We want someone to see the things we see. We want someone to think the way we think. We claim we love something new. We claim we love change. The truth looms at the back of our minds, reminding us that we love things to stay the same. We all are the same. Nobody is truly different. We all feel the same things.
No one knows what I’ve seen. I may have seen the love of my life. Maybe I dream too big, maybe there is no such thing as that. The fact is that I always think I know it all, but life tells me I know nothing. You don’t know what I’ve seen. These eyes have seen the end, but yet it can’t comprehend.
One Monday morning I dashed toward the BRT queue. There I stood, taking little steps, thinking about duties awaiting me at work. Eyes fixed on the future, yet oblivious of what was yet to come.
I sat by the window of the bus. I plugged in my earphones, gawked at the screen of my phone. As the bus began moving, I couldn’t help but notice his gaze resting on me in a way that no man’s should. I was at that scene where Historia and Lord Riess laid hands on Eren. I couldn’t focus with his eyes boring into my skin. Why do Nigerians like to stare. You’re just on your own and someone decides it’s their sole purpose in life to watch you. Biko, did I steal something? Am I smelling? I looked at him and asked with a hint of brusque in my tone, “Can I help you?”
“I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to stare.” He flashed a fleeting smile. In that split second he had dimples. In that split second his brown eyes glimmered. He said, “I’ve never met a girl who watches anime, and better yet you’re watching my favorite, Attack on Titan.”
“Oh really. I didn’t think anime was a gender specific thing.”
“Oh no, it’s not that. Just that most girls I’ve dated aren’t into anime and I’ve never met a girl like you.”
I chuckled at how shy he was. He seemed like a cat with his tail between his legs. He had the cutest smile, dimpled and they made his wet eyes flicker with passion.
Maybe we know how this story ends.
We sat together on that bus, talking about Attack of Titan.
“Who is your favourite character?” he asked me.
“I have two actually, Captain Levi and Mikasa.”
“Nice, Levi is strong. I seem to like Armin and Mikasa. Not a huge fan of Eren.”
“Yeah, I love how the story focuses on Eren like he’s the most important character but yet highlights that other characters have much more to them that we end up loving those more than the main character.”
The following morning, he was there again. Standing in line for the bus. His head turned and caught my eyes. He grinned and waved his hand. With his hand he beckoned me to come forward. He asked that I stand in front of him. Inside the bus we sat side by side discussing Attack on Titan. Then he recommended the anime, Baccano.
I watched it and told him when we met again at the bus stop how much I liked it.
He joked that the two of us were like the train thieves, Marium and Isaac. He asked, “If you could steal anything, what would it be?” I took a while to ponder then said, “Money to start my own brand.”
“Ambitious. I like that,” he commented.
“How about you?”
“Your heart,” he answered almost instantly. I chuckled.
Just before I arrived at my stop we exchanged phone numbers. Every free moment we got during the day we spent it sending messages to each other. When the hawk eyes of my boss fixed at me I had to set my phone aside.
The next morning, we sat side by side bonding over music. He asked me what I was doing over the weekend. I had nothing exciting planned. He asked if we could see a movie together. I agreed.
That night, I got back from work and planted a kiss on the lips of my boyfriend. He asked how my day went and I said stressful. I didn’t tell him about the man I’d been talking to lately. I didn’t tell him about my movie date. I didn’t want Jide to worry. I mean, aside the playful flirtation, Nonso and I were just friends.
I told my boyfriend I had a movie night with the girls. Seated next to Nonso in the dark cinema hall I felt something. Something I had always felt around him. Something that I whispered to myself was nothing.
That night, right after the movie, he ordered an uber and sat in the backseat with me. He said he wanted to ensure I got home safe. Gosh, he always made me feel safe. Right there at the backseat he kissed me.
I thought of telling my boyfriend everything as soon as I walked inside. I thought about ending my relationship but Jide and I had so much history. Yes, our love may have lost its flame but I couldn’t hurt him.
Monday came with the sunlight flooding into the bedroom, beating against the tile floor, illuminating the squares around us. I crawled out of bed that morning knowing my day would be different. Instead of taking the tricycle to TBS, I went to Obalende. It was another route to work. A quicker one. One without any distractions, I must add. But I spoke too soon. Nonso was standing there. It was almost as if I couldn’t escape him.
“Hey, didn’t think I would find you here,” I said. “Considering you work at Ilupeju.”
“Yeah, my boss asked me to pick something up from Gbagada.”
“Oh cool,” I answered.
“I would have told you that we won’t be seeing each other this morning but you didn’t reply my messages all weekend.”
“I’m so sorry. I had a crazy weekend.”
That morning we sat side by side, hand in hand on the bus. I was overwhelmed with guilt. Yet I couldn’t tell him that I had boyfriend.
While I was at work, he sent me a message to let me know he’d gotten into his office. As I was replying him my coworker asked, “You know Nonso?”
My eyebrow furrowed. “Yeah, I do.”
“How long have you two known each other?”
My forehead creased. Why was she being intrusive? “About a week. Why do you ask?”
“He is my boyfriend,” she answered. “Lately he has been quite distant.”
She opened up about their relationship issues and a chill ran through me. Call me a hypocrite but I sent Nonso a message asking why he didn’t tell me he had a girlfriend. He planned to break up with his girlfriend, he said. He asked, “How did you know about her?”
“We work together,” I replied. “I’m sorry, Nonso, but I can’t do this anymore.”
He was typing something, but I blocked him.
Now we sit apart on the bus, averting each other’s gazes, focusing on the pale blue sky, focusing on the refulgent sunlight. No matter how hard we look, we still see our reflections. We still see ourselves staring at each other.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime