She turned her head to the sound as the public address system announced a one hour delay for the third time that evening. Her shoulders slumped and she sank further into her seat. The cold bit her ears and she wished that she’d thought to carry a scarf. Her friends had warned her about this airline, they were notorious for these kinds of delays, but this was the cheapest flight that was available for the day and she was low on funds. She should have booked earlier on a more reliable airline. It would have been cheaper. Her stomach made loud growling noises and she was embarrassed when the guy sitting beside her turned to look at her. She was sure he’d heard it. She had exactly two thousand naira in her wallet, enough to get her home if her brother Arinze wasn’t there to get her when she landed at MM2. She brought out her phone to kill some time browsing. The homepage of her browser loaded halfway, and then she got a notification from her service providers that her data bundle was exhausted. Bad things really did happen in multiples! The guy beside her chuckled a little, got up and walked away. She felt like throwing her phone at him, sure that he’d seen the embarrassing notification just as he’d heard her growling stomach. What he must think of her!! He wasn’t much older than her, or the most attractive guy she’d seen but he had a good gait and his jeans sat nicely. Her eyes followed him until he entered the food court. She closed her eyes, maybe she would be able to get some sleep. She had nothing any sensible thief would want to steal anyway, being as broke as she was. Going home after each semester was always the same. She had barely closed her eyes when she felt him return and take his seat beside her.
‘eat this,’ he said and she opened her eyes to see he’d gotten her some pastries and a bottle of coke. His voice was a smooth thing dented by an American accent. She started to decline when he took her hand and shook his head. It was such an audacious thing for a complete stranger to do, and after a few long moments, she accepted.
‘you can use my wifi too, the password’s password.’ This time, she didn’t object. They sat for the rest of the time in easy silence and when the PAS finally announced that her flight was boarding, he smiled and said, ‘it was an honour to wait with you, I hope we’ll meet again one day.’ She got up, thanked him and left, hoping too that they would.
They say that this one is a keeper,
A real gem,
But can a person really be kept?
In the end how are we left?
They say this one is realer,
Better than the ex,
But if people can’t be kept,
Then what comes next?
They say this one is forever,
It will pass every test,
But if he changes later,
What have I kept?
You came to me as a ray of light
taking away my complete loneliness
your galvanized smile engulfing my sadness
but every heart is full of fears
and every life full of tears.
When your name comes to mind
the fears go away
and the tears taste sweet.
I will not leave this midway
and this bond, our bond
will forever be heard.
My gem, my star.
I sat and looked for the words that would describe it and I found none. It wasn’t for me like a coudre fou. And yet it wasn’t like gentle waves stealing over me. It was just. It just was. It was the thing that I could not explain, could not deny. It was the thing I could not accept. It was the end of an era; the time when I saw you as only friend. It was the beginning of a new torment. It was seeing sunshine in your hair and rainbows in your smile. It was loss. It was the bits of me that bits of you eroded. It was gain. Painful gain. It was the bits of you that lodged in my heart, making it beat faster. Thump after painful thump. It was realization, seeing that I hadn’t lost the ability to be lost in someone and to be happily so. Then it was real pain. The one that came with knowing that you could not feel the squeezing that my everything squeezed when I found that you weren’t here with me. That you couldn’t be here with me, in this place where everything was woven in a fabric of an us. Like the lightning that didn’t strike you, I was hit with a pain that my soul felt when finally common sense ruled its judgement, forcing me to let go. To let you go. It was the many bleak days that I sat picking out the pieces of you that were lodged in the places where pieces of me had once lived happily. It was the way that the newly empty spaces bled black. It has been an uphill climb, finding new pieces that are mine to patch up the leaking spaces. It has been educating. I have learned to move forward. I have learned.
He eases off unto the dirt road to the left, sighing deeply and wondering when he would eventually find it. It’s his fortieth birthday and he wonders which angel had been assigned the task of hiding the rib that would complete him, that would fill the hole in his chest that throbs every time he’s alone in his spacious home or when he passes lovers in the street happy in their love. Where could this his rib be? Was it hidden in a place that resonates with the vibrations of his time? Or has an angel chosen to throw it in the pool where time and love mix into the forms of whole people and into the chest of a woman from a different age? Has she been born? Or would it be years before she takes her first breath? Was she born in the decades before or after his own birth? Would he recognize her? Would she smell like someone he has once met? He drives on hoping that soon he will find what he has spent most of his four decades looking for. Hoping that soon he will drive all the way to her and finally be home.
In the space that is today,
I have gotten a taste of forever.
I have shared in a timeline that though may shorten with the passing days,
Will live in the continuum that is time forever.
In the place that is now,
I have glimpsed the picture of never.
Never will another day pass when I would say that I have not tasted what it is to be alive,
To be loved, to be here.
In the time that is our era,
I have heard the sound of the hereafter.
Of passions that transcend time,
Of passions that defy space.
In this here place that is my forever,
I have seen love,
I have seen pain,
I have lived true.
I rest my head on my knees, curling into myself. I cannot believe that I’m in this place again, single. Single and betrayed. I was so focused on a future that with him that I hadn’t realised that there wasn’t even a present. I raise my head from my knees and look in the mirror facing my bed. I look awful!! My hair is sticking in every direction, my eyes are red and puffy from all the crying I’ve been doing since last night. I’m a mess!! My dinner from last night is sitting on my bedside table, untouched. I make to pick it up, to take it out of my room and my eyes fall on the bracelet on my wrist. A charm bracelet full of charms that we had picked up to mark our many special moments. His birthday, mine, my landing a job, his promotion, his buying a dog, my getting a bike. Important and silly things, all of which had meant very much to us. I feel the tears rushing back into my eyes and I rest my head on a pillow, taking off the bracelet. I’ve always been a firm believer in time being a healer, and also that every pain in the world was temporary but in this moment I cannot see past this pain. I cannot see a tomorrow, a future on my horizon. How had I been so blind, and for a whole year too! How had I missed the signs? The sudden and frequent ‘work trips’ and how I could never get a hold of him during such trips? The wedding ring from his late wife that he still wore? The way he never spoke about a future of us together? I was foolish and I see now that I really have only myself to blame. He lied, but I made it easy for him to do so. I never asked the questions that would have helped me get to the truth. I had accepted his half-truths and never pried further. I had just gone with the flow and not pressed for the truth, and maybe on some level it was because I had been afraid of what the truth could mean if he wasn’t who he said he was. I have failed myself today. I will sit still and hurt for a little and then when I am done, I will get up, live again and do better.