“She hated that she was still so desperate for a glimpse of him, but it had been this way for years.”
My closest friends didn’t like him. Onome particularly. “I can’t believe you are settling for this dude Isi. He is short, black, ugly, timid…what is it? He is not physically attractive in any way! He has flabby arms, stretch marks and hips like a woman, don’t you see these things?! He is poaching your awesomeness and turning you into this dry person you are becoming.” Onome’s words got me livid. Why did he think it was okay to talk about Ola that way? “He is not ugly! He gives me balance…” I replied slowly, a way to stifle the surging anger. “Balance? Anyone can give you balance if you let them. Why do you think you even need balance? Is that what he told you? Isi, where are you? Where is your head? This dude is a hindrance. Oh God! Do you know how many people you have turned down because of him? Has he even committed himself to you in any way? What is wrong with you, he does not deserve you and deep down, I’m sure you know it. Are you that lonely? ‘Cos it’s only loneliness that can make you find that boy attractive!”Onome was always dramatic, but I could see he was genuinely pained. His torrent of questions irritated and drove me mad. “Get out!” I said. “Leave now, if you still want us to have a friendship”. He didn’t hesitate at all, Onome left immediately, but I spent the whole day with myriad thoughts.
Ola and I had just survived the fight we had after I found out I was 16 months older than him and he kept it from me. It was that much of a big deal. I was also battling with an “I-want-to-get-married phase” and trying so hard to manage it so that it doesn’t affect my relationship with Ola. All my sisters got married at 27, I was 27 and still single with no prospective suitor in sight. I was ridden with the fear that I would be single forever. I had confided my fears in Ola, but was disappointed as he did not try to help me deal with it as a close friend would. Instead of listening and giving advice to help me regain sanity on the matter, he took his own personal meaning from it and started to withdraw from me. Maybe he thought my mentioning it was me hinting at marriage? Onome was right! I had to know what we were doing.
That weekend, Ola visited. I noticed something was a bit off, but I just couldn’t place my hands on what it was. We made out as usual, but I wouldn’t go any further. He knew I was saving myself for marriage, but I could see that my refusal to do certain things he considered basic, was putting a huge strain on whatever it was we had. “Ola, I need to know what we’re doing, so I’ll know how to structure my mind. If we don’t define this, it’s going to be hard for me to respond to your affections the way I would want to. ” He wore a resigned look and did not give any response. “What are we doing, I asked? Dating? Or are we Friends with Benefits?” I asked, almost a little too desperately. “None of the above” he retorted. “What do you mean by none of the above? Are you saying we are still just friends?”
Surprisingly, I was getting hurt instead of irritated as I would on a normal day. “Isi, just let things flow, let’s just go with the flow”. That was the worst possible thing he could have said! Immediately, my mind went to Toke Makinwa’s clip on men who want you to go with the flow… I could feel the intensity of the blood flowing to my head… How did I get myself into this?
Ola stood up and left for the living room. Typical! It wasn’t that he was mean or callous. He was the most beautiful soul I had ever met. He was calm, caring, sane…exquisitely awesome. He just was not very good with words and he hated being part of any sort of argument. He would rather sweep things under the carpet or remain mute than foster a fight. I knew that when he said “let’s go with the flow” he meant to say that I should stop trying to control things and let them go their natural course….but I just couldn’t get Toke Makinwa’s “Men who want to go with the flow” video conclusion out off my head. It was easier to believe he was out to play me. The baggage from my ex wouldn’t let me listen to the part of me that already understood and loved Ola. It wouldn’t let me trust him. Ola slept in the living room that night, alone! I thought he would leave the next morning, but he stayed for the rest of the weekend. It was the worst weekend ever. His reactions were almost always bland.
Two days after he left, I called him. “Ola, what is it? Are we okay?” I asked. “Yes, I guess” He replied. “You guess?” I ask a bit confused. “Yeah. Aside from the fact that I have had time to think about our relationship, we are good.” His voice was shaky, he sounded tense. “Think about our relationship? How?” I replied slowly… Relationship? What was he talking about? He just told me there was no relationship a few days ago…
“Isi, I have considered our relationship, it is neither going forward or backward. I think we should go back to being just friends.” The words ‘just friends’ hit me like ice. It was the same ungovernable feeling that came to me when I was told my Dad had passed. Bile flooded my throat.
“Neither going forward nor going backwards? How? Why do you think so?” I hear myself say; surprised I could still talk considering how dry my mouth had gone. “It’s been months and it’s always the same. Last week when I came, I was a bit unsure…but the events of the weekend assured me that being just friends was the best step.” I am shocked into silence. “Truth is…” He continues “I like you a lot; I don’t want to deceive you.”
“Deceive me?” I had gotten to the point where the lump in my throat could only permit me to echo some of his words…
*to be continued
Image Source: Claire Idera
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