The day I met her I thought she had a screw loose.
I was visiting my brother and we had been watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, my brother and I.
“Mine is still in good order.” I heard my brother say.
“Well, mine is broken. Ok, not broken, just ermm…” The new voice shook me fully awake, for I must have dozed off. Without turning, I opened my eyes and checked my surroundings: cream plush carpet pressed against my cheek; olive curtains covering the window slightly parted to let the sun in; chrome tv stand with a ray of sun bouncing off it. Location confirmed, I turned my attention to the voices: my brother’s familiar deep calm voice. The other was very animated. It was obvious she was passionate about the subject being discussed – Guitars.
Not believing that my nap was disturbed because two grown ups would not agree on the state of a guitar, I got up and, not looking in their direction said “It may as well be broken” as I walked past them. The silence that greeted my statement was welcome, but too late – I was up already.
My brother introduced us but I forgot the name as soon as it reached my ears. When my brother left for work later, I was left home alone with her and, obviously bored, she suggested we did some sparring.
She had been taking martial arts classes and I looked like a likely sparring partner. No thank you! Ten minutes later I was thankful that she chose sparring as the ice-breaker. That was when conversation revealed she also took shooting classes – home taught.
The next time I saw her, it was in Lagos at the Galleria. I had gone to see ‘Cairo Time’ with a friend, her friend and her friend’s daughter.
Halfway through a very boring movie, I had gone out to meet up with another friend who was travelling that night. We were standing just outside of the entrance talking when I saw her.
I cannot remember why I looked up, but I remember how I felt when my eyes locked with hers. Everything and everyone seemed to fall away as I was transported to another place, another time. I remembered things those eyes had told me in the past. A past where those eyes had gazed upon me with love and affection; they had smouldered with wanting and desire; danced with mischief and merriment; blazed with anger, and died with betrayal.
Unable to bear the emotions evoked by that gaze, my eyes travelled lower and stopped momentarily at her lips. Lips neither too thick nor thin, just the correct amount of fullness; lips soft and rounded, with super sensitive rims; lips that quivered with desire, trembled with fury; lips that told me how much I was loved, spoke of how detestable I became. Memories seared my insides like so many shards of glass, causing me to look at her nose sitting so tiny and pretty in the middle of her face. I dwelt on nostrils that flared whenever she was agitated. A phenomenon I first noticed that day long ago when we touched, first foreheads, then noses before locking lips. In the moments before our lips touched, before my world was turned on it’s head by sensations too intense to describe, I noticed the nostrils flare.
That day at the Galleria, all these flashed through my mind and I was already covering the distance between us, leaving my friend standing there, when I realised she was in the company of two others. A girlfriend from way back who I went ahead to hug, whose cheek I pecked – “a side of sugar” – I called it, and a guy. His head was turned toward her so I completely ignored him, shook her hand almost formally and then walked back to my friend.
I saw her again at the movie concession stand and we exchanged almost imperceptible nods.
I found out recently that she may be getting married to the guy from the Galleria, and it got me thinking: Maybe I should have paid her more attention on that day; Maybe I should have fought harder for what we had, what we shared; Maybe this would have been me she was getting married to. Maybe not. But I will never know because I just nodded her way that day and kept walking.
For a long time I pitched my tent with my brother in the hope that one day she would wake up to realise someone is missing from her life – this woman whose name I will never forget; That it would dawn on her as the only explanation for the set backs she had experienced in love. That maybe when that happened she would come back here to this place where we first met. I hoped that maybe she would not mind that I have lived a life without her, at least I would have ‘been there and done that’ so that there would be no need for a ‘Hall Pass’ in the future, no curiosity to satisfy. Maybe she would accept that I already have a son and still love me none the less. Maybe she would love my boy too, at least she would have no worries in the ‘CanHePerform’ department. I promise I would not have minded about her past, we would have kept it as just that – PAST.
The one thing she would have known for a fact is, when we got back together, I was not going to move because without her there has been a big hole in my life, an emptiness on her side of the bed.
The day I met her I thought she had a screw loose. Now years later I realise the one with the loose screw is me, for I will gladly stand out in the rain or under scorching sun, no sleeping bag necessary, waiting here in this corner for the reason why I can not move on. This much I have come to admit to myself
PS: This is not a love story, this is the wishful thinking of a young man too undisciplined to do what needs to be done, and too cowardly to say what needs to be said.
This is not a love story, this is a FAREWELL story.