PS: This is a terribly long first part of a story whose end I do not know yet, but I hope you will oblige me (it is okay to read it in bits). It is a first draft, unedited, but heartfelt… I hope you enjoy it!
Picture source: Google
Boma is getting married next week Saturday. She called you seconds ago to inform you and ask when you will pick your aso-ebi. You are surprised. Who is the lucky guy? When did he propose? When was the date fixed? Why the hurry? You are surprised, but you say nothing but profuse congratulations. You tell her you are sorry but you will not be able to make it; the timing is short, you have an assignment at work. You lie.
Truth is, you are tired of attending weddings and catching bouquets of flowers that never lead into anything but almost-happened-but-actually-never-happened relationships.
She feigns a cry. You feign sadness. She asks you to buy one aso-ebi nonetheless, maybe it will make you reconsider making an appearance. She says it will mean a lot. You know it is a lie, she just wants your money. You ask her to send you a picture of the material anyway. In seconds, the beep of your Samsung phone announces its arrival. It is a stunning gold and black lace. You tell her you will have one and ask her to keep yours before you wish her away.
Boma is your childhood friend. She is one of those friends that cannot be squeezed into a box or tier. She is not close or dear or best or anything like that– just your childhood friend that you almost always talk to but never really have much to talk about; well, save for weddings and aso- ebis. She had been the one to inform you of every school party and as you grew, she would inform you of weddings. At first, it was Barbara’s wedding, then Kelly and Drew and Andrea. In fact, it was her idea that the 2006/2007 set of Kompti High school surprise Smart at her bridal shower, and it had been an awesome turnout. Smart had gone crazy with joy on seeing you all, and you had drank and gossiped and rewound the hands of time, until you had been drunk (well, a-little-too-tipsy) and been made to let Shelma, Smart’s ex-boyfriends ex-girlfriend, read your palm. She had said you will be the next of the pack to get married and it would be a grand affair. You had known she was a scammer. Her ridiculously long lashes and finger nails did not fool you, but a part of you had honestly hoped it would be true– her prediction. You shake imaginary tears off your face now and try to be happy for Boma. And then you smile, a forced almost-happened smile as if to re-assure yourself that you are indeed happy for her.
You check your phone for notifications, anything to distract you but there is nothing. It is the middle of an uneventful Monday and you are craving a miracle. You browse through your email for the umpteenth time that day, but there is no activity there either. You feel the rush of tears behind your eye lids now, it is just too much to take in. Nothing, absolutely nothing, seems to be happening in your life at the moment and the reality of it is breaking you into bits; your strength is wearing thin; and your faith, taking leave. You have a long hoping list– of jobs, school applications, marriage/boyfriend propositions but nothing is coming through. But you cannot cry, not now; even though you have a cubicle to yourself, you cannot give in to tears. You take a coffee break and re-watch your favorite episodes of America’s Got Talent, until your boss dumps a bulk of files on your desk– the one time, you conclude, he ever made a timely appearance. You smile and thank him profusely, and you do not miss the spark of surprise in his eyes as he struggles to figure out what is going on before he walks out of your office in surrender. He never replied. You work through 5pm, until Sam knocks at your door to inform you he is on his way home. You ask him for a minute to pack up and soon, you join him in his car.
Sam is that one office buddy that has it all figured out and is everyone’s friend for a season. He has a car in which he gives a ride to people going along his route. You and about four or five other people would usually squeeze into his car at close of work. You always get the front seat because you are big, and even though there are very few occasions when you are thankful for your size, this one trumps the list! You get a full space to yourself, and you don’t even have to pay rent! Hooray! You barely make conversation with him, save for “hellos”, “thank you’s” and “byes”, and on few occasions “oh you know that song? That used to be my jam!”, “you have a lovely voice”, “so any plans for the weekend?”, “oh right”, “that’s nice”, “me? Nothing much”, and “exactly’s”. But you are grateful anyhow, even though you find him too attractive to be a mere acquaintance in your life. Half the hitchers have now alighted and it is remaining Gbemi, you and Sam, sailing in amiable silence until Gbemi breaks the ice.
