This is the second part of No 1, Side Street, Lonely Avenue. It was written by a guest writer. Enjoy.
Sophia- Wisdom (Greek)
Obim- My Heart (Igbo)
I didn’t see it coming.
I hear people say that a lot, especially when “the shit” hits the fan. I wonder why no one ever asks the question, who does see it coming? Like are we expected to see it coming?
I think that statement ranks high up there with the likes of “It was the devil” and “I didn’t know what I was doing”
Do murder victims “see” the bullets leave the nozzle of the guns that kill them? (When you’re not in the matrix) Or do road accident victims, at the last moment, see the license plates of the cars that hit them? (Life is not TiVo/PVR)
On the real though, I didn’t see her coming.
Here’s what I mean:
I knew it wasn’t lust. With lust, comes the wanting, the scheming and the seduction. But it was much different with Obim. Nkemdinobim. They all call her Nkem. I chose to call her Obim.
You know how some people talk about Love at first sight? Well, we were friends at first sight. The conversation was easy and light-hearted; the boundaries very easily set.
There was no particular turning point. From talking like we’d been buddies from a past life to the long conversations in which we drew parallels with each other. Almost naturally, we fell into spending time together and just “being.” With that came the companionable silences and the accompanying cuddling.
“Don’t fall for me” I said once with our arms wrapped around each other. She stared deep into my soul and replied, “I won’t.” I knew it was a lie, even before she said it. Being with her was akin to spending time alone with myself. Literally. Perverted as that may sound, it’s true. I knew her too well and vice versa.
Which brings me to earlier today: we were a mass of limbs, warmth and carefree happiness on her couch. We said everything and then said nothing. In between one of those companionable silences, I slipped my phone out of my pocket. Something about the way her arms draped around my neck and her peaceful face appealed to my photographer’s eye. She stirred and snapped at the sound of the camera, “Stop it!”
“I don’t want pictures of us floating around” she continued, snatching the phone and quickly deleting the picture. I won’t lie, the way she spat the “us”, like being together was an abominable thing, stung me bad.
“Wow…” I said, “…that stings. Cuz I wasn’t going to share that with anyone”
She said nothing in return. Without a word more, I extricated myself, got up to wear my sports coat, and picked my briefcase. I kissed her forehead and walked away.
I was only just driving my car out of her apartment complex when my phone chirped. Incoming Call: Obim.
“Come back. Please”
Faster than I left, I was at her door again. “You’re mad and I feel bad. I’m sorry” She said, almost like it hurt to utter those words.
I sighed and said “I’m not mad babe. It just stings that you don’t trust me.”
“What do you want from me?!” She screamed at me.
“Why won’t you trust me babe? It stings that you don’t trust me after all this”, I said in the calmest of voices, taking her hands in mine.
She snatched her hands like I’d suddenly become leprous, “After all what? What is this exactly that we’re doing?” I kept quiet, watching her. The dam had broken; there was much more still to be said.
She continued, “Stop it. Stop it! I’m not this person. I don’t know how to be vulnerable. Don’t ask me to trust you. What’s the point? You have a girl who makes you happy, so where does that leave me?”
I was stumped and couldn’t fault her reasoning. I can’t lie, I was torn. But I wanted her. She had no idea how much. But maybe, I was being a tad rash?
“I’m sorry. I have no right to ask you to trust me. I’m really sorry.”
She cleared her throat. “Okay. So I guess we should revert to the way things were in the beginning”
What?! You’re not supposed to agree with me!
“Okay. Let’s do that.” I said in return
Maybe I read her feelings wrong.
“Yes, because if we continue on this path, we’re
headed straight for disaster.”
I guess I did read wrong. She doesn’t even trust me anyway.
“Yes, you’re right.”
“Friends” she said with a look of resignation on her face.
I left there feeling like something had crashed to the ground and died.
So I stand here in my room caught between what I have and what fits perfectly. I’m pacing and thinking, torn between the two: Sophia and Obim. Knowing that that i have to choose and whoever I choose between both, will break two hearts – mine and the other’s.
And then a glint from the stones set in the ring in the velvet box I’m holding seems to make my decision for me. I’d bought it on my last London trip. I hadn’t met her yet. Things with Sophia had been great and we had talked marriage even though vaguely; it was only a matter of time before I popped the question so I figured I’d get the ring. They had a discount.
I’m going to ask her. Which “her” you ask?
I made to leave my apartment with my seemingly unshakeable resolve, the beginnings of a speech in my head. “We started out as friends…” No, too cliché. “…I want to be more than your mirror image” Naah, too serious too quickly. Its rash i know, and maybe not thoroughly thought out but I can’t just let her go. We fit. Perfectly. Like bolt to nut. I’ve never seen that before and i may never see it again. She totally wouldn’t see it coming; hell, I didn’t see it coming. I hope she says yes. I hope she takes the leap with me.
I walked out of my apartment with the velvet box in one hand and my keys in the other.
“Ahn, Booboo, I was just coming to see you.” I heard her voice from behind me.
Sophia. My girlfriend.
“I…I had no idea” I said, turning around to give her a brief hug.
“Where are you off to?”
“I…err…Just drinks with friends…”
This contingency was not in the plan at all. She really wasn’t supposed to show up. I saw her looking at my face, and it was clear she was worried.
“What’s wrong baby?” She asked, dropping both bags of groceries in her hands. Her eyes were firmly fixed on my face as she tried to slip both of her hands in mine and met some form of resistance in my left hand. I tried at the last moment to slip the velvet box out of sight but it was too late
“What’s this, Bolaji?” Sophia said as she retrieved the box from my hand.
I looked on at her in resignation, wishing I could rewind time. She opened the box.
“Oh my God!..Gosh Bolaji! You didn’t!” She cooed and all I did was smile back in return.
“Awww baby…was this why you’d been acting distant since?” She said again with her head on my chest and her tears of joy staining my shirt. And then in a split second, call it an epiphany if you will, I realized why this was where I ought to have been. Maybe, I’d been a touch rash, attempting to throw all I already had away like so.
“Will you marry me, Sophie?” I said finally, breaking the embrace and going down on one knee in one swift move. I collected the box from her and placed the ring on her finger.
“Baby Yess! Oh yes! I’m sorry I didn’t let you ask me in the way that you were going to”
Maybe this is how the cards were meant to fall. Somehow, I feel that there’s a precious little I could have done about it.
Call me a bastard. I want you to; you won’t be far from the truth.
Look out of your window stained with raindrops – the tears of heaven. I’m that man standing drenched, on the Corner of 1st and Indecision; right off Lonely Avenue.
So there you have it. Bolaji’s side of the story. I strong armed my very talented friend, ‘Jibola L (@JibolaL on twitter), to write it. I hope you liked it.