Heartbreak Olympics

(This piece is dedicated to two friends of mine, one male and one female, who just newly turned single again. Heaven bless their hearts, and I hope this helps as they undergo the healing process.)

A pub has never been the most ideal place in the world for a working class citizen to mark his lunch break in the middle of working hours, but I do that anyway. Besides, there is a reason menthol bubble gums exist to cushion the breath. The floors of my head are soaked with Ace Roots to mop off the thoughts I don’t need, while my ears are fed with tracks from Adele’s new album “25” and Coldplay’s 2014 album “Ghost Stories”. The playlist is apt, ripe for the season. Your Blackberry Message comes in; you want to find out how my day is going. Some nerve you’ve got, massaging a wound you’ve inflicted, just damn unwilling to leave the knife you lunged in! Continue reading

Lung-Shot

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1st April, 2014.

Three hours had passed. Patience had never been a virtue for Martin, and that night would not be a starting point to cultivate it. Sweat found its way into his palms as he paced up and down his room, located on the first floor of this five-star hotel which he had chosen for what he perceived to be a special day in his life. He had put everything in place, at least as far as his anxious mind could remember. The wine was in place, the glasses were clean, the candle light had been set, and the tiny box containing the ring had been perfectly concealed. Continue reading

The Carry-Over

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It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, with much for Felix to look forward to. His boss had decided to be nice and not rob him of his weekend by summoning him to the office, his favourite football club (Chelsea) was featuring in an English FA Cup game in which they were favourites to win (they had been pitched against a club in the lower divisions), and Omoye, his girlfriend of eight months, was cooking up a delicacy, in a bid to save the pots in his house from loneliness. Continue reading

Your Place

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“J, I’ve got something important I want to tell you.”

“Funny, because there’s something I want to tell you too.”

“Ok, go on.”

“No, you first.”

“Nah, after you.”

“You first….I insist.”

Typical argument between Irene and I. We argued about everything, from who should pay the bus fare, to who should sit first on the church pew. I was always willing to be a gentleman for Irene, and though she was not always up for that, she eventually decided to dance to the “ladies first” script this time and choose to speak first. Our eyes shared the same level of brightness as our skins absorbed the Sunday evening breeze, and as I savoured the atmosphere around Nike Lake, a small resort located in the nation’s coal capital, I wondered what Irene had to say. Nevertheless, I knew it had to be something important. Irene never suggested Nike Lake unless there was a crucial decision she had to make. I was that familiar with her.

Yes, it had been over seven years, precisely seven years and ten months, since I first set eyes on Irene at the main auditorium of that federal university in the South-south where we had our university education. I had bumped into her as I struggled through the long queues and sticky bodies to process my clearance as a fresh undergraduate, and just as if she saw through my personality as a shy boy, she had walked up to me first. I had feebly and nervously replied “Joey” when she asked for my name, apparently awestruck by her light complexion and small but graceful frame, but there was this spark that greeted the stuffy auditorium at that moment, and from then on a wonderful friendship began. We read together (we were both admitted to study English and Literature), we went to church together, we ate at the same restaurant, we always found ourselves in the same class assignment groups, and after our graduation, I fought successfully to make sure that we did our service year in the same state.

I could do anything for Irene. She had a heart of gold, always tried to see the good in people, and she knew just how to encourage others. She it was who talked me out of dropping out when I became disillusioned with school in my second year following the death of my mother, and her soothing words came in handy again in my penultimate year when our department had to host a conference involving all English and Literature students nationwide, and I as the departmental president ran out of funds, ideas and faith. She was as intelligent as she was beautiful, earning the best result in our freshman year, and ultimately graduating with a Second Class Upper Division, many thanks to the miserly lecturers we had. She had pretty good culinary skills too, coming out tops in a number of cooking competitions in our undergraduate years. She was too trusting and a little indecisive though, and these flaws played a part in her experiencing three occasions of heartbreak, none of which derailed her firm belief in Love and Humanity.

