If you look for me, you would find me in odd places staring into space. Maybe I’m thinking, maybe I’m just lost. Do you know what it means to hold your life in your hands, and then lose it?
Do you know what it means to be at this place I am now — the place where everyone without redemption is found.
I used to be one of those girls who loved older, rich guys. I loved that when I hugged them, I would properly fit into their arms. I loved that they were made and I didn’t have to “build” with anyone. I did not have to manage.
But the problem with most of them is that they have seen a lot of women come and go and they think the way to a woman’s heart is money.
When I met Chima, he spoiled me, he lavished his money on me. We talked everyday even during his busy days, but we talked about nothing. Our calls were like a fulfillment of duty.
“How are you?” He would ask.
“I’m good and you?”
“How was your day?”
“I spent my day picking out designs for a customer. How was yours?”
Another man would be interested. Another would say, “Did you find something fitting?”
Another man would tell me what he did with his day.
Soon I got tired of the routine.
“How’re you?” He would ask.
“How was your day?”
“Have you eaten?”
I would hum a reply acting distracted.
“You must be busy now,” he would say. “Let’s talk when you are done.”
I won’t call back and he would not notice.
I met Obinna while I was still dating Chima. Obinna was younger, funny, sarcastic. He always had something to say and other times, he was quiet while he wrote a poem in his journal.
I told him I was not in a relationship. We had an instant connection which I didn’t want to lose. The first day we slept together, I confessed. I told him I was in a relationship.
That night he slept on a seat facing the window. The next morning, he asked, “Will you leave him?”
I bobbed my head before I said, “yes.”
He kissed me. “I’ll wait for you.”
Days after that, I found out I was pregnant. I knew whose baby it was, but I didn’t tell Chima. Chima would have used the chance to pin me as his wife. I told Obinna who did not have enough to think about marriage yet.
Tears stung my eyes when I saw the dilemma I had introduced to his life. He didn’t have the money for abortion, but he continuously made calls to find a buyer for his coins. He thought of borrowing money, he thought of marrying me.
He said it was his savings, but he sold it for me to go through the process in a good clinic.
It was after the abortion, I lost myself. It felt like they removed something else inside me and replaced it with emptiness, grief and guilt.
“I can’t continue in this relationship,” I said to Chima one day.
He smiled. “I noticed something has been bothering you. I was waiting for you to open up.”
That day, I sat opposite him in his best eatery watching him. He had no fight in him. He smiled, he shrugged and said, ” if that’s what you want, I can’t hold you back. They say, “if you love something you let it go, if it comes back then it’s yours to keep.”
He shrugged again. “I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. I wish you all the best in all you do from now on.”
No questions. He asked no questions. He didn’t want to know why. He didn’t want to know if we could fix it. That’s another thing with older men; they love to stay away from emotional dramas.
I went back to Obinna. In the night I cried while we made love and he kissed my tears, whispering into my ears, “It’ll get easier, I promise.”
I believed him because I trusted him. That trust came with love. Months later, the blanket of sadness began to lift because Obinna never let me journey alone. He was part of it. But he could not take away the grief.
One morning, he showed me a post online, laughing. It was about Zimbabweans selling their toes.
“If you had to sell your toe, which would you sell?”
I was naked under his duvet. He stared at me waiting for my reply.
I laughed. “It would have to be the smallest toe. It’s so silly.”
At that moment, I chose to be free from grief.
“You know that time I had to remove that baby?” I asked.
“That baby wasn’t yours.”
“There was no baby?”
I sat up, pulling the duvet to cover my nudity. “No, it just wasn’t yours. I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry, how?” he asked. “Are you talking about that I borrowed money or that you made me think of marrying you or that you almost tore my life apart?”
“Obi, I’m sorry.”
“What?” He asks, moving away from the bed. “Who are you?”
“I needed the money and support. I couldn’t do it alone.”
“Who are you? Who the fuck are you!”
His shout drowned the last plea I wanted to make. It drowned us. We both stared at each other or I stared at him while he looked over my head.
He didn’t stop me when I slid off the bed and put on my clothes. He didn’t stop me when I put my things together. He didn’t ask me to leave, but I left. He didn’t ask me to stay either.