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Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke: These Are the Things I Learned of You

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dreamstime_l_33656820There are few things I have come to learn of you. One day, you are the slipshod lover, loving me carelessly, with the patent inattention one would originally think was present only in little children and comfortable in it. On such days, I find your love in Whatsapp messages ticked blue devoid of replies, and missed calls even when I know you are there. On other days, you are the doting lover, the “How are you, Babe” lover, and “I miss you” lover. I know these dispositions as I came to know “A, B, C”, from continual attention, I know I cannot be wrong.

I have come to learn that on some days I would be the one loving too much, the one with all of the sensations and the one longing to hold your hands, and on other days, it would be you, doing the loving, the longing. I have come to learn to smile on either days, to append texts with “I love you” even when I do not feel it, and to stare at your pictures with a smile creasing the corners of my lips. I have come to learn that I love you even when I do not.

Look, when I first came to learn that life gets in the way, I learnt it tediously. No, I did not learn it from you. I know there are the gloomy days and the jolly days, the heartrending days and the merry days, I know that life is a famished bull, searching eagerly for its next prey. It is ruthless, and horrid, cruel and somehow still beautiful.

I have come to learn that you are fine with life getting in the way, and frankly, I am fine with it too. I believe now that love should be escorted by light heartedness, that perhaps love is like a scampering hen that scurries away the minute you attempt to grasp it, that perhaps we go after love with too much significance. It is the terrified child forced to sit on Santa’s laps, uncomfortable with excess attention, and the withdrawn kid coerced to be a lead in the school play.

There are few things I have come to learn of you. Some of these things I have learnt in my calm moments, reading my borrowed copy of Native Son, watching back-to-back episodes of The Voice. Others have come when I am talking to you on the phone, or when am I staring at your picture smiling at me from my Laptop screen. There are the ones that come when I am listening to Regina Spektor’s “Samson”, earphones plugged in, disconnected from the world or re-watching favourite scenes from Twilight.

I have learned that girls like you are the “Bella” girls, in tartan shirts, folded jeans, and oddly coloured nail polish, heads hidden in the golden pages of Novels, singing along to Ed Sheeran. Sometimes, we mistake your seclusion for absence of emotions, and your poignant moments for “mad at us” moments, it’s difficult to tell them apart, believe me. Other times, we are confident in your affection for us, in how you ramble about your day, and a friend you do not like anymore, in your dependence on us, this in its own way is extremely exciting.

We love that you think us a shoulder to lean on, because sometimes we fear that you do not need anyone and I am not sure you know how depressing it is to not be needed.

Other boys say we are the foolish boys for choosing to love the “Bella” girls, the imprudent boys, the “no sabi” boys. Why settle for a puzzle when you can have a dictionary? They ask.

I wonder how to tell them that sometimes the peculiarity of love is our inability to understand it, that one does not choose to love the “Bella” girls, that it simply happens and you do not exactly know why. I have come to learn that an unexciting lover, without quirk and oddity as love without doubts would be monotonous; that although I want to be sure of your feelings for me, I do not completely need to be sure.

It is love because it is mystifying. Every day is an escapade whose end we are unsure of but which we embark on anyway.

There are few things I have come to learn of you. I have come to learn that you are beautiful, in the eccentric way that has me smiling at your display pictures before I save them, but you do not know this, do you? I have learnt too of the other ways in which you are beautiful, of your short clipped sentences and your lengthy monologues when you are upset or too excited, and the animation in your voice with every “Hello”. I can tell you are surprised I know these things.

With you, I have come to learn that love is a shape shifter whose next figure we do not know. I have come to learn that it is gratifying, below par sometimes, and just somewhere in the middle at other times., that you are not all I want, nor am I all you want, because nobody is what their partner wants completely, they are some of it, and most of it, but never all of it.

There are few things I have come to learn of you, I have come to learn to leave tomorrow for tomorrow, to wallow in the now and beam from its essence. I will talk for long hours on the phone and miss you when I go into solitude; I will cloud my doubt with vigour and my fears with supremacy. I will yearn to hear your voice when I cannot, and crave the austerity in it when you read from The Fault in Our Stars.

However, I have come to learn that hurt is necessary, that nobody deserves any other completely and that you do not owe me any affection. I know even in all of this that if tomorrow you decide to walk out the door, I will be just fine and you taught me this.

I have come to learn to love you wholeheartedly, and at the same time to love you with manacles, to not let go completely, to see every experience as souvenirs if things go the wrong way tomorrow and to be completely okay with carrying these souvenirs along.

See, I have come to learn that I need to be happy, that I deserve it, and frankly in a world teeming with thoughts of insufficiency and defectiveness, you taught me this too. I could say I’ve always known it, but there are times when one forgets that it is only them that matters, but you constantly remind me, without saying it even.