We had seen our fair share of failed relationships and we had supported each other through all the hurt, but now I wanted more. I had finally realised that I actually loved Irene. I couldn’t fight it anymore. I had involved myself in emotional debates through the years, but now it was clear. I wanted to wake up each morning next to her, her hair entangled in my face, her breath greeting my skin. She loved kids, and I definitely wasn’t going to mind future evenings together, sitting outside a small beautiful house with two little Joeys and one little Irene. Why couldn’t we? We usually said that each had all which the other wanted in the opposite sex, and then again we knew how to handle each other’s flaws. After all, relationship counsellors usually advised that we go for our friends when it came to the long term. This was why my eyes lit up that late afternoon. I wanted to make my feelings known, and I wondered how she would take it.

“J, you know how you always tell me to follow my heart?”, she began, jolting me back to reality.

I nodded at a fast pace. She was right. She usually came to me for advice whenever she was not so sure about entering a new relationship or helping someone out financially, and the words “follow your heart” usually served as my response, accompanied by a smile and a joining of my hands with hers.

“Joey, I am getting married…..to Fred”, she blurted out with an air of decision.

Fred? Fred? The same Fred, with whom she said she had called it quits because he smoked too much and had hit her in a fit of anger? The same Fred, whom she said spent more than half the time on Nairabet, and enjoyed forcing her to make love to him? Was this the Fred whose last she wanted to substitute hers with? If my eyes were light bulbs minutes earlier, they had blown out by the time she completed her statement.

“Is this the same…..?”

“Yes it is the very Fred”, she cut in, putting a stop to my attempt at a query. “During the three weeks when you had to attend that Writers’ Workshop at the nation’s capital, Fred and I had series of discussions. He apologised, I took him back, and after a lot of thought and prayer, I realise that I really love him. He is a great guy. He has his flaws, but that will change. I am sorry I didn’t bring this up earlier….and no, it’s not what you think. I am not pregnant for him. I am just following my heart, and I know that I’m right this time”.

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A lot of thought? Yea, right. Like the amount of thought she put in when she decided to date Femi during the second semester of our freshman year, barely a week after meeting him. We knew how that turned out; the party ended as soon as got access to the cake. It must have been the same amount of thought she put in when she got involved with Bankole during our service year, when even a little investigation earlier on would have helped her find out that he was actually a married man. Such a crucial step, a life-reaching decision, and she couldn’t afford me the courtesy of a discussion? The whole Writers’ Workshop thing was just a lame excuse. I could have sought permission to leave for a few days to discuss this matter with Irene. I cared for her that much.

“What do you think, Joey?”

“Well if it’s what makes you happy, why not? It’s your heart we are talking about here.”

That was the best reply I could muster from my head. I was too shocked to think about anything. I wasn’t being sincere and Irene knew it, but her announcement had probably caused her too much inner excitement to bother about my countenance.

“You said you wanted to tell me something, J.”

“Oh, it’s nothing. I just wanted to say that I really value the friendship we have nurtured all these years, and that I will always be there to support you. Kind of like a re-affirmation of my commitment to this friendship.”

“Joseph!”

Yea, she got me there. My eyes, my face, even my imaginary juggling said it all. At least her euphoria had not blinded her from being able to detect when I was lying. I didn’t feel the need to let out my feelings any more, as it would have made no difference, but Irene still knew how to pull words out of me, and I let loose.

“I love you, Irene Ojiugo Udechukwu”, I said, with the pent up energy of four years. “I have been running from it all before, but I just can’t continue. I have fought myself hard enough to you. I feel my chest when I think of you. I am sick of standing in the way of my own happiness. I want the strands of your hair getting lost in my face. I want my fingers to always lie in the spaces between yours. I want your perfume to be all that my bedsheets reek of. I want to open my eyes to each new day, knowing that you are less than an inch away. I need nothing else in a lady that I don’t already find in you. It’s you Irene, you I want.”