“Sam, what are you doing next-week Saturday sef?” She asks, in an almost nonchalant manner, although you know that was one well-calculated-intended-purposeful-and-targeted question.
“A lot of things, except you want to take a man on a date. Who is he to say no?”
“Egbe! Shebi it is the man that is supposed to take the woman on a date?”
“Shebi it is you people that are fighting for gender equality? What a man can do, a woman can do better abi? Prove it na!” He smirks. You smile in your mind.
“Smh!” FYI, Gbemi is that one person that would rather proclaim an emotion or gesture than feel or act it. She would say “Lol” and maintain a straight face, or “Rme” and look you dead in the eye, un-blinking. You sigh in your head. “Anyway,” she continues “there is this wedding on Saturday and I am looking for a plus-one.”
“Wait, which wedding?” you catch yourself asking before you can stop to think, or think to stop.
She eyes you briefly as if to assure you that she wasn’t looking for just any plus-one. She needed a “date” and preferably, he had to have a car. And you understand. In fact, you understood her even before she decided to explain with her eyes, you are just surprised her make-up-on-fleek skills and hot-bod have not fetched her a long list of waiting capable suitors; the type that tick all the boxes and leave extra ticks for any extra requirements that may pop up along the line. You sigh in your head again.
“Sarah and Omoyeni, Hashtag SarOmo17. Why?”
“A friend of mine is also having her wedding on the same day. I was just curious to know if she was a mutual friend of ours.” You see the slight dance of victory in her eyes. You don’t blame her. Sam is hot like that. You escape into your world after then, staring out the window and almost do not hear her say “see you tomorrow Gracie”, except by a stroke of luck. You turn to smile after her shadow. It is the least you owe her.
You stare back out the window, and drown in Simi’s soothing voice playing off her new album in Sam’s car, hoping direly that he doesn’t feel obliged to make conversation today, at least–
“–not today!” you catch yourself voicing your thoughts to him, unintentionally but timely; so you quickly try to amend the almost-damaged situation, lest he feels offended and refuses to give you a ride anymore. “I mean, please not today. I—I have a feeling that you always try to make conversation so that I don’t feel uneasy. While I appreciate it, I just don’t quite feel up to it today. I—I am not in a good place. I am sorry.” You dare to look at him, and in place of the mild irritation or anger you expect to find, is a touch of concern, or is it pity? You look away.
“I am sorry you feel that way Grace. But if it helps to know, I actually enjoy conversing with you, and I don’t take it as a chore, neither do I see you as a burden I have to distract myself from.”
You smile and nod, but you refuse to reply.
He nods in return, as if to say “I understand you perfectly, and I am willing to share this melodic silence with you” and you are grateful for it, to him.
When he drops you off at the front of the compound that houses your flat, which is about six-or something buildings away from his own, he hesitates before driving away.
“If you ever reconsider talking; I mean, about this bad place you are in, call me. Okay?”
Tempting, but err— no!
“I will certainly think about thinking about it.” He smiles. You smile too. “But I should be fine after a good night’s rest.”
“You had better be! I would not let you off in this mood tomorrow.” He states as a matter-of-fact, that you almost believe him, and then he disappears into the selfish arms of darkness; and you, into the deafening quietness that is the reality of your present life.
You do not sleep that night.
You stay up denying the existence of a past that once was. You start by deleting all your social media applications, and unsubscribing from news-letters. You delete your blog, and remove your current sim card; replacing it with a new one—from the stack of new sim cards you always keep handy. You delete all your pictures, and music; and empty your phone of everything that reminds you of anything you once owned or experienced. You find a pair of scissors too, and jam it into your hair before you change your mind.
Until you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
Once you are satisfied, and there is nothing more to rid yourself of, you cry—a long, loud, reaching round of tears. By the time sleep finds you, morning is knocking at your door but you are not quite ready to face another day.
© The Short Black Girl, 2017.