Reality Is: The Wahala With The Truth II
“I didn’t think you’d come,” Dapo said after his third attempt at starting a conversation.
Mope lowered her Chapman glass and eyed him. “You never really knew me then – or maybe that’s just your conscience talking.”
“Or maybe it’s both,” Dapo interjected, relieved as Mope’s smile grew wider. “Thank you for coming,” he finished.
She nodded. “Well, you were never one for loose ends – and then I have been curious myself.” Her features settled into seriousness, and then she turned to look over the parking lot at the sunset. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked Dapo. He nodded in response.
They were seated on the Ikeja City Mall balcony in front of Rhapsody’s; a week after they met for the first time in seven years. After the shocked and surprised reactions, he had asked her to a drink and to talk about ‘stuff’ – stuff he knew she was curious about and he needed to get off his chest.
He was surprised she agreed. Now, he didn’t know where to start from.
“The beginning would be fine,” she said, jolting him with the accuracy of her words. At his startled look she smiled and shrugged. “It started again – few minutes after I saw you last week,” she said, referring to an almost uncanny ability of reading each other’s minds they’d shared. “I missed it,” she ended.
Dapo cleared his throat and wondered if he should order a drink. “Ah – it nearly drove me crazy at some point. I mean – isn’t that what Hollywood tells us about soul mates? Didn’t we learn the hard way they don’t exist?”
Her hand touched the back of his lightly. “Just because you can’t explain it does not mean it isn’t real,” she whispered.
Dapo shuddered. She can still make me feel like this – after seven years.
Mope glanced over the shiny car roofs at the sun in the distance and said almost to herself; “I did think you were dead – after you disappeared.” She paused, and then melodramatically shifted in her seat and turned to look at him.
“I cried for months; and then I ran into Muyiwa who told me you were alive and well. Imagine what that did to me,” she paused and sighed. “Why did you do it?” she asked him.
He was going to clear his throat – but then thought the better of it and just swallowed, wishing he had ordered a drink. “There’s no other way to say this Mope, so I’ll just say it.” He sighed. “I was afraid.”
‘Fear’ was not on the long list of ‘excuses’ Mope had prepared herself to hear from Dapo, so it was understandable when her mouth unhinged itself and put her thirty-two shiny teeth and sensually pink tongue on display. “Afraid?!” she repeated incredulously. “Of what?!”
The left corner of Dapo’s lips sluggishly rose in the beginnings of a smile – and abruptly slumped again. “Remember the first thing I ever said to you?”
Mope smiled wryly. “‘Cupid did not ask for my permission before taking my most-prized possession and giving it to you for, hopefully; protection. But in the off situation that what you feel is not my feeling’s reflection, I should charge you to please return it without infection’.” She caught a deep breath and looked at Dapo sadly. “I remember it – all of it. I still have the book sef.”
“I was such a poetic mumu then,” he responded. “But every word I said; I meant. I never lied about my feelings. You were like – it was like being broke and out of BIS, and you’re wondering how to keep talking to the new girl. And then just like that -” he snapped his fingers “-someone sends you 5k credit.”
The laughter was forced out of Mope like an unexpected fart. “You and your similes! You’re crazy!”
“You’re right – only a crazy man would have walked away – or run away from what we had.”
Mope took a drink from the now-watery Chapman and slowly lowered the glass. “You still haven’t told me why you did it. I know you said fear – but I don’t get. Fear…of what?”
Dapo shook his head. “Mope I loved you. It was new for me – and with the newness came a strange intensity, and with that intensity came fear. I didn’t know how to handle it.
“Remember how we would spend the entire day doing nothing but looking at each other and sighing – and then we’d remember breakfast at 11o’clock at night? Remember how we went from zero to 150 – in the space of two days? Remember – “
“Remember how you let your over-analyzing affect and eventually destroy us? I remember clearly,” she bit her lower lip in anguish. “I can’t believe how much time I wasted trying to convince you how wrong you were. And all for what?
“Do you have any idea what you did to me?”
For the second time since the evening began, he wished he had ordered a drink. “I can guess – because I know what happened to me.”
Mope was intrigued in spite of herself. “What happened to you?”
“Nothing – only I spent the last seven years of my life dating all sorts of women and not realizing what the issue was till one day last week when I went to see a movie…and then it hit me like a horse kick in the belly – “
“Dapo….Dapo what are you saying?!”
There were tears in her eyes – tears that stood out startlingly against the soft black that were her lashes.
“I don’t know, Mope. I know what I did was unforgivable…I don’t even think that’s a good word. But I’m saying I love you – I have loved you since that night I saw you and I know I’ll never be happy with anyone…”
“I’m…I’m getting married.”
It was surreal; Dapo realized afterwards, watching the tears spill over and run down her cheeks. He felt as if he wasn’t there; like he was watching a movie in 3D and could almost feel her tears. He sat there, wishing he had not seen her again yet knowing he needed it, wishing he had ordered a drink and knowing he did not need that, and wondering why the horse hadn’t kicked him again.
He sat there and watched as she gathered her things and slowly stood up; telling himself to say something yet knowing there was really nothing else to say. His eyes followed her as she pushed her chair back; walked to stand beside his, kneel down –
He tasted the salt of her tears as she crushed her lips to his, breath rushing from her mouth at the intensity. Despite his confusion Dapo kissed her back, marveling at the differences and wondering why his ears were becoming hotter.
With a loud sob Mope broke the kiss and staggered to her feet, hurrying away with tears streaming down her face. I should go after her; he thought, staring at the startled patrons as they stared at the crying girl. A few looked in his direction, but looked away hurriedly at the heavy scowl on his face.
“Excuse me sir?” a soft voice spoke from behind him. Dapo turned angrily, prepared to vent his anger on the waitress for disturbing him with what he thought was the bill. He was surprised.
“From the lady who just – left,” the pretty waitress said, holding a slim wrapped package towards him. “Thanks,” Dapo mumbled, snatching the package and ripping it open. A piece of paper flew out, floating towards the edge of the balcony. He caught it in midair and looked at it.
From one who will love you forever. Happy Birthday.
It wasn’t signed – not that it made any difference. He put the note on the table and finished opening the package. It was an ONWARD exercise book, a book filled with his handwriting. It was the book of poems he had written for her two weeks into their relationship. Idly he flipped through the pages, marveling at their crispness, laughing here and there at the sight of a lipstick stain across a line or a small note she scribbled beside something profound he’d written. And what did I do; he thought.
His sight became blurry – but it wasn’t until a drop of water fell onto the page and rapidly disappeared did he realize the truth.
He was crying.