisseur of balance. He could thrive in bedlam and in harmony. He always had a back-up plan. And I happened to be a back-up plan.
Our relationship was pleasantly strange. Constantly shape-shifting from formless to almost-formed, and back to formless. He made me laugh, even when he wasn’t around. I always wondered if I ever made him laugh. He excited me to the point of disorientation and his reasoning fascinated me. I had shelves of information I wanted to share with him. I wanted to talk about all things random and pre-meditated; from my stance on religion to my fixatedness on quantum mechanics and the slight believe in the possibility of another me elsewhere living a care-free life. I wanted to talk about petty nothingness like the pimple on my cheek or my neighbor’s early dawn fufu pounding. I wanted to talk about technology and communication, and strawberry cake and boiled groundnuts. I wanted to tease and laugh with him and sit on short walls and chat away…..
But somehow, we never got around to doing any of that. I tried.
I sulked, I nagged, I dished plates of silent treatments, and I pretended to give ultimatums.
But there was a vast denseness I could not permeate. He had two personas; one for the crowd, and one for the loved. And it got to a point where I couldn’t tell which persona I was dealing with anymore. It was as if one persona had gobbled up the other, who only shows up briefly and like a blurred vision.
So we drifted apart…and I went through the whole withdrawal process in a daze, wondering if there was something I had missed. If there was something I could have done. That was eight weeks ago. Eight weeks that felt like years. I felt ten years older. The fear factor haunted me down a week ago.
Slumped against the bathroom door, holding the stick as if staring at it unblinkingly would switch the results to negative. I didn’t believe it at first. I took the results five times, hoping that somehow, each time it would read negative, but no such luck.
I was the girl who planned her life meticulously. Who knew what she wanted and where she wanted to be in years to come. This wasn’t part of this year’s plan. This wasn’t happening to me. It couldn’t be.
But the realization that this was not a silly mistake that would go away on its own; the realization that this was actually happening, felt like being trapped in a room that used to be illuminated, and staring into nothingness hoping that there will be a ray of light but knowing damn well there was no chance of a flicker.
A sick weight dropped from the back of my throat to the pit of my stomach.
Crawl back to him? What do I say?
“Hey, I know it’s been 8 weeks since we last spoke, but you left something inside of me”
The desire to wallow in self-pity than to have skepticism rubbed in my face was reigning. I was convinced I would rather arrange strands of eyebrow in my eye than be perceived as the girl ‘who be trapping niggas’
And yet, some small vulnerable part of me wanted to reach out. To have a particular someone tell me everything was going to be okay.
But there was no particular someone to talk to.
So I made an appointment with the doctor in the dinghy office.
Despite the uncertainty.
Despite the fear breeding in my soul.
Despite the horrifying stories of having it sucked out of you.
I made an appointment.
It’s in 6 days.
Maybe I won’t pull through.
Maybe you’ll get this and know a better alternative.
Or just maybe, I’ll wake up and there’ll be no life growing inside of me.
Your old bestfriend