On other days she would have burst out laughing, but she could sense the seriousness in my emotional confessions, and she just stood silent. After an interval of about five speechless minutes, she got closer, and holding my face between her palms, said:

“Joey, I know you mean all you’ve said. Truth be told, I love you too, I really do…..but not in the way you desire. You have been there for me all these years, and what we share is great. We don’t have to ruin it all by adding romance to it. You are a friend, the very best, a brother, even more. Let’s be friends forever, what you ask of me will only complicate things. I know you will always be there for me, and I promise to be around for you too, albeit in a different capacity from what you want. I love how bonded we are, and I want things to stay that way.”

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Disappointment. Deflation. Demoralization. These nouns put together would not have done justice to describe how I felt upon hearing her words, but she was not done.

“Because you area super friend, my best friend, I have chosen you to give a special toast for the wedding which we have fixed for next five Saturdays. Our engagement party is coming up next Friday, and I will need you to be at Ascot Hotel to organise the place and also help the drinks. Pleaaaase? Thank you”, she went on, looking at me with those eyes I could never say no to, and handing me a peck on the cheek. “If it were possible, I would have selected you to be my Maid of Honour, but guys are not allowed to do that…..hahaha. I need you around. I need your protection, you are one of the few good men left. You are a great guy, and I know that someday you’ll find a lady who’s just right for you.”

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Brother, Friend, potential Chief Bridesmaid but for my gender. That was all Irene saw when she thought of me…..after all this time! After seeing her through all the breakups and tears! After giving up some of my blood for her when she suffered a haemorrhage in her final year and no family member could be reached! After taking a bank loan so I could get her that N500,000 camera because she said she loved Photography, and going on to link her up to UK-based photographer Ade Okelarin! After all the nights in school where I risked ridicule by carrying her handbag because she felt really weak after studying on most evenings! After deciding to break up with Nonye and Abby (in penultimate year and service year respectively) simply because Irene did not like them! She apparently attached nothing to our long hours on the phone, to those poems we read to each other under the tree adjacent to the school library, to those times we held hands during fellowship Drama Night, to those rounds of serial texting three nights a week. For her, they were just expressions of friendship. My heart sank.

Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so bad if I had obeyed my lusts and had my way with her that night. Yea, that night when she had too much to drink at last year’s End of Year dinner at our workplace, and got so horny, urging me to explore her moist regions. I declined her request, choosing to respect our friendship and refusing to take advantage. I couldn’t help but feel that keeping her clothes on was the worst mistake I had made. There was now no difference between me and a cashier who counted other people’s money, but couldn’t get access to any. It was too late now. Irene had made her decision, never mind the level of wisdom (or lack thereof) behind it.

“No qualms. I’ll take charge of the party. I always got your back. Congratulations”, I said in a solemn tone, while reaching out to hug her so tightly.

*********************************************************************************

All that had taken place eight days ago. I am all alone in my apartment, my phones are switched off, and I am sitting on the sofa beside two empty bottles of Jack Daniels. It’s my third consecutive day without a bath, and I don’t think I’ll be hitting the shower anytime soon. I know that Irene’s engagement party is slated for this Friday and there are arrangements to be discussed, but I’m in no mood for that. I have thought deeply, and I have concluded that makes no sense living with the fact that Irene will never be mine. There are lessons to be learnt from all this though: Spot out your place in people’s lives as soon as you can, and never fight too hard to earn one. Define your friendships and relationships with people early enough, and no matter how corny you may sound, make your intentions clear, or else you’ll find yourself deep in the Friend Zone before you know it, and once you are in there, it takes a miracle to climb out. I have posted these nuggets on my Facebook wall, I have written them down in this small piece of paper on the table, and I’m happy that I remembered to lodge my Will at the Probate Registry last week. I can’t get a gun, and dangling from a rope would be too painful, so these painkillers together with the liquor I just gulped down should numb my senses long enough to apply this knife to my wrists. No, it’s no use staying around. Irene will never be “nwunye Joseph”, I’ll be one Joseph whose dreams didn’t come true, and at best she’ll just shed a few tears and move on. I hope my younger brother avoids the same mistakes I made, and I hope he never comes across a lady who will subject him to this torture. They say that suicide is an automatic ticket to eternal damnation, but Hell would be no different from a life where I’ll be nothing more than just a friend to Irene.
Whatever you do, be careful not to get friend-zoned!

