Your silence is like a third presence in the room. It keeps my arms beside me with bands of steel when we both know they’d rather be around you.
But the same silence keeps me on my side of things because something in your eyes suggests that I’m much safer here than near you.
I wonder why.
I wonder about a lot of things these days. Like why you’re so bothered I won’t be around for our fifth anniversary when we live in the same house like comfortable strangers. We talk – but we’re actors rehearsing lines from a script. I know your questions, you know my responses. They’ve been the same for the past eighteen months – regular like clockwork.
How was your day dear?
Fine. Yours? You kill your boss yet?
There’s dinner in the cooler, darling.
We have our sides of the bed. There’s a wall in between them – a wall that cannot, must not and will not be breached. There’s nothing there visible to the bare eyes – but the Great Wall of China might as well be there.
You ask if we’re done. You ask if there’s nothing more to us.
You ask if…you ask if there’s someone else.
The words have a shaky feel to them. They command my attention to your expression, and I see the shimmer of something – a liquid on the surface of your eyes.
I stand there and watch them spill over with bullet-time slowness, convinced we’re all just props on a movie set. I’m there but I’m not part of what’s happening. You ask me why I married you if I was going to allow things degenerate to this point between us.
That’s the issue.
When I married you, anything like this was the farthest thing to my mind. I married you because, in spite of everything I believed in ‘happily-ever-after’. You made me believe in that.
But somewhere along the line, you stopped believing and I gave up because I didn’t have enough for two.
I gave up on you. I gave up on us.
You ask if there’s someone else. Again.
See? We’re following a script here. Must ‘someone else’ be the ‘why’ we’re so unhappy? Must I take to drinking and come home late because I’m having issues with my wife – in my marriage? Can’t there be something else; like work for instance?
In a matter-of-fact tone of voice you tell me I am not going anywhere. I try to explain to you how important this trip is – how the future of our company depends on the outcome of this Abuja meeting. You ask if it’s more important than the home I always come back to.
There’s no difference in your voice as you tell me I’ll have to make a decision. You tell how there’s still hope for us – how we can still make it happen. The feeling of being on a movie set persists – it’s really as though I’m hearing you talk in slow motion through the curtain of tears that cascade down your face steadily.
I don’t have a lot of choice, do I?
The door opens and a two-year old version of you walks in, almost blinding me with the sun shinning in her eyes. She rushes towards me and I kneel down to gather her in my arms. A burning sensation within my chest announces itself – my heart is breaking as the volcano behind my eyes erupts in a hot shower of tears. I hug our daughter to me and I sob…
The tears are there when my eyes open but everything else stays behind. I sit up on my bed and hold my head in my hands. I tell myself I’m just missing you – that it’s because I’m trying to adjust to single life again. But it’s more than that.
It’s a lot more than that.
It’s been six months – six months during which I’ve moved on. Six months of which everything has been better than ever – six months of being absolutely single and, for the first time in a long while; loving it. Not because it gives me an excuse to ‘explore my options’ but because it’s been six months of getting to know me all over again.
It’s been six months of seeing myself for who I truly am and working towards being a better me. It’s been six months of growth and development, six months of putting things in perspective.
Six months of thinking about you and smiling like an idiot in the middle of Oba Akran. Six months of suddenly bursting into laughter, startling the other occupants of the BRT bus I’m riding home in.
Six months of letting go.
So the dreams are not symptoms of my heart refusing to accept that you’ve gone. I don’t doubt we’ll go on our separate ways and live lives that are undoubtedly good. But in the same vein, I can’t honestly say we don’t belong with each other.
Were we ‘happenstance’? Were we ‘coincidence’? Were we stray cats who bumped into each other one rainy night and shared something millions search for all their lives and only few ever truly experience?
Too many questions. Not enough…
‘Limpopo’ starts to play somewhere not too far off, providing this movie with the perfect theme song. It takes me a moment to realize it is my ringtone; meaning means my phone is ringing.
I grab it – and though it has been six months I know the number. I know it because it’s written on every part of my memory in letters of fire.
There’s a drum beating as I take the call. And the first thing you say to me is…
‘Have you been dreaming about me?’