I have been thinking about the best time to write this to you. I would have told you a few months ago but I didn’t quite think it wise then. Being honest, I’m still not so sure it’s wise now. Today is the day that I “confess my sins”.
But first, you have to promise that what you are about to read is going to always stay between us and you would delete right after reading. Literally, what I’m about to tell you is top secret and highly confidential. So, here I go…
A couple of days ago, I saw a wedding invitation and when I looked closely, my eyes picked out and stayed firm on your name. Suddenly, my heart sank and I didn’t know why. After all, we haven’t talked in ages; and yet, I felt a part of me was gone. The song that kept resonating in my head was Adele’s “Someone Like You”.
The thought of us brings to mind Ifemelu and Obinze in Chimamanda’s masterpiece, Americanah. Ironically, just like Ifemelu, I had left you in the dark for too long. And you moved on without me. Unlike Ifemelu, I would never attempt to be the “other lady” and play a role in ending your relationship. You know, I wouldn’t do that, not with the “other lady” almost breaking my parents’ marriage. Yet the thought of you keeps clouding my head, filling it with imaginations that I’m ashamed to share.
One memory of you that refuses to wither away was during a call, that cold, late December evening. You said, “Njuare, I want to build my world around you.” Maybe it was the deep resonance of your voice that made those words sink swiftly into the very depths of me, I still hear them now. I guess I can say I never fully understood the intensity of those words because I was too young and immature. I never understood just how much of yourself you were putting on the line, for me. And thinking of all that makes me sad, Dafe. I let someone so precious slip through my hands. Well, as they say, you never know what you have until you lose it. I think, in truth, most of us know what we had; it just never crossed our minds that we would ever lose it. Losing you made me realize this, clearly.
I remember your regular calls and how I sometimes thought they were a slight nuisance. I felt, back then, that you always wanted to be involved in my life, even in things too personal to share with. Yes, you should know that some of those times you thought I was asleep, I really wasn’t; I just did not want to talk to you then and so I ignored your calls. And other times when I sounded moody, I had answered them reluctantly. I realize now that hindsight is really 20/20. Your calls weren’t to woo me but a sign, your sign, of concern and affection, which you were never afraid to show. Now, I yearn for such calls and no longer have them. I no longer have you.
Memories of your kindness and love towards me have been taking turns playing in my head. Sometimes, tears flow down my cheeks not because you now belong to someone else but because I never showed you that I sincerely appreciated all your efforts. And even those times in which you would say “Pumpkin, try to call sometimes” or when you would ask me to see you off to the bus station, to say “goodbye”, I just did’t think they were necessary. I see now that I was selfish, with you, with us.
Dafe, you may think I never appreciated anything but, deep down, I did. I just did not know how to show it. I mean, who can be so crazy about you, yet stick to purity and abstinence? It’s hard to forget your favourite scripture quotation, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and how you would say, “Pumpkin, I love you but right now it’s God’s word over you. We’ll do all the fondling in the world when we get married.” Who buys books for you to build you, or a set of toothbrushes or keeps your pictures in their archives and is always willing to help at every point in time? I haven’t met anyone else who has beat that record. Mom hoped I wasn’t using you as a standard for other men. Yes, I told her about you. Unbelievable, right? And even though my reply to her was “no”, I knew it she was right because during those moments I spent with you, you gradually became my standard for other men.
Now, I’m not asking anything from you. I never will. It is to free myself from the self-guilt which has persisted, all these years since I pushed you away, in hope that I can finally forgive myself. And I am writing this to finally let you know how I felt, to let you know that I really did appreciate everything you did and I’ll never forget them. I will never forget you. I know that. And if it still means anything to you, I hope you know that , too.
You have such a big heart that I failed to see, failed to acknowledge, in time. And earlier, when you began calling again, I felt I didn’t deserve you. I was never there in your dark days, so I knew I didn’t deserve to be in your sunshine. If there’s one thing you know about me, it is that I don’t pretend. I could not just pretend that nothing had gone wrong and be all over you. I could not do that.
All that being said, I have finally decided to settle down with Rotimi. I know you must be surprised because I never wanted a Yoruba man but I think he is the best amongst my options. You know how scared I am about this decision. I can only pray that things turn out fine.
Most times, I think back and ask, “Why wasn’t it now that I met you?” At least now I would have acted more mature than I did back then. Yes, I know it is too late to cry over spilled milk. I guess everything happened for a reason, at least I know better than to treat people wrongly and think the world revolves around me. Maybe, just maybe, I would have turned out like your uncle’s wife, depriving you of yam or wanting you to look for a house in Lekki or even feel sad over having only girls; and so God decided to save you in time. Okay, I am just kidding. I know, somewhere within, she’s a wonderful woman; it only shows that everyone has got an inner battle and only a few successfully fight them.
I’m certain your new ‘pumpkin’ will make you happy, happier than I could have ‒ or would have. How do I know this? I told God that if I wasn’t meant for you, then He should give you someone better than I because you deserve better. I’m certain He answered that prayer. I ask myself now why didn’t I ask for the grace to love you better or something else. But that’s too late jare. From the pictures I saw of you both on Bella Naija weddings, I could tell she is more outgoing and free-minded than I am, and certainly more beautiful. I must say this, you have got good eyes.
I just want to sincerely thank you for everything that you have ever done for me, Dafe. If I didn’t say it then, I’m saying it now: “THANK YOU VERY MUCH”. And even though it took me a long time to realize and to finally say this, I did love you. I was too inconsiderate to say and show it then.
Oya now, don’t start feeling bad because I know you will. Just know you deserve better than I gave you. In fact I gave you nothing but heartaches every time. So you deserve to move on with someone better. Maybe I’ll turn our story into a fictional story someday like Ifemelu and Obinze’s.
Should I wait for your reply? I would just hope that you would be fine and enjoy a great life ahead. I hope you never forget just how special you are and I hope the world gets to see that, just as I have.
I would have loved to close this with “From your pumpkin” but I guess that’s someone else’s name now.
With so much love,
Written by: Jennifer Chioma Amadi
Edited by: Chidozie Akakuru
“IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER”