You remember him liking your pictures on Instagram, last year March. You remember him following you and you following back but not liking his pictures. You remember him adding you on Facebook the next day, and texting you. You remember him asking for your iMessage. And you remember wonderful days with him. You do not remember how it went sour.
He lived in Canada. But you talk to him everyday. Talking and texting and FaceTiming. Some days you stay up till 3am Nigerian time because that’s when he’s done with classes. You will later figure out that you had been operating on 4 hours of sleep. It hadn’t seemed to matter then. He started failing in school. And then you started having tutor sessions, trying to help him. Most times he needed to smoke weed to concentrate, and you would always rebuke him. He said he wouldn’t do it again. You knew his lies before they formed.
You had never even met for one day; still you cared deeply about him. You wanted him to be happy. You were crushed if his voice was shaky with fear or worry. And you watched him too closely; you wanted him to do things rightly and to listen to you more than anyone else. But his demons continued. He was not picking up quite well in school. The school wanted him out if he failed an exam. And you struggled with him but failures emerged, because he was always angry. But one day he tells you over the phone “I love you” and then you hang up. You both go on and fight about that. But you don’t tell him “I love you”.
Then one day, he told you he couldn’t anymore. He just couldn’t. After a fight you two had had over something trivial, he couldn’t. And you were devastated. And angry because you felt like a fool that had thought all of that meant something.
The day your mother dies, on a hot day in the middle of August, you message him and tell him. He replies “aww pele”. Just that. And it had, at that moment, cheapened your grief. Made death seem ordinary. You promise not to speak to him again, but when Christmas comes and he messages, you reply. You go on to ask about his school. He keeps it brief and cold and distant.
Your days begin to fly now, and yet each one of them is stretched by a renewed expectation, swollen with his silence and the memories of the private experiences you had imagined with him.
Then he texts you in January, says, “I’m coming home”. That was it. “I’m coming home” and you felt weirdly changed by it. Like it was you he called home. It had seemed it would not be, and there it was. His “I’m coming home”. You gather yourself, try to be cordial. You ask “oh what for?” and he tells you he needs to renew his visa and it can only be done here.
You see him two days after he returns. It is weird again; you start laughing at his house. The entrance of it has God in small blue and white sculptures. There is a red light on the table covered with white cloth that blinks like a warning. It reminds you of danger. He has lost weight. He says, “You’re much taller than I thought”. You make small talk: bad Internet, expensive horrible ice cream, and NEPA situation.
You don’t talk about the big issues, the ones you two are scared of. The ones that will wreck what needed to be preserved. And then you two are kissing on his father’s couch, where you would later see his father watch soccer, subsequently on your Tuesday and Thursday visits every evening. The smell of his skin is like that of wet grass, and resembles only itself.
The sex was weird a month later. You brought out your iPhone, consulted Google on what positions hurt less, armoured by the thirst for a painless love. It resulted that it hadn’t always been about sex; it wasn’t also because of the distance, there was something more intimate than organs hitting against each other. Most evenings you two will rather watch something on his laptop and just talk. Time flew, always.
You fought here too. His visa started taking too long, complications came everywhere. And you tried to fix. You were so sure you could. And then you failed and he hated you for even trying. There were fights but he’d always come around, say he’s sorry, say he loves you.
One time, he sat on that his father’s couch and cried and begged you. You watched him cry. You thought it was beautiful; that he could cry and beg and want you to stay. That it hurt him to not have you. He cried with his eyes open, his eyes closed, his hands in his pockets. He cried as the curtain in the living room swayed with a faint breeze. When he is done crying, you imagine that his throat feels empty and he cannot stop heaving up air as his body quivers. Still you stand there, looking at all he’s said. They are dead soldiers on the floor, and there is sand in your throat. But you are not able to throw it all up. Inside, at the bottom of your belly, unsaid words remain.
And then, one day he got angry. It was because of Snapchat and Aham. You see Aham is his bestfriend on Snapchat. You text him, almost accusatory “oh so you know Aham?” And he says, “yes he’s my friend”, and you reply “how original”. He gets furious, takes your sarcasm and works it till it becomes a war – till his words come out like running waves: brutal, fortuitous, and botherless. He says a couple of other things that you read but do not reply. You say to yourself: he will come around and beg. He cried that day. He will come around, and you will hesitate a little but you will take him back. Because he makes you feel less cold. Your life is spaced out with him in it. But he never did. And you never tried to tell him that without him, you felt too tight. That there was no space; that you were choking.
Three weeks go by, and you two don’t speak. Everything seems so weird to you. You go to his house one evening, and he’s angry and he is not looking at you in the eye. You two stand in his mother’s kitchen. It’s so airy but he’s sweating as he tells you that you have hurt him. That he has mourned you and now he’s over. That he is done.
You start to beg him. You cry, you cry some more. Your tears stun you with a desperate, foreign element. You tell him: please, let us not do this. We have a couple of weeks till you go back, let us hold it and own it and make it ours. Let us love it together. He refuses. He tells you that it is best to be apart. Now that he’s angry, his chin looks hard, and his mouth is a straight line. You hold him so close; you are taller, your tears are on his neck. He promises to think about it, that there is need for space. You believe his word. But the space will expand and he will become too distant, like he was on the other side of a room and your hands belonged to a toddler. You wouldn’t be able to reach out and touch him. It will be air and noise you touched, when you tried. He removes his hand from your grip and tells you to leave now. You spend a minute waiting for the next thing to do. Mary is dressed in a soft blue on the wall as you walkout; her hands are opened to air and dust. She looks helpless and idle.
You go for summer camp. You don’t even tell him about it, because you two don’t talk much anymore. He likes the idea of summer camps. You should have told him. You go to his house on Tuesday after the Sunday you return. You meet a new gateman. Tell him you are looking for Dayo and he doesn’t know you. Everything is strange when he tells you that he’s gone. “Dayo don go back, he go on Friday”. Briefly, you remember his smile, how his lips divide. He would have smiled at this new gateman, the way his gums stared back black at everything. He would have smiled when his visa came too.
Above your head there is a sword of a shocking yellow, dividing blades of skies that will form water in a couple of minutes. You enter your car and feel disbanded by loud noises. You feel it inside you too – something moves, like engines forming tears. Everything looks blurry. You realize you are crying.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Flashon Studio