Giorgio stood still and closed his eyes, unable to bring himself to look at Shade kneeling before him, he loved her still, but letting her back into his life after she broke up with him without any explanation would be illogical. He remembered sending her countless text messages since she would not pick his call then, pleading with her to tell him the reason why she was leaving or just see him once to explain in person what really happened. He remembered how he reacted to her leaving him, how he contemplated suicide on two occasions but just couldn’t go through with it; how he cried many times and would refuse to go out with his friends especially Benny, who was making things more difficult for him as he could not understand why a grown man would mourn the loss of a girl and refuse to move on. Benny was always telling him he was wasting his energy and time on one woman instead of redirecting his energy into having plenty of fun and working hard, so that girls who were better and finer than Shade would fight to have him. He remembered one of their conversations when Benny walked in on him one evening, lying in bed – sobbing.
“Guy, you are still crying over this stupid girl, abi? Let me tell you; if you kill yourself over one girl, a thousand and one will walk past your grave and some will even stop to pee on it”
“Benny, you are supposed to be saying things that will make me feel better, and not things that will make me feel worse, you do not understand what love is, do you?”
“Dude, I have always been telling you, love ceased to exist well before Nigeria got her independence. What we have left in this part of the world is merely trade by barter; in other words, you use what you have to get what you want, and that goes both ways. Shikena”
“Benny, you are wrong. True love does exist, and if I don’t know for sure from anyone else, I am very sure that I truly love Shade. But you, you’re a coward who says in his heart there is no love, because standing in the shadows of the big, grand and powerful existence of love; your small spirit is left feeling even smaller and less significant. And so, you choose to deny the existence of love altogether, because your spirit is too small to have it.”
“You don mad finish” Benny said sarcastically, “you don run mad walahi, na me you dey form philosopher for, shebi?”
“It is not philosophy, it is the truth, we both loved each other and even you knew it. The moment I met her, I knew deep down in my heart there won’t be anyone else for me. And even now, there can’t be any other woman for me, Shade is irreplaceable and if not her; then it’s nobody else”
“There can’t be any other woman for you, but there can be several other men for her right?” Benny asked rhetorically with much seriousness and genuine concern in his eyes. “And even if I do not understand love in its entirety, I understand the reciprocity of love which states; you respond to kindness with another act of kindness and you also respond to a negative act with another negative act. If this babe loved you half as much as you loved her, she wouldn’t have left you like this – wouldn’t have hurt you like this….”
“Benny, you are wrong, the law of love and reciprocity states….” Giorgio tried to cut Benny short, but he simply ignored him and continued.
“I know you will turn it on its head, you always have an answer, but the truth is; God is the only one capable of loving us even when we do not love him back. We are humans, and when someone treats us like trash, we should simply look elsewhere for someone who will treat us like pearls. It defies logic to do otherwise”
“You should know Benny, that true love is not logic; it is magic – unexplainable”
“Hmmmmmm, I like the fact that you got ready answers for everything. Now, let me ask you this, since Shade has seemingly peered into a crystal ball and into your future, and discovered you can never be rich in life, and has gone enjoying herself in Dubai with her newfound rich boyfriend; let’s say after 6 months, 1 year or thereabout, when the rich boyfriend must have had his fill; she comes back to you begging because she knows you love her too much regardless. What would you do? Take her back and welcome her like the prodigal son or look the other way?”
The silence was deafening as Giorgio got up from the bed and paced around for a while. He was always having an answer or two for every question thrown at him, but it was a different ball game whenever it concerned Shade; he simply wouldn’t be able to put himself together, he loved her too much in spite of what she did to him. And he wasn’t sure what his reaction would be if she came back, but he had secretly been praying for the break-up to be a one long nightmare – a dream he would wake up from.
“Benny, I loved Shade, I still love her. But I don’t know what will happen or what I would do if she came back to me in the next 6 months or 1 year. I truly don’t know” he said with a tone of resignation
“I thought so” Benny said casually as he left the room.
“Giorgio please, Just look at me” Shade said through sobs, she had remained in the same position since Giorgio opened the door; looking up into his face as if searching for some hidden answers, but Giorgio was just standing there, eyes firmly closed, fighting back the tears welling up in his duct; he knew the tears would come rushing if he dared open his eyes – if he dared look at her. He was not expecting this, especially not at this time when he was about to give someone else a chance.
“Shade, please leave” Giorgio said sharply still fighting back the tears
“Giorgio, I can’t leave. I am back and on my knees begging you to please forgive me for everything I have done, for the way I treated you. I was misled, I was confused, I was pushed into it, but now I see my wrong and I am ready to do anything you want just to be in your life again” Shade said amidst tears.