(Follow on Twitter @Le_Bouquineur)

Raindrops & Reminiscence: Idongesit

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“If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” – Ecclesiastes 4:11

That portion of Scripture jogs through my mind as the rains exhibit relentlessness on this particular night. My nostrils are reeling from the effect of the weather already. I have since concluded that the August Break is a climatic illusion. And no, there is no bodily heat to gain respite from. Cups of tea and old pictures of her are all I have for the long dark hours, craving for those evenings when our lips shared the fate of cakes and Bible pages did the bidding of the wind. Continue reading

The Maze

”Kk.”

That was the response he received from her, in reply to his text message. A four-page text message, laced with so many heartwarming, sweet words. It had been a text message containing allusions to historical definitions of beauty; Helen of Troy et al. He had never found it hard to construct words and phrases, and that evening he had lavished the most soothing of words on her. That text would have moved any skirt-wearing human being who secreted progesterone instead of testosterone. Any other lady’s heart would have melted…..any other, but not her.

No, not Jessie, at least not that evening. Not for the first time, Fred’s entire lexical arsenal had failed to produce the desired (if not expected) reaction. Such was the way they both related. It had been eight months since they started seeing each other, and still Fred was yet to solve the mathematical equation that was Jessie. Anytime he thought he had her all figured out, something popped up that helped to banish the thought almost immediately. Hour-long calls, lengthy chats, honey-laced texting, extensive visits, gifts, life-reaching promises……these had all failed to unravel the mystery he called his significant other.

He liked to compare her to his most recent smartphone, whose functions he was yet to fully understand even after nearly three months of usage. But then, if he put half of the effort expended in trying to understand Jessie into trying to study his phone, he would before long toss it aside for reason of overfamiliarity. He was acquainted with scores of ladies, but there was that ”je ne sais quoi” about Jessie that placed her above all others in his mental space. He could not quite explain the immense power she had over his emotions, like Daniel over lions. She was capable of adding colour to his world and making his life go grayscale at the same time. When she showed love, the way he felt could only be compared to the Transfiguration, and when she hurt him like only she could, he dreamt of ways to absorb the pain.

The general rules of civility and politeness in human interactions did not in any way apply to Jessie. It was she who would plant a kiss in appreciation for a short walk home, and at the same time neglect or refuse to call to say thanks for having her bank account credited. A mention on the social networks could be treated to warm pleasantries, yet a good number of their evening chats had ended without so much as goodnight wishes. By now Fred was used to tickling her and often getting little response, whereas a wry smile from him could attract the most endearing of hugs.

Fred had been a perennial puzzle champion in his younger years, but figuring out Jessie would require ten times the skill, effort and patience he had ever exhibited while he smashed through those crosswords and jigsaws. One minute she was a mirror he could see right through , the next minute she was a maze which he had to find a way round. Ultimately it was the complexity of the maze that made it beautiful, he mused. True, Jessie was worth the challenge, but it was not easy loving a lady who could flinch at the very same words that made her blush a moment earlier.

He could not forget the day she called to see him, sounding desperate as she did so. Not too long after, she sent a text message telling him not to bother. That visit never materialised, never mind that he was two-thirds through to her place when he received the message. There was also the day she had visited him, heightening his aspirations of getting lucky with her. She had in fact initiated the intimate expressions between them on that day, but in a flash she turned her back towards him on the bed, and with that all hope of any form of action was quashed. How about the times she sent him messages which read ”I want to hear your voice”, only to hang up midway through the consequent call? Yes, there was the week when her antics took their toll on him and made him fail to meet up with a deadline at his workplace which almost cost him his job, but could he deny the fact that her love and support played a huge role in the two consecutive Employee Of The Month awards he received after that incident?

