Hey, Chapter 1 (excerpt 1)

CHAPTER 1

 

My room is a colossal mess. There are three Heineken bottles that form a triangle on the mahogany computer table, and two just beside the foot of the table. I have been drinking, obviously. There are unwashed cups and plates surrounding my half-open laptop on the table. There are clothes lying askew on the bed, dirty clothes, pressed in a manner that suggests I have been sleeping on them a while. My room reeks of the pungent smell of alcohol and everything else. The carpet is tainted with bread crumbs all the way to the sitting room.

I am sitting in front of the table on an armless wooden chair facing the blue painted wall. I have a fountain pen in my hand, a gift from dad on my 23rd birthday. There’s a blank sheet of A4 paper clamped down by the inside of my upper right arm. I want to write to her, I wish to write to her, but my trembling fingers deny me such mercy. I am heartbroken, anyone can tell. I am also in disbelief. My world is literally breaking down in from of me. I am in pain, immense pain, and all these anticlimactic emotions prevent him from expressing himself.

She broke up with him. I’m tired of going back and forth, she said. A part of me wishes that this is like all the other episodes where I apologise for being a jerk and she brings me back into her arms. But deep inside, I know, I know this might be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back. But still I can’t believe it, I would have any other emotion but this. How did it come to this? How am I here, on this rigid chair, trembling and sobbing?

A tear drops on the still empty sheet of paper. Why am I crying? Would she be crying right now? Why am I always the one on the defensive? Well, that’s not exactly true, she begs too when she admits she’s at fault, which is very rare, as rare as a solar eclipse.

But I must write, because that’s the pact we made. We swore to always write to each other, not on Facebook or Whatsapp, but old-school, just the way it was done in the old days before technology came and swept the art away. It was our thing, it was how we differentiated ourselves from the multitude of other stereotypical relationships.

But should I be writing on this rainy Sunday evening or running off to her place and screaming her name from the balcony, prophesying my undying love for her, just the way Romeo did with Juliet in the balcony scene?

Except that flat 9, Block D, Moore Road, Yaba, has no balcony, and screaming her name from downstairs would attract other tenants who would think I’m mad. Madly in love, yes.

But why does love have to be accompanied by hate? Why is every moment in love so fragile as an egg? A wrong word and what has taken eternity to build is on the butcher’s table ready to be slaughtered precisely.

Jennifer and I haven’t always been at crosshairs, you know. There have been moments of intense joy and fun. Like the day at the mall when I was so engulfed with her, I planted a kiss on her succulent lips to the amusement of everyone that watched. She was blushed, and I could tell she loved it. Or the day I did a phony proposal; I went on my knees and brought out a black velvet box. I opened it. It wasn’t a ring inside, it was a wrapped note, with the words I LOVE YOU written in it. Maybe I was too full of myself that day, because though she was flattered, she was also embarrassed. And that led to one of our serious breakups.

Yea, we’ve broken up like two times before, this one making three. There’s something about the number three that signals finality. The first time we broke up was because I choked her, or so she claimed. To me though, I was just showing love, expressing myself. But to her it was too much and I needed to slow the pace. I think she said, the candle is burning too fast. What candle? Is she happy now that it’s all wax? So she told me she needed a break to breathe. It was hell for me, nothing compared to now though, but after a week I went back and demanded we fix things, like a real man.

The second time was the ring, or the ring cum note. She accused me of being childish, banal. She said I embarrassed her in front of onlookers. She said everything didn’t have to be about words and writing and that she could never take me seriously after that.

Two days later I appeared at her doorstep with five packs of Hollandia Yoghurt, vanilla flavour, and a sombre face. She pulled me in with tears and gave me a long kiss that ended blissfully.

Things went smoothly after that, until last week. I was at her place, her phone rang, but she was in the kitchen so I picked the call but it cut just after I did. I decided to look through her phone, okay, I admit, I was snooping. But I realised that I had never really looked through her phone before and the opportunity was quite seducing. So I opened Whatsapp and saw this conversation between her and one Patrick dude. Patrick… such an ugly name. What I saw that day made my body cold instantly, I could feel the life retreating from my face. In one text, she kissed him or sent him a kiss with love at the lips smiley. And in another part he kind of cajoled her into tell him she loved him. And she did!

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