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



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 It is the terrified child forced to sit on Santa’s laps, uncomfortable with excess attention, and the withdrawn kid coerced to be a lead in the school play.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


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