1/2
Its been a month since the break up. My days have been quite busy so I
haven’t been obsessing over the text. Well, lets say I have been only
40% obsessed. Which is not bad, considering I used to imagine my
entire world crashing down if I ever lost her. I still feel sad occasionally,
it is usually triggered by a situation or event. Like when I want to talk to
her when I am sad or overwhelmed, she always knew just how to make
me feel better. The urge to call her at the end of an exciting day or the
disappointment that comes with knowing it can no longer happen has
been more and more manageable with each passing day. I can enjoy the
company of my friends without feeling like a thief about to rob each
moment of its happiness. I am slowly remembering the sound of my
laughter again, not the sound I have been making to trick people into
believing I am doing fine.

Although I no longer dream. I no longer think of what the future could
be or spend time imagining what I want my life to be like. My mind is
now an enemy. Constantly reminding me of the mistakes I made, the
signs I willingly chose to ignore, the instincts I learned to tune out.Each
memory now comes with a vivid analysis, thoroughly analyzing every
date, conversation, gesture and proposal.
Over the years, I have trained my mind to be in total control of my
emotions. Ever since I learned how to manage my anger as a teenager. I
used to be a very angry kid, always getting into fights until I learned to
manager my outburst and identify the triggers. And since then, I
continued to master other emotions and their triggers. Except love.
Perhaps I didnt want to learn to manage it. I was so eager to experience
love that I didn’t bother learning how to control who I love and why.
I have been doing well before I received her phone call a few days ago,
one quiet afternoon. My day started like any other. I prayed my Subhi
prayer, completed my supplications and returned to bed. I turned on my
laptop, started my movie and went on scrolling through my twitter
timeline. I came across a tweet that said “depression kills. Never
abandon a friend going through it no matter what.”

The tweet got me thinking about Na’ima. During the last few months of
our relationship, she’d been going through a dark phase. That was what
she called it, a phase. The only way I could explain her behavior was to
classify it as a form depression. I kept asking her about it, trying to find
the best way to be of help to her and convince her to find a way to deal
with what was troubling her. But that only pushed her further away, I
became a nag, a voice that reminded her to do what she didn’t want to
do. But I still believed she might be depressed, so I made a mental note
to call her later that day.

At about 1.30pm, as I returned to my room, I heard my phone ring. Only
it wasnt my regular ringtone, it was the customized ringtone I got just
for her, Ed Shereen’s Thinking about you. I had not gotten around to
changing it yet. So i picked the call surprised but nevertheless
determined not to show it to her. Not to let on that I was pleasantly
surprised to hear her voice. But that phone call derailed all the progress
I made in the past few weeks. It was like I was almost out of a deep
blazing hole and then suddenly being thrown back in.
It was an ordinary conversation, she updated me on what she has been
up to, asked me what I was up to and ended the call. And yet I barely
had the strength to see the conversation through. What got to me was
how quickly she had moved on and made plans for the future,
something she had repeatedly told me she didn’t want to make. She
always brushed away any conversation about what we’d do about our
future together. I realized at that moment she didn’t have those
conversations with me because she didn’t see me in it. She only
entertained me, treated my feelings towards her as an acceptable
inconvenience and did just enough to keep me believing she could fall
for me the same way I did for her. I felt like a dog with a bone, satisfied
with what I was given and anxiously expecting my next bone to be
better. I was left feeling like a fool, because of how deep my love for her
was and how much I believed she was the one for me. So just like that,
an innocent phone call on a lovely afternoon had cut me again. A cut
deeper than the one her text did. Just like that a new pain settled in.
Only this time, it unearthed memories buried deep within, like a
hurricane wiping away the roof of a house exposing the inside. And the
worst one of them, our first kiss.

2/2
My relationship with Na’ima followed a careful structured on and off
pattern, we were Ross and Rachel from friends. We were friends, that
became solid over the years. But taking that next step seemed
impossible, I was stuck in the dreaded ‘friend-zone”. Only for me it was
not so dreadful and no one could convince me otherwise. Not the
comments from those around me, not the rejections or the canceled
plans (by her). Every semester followed a regular pattern, we’d start on
strong, meeting for lunch, hanging out outside school and helping her
with her assignments. Then slowly my feelings for her would resurface,
I’d make a move and get rejected. And by the semester break, we would
be on the outs, barely talking only to start all over again the next
semester. For any other girl, I’d move on, find another girl and lived my
life. But not with her, I couldn’t just move on because I was convinced
she was perfect for me.

