My whole world

I had a nightmare last night. In it, strong hands were around my slim neck. A hard slap caused my teeth to break the skin of my inner right cheek. A forceful shove and I was face down kissing the earth. Except when I now put a hand on my face, I know it wasn’t a nightmare. It happened.

You are awake’, Hadiza, who I share a room says cheerfully. She’s seated on our ‘should-be-tossed-out’ queen size mattress which is on the floor. Her back is resting on our wall decorated a dull red in random places with the carcasses of dead mosquitoes who had met the wrath of our palms. Hadiza leans forward and moves my face to meet her gaze. Her kind eyes make mine well with tears.

No more. You have cried enough. No man is worth your tears’, Hadiza says while wiping my tears away. Her kindness and attention to my feelings is choking. It makes the reality of my situation more painful. I had gone over to see Uche last night. I had texted him to let him know I was stopping by on my way home from studying in the night school library on campus. He hadn’t responded but that’s what lovers tend to do, right? Simply choose not to respond to obvious drop ins.

I had gotten there bearing a gift of fried bean balls bought from the road side sellers outside our university campus. They are his favourite. I had knocked for what seemed like too long before he came to the door. He had a smile on his face before recognition set in and wiped it clean off.

What are you doing here?’, Uche had said with a deep frown on his face. He was shirtless. Yum. Just the way I liked him. He could see my eyes wander all over his chest and abs and his frown deepened. ‘Susan, what are you doing here? When will this stop?!’.

What are you going on about?’, I said and gently pushed my way past him into his apartment. And then I saw her. She was sprawled on his sofa in a short two-piece night wear. Her skin was ridiculously smooth. Her breasts perky despite their largeness. Her face annoyingly pretty. ‘Who is she and why is she here?’, I said out loud, staring firmly at the girl who completely ignored my presence.

Susan, please leave. You are harassing me at this point’, Uche said loudly. Was that exasperation I heard in his voice? How dare he? After everything I had done for him? ‘Did you just ask me to leave?’, I screamed dropping the bag of fried balls angrily. I blacked out and I think I grabbed the pretty girl. I think I pulled her hair and scratched her face. I think I had wanted to do more before Uche was on me. Strangling. Slapping and shoving me out.

You deserve better. You should have broken up with him a long time ago. Just look at your face’, Hadiza says interrupting my thoughts. But Hadiza doesn’t know the complete story. Uche had ended things two years ago when I was in my third year and he in his second year. But he couldn’t possibly have meant it. So I followed him, I texted him. I still told my friends about our outings and our nights together – well the way I imagined it should be. I should have graduated last year but I couldn’t bear leaving him behind so I had failed three classes intentionally so I’d have to retake them. This time with him. In his classes. Where I could see him as often as I liked.

But he avoided me. He left quickly after every class. He never picked up my calls or answered my text messages. So I had to visit him. Maybe he yearned for me to try harder, so I did. 

Forget about him, my dear friend’, Hadiza says. She has no idea what she’s talking about. He’s my whole world.

(Painting by MKoby Art)

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