She was nervous seeing me again, I could tell. Her eyes had moved to the left before she broke contact and turned towards the window. I knew her. She was hiding something. There was no need to ask her what it was, because I knew. She was still in love with me.
It didn’t make me feel good or massage my ego. Rather, it left me feeling pretty empty. I had liked her very much when we first met four years ago. She was in her first year, and I was in my final year at the University of Benin. Then, she wore the hair on her head low, but her breasts had made me believe she was the most beautiful girl in the universe. We spent lots of time strolling across the campus, holding hands, and laughing endlessly. She made me think I was funny. I fell in love with her because she laughed at my jokes. I like to believe that a guy really falls in love with a girl that thinks he is funny. Although most people won’t agree with me (a girl is likely to fall in love with a funny girl), I have never had faith in popular opinion.
She used to tell me I had the potential of being a good kisser, even though she never let me do it with her. She wanted to wait till our wedding night.
But why does it matter, I had asked her one evening, along a lonely tree-lined road that led to Basement. The sky was starless, and the wind was cold. She hugged herself as I stood in front of her.
Why does what matter?
I want to kiss you.
She sighed. I thought we had discussed this earlier.
I cannot stop thinking about it Feranmi. Don’t you feel what I feel?
I do Hymar, but you know I am a Christian. I can’t do that.
Look, I love you. We are not doing it for lust. We are doing it for love.
Love? Please can you just drop this topic? Please.
I moved closer and placed my hands on her shoulders. She drew a sharp breath and appeared to tremble. I looked down into her eyes. She looked up at me. And we stared at each other’s eyes. And soon, there were tears in mine, and hers.
I drew her into an embrace, and she hugged me very tight.
Please don’t leave me, she said between tears. Please don’t go. I need you.
I let her go, and took a step backward.
I have to go Feranmi. I don’t think I should make you do what you don’t want to do.
Now, she was weeping. Please stay.
I shook my head, tucked my hands into my jeans trouser, and left.
I knew if I had pushed a little further, she would have given me her mouth. But it would have been a compromise, a defeat of who she was. Yes, I would have been the winner, but love is not a contest. Love is not about winning. Love is caring so much about someone that you always want them to win, even at your own expense; especially at your own expense.
(I need to apologise for stopping this story when I did. But you need to understand that my hands are full, and I am working nights to finish it. And yes, it has grown into a novel. So, when you finally get to read it, it will be one long thrilling ride. You have my word.)
Ese gaan ni.
Paper Lives On?