It starts with you being the only son in the family. In fact, the only child, born of a single mother. So it also starts with you not knowing your father— it seems he decided that his life will be much better without you and your mother in it. It starts with you growing up imagining how your father looks like, imagining how he smiles or laughs because a man’s laughter says a lot about the kind of man he is. You wonder how he and your mother met. The kind of words he used to get her to open her heart for him, get pregnant for him, only for him to walk away without ever looking back. It starts with you constantly asking your mum of his whereabouts and every time you ask, you are met with a sneer and silence so loud you could hear a soul breathing miles away.
Eventually, you stop asking about your father. Your mother is doing her best to give you all you will ever need in life and you asking about your father, you suspect, makes her feel like she isn’t doing enough. So you stop asking. You accept your fate. And go through life like every other kid. Your mother wants you to be an accountant, so you go ahead and pursue Accounting course even though you have zilch interest in accounting. You graduate, refuse to look for a job and to avoid fights with your mother, you relocate to the village to live in your posh house that your mother built with her own sweat. She always used that phrase, my own sweat, to remind you that the things she owned did not come easy.
There, you meet a girl. Or rather, you want to believe she is a girl because she looks like nothing you will ordinarily find in this world. Her beauty is not the kind that strikes you immediately; it’s the kind that grows on you like a bad habit. You look at her, look the other way and then back at her, and something you couldn’t point out had grown in her. There is a way her eyes narrows when she smiles or laughs, and her dimples come out in full force, reminding you that God had all the time in His hand when making her. You will imagine that when He was creating her, people were not sinning enough. There was less sin on earth and so God had all the time (in heaven) to mould her into what she is. And when He was done, He named her Eve. And just like Eve (The First), this one too has all the potential to make you do things you are not supposed to do. Or rather, eat things you are not supposed to eat.
So you meet Eve. You ask her out one evening and as you are walking her back home, enjoying the cool breeze and crafty light of the moon, you both stop to look at each other and in that moment a kiss looks inevitable so neither of you tries to fight it, or give excuses not to, or simply walk away, so you kiss. The kiss changes everything. You fall madly in love. She gives you her all. And instead of giving her your all, you fuck up. Big time.
* * *
Eve reads this while sitting on the dining table. Valentine had called her earlier on to tell her to check out Danny’s blog. She sounded animated when she spoke.
“What has he written about?” Eve asked.
“Not him, Tony.”
“Tony? Since when did Tony become a writer?”
“Since you left him and run to the city. Look, girl, stop asking many questions and go read the latest blog post. I think that piece is so beautiful, more so because he has written about you.” There was a long silence from Valentine before she said, “And I know what he did was bad, but you just have to forgive him. You just have to, otherwise. . . ”
“Okay, you read it first.” She hung up.
It had been weeks since she came to live with Tony’s mother. And since then, she hadn’t heard a word from Tony. Even though she was the one who walked away, leaving him behind to fight his confusion, it still hurt her that he made no effort to reach out to her. He never called. Or sent a text message. He never even contacted his own mother. Many nights she had gone to bed, closed her eyes but unable to sleep. And when she closed her eyes, she saw him. He was there, whispering things to her ear and laughing out loud to the jokes she said. He was there when she went to shower, standing at the door and studying her naked body, teasing her and her splashing water at him, chasing him away to give her some privacy. He was there when she stirred her tea, watching the movement of the spoon and then the curve taking shape on her face. He was there. She could feel it. She could put her hand on a Bible and swear to it.
And yet, it was all but her imagination playing tricks on her.
She once contemplated calling him but his mum was against it. He needs to learn his lesson, she said. And she agreed with her. But as time passed and the silence from his side grew even louder, she started questioning that decision. What lesson was he supposed to learn? What if he never learns this lesson? What would happen to her and her baby? Why was Tony this cruel? Why was he leaving her to go through this all alone? She needed him so badly. No, she wanted him. But she couldn’t call him because he needed to learn his lesson. Days were longer, and nights dragged along like the doctor’s strike.
She wondered what and how he was doing back in the village. She wondered what his plan was. And whether she was part of his plans or he had given up on her. Besides, Valentine had informed her that not even once had he gone to ask her about her like he usually did. Sam, whom she called severally and made him swear not to mention a thing about it to Tony, also didn’t seem to know what was going on with Tony. Claire, however, told her that Tony and Danny had been hanging out together a lot but she couldn’t know what they were up to because Danny wasn’t mentioning anything to her either.
So when Valentine called to inform her that Tony had written a guest post on Danny’s blog, she was elated at first, then curious, then anxious. After going to Danny’s blog, and found this blog titled How It Starts & How It Ends, she walked away from her laptop without reading anything. How does It end? What was ending? Their relationship? Fury spread from the tip of her toes. She was all alone in the house at this time so she went and sat down on her bed, head buried in her hands, thinking about the end that Tony was talking about. But after a while, when she was calm enough, she walked back to the living room and started reading the blog. And so far, he hadn’t given any impression that he was ending anything. All was well. And she truly hoped that things remained that way.
* * *
You love her with all your heart. But because old habits rarely die, the remnants of your old life catches up with you. You tell her that you love her, which is mainly the truth, but you lie about other women that you are seeing. And then one day, her sister pays you a visit when it’s raining silly. You are having a drink, a cold Tusker, and somehow manages to convince her to join you in drinking. She refuses, at first, but later she agrees. So you both drink, the rain pours, and your feelings get mixed up and the next thing you know you are falling off from her, both of you gasping for breath.
Now, it doesn’t matter what kind of womaniser you are, there are lines that you simply shouldn’t cross. One of those lines is sleeping with your girlfriend’s sister. Or her best friend. Nothing beats that level of betrayal.
The realisation of what you have done weighs down on you and though you feel the need to come forward with the truth, you hide it for reasons best known to you. Eventually, she finds out. She leaves you and then forgives you. More shit happens because apparently, lightening nowadays strikes twice. To cut the long story is that one day you will wake up and she will be gone. She will have walked away because in this world it never matters how strong you are at some point you will have to walk away from things that are killing you slowly like an addiction. And when she walks away when she is pregnant for you, then she is really fed up. And she has every reason to be.
At this point, you will realise what a big fool you have been. Your first instinct will be to right your wrongs. To do things to get her back. But it will not be long before it hits you that actually, as much as you love her, as much as you want to be with her, your first priority will not be to do things to win her back. Your priority will be to do things to get your own life back on track. Because it’s only when you are able to make peace with yourself, with your choices, that you will be able to accommodate another person and their choices in your life. So how it ends is with you not just fighting for her, but fighting for you. For your sanity. You want to stand on the door as you watch her walk away, holding a drink in one hand and hope, that she will turn around and come back to you, in the other.
* * *
The finishing line lingered on Eve’s mind for a while. All her questions on why he hadn’t called had been answered. And suddenly, she felt this overwhelming urge to talk to Tony. To hear his voice. The urge was so strong she couldn’t resist so she tiptoed to her bedroom, picked her phone and called him. Holding her breath as the phone rang, she really hoped he would answer.
Happy Valentines Day Guys.