LOVE ME Episode 1 ©Aishat Yakubu.
A SQUEAK stemmed from the gate, and Felix looked towards it expecting to see NIFEMI. A teenage boy strolled out instead, a back pack strapped around his shoulders; he looked at Felix and smiled. Felix shook his head and half-smiled back at the boy—though sardonic. The boy shrugged,closed the gate and walked past him.
He glanced at his wristwatch for the umpteenth time. He wondered what was keeping Nifemi. The gate opened again, and to his relief this time, she showed up, grinning from ear to ear, obviously excited to see him.
“Hello, my love.” She said softly, her mind still trying to figure out the reason Felix had insisted on seeing her outside the gate.
“Forgive me for keeping you waiting.” She circled her arms around his neck, expecting him to put his arms around her waist like he usually does, but he remained static and numb. She pulled back and looked up into his eyes.
“You look rather cold. Did I do anything wrong apart from keeping you waiting outside? I wonder why you refused to come in anyways.”
“I needed to talk to you alone.” He said, avoiding her eyes. She held his hand. “Are you okay?”
Felix looked at her, his black eyes looking even darker and unaffected. “I will if you stopped clinging so close to me like a bee.”
She released his hand sharply like one would let go of a hot object picked in oblivion. Her eye brows rose. “What’s with the attitude? We haven’t seen in two weeks now—you only called twice since the last time we saw. You even refused to come into the house. Okay, all these seem strange and I really don’t understand.”
“Exactly my point! You complain a lot! I’m just tired of this whole thing!” Felix
She shook her head and rolled her eyes at the same time, she couldn’t seem to make sense of his unusual hostility. As a matter of fact, if anyone had any right to be angry at that moment,it should be her. She was. the one who got neglected by her so-called boyfriend for two weeks.
“I still don’t understand…” “Really? Are you that slow?”
“What?!” Determined not to get irate, she let out a sigh. “Okay, that was really insulting,and I take exception to being insulted. Whatever is eating you up,just let it out already.”
“Well, since you still don’t understand, I will explain to you. You are the one eating me up.” He cleared his throat. “You complain a lot!” he raised one finger, and then another as he listed all that he thought were wrong about her, “You nag!You are always seeking for attention! You are not. social!” He shook his head and warped his mouth in disgust, “I don’t even think my family would like you!”
Nifemi’s eyes suddenly got larger than normal;she opened them in tremor, trying hard to comprehend what her boyfriend of eleven months thought of her. She shook her head vigorously as if to shake off everything Felix had just said to her. He didn’t really say that! Did he? Snap out of it, Nife, Felix couldn’t have said those awful things to you. He loves you, that’s for sure.
Love uhn? Are you really as slow as he said you were?Come off it,look at the handwriting on the wall,it’s so clear even to the blind. This guy doesn’t love you. He’s been using you all the while… She stared at the wall fencing the apartment she lived in, where is the hand writing? She looked around. Was she going crazy?
Felix stood before her, his eyes focused on the interlocked floor. He had given her a piece of his mind. He was done with her. He needed some fresh air. He was better off without her. Let her deal with the situation. She should have known better than build her life around him. Such a leech!
It took Nifemi some five to ten minutes to comport herself. She let out a short but derisive laugh, and pointed to the way out of the Estate. “Leave now!”
Felix drew back his head slightly and twisted his mouth. “Really?”
“Please.” She said within clenched teeth, and tightened chest. She needed to remind herself to breathe. No one had ever told her such unpleasant things about herself. Felix might have as well driven his hand into her chest and ripped off her heart. He had literally devalued her. All these eleven months,she adored him and thought highly of him, but this was what she got in return?
He shrugged. “If you insist.” He pushed his hands into his pocket and strolled
away without any expression of remorse whatsoever.
Nifemi stared at his back in shock until she could see him no more. He didn’t
even look back.
She scampered to the gate and got into a one-minute combat with it before she finally threw it open. She seemed to be losing her mind. She had tried so hard not to let the tears out in his presence. Now that he was gone, the tears made their way to the surface of her eyes. The whole world had suddenly turned blurry. Maybe she didn’t belong here.
Why was it so difficult for anyone to love her? Maybe something was wrong with her.
She eventually made her way to her sister’s apartment on the second floor, almost missing her step as she climbed up the stairs. She swiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her palm to enable her see the stairs clearly. She threw the entrance door wide open,causing the door to create a disquieting sound as it hit the wall. It startled the family of four who were enjoying their Sunday evening in the living room, watching a Family drama and crunching the home-made cookies she had made earlier that day. She stormed into the living room and slammed the door. Her little three- year old niece- GRACE cringed in fear.
The whole family, except little Grace had the same expression as they glared at her, it was a mixture of irritation and confusion. Just ten minutes ago, she had left the apartment basking in excitement. They wondered what could have caused the sudden transition.