Later, I will listen to Taylor Swift’s Style,

You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
Cause we never go out of style

Singing at the top of my voice and dancing around my bedroom, but hey listen and know this in Swift’s perspective; we would never go out of style, not now, not ever.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

aleb Somtochukwu Okereke is a writer and literary blogger whose works have appeared in Sun and Vanguard Newspapers, Kalahari Review, New Black Magazine, Hamilton Stone review. His first Novel was published by Bahati Books UK in 2016 and you can follow him on Instagram @caleb_okereke

26 Comments

  1. Ochokwu

    April 27, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Ohh my!! This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read in my life. So saving it. We need more buko nwanne m.

  2. somtoo

    April 27, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Wow!igbugo’m!.You put my thoughts into the most descriptive words possible.Very apt.I love it.Please don’t ever stop writing.

  3. Anonymous

    April 27, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    This!!! <3 <3 <3<3<3

  4. PeeCeeCee

    April 27, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Wow….. Just wow…. How can someone be this perceptive and grown? * tiny tear- drop*

  5. awesome

    April 27, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Wow….great piece….love it

  6. purple spring

    April 27, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Don’t I just love u…perfect description of me

  7. CK

    April 27, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    This piece is classic! Written from the core

  8. Nnenna

    April 27, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Wow… Somtochukwu… well done!!! All my feelings put in words. Nna… I meelu ofuma

  9. Oma

    April 27, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Wowsa, thank you for this, very deep.

  10. Rayva

    April 27, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    I lack words to describe this piece of art you literally painted here………your perception is gorgeous……….your soul is beautiful………..

  11. seeker

    April 28, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Somto, I have a crush on your mind and its eye…I feel like I can stay all day

  12. Papacy

    April 28, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Bravo mate. You painted a beautiful pictures with simple words.
    As a side note, I wish I could proudly say out loud how much I love Taylor swift songs…oh well, I remain “closeted”.

  13. Papacy

    April 28, 2016 at 12:26 am

    *picture

  14. tk

    April 28, 2016 at 8:42 am

    thank you…

  15. sammiewolf

    April 28, 2016 at 9:49 am

    This is what happens when people write from deep within. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful!

    “that one does not choose to love the “Bella” girls, that it simply happens and you do not exactly know why”-Great job man!

  16. Bubbly

    April 28, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Wonderful write up i must say, that narrates the indebt of what men feel over these type of women that dont allow the emotions of love to over cloud their reasoning. (autocorrect be careful i can’t be running upandan my phone correcting what i’ve written well in the first place). Ehen wan biyi writter, makes me remember my dear friend Tonia, she was always in control of her relationships, she just knows when to say i’m done, and when to say let me give u another try. She is the only one amongst girls friends ive met that keep saying “a man has never Broken my heart” and this is true. Her boyfriend now hubby was a seniour Engineer at multinational coy you all know and this guy obeys dances to her tune like crazy.. He said one day and i quote “Tonia doesnt take nonsense from anyone including me, and i like it like that”. This guy literarily begs for her attention, even till they got married. Funny thing Tonia is not a romantic, but a pretty girl with great ambition.
    I remember a time when i had issues with my boyfriend, the man Im now married to, i was crying that particular day at the office. (thank God i had a private office) i called Tonia to narrate the ordeal, she was mad at me, she first said i should dry my face that no one in the main office should see me teary eyes… Then she plotted how i would handle the situation and plot my revenge. Omo, i could not do the things she said cos my heart was softer, she told me not to call him again, but i went back to call, lol. Yes, emotionally, i’m the weak type lol. I loved Tonia’s guts and i many times wished i could be like her. But at the end of the day she is her, and i’m me. Ive been married to this man for going to 7years by Oct., and i realise he gets weak by my own emotional attitude. He Understands my emotional map lol. He is the Tonia male version, want to provide everything i need, and never wants to see my tears.

  17. FlorEmma

    April 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Awwn…you never get out of style either Kay.Beautiful piece.

  18. S

    April 28, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I’m a feature writer and broadcast journalist and not easily impressed but you, my brother, wield words so deftly and so tenderly that I felt a tear trying to escape as I read your piece. You didn’t put one foot wrong. Okare ojare.

  19. Kelvin

    April 28, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Lovely piece, Caleb! Sometimes, it is love that seeks us out.
    +Keep penning,Bro.

  20. Ruthina

    April 28, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    I sight u brother. A beautiful piece I must say…… Keep up the good work.

  21. Semaj

    April 29, 2016 at 4:07 am

    Caleb! This is very beautiful. Damn!!!

  22. Anne Atulaegwu

    April 29, 2016 at 10:38 am

    NIcely said darling!

  23. Tessa Doghor

    April 29, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    So happy that you re getting published
    Beautiful read!

  24. Izuchukwu

    April 30, 2016 at 12:42 am

    This is AMAZING. You stunned me over and over and over…endlessly. Musical, like a beautifully woven poetry that slowly climbed on my skin and redefined it. Caleb!!! You’re amazing.

  25. "changing moniker"

    May 3, 2016 at 10:12 am

    i see myself in these words…..Caleb i think i’m one of the “Bella” girls….thanks for explaining me to me….
    thank you.

  26. Julianne

    May 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    ??? speechless

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