Jessie it was who could discuss anything with him up to monthly periods and stained tampons when ”the mood was right”. The same Jessie who could update ”I’m really sad” on the social networks and respond to his inquiries with that seven-alphabet nullifier. No, a combination of the world’s best shrinks could not decipher who and what Jessie was. Sigmund Freud obviously did not have someone like her in mind when he educated the world on human psychology two centuries earlier. Depending on how she felt at the time, the seductive wits of a Don Juan or a Giovanni Jacopo Casanova could fall flat at Jessie’s feet. Fred always knew how to unlock a lady’s amorous potential, but even he had his off-days when it came to her. In the days when he was more familiar with his Bible, he would have compared her with the Gerasenes’ Demoniac, only this time with a little romance and without violence. If what they shared were to be transmitted into verse, it would have to be termed ”Bitersweet Poetry”. No one else could make him feel something as sweet as cake, and at the same time knock the taste out of his mouth.

He had chosen not to think about her response to his late evening text, using the rest of his active hours to apply finishing touches to the presentation he had to deliver at his workplace the next morning. He would however wake up with a slightly damp mood, and only got better after performing his daily ritual of glancing at the photos of her which adorned his phone, computer and bedroom wall. He resisted the temptation to call or chat her up that morning. He needed to focus solely on his presentation. His decision paid off, until 8.50am at least, exactly ten minutes to action time at the office. His phone beeped, upon which he unwittingly reached for it. It was a message from Jessie. Few words which conveyed warmth most indescribable. Vintage Jessie! Just when he didn’t want to think of her that morning. She never failed to throw him off balance. After a huge sigh and a period of seven minutes which he spent trying to regain composure, he gathered his papers together, took a deep breath and walked slowly into the conference room.

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Something About Benny

It was 1am, windows shut amidst the thick darkness and relentless May rains. There she lay next to him, his naturally sleepy eyes making out her features on this moonless night where PHCN had not been so kind. He reached for her and, gently touching her cheek with his lips, decided to hold her close. It was all he wanted to do. He didn’t know when he whispered the words, ”I could stay here forever”. Few things could be more divine, he said to himself, as he felt her heartbeat……

The daily 5am alarm from his phone jolted him back to reality. There he was, lying bare-chested on one of two beds in a lonely room. That wonderful moment had been nothing more than a dream. Another night, another dream, same lady. And this had been the pattern for the previous five nights leading up to this last one. The same effect yet again, leaving him with more intense yearning for this lady, as well as a feeling of deprivation.

He wondered why he was at the mercy of all these visitations that left him deflated upon her departure. But he didn’t have to think further; he rose up with thoughts of her each morning before saying his graces, and drifted to Dreamland with thoughts of her after the night’s shower. Benny (short form of the name Bernice) had been the subject of his thoughts lately. He could not quite place a tab on where this was all coming from, but then he didn’t exactly want to dispense with the thoughts either.

For a huge chunk of his university days, he had always harboured strong feelings for Benny. He had graduated nine months ago and she was presently in her final year, but the distance had done nothing to quell those emotions. In all his emotional attachments to other females, flirtations and erotic fantasies, she had occupied one indelible corner in his thoughts. He was mad about her, but somehow he could never bring himself to express how he felt.

There was something about the way her eyes darted around the place, about the way her cheeks danced on her face, about the way she laughed at the silliest things, about the way her skin glowed. Even a little weight issue two years earlier had failed to take the shine off the beauty that was Benny. Somehow he had maintained some sort of connection with her, which had strengthened over the years, though (sadly) in a platonic way. Her roommate had been his colleague in his first year, and in his third year the same scenario had played out, albeit with a different colleague of his. They were also of the same denomination, and he was equally familiar with her elder sister.

