I remember the taste of disappointment. It was sour and palpable, difficult to swallow. I remember the taste of pain. It was cutting, hot, and made my tongue bleed. I have felt heartache, I knew my tears by their name. Little by little you broke and when you couldn’t take it anymore, you shattered.
What is love without the pain? I’ve always felt it would be something beautiful. Something real, real blissful. What did it feel like to be able to love who you loved? To be free. To live the life you truly wanted? To be wholly accepting of all that you are, to be wholly accepted for all that you are? I pondered dully over these thoughts as I sat, glued to my seat, struggling to breathe, stifling my tears.
The love of my life would get married, only I wouldn’t be in a gown opposite her, putting the ring on her finger, I would never be the one she was smiling at or professing undying love to, or exchanging vows with. I would never take her home. What did it feel like to love a woman? What did it feel like to love a woman as a Nigerian woman? It was like having all your dreams come true in your sleep, and then you smile as you wake up, only to discover that someone else is fulfilling those dreams. We walk free but remain in chains. Chains and the burden of expectation. The burden of seeming like an anomaly by people who have never been us, would never be us, could never walk in our shoes. People who felt we chose this, this they understand nothing about.
I often wonder how someone’s nature can be perceived and named unnatural. Hold on too tightly and you’ll bruise. Hang on too loosely and you fall painfully. It was a gloomy day, even I knew because the clouds seemed darker and the rain wouldn’t stop pouring. Thunder echoed like the world was coming to an end. Little did I know my world was coming to an end.
I stirred from sleep with her on my mind as usual, she consumed my thoughts, I called but she didn’t answer. She was probably busy, nothing to worry about, but then the minutes stretched into hours and the hours formed a full day and the days became a full week. At the start of the next week, I received a message, simple, chilling. I can’t do this anymore, I’m sorry. My mind was all over the place. We were fine last time we spoke, everything was fine, we had talked, we had laughed, she had told me in earnest that she loved me, and I had responded that I loved her more and that I always would. What then could have gone so wrong so quickly?
Life was a blur. Nothing made any sense. Many times, my friends would ask me why I was so sullen, withdrawn, staring into space, and I would smile and tell them I just had a lot on my mind. I was numb.
It was another late night when I received her call. Her parents had found out, they were making her cut ties with me, they were making her marry a long-time family friend, they were ‘correcting her situation’. It would be the last time I would hear from her. She was sorry, her hands were tied, there was nothing she could do. She loved me, I should never forget that she truly really loved me. She couldn’t walk away from family. She wished she didn’t have to choose.
I would have thought that it was impossible for me to feel any more devastated than I had already felt, but apparently, it was. Life was full of surprises, wasn’t it? I sat in the dark replaying images and videos of us. Her beautiful face, her high-pitched laughter, her words that were magic and her voice that calmed my demons, I saw her caramel against my darker chocolate and wondered how I could have gotten everything I ever wanted but would never get to keep.
I thought to myself how it wasn’t unholy when her arms circled my waist, pulling me in. It didn’t feel so sinful as soft palms cupped my breasts, and how nothing felt more natural the moment her lips grazed mine searingly. I thought about not holding her again, not breathing in her essence, not being in her presence, not sharing my life with her.
I thought till I could think no more, and a dull ache in my head began to spread. I began to feel lightheaded through the tears, I was blanking out and the last image in my head was her face.