Hearts & Kilometres

30th April, 2015.

The Heart,
A Tiny Room,
Somewhere in Lagos.

Dear Kemi,

NOTICE OF SUBSISTING FONDNESS

The above subject matter refers.

So i am seated in this poorly-ventilated bus, seeing out the eight hour of what would ordinarily
have been a six-hour journey. This journey from the nation’s capital back to the South-south has
been anything but smooth. A fallen truck has forced us to take the longer route, and the scarcity
of fuel is being fully exploited by these petrol
stations on the way. The hike in price reflects on
the bus ticket, and when you spend two hours on a
queue twice as long as that which you find at the American Embassy, all because of a few litres, then
Fatigue becomes a close ally.

My music-enabled phone has gone off, and i am forced to listen to a passenger bandy words with
this middle-aged driver over the lack of a functional air-conditioner in the bus. Seated close
by is a lady with quite a mouth on her. She looks 21, but I perceive that she is a lot older. Small body frame, pretty face, firm voice….she reminds
me of a place now distant, and more importantly, she reminds me of you.

I still remember that Tuesday evening when you and the others were shipped from the NYSC
orientation camp to the lodge reserved for corps members. I had been out for most of the day and had just returned, but once
our eyes met, a conversation began, one too free-flowing for two people who had just met. Some of the male corps members tried to gain your attention, but you felt so comfortable with me, even after less than six sentences. The other ladies at the lodge would tease me that night.

I remember how you showed up the following day and asked that I take you into the town to get a
few prescription drugs. Yea, you felt safe with me like that. As Fate would have it, the skies opened its floodgates that night, and we had to take shelter in a wooden enclosure. You complained of how susceptible to cold you were, and luckily I had
my khaki jacket with me, so i gave you to wear. The rain would last for more than two hours, and
within that time interval, I would learn more than a few things about you. I would learn that you
worshipped on Fridays rather than Sundays, that you studied Mass Communication, that you just
got out of a relationship. I played the role of listener and comforter, and the weather was right
to steal a kiss, but I passed that up, not typical of me. There was also the option of convincing you to pass the night at my apartment, but I felt that such a decision would have seemed too awkward on only your first full day in this environment so new to you.

I remember how you called me up days later and together we went shopping for your household items, me playing the role of tour guide as well. You also offered to visit the following day, but I, in a bid to preserve the sanctity of my Sunday turned you down. You would eventually show up the
following weekend though, yea, that weekend where you pulled off a wonderful meal with limited
resources, and where I fought a tough internal
battle to maintain self-control. I was beginning to spend too much time with you. My other female
friends got jealous.

You soon saw through my attempts to woo you however, and contrary to my expectations, ‘no’ was
your response. I still persisted nonetheless, until the day we hung out and you got angry at a waitress. My efforts at calming you down proved abortive, and that day I saw another side of you. A hot-tempered lady is a dangerous one, and I didnt want to risk being at the receiving end of your venom someday,
so i applied the brakes. I also found out that your size belied your years, and that you were older than me, a four-year age gap at that. We still related cordially, but the level of interaction was nothing close to those first few weeks.

I see this lady here in this bus, chatting freely with everyone and being all so outspoken. I feel like
starting a conversation, but except for her long braids, all I see is you, Kemi. I don’t want to perish
from yearning for a walk with you on a cold Lagos evening, so I turn away from this human reminder and seek solace in Chimamanda’s novel
“Americanah”. The thoughts adamantly refuse to clear away, and as the Sun goes to bed on these lonely roads, I want to bring to your notice that I won’t forget those eyes or that voice, that I am still fond of you, that i sorely miss you.

Sincerely,
Me.

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10 responses to “Hearts & Kilometres

  1. Excellent writeup.
    Enjoyable read too.
    Really understand the plight of the narrator.
    Jerry, please write more…

  2. I could almost imagine that I could feel the pain emanating from your heart. You Sir, CAN write. I salute!.

  3. Yu have a gift Jer. Yu really do. Yu just transported me back to my NYSC days. Very good work.

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