He remembered how he had been forced to travel home on the day he had summoned the courage to ask her out, sometime in the earlier part of his third year. And that courage was never again found after that day. It was not a case of shyness. True, he had struggled with that in the previous decade of his life, but presently he was not the type to get stuck on words, spoken or written. So what was it about Benny that made his tongue so heavy? Maybe it was the fear of rejection. Yea, there were other fish in the sea, but being turned down by Benny could cause him a nervous breakdown, he would have to leave that city, if he wouldn’t have lost his mind already. Or maybe it was the fear of that grim reality that she may have long been taken already. But then, who wouldn’t? A lady like Benny was almost impossible to find, a lady you wouldn’t want to drift away as little as six inches from you.

It was a question of what she couldn’t do rather than what she could. Her hands defined the word ‘bakery’, and he was born with a weakness for cakes. If that was all they lived on, he wouldn’t mind. He had not forgotten the fact that she could really move her body. She had been part of a dance group earlier in her university days before academic challenges forced her to re-prioritise, and since dancing was not one of his strongest points, he could use a private instructor. Baking was not all her hands were good for. He had taken a few peeps at some comics she created in her younger years, and he couldn’t help but smile. He was reminded of the way he attempted to use drawing in recreating Bible stories and Hollywood movies. Caricatures they were, but he tried to improve, until a mean Fine Art teacher back in secondary school put all his passion for drawing to the sword. She could re-awaken that, he mused each time she came to mind. Then again, she could write, a similar trait they shared, only that she wrote about herself. It mattered little, she could tell all her stories to him, his ears could be her heart’s publishing house.

He never passed up an opportunity to imagine what he would do if he and Benny had each other’s hearts. He would probably lay beside her among blades of grass on moonless nights, while they used both their eyes and fingers to separate the stars from the comets. He would prove to her how their love could be likened to yeast, making him swell and bringing out the best in him, rather than crayons, which shortened and faded thin after a while. He would scream about what they shared, from Benin City to Port Harcourt. He would go as far as writing her name in the skies…..

And yet all these right now seemed like wishful thinking. In one of their chats via Blackberry Messenger sometimes two months earlier, she had subtly hinted that she was ‘encumbered’. Only one male in the world was entitled to that 2am text message laced with the words ”I love you.” And while he didn’t fancy the idea of stealing love from any man, it was also true that all is fair in love and war. Whenever he dreamt of a lady for once, thoughts of that person had a habit of sticking for weeks. How much more six consecutive dreams, all emotionally charged? Maybe it was time to finally lighten his tongue, express how he felt, unburden his heart, say what he needed to say…….or maybe not. Maybe he was not meant to go beyond that level of familiarity. Maybe trying to start something special could lead to the ugliest and gloomiest of futures. Afterall, some things were best admired and adored from a distance.

His Blackberry phone beeped. A ping! Lo, it was her! Talk of the devil! He remembered sending her a goodnight message before dozing off, submerged in thoughts of her. Well she was responding, tendering an apology for seeing it late and dropping good morning pleasantries at the same time. He picked his phone. Taking a deep breath, he pondered on the shape their discussion that morning would take. Was this the moment of truth? To be, or not to be? Several thoughts flooded his mind as he began to type away.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Heartfelt Notes

It was the second consecutive hour since he sat on that chair, staring at her as she slept dreamily on those sheets. She had every right to be in Dreamland at that time; they had spent a larger part of that Thursday celebrating the second month anniversary of their relationship. The food had been rich, the drinks top-drawer, the words heartwarming, the kiss magical, the bonding activities serving their purpose. The night had begun to age by the time they returned to his apartment (the route to hers was dangerous to ply by dusk), and sleep was the most rational thing to do.

