“You guys haven’t had sex?!” Everyone at the restaurant paused to stare at Kemi, but she wasn’t phased. She stared at Temi, seated across from her and trying furiously to hide her face with her hair, in utter bewilderment. “How can you not have shagged him already?! What do the two of you do locked up in your room all the time? Bible study?!”
Temi sank lower in her seat. “Kemi, hush now. Is it because I told you?”
“I’m talking normally now! Ahn ahn! Is it my fault these people can’t mind their business?” She waved her hand passively at a group seated at a nearby table. “Don’t change the topic. Oya. Explain. All those nights at his place. Nothing? Why?” She paused and sat up in her chair. ” Is he gay?!” This last question elicited more stares from diners at the restaurant.
“Of course not, Kemi! Don’t be ridiculous.” At this point, Temi was wishing the ground would open up and swallow her. What possessed me to tell this girl about me and Tony now? Ehn? She sighed and ran her fingers through her hair “It’s not that big a deal. I don’t know why I even brought it up. Let’s just forget it.” She knew her attempts at escape were feeble and pointless. Kemi wouldn’t let go of this. She already doesn’t approve of him, and now I had to open my big mouth and tell her this. I will never hear the end of it. She took a sip from her glass of juice and stared at Kemi, who was still staring at her like she’d gone mad.
“But I don’t understand, Temi.” Kemi resumed in a much calmer tone. ” If he’s not gay, why won’t he have sex with you?”
“It’s not him, it’s me. Don’t look at me like that. I’m being serious.” Temi paused, expecting Kemi to interrupt. Nothing. “I don’t want to rush things with him. You know how easy it is to…”
Kemi cut her off “Temitope,” she only ever called her by her full name when she was being really serious. “is this about Ifeanyi?.”
Temi was silent. She’d hoped this wouldn’t come up, but known it couldn’t be avoided.
Ifeanyi. Her most recent ex. The man that had possessed her heart and soul for three years. She remembered the first time she’d met him. She was fresh out of the university and fulfilling her national service obligations, serving as one of the assistants at a PR firm. He was a handsome, smooth-talking ladies man. He didn’t work at the same firm she did, but he frequented their hallways on the regular. He was an image consultant for several large companies, and thus, brought in plenty of clients. She’d fallen for him long before he approached her, spewing compliments that made her heart flutter, and her head dizzy from sheer joy.
She became quite taken with him. His visits to her office were mostly focused on her presence there, even when he had business to discuss with the big guns, he’d sneak out of meetings to plant kisses on her forehead or lips. But the times spent outside the office were the ones she’d cherished the most. She was just starting to truly experience life, and he’d shown her how to open herself up to the special blend of euphoria life had to offer. Well, life with him at least. She didn’t refuse when he asked her to move in with him. In fact, she liked to think she orchestrated the whole thing. Temi was purely and wholly happy. She had a great job, which she loved, and a man who loved her. Yes, life was beautiful as far as she was concerned.
And then the storm rolled in. Sometimes, Temi would sit and wish she’d seen the signs, or heard a forecast, but, truth be told, they’d all been there. Flashing lights and sounding warnings as clear and loud as the ones at a train track. And as much as she would love to believe she’d been tied to the tracks, powerless to escape the impending collision, that was far from the case. She had refused to see. Refused to hear. Temi had built a protective wall of fantasy around her seemingly blissful relationship. His reluctance to settle down, she readily understood and explained off to her friends as “too soon.”; the late nights, she convinced herself were spent nowhere but the office; the business trips she couldn’t go on because well, they were business trips; and having to move into another room whenever his sister came to visit because she had a mental disorder and was very possessive of her older brother. In fact, his concern for his sister’s fragile condition only deepened her love for him. So much so, she didn’t mind wiping away every trace of her presence in his bedroom whenever his sister, Adaora, was coming into town, so she could be comfortable there. On the surface, it was all okay.
Three years down the line, and two abortions later, she’d gotten home to find her possessions neatly arranged by the compound gate. An envelope placed on top the pile of boxes, and held down with a medium-sized rock. At that moment fear and confusion flooded her brain. A part of her new what was about to happen, but her wall, though beginning to crack, stood still, hindering realisation from taking root. She reached for the envelope tentatively, and opened it.
“Temi, I’m sorry this is happening like this. But, as you must know by now, we can’t go on. Adaora and I are married now. It would be unfair for me to keep living with someone else. She’s moving in today. Please endeavouur to have your things cleared before she arrives. I hope the enclosed cheque covers any inconvenience. Ifeanyi.”
As she read, the echoes of her crumbling wall resounded in her head. She remembered feeling like her soul had been wrenched out of her, leaving her hollow. Calm and cool on the surface, destroyed on the inside, she’d taken the cheque out of the envelope, ripped up the letter, flagged down a cab to Kemi’s place, and never looked back.
Now, here she sat at a crowded restaurant, two years later, silent tears slowly streaming down her face as she remembered. She felt Kemi’s warm palm on her hand and looked up from the table cloth. “I’m okay, Kemi.” Her voice was shaky. Barely sudible.
Kemi felt miserable. This was her fault, afterall. She’d hurt her friend while pursuing her own selfish goal. A goal she hadn’t even achieved. “It’s okay, Temi. I’m sorry I brought it up.”
“I just son’t want to be stupid like that again, Kemi.” Her eyes were red and swollen now. “I’m not sure if I’d be able to survive it.”
Kemi gazed into the eyes of her bestfriend, and knew that she’d meant what she’d said. “I know, Temi.”