Love Literati Contest: ‘On What Only Hearts Can See’ by Chinaza Attamah

Love literati contest - elsieisy blog

CHUKWUDALU, I STILL ASSURE and re-assure myself that it isn’t to me, that it is to some guy out there, maybe in a film, that this is happening, because that is how this is, like film… like film. Or maybe you were just joking, rather pulling my leg. Maybe you just wanted to know if I really love you, for then my first reaction was disbelief.

And, today that you are getting married, as I type you this email, feeling stamped out, purposeless and powerless, my hands shaking, my under arms warm with sweat, my head turning round and round, I’m dying a slow, painful death, and I’m unsure I will love again.

Please, tell me: why did you bring me this far to leave me behind? Why did you come so close to disappear just like that? Was it because of what your friends said about me, that I was young and could not yet take care of you? And did you allow them define fully the path of love for you?

I REMEMBER A LOT OF YOU, OF US BOTH, TOGETHER, and this is what I remember: the smell of your body that never leaves me; how you always held my hand and placed your arm on my shoulder; how you often stood in front of me—which made me fantasize about pulling you in for a kiss—perhaps to make sure I wasn’t looking at those girls in miniskirts and gowns who walked past us, to look at you alone. I remember our end-of-the-month phone calls in which we sang each other songs about the departing month, wishing each other the best in the coming, new month. Did you forget all that, too soon?

You said you loved the way I talked, the sound of my voice; that you loved the roughness of my hair, which you said perhaps made me headstrong and assuming; that my face was handsome and you loved it because it looked like your brother’s; that you needed me by your side always.


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CHUKWUDALU, I WAS ALREADY carving on the walls of fortune our love story, hopeful that when we finally make that important decision, we would read it out to the hearing of families and friends. I was willing to love you forever; even after death do us part. I was floundering helplessly in love with you, until the day you said you wanted us to talk, and there and then, you blew out the words, without care if I could put myself together after that. First, you thanked me, and said I’ve been like a brother to you. Did you know what those words did to me? They sliced me, cut me into many small pieces. Then, when you took out an invitation card from your bag that he has finally proposed to you and you had accepted, I felt stamped out, alone. Dead.

Chukwudalu, did you not have a heart to see what only hearts can see? Did you know I lost appetite then and could not eat, that I tried to kill myself? I still let myself cry when I need to, even though they say real men don’t cry; otherwise, I will just break down. Let it now be that I’m not a real man because I cry!

Let me, this last time, call you Ola m as I used to, and let it be that I was once in love with you, and now unashamed that you didn’t return my love. It is funny though, Ola m, what I have felt and gone through ever since, because when I talked to Dikachi, your prayer group leader, about it, to help my heartbrokenness to heal, she asked me, “Why put your trust and hope on mere mortals? Don’t you know you should love He Jehovah alone?” but she forgot to tell me that this, too, shall pass.

See, this is why I’m not sure I have courage enough to press SEND after typing this. I wonder if you would read it and smile or cry, or just be expressionless. I wonder, too, if you would show it to your friends. I hope I’m able to get away from this crush of sorrow, and from you, even though no matter how far I have tried to move away from you, I never get over you.

FINALLY, CHUKWUDALU, KNOW THAT I STILL LOVE YOU; that you are a magnificent bundle of beauty and power; that we are still the great friends we have always been, just except lovers; and that all the phone calls and texts I expected, all this while, would be from you telling me to come back to you, that you love me. But there were no calls or messages. This assures me now that you meant it, that you weren’t joking, after all.

Chukwudalu, for the very last time, Ola m, I wish you well!

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