AS I sat in the hitching comfort of my room, I tried reaching back to the years before now when smile was my trademark. Everywhere I went; people always asked if I could actually spend a minute of life without smiling. It was just something that I do without stress.
However, as the confession came from Tade that the reason his mother never approved of our relationship was because I was always frowning.
What a trivial thing to have wrecked my opportunity of getting married to the man of my specification….it was once in a lifetime. Every guy I had met after the end of my relationship with Tade has been hard to swallow down the throat.
I tried to recollect what had led to what and I realized it all started with when I was blindly in love with Abiodun. Had I known that seeking freedom would be damaging, I would not have convinced my parents to get me an apartment off-campus even as a fresher on the many excuses of strict hostel rules and over-zealous porters.
I got a comfortable apartment and had settled in fine when Abiodun moved to the room next mine. He was too serious for my time but I appreciate the fact that he minds his business. I love neighbours who do that.
The ritual whenever our paths cross is just a basketful of smile to each other and life continues until I realized he could lock himself in his room for days without seeing the sun, no friend visited, no girlfriend appeared with a cooler ministry.
Curiosity attracted to wanting to know the kind of guy he is. A student? A working class? A walking sorrow? I wanted to offer my shoulder as a comfort for whatever may make such a good-looking man feed on isolation.
As the destruction looming at my doorstep would have it, I was in my room making lunch during a day of intentional “class-stabbing”, when Abiodun knocked and said, “cook for two o”.
I served him and I had the opportunity of seeing his room. It was not too bad for a self-employed graduate of one of best among glory-fading-just-read and pass Universities in Nigeria.
We started talking like we had both prayed earnestly to have someone to talk to. The zeal with which I interacted with him could not be far from the emptiness I felt inside. Joshua, my boyfriend had just called it quit for the fear of what I would turn out to be as an undergraduate compared to the Secondary school leaving certificate he only had.
I bothered to ask him why he loved to lock himself in for days and he said most of his work were internet based and need not make a show of himself since all his job requires is power supply, a laptop to meet the demands of his clients and a mobile banking service. He dragged the last item with a confidence that spelt, M O N E Y I S N O T T H E P R O B L E M.
Before I realized the depth of the grave I was digging, I found myself in an emotional relationship. There was no way I could hide that I had feelings for Abiodun and that was how a relationship without definition started.
I could go on to sing a SONG OF SORROW if it would drive home the fact that it was the most destroying human relationship I had experienced. Falling in love with a rabbit; my favourite pet and pouring all the cares I had then on it could not have been so damaging.
I came, I saw but I could not conquer. We had a month of smooth rapport until things began to change; I became too concerned about his actions. I began to ask for things needful in such a relationship. I remembered being asked if we were dating when I asked him why he could disrespect me by bringing a lady to spend the night with in his room.
Nothing might have happened but it was too much for me to swallow. It was at that point that my life began to change.
It was then that Abiodun made friends of many ladies he never talked about. His room operated an open-door policy and they spend hours chatting loudly and I would begin to imagine what could be happening behind closed door whenever it becomes silent for what looked like eternal.
The man who needs just power supply, laptop and mobile banking services to carry out his job now entertains females he introduces to me as clients.
The only presence I enjoyed was whenever he feels like eating from my tasty pot of Melon soup and Wheat meal.
I do not know whom to attack, Abiodun or the ladies who have failed to recognize me as his girlfriend because he failed to introduce me as nobody but a good neighbor.
In the process, I lost my cheerfulness. I was no longer happy, I was not happy that I could not even move away from the relationship. I appeared stuck.
I lost the smile, the smile that greeted even the ladies whenever we meet even though I rained curses on them silently. Smile that puts a smile on the face of others. I lost it; it was my precious gift.
Without care, something was growing in me that I failed to deal with. The pains, rejection, regrets, blames were killing my inner joy, I blamed Joshua, if he had not abandoned me out of fear, I would not have taken emotional comfort with Abiodun. I blamed my hunger for freedom, for if I had not sought a room off-campus, I might not come across him.
The many dangers of my falling in love with even the most abusive person is that nothing mattered as long I had that love. It always doesn’t cost me much to give it all and for Abidoun, I gave it all; TIME, LOVE AND TENDERNESS however, I received nothing in return but destruction. I had abortions, I lost friends, I lost my way…
And again, it doesn’t matter until Tade told me that the reason her mother did not approve of my relationship with him was because I walked about with a frown.
Racheal OGUNMUYIWA is a 300-level student of the Department of English, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.