Not for him though. His mind was in no mood to exercise any rationality. Too much flowed in his heart to be drowned by sleep. His gaze was fixed on her, as he felt his heartbeat accelerate once more. He wondered how his emotional intoxication rose with each passing hour. He was the type who always placed logic over emotion, always put his rational mind to work, always had something to say, always philosophised. But not when the issue came to what he had for her, no.

A hundred thousand words could not quite explain what he felt for her. She was by no means his first love, but he was too far gone to even try putting his emotions in check for a minute. He couldn’t help but fix his lovestruck eyes on her once more. There was something about the way her hair fell on her face, about the way she reached for the pillows, about the way her body slowly turned. Stroking an imaginary ring on the finger of his left hand, he took a deep breath as his mind dwelt on all it could actually dwell on for most of its active hours – her!

Like Moses over rocks and seas, like Jesus over storms and fig trees, such was her power over his emotions. No, she didn’t have to lift a hand or say a word. Her eyes and the way she placed those dark soft lips conveyed scores of messages. It was still early days in terms of what they shared, but he felt like a tree on which a love-shaped heart had been permanently carved. Of course it was too early to compare what they had to a garden, but the first few flowers had certainly been fixed, and little by little, inch by inch, they could water it with what flowed with their hearts, and while measuring up to Eden would look like a lofty aspiration, there was no harm trying.

He could still recall every detail of how they met. It had been a youth conference the year before, where they had got acquainted and she had exchanged contacts with him. Usually such interactions and bonds inspired by three-day events would fade out in less than two months, but this was different. Somehow they maintained communication, somehow they got to know slightly more about each other. He had grown fond of her, but for a long while had doubted if she’d ever take him serious. Then came one evening, one casual discussion, one moment of courage from him, and now they were here.

They didn’t exactly share too many similarities. His complexion was something close to light, she was a tiny shade away from dark. He was your typical conservative reserved young man, she was extroverted and cynical with a naughty edge to her. He was born in late Spring, she came to life in mid-Autumn. His mounds of flesh, falling short of a chubby look, had come to meet her slender frame. Yet it was those differences that knit them so closely. Like opposite hues on a colour wheel, they complemented each other. Being an artist, he loved to think that the union of black and white created something much more beautiful when compared to the union of white and white.

With each passing day, the fact that a lot had changed in his life since their hearts took the Love Road was brought to the fore. It was a question of what she was not to him rather than what she was. She filled in the role of Lover, Sister, Bestie, and Muse. The start of their romance had coincided with his rediscovery of his passion to paint again. Two weeks into their relationship he had realised his first artwork in almost two years, which had garnered lots of positive reviews. Ideas kept springing up after that, and his new works reflected his new outlook to life – beautiful and worth sharing, as opposed to his older works which featured dark and gloomy impressions inspired by previous disappointments. Songs like ”Goodbye My Lover” and ”Dreaming With A Broken Heart”, which graced his music playlist, had been replaced with ”Your Love Is A Song” and ”She Is (Everything)”. For him, she was all he wanted, yet that which he never knew he needed.

”I love you”, he screamed in his mind. And just as if she could hear him, she let out a smile in her sleep. That smile he now lived for. Just as he lived for the moments her hair got entangled in his face. He looked forward to those mornings when her fingers fit into the holes between his fingers as they said their graces, and those evenings when he could just lean into her and forget the world after a long day. Nothing else mattered. With each minute came an increased yearning to be there for her in every way. He wanted her thoughts to belong to his ears, her worries to his shoulders, her shivers to his arms. Whether God approved of every single thing they did was of course a debatable issue, but he prayed to Him that everything would work out between them.

He was approaching his fifth hour on that chair. No moment on it had been wasted, not for him. When it came to thoughts or words or deeds for her, no hour was ungodly. But Nature wouldn’t be denied. After reluctantly turning down the lights, he crawled into bed, brushed her face with his lips, held her warm body close and shut his eyes, hoping to meet her in his dreams.