Referring to you as I just did above may appear a little strange to you. But the strangest would be how you have changed in the most recent past. How the light that glinted in your eyes when you looked at me has varnished. How I search your face these days for those unspeakable joy drawn artistically by your calm smile. How the seemingly unbreakable cord that bound us together was severed under your keen watch. It tore away with some flesh...and blood.
It is indeed surprising that you have chosen to be panelbeated by society’s pressure; to conform into its idea of right and wrong- its idea of perfection. It surprises me the more when I remember you were the one that first said to me, “Vox populi is not always vox dei”. You said that, almost drily, with such unwavering belief in what seems right to you which I had to get accustomed to.You gave ample instances too. But that was in those days when you were – as it appears now- drunk on the exuberance of youngness, when youth warmed your blood and you cared less or even lesser of what people said or thought. Those days when you ardently believed that “the thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”. You clung to and always sought superior argument if you must ‘cross-carpet’. Oh that word!
And they did talk about us. Two young girls brimming with beauty and innocence yet enveloped by a love that dared not stand out. A love that peeped when others openly stared. Yet we chose to stand out. You thought me how to. You were always stronger and fearless. That was why on that beautiful day that we met I knew I have found someone I can always rely on. I knew I needed you. And when you said “Follow me”, I did with a swiftness the apostles could not employ in following Christ when they were called. I never doubted, for once, that I could count on you. And when I remember what you did to that bully, I giggle still with pride and admiration dancing in my eyes.
They talked about us in hush tones; especially in dark corners and quiet places where what washeard was only what the walls and the listening ears chose to vomit. They feared you. They hated you; just like they hated our love. They said it was abnormal the way we held hands and called each other’s names; that our bodies usually touched too much. That it was inordinate, the way wecared for each other. That it raised issues of serious concerns. So when that query came, I watched you walk into the Principal’s office with your head up and your shoulders high as I trailed behind you downcast. She called you a peacock I remember, in front of other staff because you stood up to her; maintaining we had done no wrong. You were fierce; irritatinglyand stingingly so. Thus, you went on a fortnight’s suspension for rudeness and insubordination. I fell ill, bedridden not only by the gnawing discomfort of your absence but mightily by my own encumbering sense of guilt which stemmed from not lending you my own voice; for cowering in the face of our shared persecution and allowing you labour under its burden alone. I felt, I guess, worse than Peter felt before the crow. When I apologized on your return, did you not ask –“what could you have done differently?”? You said I was just a child. You had always acted maturely. You were perfectly the lamb with a ram’s head. Helplessly, I was warmed up to your ever since.
Many years have gone by. I have lost count of the track of time. Well, the necessity of time-keeping is unimportant when Cupid strikes. It is a human nature of apprehension that its arrow chips off, making the lover and the loved drift away, oblivious of the passage of time. Indeed,love- our love or rather, my love for you- has no reckoning of time. I had thought, wrongly it is certain; it would patrol us into perpetuity. Therefore, I felt it was the most stupid thing we have done together when we stood at that altar while you made vows, sacred vows, with a stranger – who never knew you and may never know you- and smiled through it all. It all sounded incoherent; the lies. The benefit of hindsight brings home the nauseating falsity we decided to ignore. And worst of it all, you have chosen to live that lie. It has become your new chosen truth.Thereafter, you said, “Ndo m, I ma nghota”. I wonder what was difficult to understand that you, with the perfect mastery of words would allow elude you.
My mother said she is worried. Everybody says I look empty and ghostly. I concur. You took away with you the light, the life and all you put in into my own life. An empty ghost therefore is an apt description. Now, should I be worried to? When the salt of life has lost its salty tastiness? Looking back, I realised the irrationality in your reference to me as “Ndo m”, my shelter. It should been the other way round for shelter was what you offered and when you took that roof away, you left another emotional ragamuffin to roam the cold world.
You keep teaching me. I keep learning. Nothing should ever be taken too far. Not even love maybe. But if you never learned anything from me, learn this now: “The drabbest life is not a life filled with a hurtful past. It is a life without stories; mostly of trials than triumphs.”
I am glad I have mine. What is yours?
-Ogenna Chimezie Nwodo
Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
"It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all." Hmmm, I always wonder about this quote, my heart thinks different...
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