Giorgio opened his eyes, they were red and glassy “You were misled; you were confused, you were pushed; everything was you, you, and you; where was I in all these?” he said while still trying to control the tears streaming down his face effortlessly. Joan who had been sitting on the couch all along looked on, she felt so many things at the same time; anger, jealousy, contempt and more for Shade, the effect she was having on Giorgio was very obvious. Deep down, she knew the pair loved each other and Giorgio was probably still in love with Shade; she, on the other hand didn’t stand a chance and she knew it. But she decided to stay calm, watch the drama, and later go home never to see Giorgio again.
“I ask you, where was I when you were being misled, when you were being pushed? You decided to cut me off, you never returned my calls or replied my sms, you eventually changed your number so I wouldn’t be able to reach you, but you are here now claiming you were pushed. I don’t think you were pushed, and if there was any pushing at all, you are the one who pushed yourself” Giorgio’s voice was rising at the extreme of an octave as he attempted to control his emotion.
“Please Giorgio, remember when you always tell me the reason we were both put on this earth was for our paths to cross, remember the good times we shared and the promises we made, I know I made a huge mistake treating you the way I did and I regret it now, please forgive me”
“You want me to remember the good times? Well, I have news for you; those good times are gone and good fucking riddance to them. You must really think the whole world revolves around you, well maybe my whole world revolved around you and it came to a halt when you walked out of it. But you must be hallucinating if you believe, or your friend Monica made you believe that you can just waltz back into my life and we just kiss and make up. You know, two years ago, Monica advised me to move on but I didn’t take to that advice until this morning” he stepped back from the door, moved towards Joan, pulled her up and planted a long kiss on her lips, still holding her, he turned to Shade.
“If you had come yesterday, maybe just maybe I could have considered listening to more of your explanations but sorry, you are late. But before you go, please meet Joan, the woman in my life”
Turning to Joan, he continued “Dearie, pardon my manners; this is Shade, my Ex-girlfriend and she is about leaving”
3 MONTHS LATER
Thunder tapped Giorgio on the shoulder and moved close to him “What is wrong with you?” the music was so loud; he was practically screaming into his ears. It was Thunder’s birthday and he had organized a shindig for his colleagues in a club on the island, Benny was out of town but Giorgio was there though half-heartedly.
“I am fine” Giorgio shouted back, the music blaring from the loudspeakers successfully drowning his voice.
“Let’s go to the car, I need to talk to you” Thunder said, gesticulating they move outside where they wouldn’t have to scream to hear each other properly. Giorgio followed sheepishly, his mood in the last three days had been melancholic at best, though he tried to shake himself out of it or simply hide it from everybody; he hadn’t been doing a very good job of it.
“Dude, what is wrong with you?” Thunder asked again as they both settled in his car.
“Thunder, I am fine maybe I am having a headache or just some mood swing, but I am good”
“Is it because Benny and Joan are not here? Oh! And that reminds me, I haven’t been seeing that girl with you lately. What’s up with her? Are you falling out of love or what?”
“Thunder, I was never in love” Giorgio replied flatly
“Hmmm, I knew something was not right; I just couldn’t place my finger on it. So, why is that affecting your mood?”
“Thunder, I told you Shade came to beg me three months ago, right?”
“Yes you did, and you chose Joan over her”
“Yes, because I felt I was going to love Joan gradually and I would forget everything about Shade. But Shade has been begging me via sms since then, though I never replied any of them because I felt ignoring her sms while putting all my focus on Joan would make me forget Shade. Three days ago, she stopped sending sms, and I have subconsciously been checking my phone since then; hoping she would send a message but she hasn’t, Thunder, I am worried and I don’t know why I am.”
“Then, reply her sms, or better still, give her a call” Thunder said casually.
“Just pick your phone right now and call her, it’s not that late for a girl to pick her phone, alright? Come look for me inside when you are done” Thunder said as he stepped out of the car.
Giorgio brought out his phone, clicked on the message icon and scrolling to inbox menu, he read her last text message to him.
“Saying ‘I’M SORRY’ may have become just another word to you, and there is nothing I can say or do that will wash away the hurt I caused you and the tears I made you shed. But I can’t go on living without you. I CAN’T”
He had wanted to reply the sms that day but he somehow didn’t. He scrolled to ‘call number option’ on his phone and hit the green button. He held his breath in anticipation as the call connected, then picked at the first ring.
“Hello, hello, thank God you called, I wasn’t sure if I should call you or not; please you have to come and help me please, please. She is dying; please hurry, I am at the general hospital…”