On the other hand, Nifemi seemed to be oblivious of their presence in the living room. Her chest still tightened, with tears now flowing down her cheeks like the down pour from a broken cloud. She scurried towards her room, bumping into Grace’s doll which was lying carelessly on the floor. She almost fell on her face. She lost her balance, but quickly placed her hands on the arm of one of the sofas. She regained balance and muttered something like a curse.
Upon seeing what Nifemi had done to her cute doll,Grace jumped down from the sofa, the feeling of fear now replaced with sadness at the loss of her doll’s arm. She picked up the plastic doll and let out a cry.
“Daddy, Aunty Nife broke Sally’s arm!”
Without even a slight expression of guilt with regards to Grace’s doll, Nifemi made her way into her bedroom, turned the key knob into a lock and bounced on the bed.
Now allowing herself to sob freely, her chest relaxed as she let out all the tears she had been trying so hard to hold back. She hugged the pillow and cried out loudly, so much that the sound of her cry was heard in the living room.
Grace frowned at the broken arm of her doll, a few tears progressing down her cheeks.
Paul had been trying to comprehend the whole drama that just played out in his living room got up eventually and picked his tearful daughter up.
“Aunty Nife is mean like Dorothy. She broke Sally’s arm and didn’t say sorry.”
Dorothy was a mean cartoon character who broke into pieces a doll belonging to her half-sister.
Paul placed a finger softly on Grace’s cheek and wiped the tears. “Come on Grace, you shouldn’t compare your Aunty Nife to wicked Dorothy. Aunty Nife isn’t mean. She is only sad.”
Grace sniffed and stared questioningly into her daddy’s eyes. “Why is Aunty Nife sad?”
“Somebody must have hurt her and made her cry.” Paul said,brushing away the tears from his daughter’s face.
Grace shook her head, the expression of sadness still on her little face. “That ‘Somebody’ is mean like Dorothy.”
“That he is.” MOYO said, as she stood up. “I will go check on her.”
Paul nodded and took his seat. He placed Grace on his lap, and held her head closely to his chest.
Moyo knocked at the door to Nifemi’s room and tried to push it open, but it was locked. “Come on now Nife, please open the door.”
Her head buried in her pillow, “Go away, Moyo,” she said amidst sobs. “Hmm, it must have been a terrible break up.”
Nifemi lifted her head for a moment. “Did you say something?” “Uhm…not…not really.” Moyo stuttered.
“I said go away already! Is that too much to ask?”
Moyo placed her head closer to the door,
“No problems dear, I’m here whenever you are ready to talk.”
“I will keep that in mind.” She said brusquely and buried her head into the pillow
Moyo shrugged and went back to the living room. Her only sister could be very rude whenever she was hurting. She wished Nifemi was like her; the last thing she would do when hurting would be to lock herself up in a room. That would only hurt her more; she got rid of hurt by being around the people who truly cared about her and crying on their shoulders. But Nifemi was dissimilar as she had a way of hurting people that truly cared about her when she was hurting, always causing herself more misery by locking herself up and refusing to let anybody in. Not even her most trusted pillow could console her. She always ended up making everyone around her miserable too and that was evident as she entered the living room.
Her family had lost interest in their favorite TV show, and now staring questioningly at her.
“She didn’t let me in.” She told them as she sank into the sofa beside her seven- year old son-SETH.
Nifemi stared blankly at the white board. She seemed to have forgotten the subject she taught. She closed her eyes for a moment and opened them again. Her mind had suddenly gone blank, except for the thoughts of Felix. One of her eyes had become misty with tears and she tried so hard to diffuse the tears back in. She couldn’t afford to make a fool of herself before her students. She had to get a grip on herself and her emotions.
She stared up at the ceiling for some moments.
The bags around her eyes were already raising questions amongst her co- workers and students. Well, she had told them she wasn’t feeling healthy and hoped they didn’t see through her eyes to the hurt and brokenness in her heart.
Some students chattered behind her, but she didn’t look back.
Satisfied that the tears would not betray her, she shifted her gaze from the ceiling
to the board and wrote ‘FOOD & NUTRITION.’
She breathed and turned her face, the chattering students speedily went mute. Nifemi cleared her throat and gave the students a wry smile.
“Who knows the main source of nourishment for a baby during pregnancy? She questioned.
A few students raised up their hands.
Nifemi beckoned to a female student. “Okay Juliet.”
Juliet stood up and all the students shifted their attention to her. “The main nourishment for a baby during pregnancy comes from what the mother eats and drinks.”
Nifemi’s hands rested on one of the students’ desks on the front row. All she could see was Felix, even though she was staring at Juliet, and all she could hear was Felix confessing his undying love to her. He said he would never get bored of her. He promised to never leave her, to always love her.
It was more than two minutes since Juliet finished answering the question and had taken her seat.
