“Let’s call it quits.” She dropped the bombshell. These words floated in the air before reaching my ears like an echo. They threw me off balance. Pain clung on my heart as if someone had repeatedly hammered pins through it. She looked right into my eyes as she said these words. No blinking. No mincing any word. Everything around me became a blur. My vision got blurry and I could only see vague images of her mouth moving as she continued speaking. At that moment, I felt her heart was colder than the ice cream in my cup. I tried scooping some more but my right hand was weak. It trembled and failed to reach my mouth. The ice cream started melting as if the words were too hot to raise the temperature at STEERS. My heart renewed its thumping. A small stream of sweat snaked down my back. I adjusted my seat and wished she could burst out laughing and say “ha ha, look at the look on your face. I’m just kidding” but she never said that. “I never meant for it to go this way you know, but I have to go” She continued speaking oblivious of the pain she inflicted on my fresh wound.
I wanted to cry. Nay, I wanted to die. If this was a joke, then it was in its worst taste. I stretched out my hand to reach hers that was resting on the table but she pulled it away. My throat felt a certain level of dryness. Words refused to form. We remained seated. My girlfriend (then) sat across the table facing me. She picked up her phone and started scrolling through it. She would giggle and sometimes burst out laughing. A sign that she was either bored to the core or someone on the other end was keeping her entertained. She could occasionally steal furtive glances at me as I sat there wondering what to say next. I tried getting her attention but she was obviously not in the mood for a téte-á-téte. Raising her left eyebrow while looking at me did things to my self-esteem. Made me feel worthless and wished this moment would soon be over. After almost three hours of a subtle tiff, we decided to leave the place.
I walked her to the bus terminus. I urged her to spent a bit more time with me but she declined. She ignored the stunned expression in my voice.We were so close physically, but so far away emotionally. She needed to leave as it was getting dark. It started drizzling and people around us scampered for shelter in the buses. Others drew their umbrellas as they waited in queues. We hugged. When she disengaged from my arms, a feeling of emptiness enveloped me. We would no longer do this. I had lost her. Contrary to the norm, she did not give me that tender kiss on my lips when she boarded the bus. When she finally sat down, she pulled back the curtains on the bus window and faintly waved at me. I waved back. I wished the bus would take forever to leave the terminus but people were boarding quickly. It left sooner than I had anticipated. I felt my world cave in. The bus had taken her away and sucked the life out of me. I wanted to pick a piece of broken glass dumped near me and use it to slit my wrist so that I bleed to death and never get to see her move on. Happy with another man. Thoughts of her with someone else were enough to kill me. I imagined her getting married and giving birth to two sets of twins then she would give them names I had suggested when we were still in love. I blamed gods for having conspired to single me out as the person to go through the crazy heart ache. I cursed the day we met. The moments we spent together and the time we wasted.
I left the bus terminus. My heart weighed heavily on me as I walked past people huddled at shop verandas to shield themselves from the heavy rain that poured at the time. I walked in the rain. I did not care about the sleek black suit that was fresh from the tailor. Nothing mattered at that time. As if angered by my resilience, the downpour became heavier. The raindrops hitting hard against my face caused me pain but that was nothing compared to what I felt in my heart. I wished the water trickling down my face could carry away my tears of pain. Streams of water formed at my feet as it continued walking in the rain. One droplet after another and I felt like I was drowning. I was weak. The person who was strong for me in such times had decided to inflict pain in me.
I first saw her as I stepped out of a lift. I pressed the ground floor button and ushered her in. She smiled exposing her uniquely white teeth that were firmly planted on her dark gums. My mouth went agape in awe. She wore a dark shade of red nouba millebaci lipstick that attracted and sustained my attention. She was adorned in a black peplum top and an expertly tailored blue skirt that pronounced her curves. She had a blue snood around her neck to keep warm and as she walked, she left some scent of lady million cologne wafting in the air. Her gait compared to that of a super model. “The perfect woman,” I thought to myself. (I swear I’m not adding anything. I actually left out that she had this gap between her front teeth in the upper jaw that was irresistible to stare at)
Starting that day, I made it my mission to win her over. Those annoying wee hours of the morning when sleep just disappears (and you lie in your bed thinking why sleeping without undies fascinates you) were dedicated to drafting and re-drafting lines that I thought would win her over. I wanted to have a perfect line that would stand out. You know, like they do in those Naija movies where one line is enough to cage a girl. In mind, I would walk up to her and say, “from the first time I saw you, you gave me wings that made me fly. Now I would like to take you away with me. Can we fly together into the future??” I practised this line for days in front of the mirror. Then fear would grip me and tell me that’s a lame line. Of course it’s a lame line.
It did not take me long before I had the balls to approach her. I bought a white Swiss chocolate and attached a small note reading “Hey, it’s Mswati from 9th floor. We met at the lift and I would like to get to know you more. Here’s my number, text me.” (Brevity is the soul of wit, so they say. I kept it short). I included two smiley faces then dropped the ‘gifts’ at her desk and hurried to leave before she caught me snooping. I waited for her response as if it would signify that I had made it in life and there wasn’t anything else left to live for. Like the lady she was, she kept me waiting. I refreshed my phone for half a million times. I went through my call log and text messages to check whether she contacted me and I was unaware of it. I found nothing. Negative thoughts started creeping through my mind. “ maybe somebody stole the chocolate and trashed your number” “maybe she hates you” “ maybe she likes women” All kinds of crazy thoughts occupied my mind. I gave up waiting and slept only to wake up to her response ‘‘hey, let’s meet today after work. 1700 hours sharp” I smiled. Nature had chosen me. Nature had decided to reward me. Nature had decided to console me for the nights I stayed up “strategizing”
I visited the barber to have my beard trimmed and for that perfect ‘cut’. I splashed some polo blue cologne on my sleek blue suit. I had to look good for her. I had to be at my best. You don’t show up for your first date in that T-shirt you bought in muthurwa for a measly 100 bob.
We met as agreed and went out on that date I had been looking forward to for days. We sat at Café Helena sipping some latte. Our legs intertwined under the table.
I was starting to live my dream and I couldn’t ask for more. Neither could I think too much lest I woke up and it was just a dream. Tender kisses on my lips, lovely short messages on my phone and incessant coffee dates renewed my craving for her each day. I was living in bliss. We talked on phone until the break of dawn. We spent weekends indoors, her tucked between my legs as we played FIFA all day long. My culinary skills improved under her training…….
Part 2 of this story will come to you on Monday next week. Stay posted for that.