It was Valentine’s day. My phone was ringing. It was you.
I was not surprised to see your name popping up on my phone’s screen. This had become our routine. I would break us up, you would stay away for a week or two, then you’d start the “Checking up on you.” phone calls.
This time, I had been determined to end it for the last time.
I wanted to try Love. She was a beauty. She could have anything she asked. And why not? She could have the world and everything in it.
I met her before I met you. I saw her first. I spoke to her first. I offered the first smile and wink first. Through her red lips, she smiled back. She winked back. She laughed at my jokes. She accepted my invitation to go for a date. That day, and many days after, she would wait at the stage for me. I would pull up the matatu, whether it was full or not, and wait for her to take the seat next to me which was always reserved for her. She would alight in town and head off to class. I would keep doing rounds to and from town until evening when I’d pick her up and drive her home again.
When she was seated next to me, I found myself driving carefully. I yelled and cursed less at other drivers too. Love always had a story to tell me each day after her classes. She made me laugh, but she also made me want to keep saving so that I too could join college.
I always dropped her home. Even on Fridays when she did not have classes the next day. When she would have gladly agreed to an invite to hook up, get wasted and mess around. I drove her home.
Then I would join my boys at the bar. We would get high and hook up with women who would drop to their knees and unzip our trousers at the sight of cash. We never bothered to find out their names as they bend over, and we stood, erect, behind them, happy to be allowed to use their bodies to pleasure ourselves.
In between my love for her, and my sexual escapades, you appeared. I could tell that you were looking for something. Every woman is always looking for something. I soon found out what it was you were looking for. You were in a race against time, a race against viable eggs and a race against singlehood. And you were losing. You were perfect. I could sell you the dream. You could buy it. Over and over again, you bought it only to realize that what I was selling you was a fake. I did not want to be to you, who you wanted me to be.
I had promised myself never to pick up your calls after that last breakup.
But when you called, that valentine’s day, when you suggested that we hook up for old time’s sake, when you invited me over to your home and looked so sexy and delicious for my benefit, I was down for whatever.
That is because Love and I were no more. See, after weeks of going MIA, she resurfaced. I had driven by her hood that evening. She was at the stage, waiting for a vehicle to take her to town. She was not alone. The guy she was with held her by the waist. Do you think she did not see me? She did see me all right. She saw me but she did not flinch. Not a hint of recognition or embarrassment that I had busted her. Not a hint of remorse. They boarded my vehicle. Both of them. Then they giggled and held hands, then his hands were on her thighs, then her hand was on his. The stupid man paid her fare. She called me the next morning, groggy, hangover, sounding sexy as hell. Said she was seeing someone (What else is new!). That she did not see where our relationship was headed (But I did see where…forget it!). That she wished me all the best (Gerrarahia). That I was such a kind man, so special and that the woman who would end up with me would be the luckiest woman alive (Make me wanna puke, whydoncha!).
That was bullshit. So bullshit that I almost smashed the phone. So bullshit that I– I. I had not touched her, I had not taken advantage of her when I could easily have. I had been keeping her for myself. For later. For forever. So, bullshit!
You called. I picked up your call. That evening, when we hooked up at your place, for old fucking time’s sake, I did not care that you did not suggest that I sheath up. Maybe I wanted it raw. Maybe I wanted to hurt you the way she had hurt me. Or maybe I just wanted to show her, you, everyone, who the man was.
Maybe, for the sake of my daughter, I could love you if I tried hard enough – I don’t know. Maybe if I made an effort I could get something fuzzy going on deep down. But look at you. You make it so hard. Your answer to everything I suggest is ‘Yes.’ You go out of your way, way out of your way, to get me what I demand; be it food, be it a car, be it another woman. You can pretend that the reason the help left last week is not because you found out that I was sleeping with her. You have made yourself a perfect mat for me to step on and wipe my dirt off of. And now you want me to love that?
You fuss over my clothing, my feeding, my sadness, my happiness. In your little mind, you think you can fix me. That you can make me feel what you think I should be feeling.
You are so busy clutching onto me that you don’t realize that to have me, I need to be part of the equation. I need to want to be had.
I am that medal that was handed to you by society for being such a good girl. So you wear me like you wear that corsage on your breast, you fix me to ensure that I look clean and do not slant too much to the left or the right. You press me firmly against your breast hoping that I’ll agree with the color of dress you choose to wear.
I could love you, but who are you when you’re not trying so hard to be someone else? If I loved you, would my love be able to pierce the layers of fakeness that you’re covered in, to reach your soul?
Yeah, what if I loved you. Would it kill me, you ask?
Yes. I think it would.