So during one of our ‘ons’, she spent most of her time in her room. So
she always had to go home from school at night, and since Samaru
wasn’t very safe, she’d stop by my apartment on her way back from
school to walk her the rest of the way. I treasured that time I spent with
her, she lived on the other side of the train tracks which was about 15
minutes from my apartment close to Dogon Itche.
So it was a nice semester, we hung out most times at my apartment,
reluctantly, but rarely at hers. I even cooked for her a few times too, the
first time she only agreed to come over if she could bring two of her
friends and almost cancelled last minute the second time around. After
that, she came willingly because she said she loved my cooking. She
had never cooked for me, according to her, she rarely cooked for
anyone. But on that day, she invited me over for dinner at 8.00pm. I was
shocked and excited by the invitation, it made me feel special given that
she didn’t cook for just anyone. So I got ready around 7.30pm, prayed
and bought a drink to present to her, I couldn’t buy wine like they did in
movies for obvious reasons. So I headed over there at about 7.50, with
10 minutes to spare. I was especially excited because I thought her
invite meant she had started to feel the same way about me, that finally
my dream of being with her was now a possibility.

The building she lived was a one storey building. It had about 2 rooms
on the ground floor and 2 on the top floor. There wasn’t much space
between the building and the boundary wall. I greeted the gate man
lying on floor by the entrance and headed for the stairs to the right. The
stairs led straight to her door. I knocked. She lived in a cozy hostel
room. It was average sized, the bathroom was facing the front door,
from the door a narrow hallway (about 3 feet long) led to the main
bedroom. Her bed laid on the far left underneath the window, a small
rack the held her books and food stood beside the bed. Her shoes was
on the other side of the room by the left. I made to leave my shoes
outside but she urged me to bring them in. I kept them by the door to
the right. I made my way carefully to the middle of the room, nervous
about what was going to happen. She made us spaghetti and sauce. I
didn’t even notice what the food tasted like,my mind was on her as we
ate from the same plate. We finished eating and sat on her bed talking.

We talked until about 10 pm. It was getting late so I decided to head
back home. I made my way to the door and she walked with me. We
moved slowly, savoring each moment, stretching every second as long
as we could. We got to the door and she leaned against the wall looking
at me. At that point I was confused. I looked into her eyes searching for
a clue or direction. My heart was beating fast and my mind was racing,
what does she want me to do? Does she expect me to kiss her? Could
and should I? The moment didn’t last more than a minute but it felt like
forever. Then she gently held the side of my shirt and I froze. Not just
my body but my mind too. I stopped analyzing the situation, trying to
make a decision and I simply stood facing her. My face started moving
on its own, my face moving ever closer to hers as she moved hers to
mine. And then our lips met. For a moment everything disappeared, my
hands held her neck and we kissed for a few more minutes. It felt like it
lasted a few hours. I went back home on cloud 9 that night. Everything
seemed possible that night, like I have uncovered a super power and I
can now do anything.

A few days passed and nothing felt different between us She still
canceled plans on me last minute, rarely agreed to hang out and barely
answered my calls. One night she needed a ride to school at night, I
later found out she went to meet another guy. In the car ride, I
remember I had randomly (or maybe it was fate) stumbled on Ron
Pope’s October trees and the lyrics said exactly what was in my heart.
“So can we change? Or is this surrender?
I once loved your grace
And the innocence that fell from you like leaves
Spiral off October trees
You know I love you
What else do you want from me”
The lyrics spoke to me. Because I believed then that love triumphed at
the end, that being the right kind of good guy got you the girl at the
end. I realized a long time ago some songs gave me the right words, at
the right time and courage to confront situations that troubled me. So in
the car ride to school, with October trees playing on the radio, I let out
the words in my heart.
“Na’ima what is going on with us” I said “What do you mean?” She
replied
“I thought we were moving forward or was I mistaken” “I’m sorry I’m not
looking for any serious relationship right now” “So why did you kiss me
the other day?” “Because I was curious and I felt sorry for you”
She said it in a very casual tone, undisturbed and unaware of the effect
her words had on me. How painful it was sitting in the car that night
listening to her. Now thinking of it, of all the hurtful things i endured
through the years, that was the most hurtful. But weirdly enough I didn’t
give up. Because as disturbing as it sounds now, I loved her so much
then that being just her friend was a lot better than not having her in my
life. So I gladly kept being her friend and in her life as the memories of
that night gradually moved to the back of my head, became a distant
memory and out of the way.

And now sitting alone in my room, all these memories came rushing
back in, unfiltered and uncontrolled. The memories I selectively forgot
were now haunting me, hurting me all over again. It felt like I was getting
stabbed over and over again. But I persevered. I was on the road to
recovery. It took me a few days to get the pain under control. I didn’t
survive without any scars though.
Because the pain uncovered insecurities. Insecurities I had overcome.
Memories that once made me feel safe, now made me feel exposed. I
no longer trusted my judgement and my need for love now felt like a
weakness. My idea of romance now ridiculed me. I survived the pain,
but the scars haunt me still.

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Adam is an aspiring writer, born and raised in Kaduna. He enjoys traveling to different Nigerian states to explore the culture and meet new people. He works in community development with special interest in education, sustainable environment and girl child empowerment. He wishes to use his writing to discuss uncommon social issues in Northern Nigeria and other human interactions

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