What If You Loved Me?
You don’t know about that night. The events preceding that night, you don’t know either. And yet, even in ignorance, you won’t love me. Why?
You think you know everything there is to know about the material night. It was material because that night is the only reason, apparently, that we are together today, in this thing that is a marriage by all standards. There was the meeting of parents; me of yours and you of mine. There was a pre-wedding with a wedding committee to boot. And then there was the deal itself, the wedding. I got the man.
Your version of that night is cute. We had been on and off for the longest time, my head was dizzy. We were off at the time, supposed to be. But what was to stop me from calling you and checking up on you? I had your number, it was Valentine’s day, love was in the air, and I just couldn’t believe that I was here again. Single, no date on a day set aside for lovers, no ring on my finger as I crowned thirty , and my eggs threatening to dry up before my parents had seen them grandbabies. So I did what any woman would do. Okay, maybe not every woman, but you know what I mean. I called you.
It was a light conversation we had. I was just saying hi. Catching up. Seeing what you’ve been up to, wondering if you’d met someone. “I thought about you today,” I said. I thought about last year’s valentine’s day really, which led me to think about you. We had celebrated it in Naivasha, remember? You remembered. Well, we laughed at some memories, and before the smiles could leave our lips, I punctuated our sighs with a serious question. But you did not take it seriously then. I mean, we were just from laughing. Our lips were still parted, eyes still creased at the corners.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
It came out well, the question. As if it did not matter whether you were or not. You hesitated, considered the question for a second, answered in the negative. I sighed. Relief. You didn’t hear me do that, of course. That is because I gave you something else to consider. “Have dinner with me,” I said, “for old times sake.”
You thought that one thing led to another. You thought that I was just missing you and needed not to be alone on a day set aside for lovers. When we slept together that night, you figured it just happened. That these things happen. That it was the familiarity, the nostalgia, the ‘old times sake’ at work.
My version of that night is slightly different from yours. More detailed, planned to the T. The phone call had been planned months ago. I had made sure that your answer to “Are you seeing anyone?” would be a clear “No.” Your friend had been kind enough to fill me in on where things stood with you. Fertility pills had been popped months in advance – I had tried falling pregnant before, when we were on, when you loaded the role of contraception on my shoulders, but time and again, I had been disappointed – some shaving had been done here and there, some scrubbing here as well as there, and the ever necessary good-underwear shopping taken care of.
When you came to my apartment that night, I was ready for you baby. Ready for that ‘accidental’ kiss, ready for that late dinner, ready for the chemistry to palpably pull us together – old times sake sure does set things in motion.
Wasn’t it a sign, therefore, that the long-awaited bump was finally here? You are not privy to the ‘long-awaited’ part of the equation, but this was a bump nonetheless. You were not going to allow your child to be born out of wedlock. I could recite that creed because you recited it ad infinitum. Something about you not growing up with a father, never allowing your offspring to go through what you went through. Blah to the blah.
As expected, the wedding came. I could finally say goodbye to the on and off dizziness that our relationship had become. I wore both the gown and the bump proudly. There was the little inconvenience of having to order a gown with some room around the midsection, but who cares. The bump showed, people touched it, some rubbed it, others asked about it. How far along are you? I could hear the date calculations going on in their heads. I heard the questions that flooded their overactive brains, even when they could not muster the guts to voice them. One of the questions was one I had asked you, and you had answered perfectly, the way I expected you to answer. The question that I had overheard your mother whisper to you on the eve of our pre-wedding. “Are you marrying her because she is pregnant or because you love her and want to spend the rest of your life with her?”
I had heard the response you gave me. I also heard the response that you gave your mother when she asked the same question. I noted the difference in the two responses. “I think it’s the right thing to do.” And, “Of course I love you.” The latter response having been packaged nicely for me, while the former response was laid bare for your mother.
The bump. I carried it proudly still. Among the whispers and questions I carried it without a care in the world. Why would I care. I had the man. I had the ring. All courtesy of the bump.
Now here we are. Married. Supposedly in love. Supposedly happy. Supposedly meant for each other. The bump is no more. She’s a year old now, able to call you daddy. I have no doubt in my mind that you love her. But what about me? What if you loved me too? Even a little.
What if you pretended to be happy with me, to have wanted this as much as I did? What if you just stopped sulking every damn time and tried to enjoy this marriage? What if you gave us a chance? Seriously. What if you loved me?
Would it kill you?