You wished you could say those words, that you’ve been told she wanted to hear but you couldn’t. Logic says no. Logic does not understand the language of the heart. So you are stuck with throwing mindless and thoughtless tantrums till you lose her.
Four years later, you meet her at the airport on your way back from a journey to the states, she smiles sweetly at you waving her hands at you. She told you that she has been seeing you on television and had read all your books over the years hoping you’d be impressed that she had finally taken a liking for books like you always wanted her to. You felt a tinge of pride; your success had been a major hit. You had expected that she would definitely have heard about it. And you were indeed impressed that she had chosen not to forget you even if she never contacted you.
Then, it suddenly dawned on you, the reason for her wave of hands, as the blinking ring on her engagement finger caught your sight. She’s getting married she announces; You are not moved, you didn’t smile nor congratulate her. Logic that had always been your best friend starts denying you like Peter at the Crucifixion of Christ.
You are still single, she is now engaged; you couldn’t confess your feelings for her back then because you were scared of immediate commitment. You were scared that you were not man enough for her; your bank accounts as at then couldn’t boast of a thousand naira. She had told you that she didn’t mind starving so far she was with you.
You didn’t believe her; you had seen what the lack of money did to your parents. How it was your mother that had been responsible for most of the things in your house because your father lost his job and broke his spine in an accident that condemned him to the wheelchair the rest of his life. You saw what that had done to him, how hurt his pride had been whenever he had to collect money from your mother to do anything. You had sworn to work as hard as you could possibly work to ensure that your father’s fate never befalls you.
You felt sorry that you couldn’t ask her out back then or call her your own. You felt that she deserved better than you could give; not that you had anything to give her anyway. Now the same commitment that you had eluded back then is all you are looking for but it is nowhere, four years down the lane; you are a successful writer and speaker of international repute. You had slaved yourself over the years to editors and publicists to make a hard living and when success came it had not come with all the perks that you had imagined it would come with, though it had been overwhelming but you couldn’t find anyone who could love you for who you are and you feared that you were still in love with someone who you never expressed your feelings to and whom you are now finding out that she’s engaged.
So you mouthed the words in a mumble that sounded like the gibberish that came readily available to you and didn’t allow them to come out clearly. ‘I loved you back then and I still love you.’ Bisi strained herself to hear you clearly but you did not say those words again. This is not a movie, you thought to yourself, this is life and this is the sort of thing that happens when you don’t talk when you were supposed to, so sulk it up and move on.
“I could almost guess what you were thinking you know” She says watching your mouth drop as you fear that she may have figured out you’re gibberish. “You’re thinking of what happened between us those years ago and how it was possible for me to move on after you broke my heart.”
Words failed you; you stared after her in disbelief and wandered for a brief moment if you would ever have the chance to tell her how you really felt about her. “It’s not like that Bisi, and I know you know that too” You say, your guilt renewed like a newly fuelled fire.
“It’s never like that with you, everything has got to be complicated and you never talk, you never truly open up except maybe in your books. I read all of your works and hoped that maybe somewhere inside it there was a hidden message for me, something to hold on to, but I found none!”
“That’s not true Bisi, all or at least most of my works were a message to you. I didn’t want to start something that I couldn’t finish with you. I thought you understood that.”
“Understood? Sola was right about you. You really are heartless. Did you ever sit down to consider how I felt?” The mention of the name Sola brought back cruel memories to you. You remember him clearly; he had been the one who gave her the attention that you were not willing to give; the rich boy who roamed campus with his father’s car, who had almost everything given to him on a silver platter. He had been your arch-rival from the get go and despite your best efforts to stave away the trouble which his rivalry might cause to your friendship with Bisi, he had continued to debase you at every opportunity he got.
She could see the effect of her words on you, so she backed off. “I had feelings for you back then and I think I still do. I just couldn’t do it as at that time. I couldn’t handle a relationship then and I didn’t know how else to break it to you than the way I did.”
“I don’t know what to say to you…I’m sorry” she said as a tear rolled down her ebony cheek. You blink back the tears yourself.
“I’m sorry too, so when’s the big day?” You managed to say, struggling to catch your breath, you felt a lot better after saying those words to her because it had been at the tip of your tongue since you discovered the rings on her finger.
“It’s next Saturday and I’m getting married to Sola.” You stared at her in utter disbelief, you felt really angry, not at her nor at Sola but at yourself. You managed a smile even though your heart was in sharp contrast with what your face was producing. You felt like a thousand knives were stabbing your heart at the same time but you smiled still and urged her to send you the invite to the wedding.