The student on whose desk Nifemi was resting her hands touched her hand lightly and all her restraint to keep her emotions from overwhelming her came crashing down—she suddenly burst into tears before herstudents.
A few of the students ran to her side to comfort her and ask what the problem was. She felt embarrassed and wanted to stop the drama but she couldn’t. Every attempt to hold back the tears seemed to press them out the more.
The Principal rushed into the classroom with Juliet who had gone to call her from her office. She instructed the students to go back to their seats.
Nifemi swiped her palms over her face to get rid of the tears. She sniffed so hard she could feel her head spinning.
The Principal held her by the hand and walked her to her office.
The Principal gestured to her to sit while she went forward to her own seat. She pushed a box of tissue over to her.
Nifemi took some, cleaned the residual tears on her face and blew her nose.
“Can we talk now?” the Principal asked softly.
“I can tell your heart is broken.”
“I guess that’s obvious to everyone now.
I’ve really made a mess of myself, even before my students.”
“Don’t beat yourself. We all cry sometimes. It’s okay to be human. It’s okay to feel. So, tell me about it. Who broke your heart?”
“Can I ask you a question ma’am?” Nifemi queried. “Go ahead please.”
“Do you think I’m boring and uninteresting?”
The Principal took a deep breath and exhaled softly. “Trust me Nifemi, you are not boring. And if he said that to you, he doesn’t deserve you. The guy doesn’t love you—he’s not worth your tears. Just let him go.”
Tears drizzled down her cheeks, forming small circles on her white skirt. “But I love him.”
“Nifemi dear, unrequited love only tends to hurt, and the more you hold on to that person, the more miserable you will be, while the person is somewhere enjoying himself and probably having a ‘good’ life.”
Nifemi picked up another tissue paper and dabbed the tears off her eyes. She stared at the circles of tears on her skirt. It was hard to believe it was over between her and Felix. Since they began dating, she had constantly pictured what it would look like to be married to him and be the mother of his children. She thought she had found true love at last. How would she bring herself to stop loving him?Can she ever stop loving him? Yes,she had doubts at the beginning of their relationship, but they all got overwhelmed by her emotions. She had compromised a lot for him. She had let down her guards for him. She had built her world around him.
She felt like she was already one with him. She couldn’t imagine being apart from him. She felt like her heart was bleeding, but she couldn’t even reach it to stop the bleeding. Only Felix could stop the bleeding. Only he could tend to the wound in her heart. If he wanted her to change and become more social,she would be. She would learn it!She would beg him to give her another chance.
“Don’t even think of begging him.” The Principal said as if reading her mind. “What?!”
“Don’t beg him. Let him go. He doesn’t appreciate you because he doesn’t love you.”
“But how will I teach my heart to stop loving him?”
“You have to learn it. It will be painful, but only for a little time. You will be fine.”
She felt another weight of tears gathering around her eyes. She hoped her eyes would not get pushed out of their sockets by her unending tears. She took more tissue and dabbed them on her eyes.
She dumped them on the table with the ones she had used earlier. They were a filthy bunch. She realized how disgusting they looked on the Principals’ table and quickly removed them. “I’m really sorry ma’am.” She went over to the trash can and dumped them into it. She took her seat again.
The Principal smiled at her. “That’s okay dear. I understand. It’s okay to cry out the pain… Now let me tell you something. You chose to love that man and you can choose to stop loving him. Sure, it’s going to take a while before your heart gets in sync with your decision, but it will eventually.”
“I feel so used!”
“Hmm… Is it okay to ask you a question?
“Did you have sex with him?”
Nifemi shook her head. “But we did every other thing that could have led to sex.
I might have as well had sex with him. I feel so ashamed of myself.”
The Principal sighed and picked up a flyer from the top of her desk. She glanced at it and handed it to Nifemi.
“It’s an invite to a Singles-Bible study group. The singles in my church gather into small groups every Saturday evening to study God’s word, share burdens, offer counsels, pray together and encourage one another. At the bottom of the flyer is a number you can send your address to make an enquiry of the venue closest to you.”
Nifemi read through the flyer and sniffed.
“I beg you to check it out. I’m sure it will aid your healing process.” Nifemi nodded and gave a dry smile. “Thank you so much ma’am.”
“You are welcome my dear,” the Principal said with a smile, “You can take the
rest of the day off. You are not in the right state of mind to teach.” “Thank you for being so concerned and understanding ma’am.
“It’s my pleasure dear.”
Nifemi coughed as she got up to leave the Principal’s office.
“Please Nifemi,” the Principal called out, “ensure you check out the singles’ group. It will be of great help to you.”
“Good. Remember, don’t beg him.”
She nodded and exited the office.
To be continued….
Author: Oni Ifeoluwa Joan
Lover of God, God’s BAE. God is involved in my race, that is why I am an EPITOME OF GRACE. Bringing to you colourful display of real life situations through my writings with the help of God.