by Elizabeth Joshua.
As I made to write, I realize that I had no love story to tell because truth be told, between my love life and the Sahara desert, I do not know which is dryer. But I know Love. I have tasted it and I know it tastes like sour agbalumo; bittersweet.
I met Wale in our first year in the university. He was cute, and on the outside, he appeared to be calm. For a whole month, we unconsciously flirted with each other from afar. While I was the intelligent, smart type in class, Wale would never answer questions in class and he performed only averagely in the exams. While I am not the extraordinary beautiful girl, and was quite unnoticeable except on days I tried ‘too hard’, Wale would enter into a room dressed in just a white vest and Jeans, and all heads would turn. He had that alluring Panache. We first spoke the day I asked if his glasses were recommended and he asked me to try it on to confirm. He then asked very casually that we had Lunch. I nodded.
Wale started to sit beside me in class and it felt really awkward. He would walk me to the hostel, we would spend evenings together, just talking. I fell in love first with his small deep eyes before I loved his soul – a soul I didn’t even know. I could stare into his eyes forever and whenever I told him that, he would chuckle warmly. I think I loved him far too deep before he even started to like me.
Wale was however temperament. One day, he was in my hostel room and I played an Ed Sheeran song which he immediately stated that he hated, but I was persistent that he had to hear this one. He took my phone and hit it hard on the floor. Another day, I asked if we were just friends or more and he said to stop having ideas about ‘us’ in my head. I figured he was not interested in a relationship so I started dated Femi; a guy that my friend introduced to me. When I told Wale, he shoved me aside and walked out. Few days later, Femi was hospitalized because Wale had sent guys to deal with him. Femi broke up with me. And there was that fateful Thursday his mother came to School to see him and he threatened to beat her if she doesn’t leave. He was fuming hot and it was scary to watch him threaten his own mother, but I wasn’t taking it, I asked him to apologise to her, and he told me to get out of his life. His mother, clearly embarssed, told me bye and entered her car. I went to meet Wale in his hostel. When I entered his room, I saw cigarettes, bottles of gin and weed. Wale was sobbing on his bed. I did not mention that I am somewhat critical? I do not smoke nor drink, I am a good Christian, I do not party at nights, I could have sworn that I would never end up with a guy like Wale. Sigh. So when I saw all that garbage in Wale’s room, I should have walked out, should have ran far away, but I did none of that. In a way I do not even know, Wale had changed me. Love had changed me. I had seen the beautiful side of him, I couldn’t run away from his ugliness. So, I stayed and he told me his story.
Wale was abused by his Stepdad at a very young age and when he grew of age and told his mother, she did not believe him. She thought he was making it up because he was bitter that she left his father. When his Stepdad had tried to molest him again, he threw a lamp at him and his mother had sent him packing to his father’s when she saw what he did to her husband. In his father’s house, his stepmother took an unusual liking to him. She used him to satisfy her sexual pleasures since his father was old. She once called a friend over to ‘taste’ Wale. At school, he made friends and saw that their parents were happily together, he wondered why his was different. At home, he was his stepmother’s sex slave, simply put. Wale did not have a normal childhood. He struggled with depression, low self esteem, with helplessness. His Stepmother died in a car accident when he was fifteen. It was then that his father started to dislike him. He verbally abused him – telling him he was a cursed son, that it was because of him his first wife left him for another man. Also that because of him, his wife had gone to the world beyond; all because he was cursed. As Wale grew, he realized it was not even his fault, he realized what his father and mother had actually done and this realization caused him pain, deprived him of having dreams, of purpose, of serenity. That was when he took to smoking and drinking because it made him forget, even if it was just for a while.
When Wale finished, he looked at me and asked if I still liked his deep small eyes now that I knew his soul?
It’s been years since Wale left for the abroad. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to be medically transferred abroad for expert treatment. His mother, who knew the truth now, and couldn’t forgive herself for what had happened to her ‘little boy’, and his father who cried bitterly, both sat with him on the hospital bed the night before he was transferred. They prayed, apologised, prayed again for a boy who couldn’t hear them, a boy who had once thirst for their love and found it none. A boy who had been punished for nothing, this boy, this boy who could still pass for the cutest boy ever, even on his sick bed.
When they left, I sat beside him and sang Ed Sheeran’s. He stirred and smiled at me. I smiled back because Wale had told me a night before, “I love you. But I will not come back to this Country. I will start afresh over there and I will become the medical doctor I so want to become. I will find love again and I will love. Please, do the same. This, darling, is closure for me. And I want you to be fine by this decision.” And while I had not smiled that night, while I had stared into blank space, while I had let him enclose me into a warm embrace that meant everything to me, I knew that somehow I would be fine by his decision, because I love him too. And maybe, love was truly letting go.
So this is to my deep eyes lover. My hero because – although he said he learnt the art of forgiving from me, and that he learnt the art of ‘believing’ also, and he knew peace through me – he taught me that Love was walking into filth with that special one, it was endless conversation with that somebody, it was laughing together till you snort and then laughing again because he is laughing at your snort. Love was calling me beautiful even though I didn’t believe it, and insisting I was, till I began to see it. He gave me too many memories and I am grateful he loves me just the same. This Valentine is to the one who is in the abroads living life beautifully, the one whose soul I truly love. He who survived, he who is a shooting star.
The one who called yesterday, for the first time in four years, and said, ‘Hey beautiful.’