I became confused. She would not say a yes, or a no. I was lost. I had been so certain all I needed to do to ‘formalize’ our relationship was just ask. Now, I had become the laughingstock of my friends. After all, how many guys ‘chased’ a girl for four years? I prayed. I sang. I fasted. I thought. I dyed my hair. I got a new perfume. I changed bathing soaps. Nothing changed; well, maybe something did – my grades fell, alongside my self-confidence.
And then I met ‘Sayo.
My signature article, For the Love of Nigeria, was published on the Megaphone news-board at ODLT – and the editor included my contact details below the post. By this time, I had lost confidence in my ability to achieve anything. My CGPA had sunk despicably, my finances were in dire straits, and my friendships had badly deteriorated. Yet, my dream girl – the cause of it all – continued to elude me at every turn. I needed something to boost my self-confidence, to prove to myself that I was still good at something – so I decided to sit at the basement and watch people read and react to my article.
The public reception was so good – I had to put my phones on silent to remain inconspicuous. Many readers sent me texts complimenting the quality of my writing and the depth of my argument. Three burly fellows from Awolowo Hall got in a fight while arguing some of the finer points, and had to be hurled off to the Student Union Building. A journalist from Tell who happened to be visiting her nephew on campus mailed me requesting permission to reproduce it… It was too good to be true, yet it all felt strangely empty.
You see, ‘Tomi had never appreciated my writing. She never understood why I spent countless hours fine-tuning the personalities of characters in my stories, or why I got emotional about the struggles they faced. As far as she was concerned, they existed only in my thoughts – and were therefore not worth her attention. Actually, nothing I thought was worth her attention. She would never congratulate me on this article, or a future one for that matter. She would not even read it. As I sat on that slab outside ODLT, tears starting to stream down my cheeks – I had an epiphany – I would never get any validation from ‘Tomi.
The flash-bulbs went off in my head. I suddenly realized how I had done all the giving in our friendship. She had never gotten me a gift for my birthday – even forgetting to call me once. She did not know where I lived. She did not know the names of my siblings. She did not respect my time, opinions, or person – taking it for granted that I would always be there when she needed me. We never spoke about my plans, my family, my thoughts – or anything that had to do with me. Our relationship was painfully one-sided. I had to face a hurtful truth: she did not love me back.
Epiphanies – sudden realizations though they are – seldom cause instant change. In that instant, my head knew it was futile to love her – but my heart remained sold. My epiphany needed legs.
The indicator light on my Blackberry blinked red, so I picked it up and started to read through the messages received while I was lost in thought. Nearly all of them were the usual fare, conveying the sender’s appreciation for my skill or argument. One stood out, however. It was evident it had been written with care, by someone who paid attention to detail. There were spaces after the full stops and commas, line breaks to mark paragraphs, and capital letters were properly used. The sender was a Political Science major who wanted to meet over dinner to discuss my article. I read through again, and noticed the message was not signed. Evidently, the sender preferred to remain anonymous till our physical meeting.
It was a no-brainer. Attention starved as I was, I was desperate to meet with someone that wanted to talk to me about me. I responded conveying my willingness to meet, and suggesting that we meet at Spices for 9pm.
As I dressed up in my room, guilt started to set in. I felt dirty, dishonorable even. I was absolutely positive the sender was female, and it felt like I was cheating on ‘Tomi. Actually, it was the first time in four years that I would have dinner with someone else. I tried to reason with my heart, to explain that ‘Tomi did not care where I was, who I was with, or what I did – but the feeling would not pass. Therefore, it was with a heavy heart that I set out for New Buka.
It was November 28 2010…
Written By: Koye ‘Gbeke