In 1899, Joseph Conrad wrote a book called The Heart of Darkness. It would go on to be one of the most important books in modern history – but most of it was a lie. It was a story that showed what Europeans thought of Africans. Only that, these thoughts were just that – thoughts. They were not facts.
In 2011, Chinua Achebe, wrote an essay calling out Conrad’s book for what it was: a compilation of lies; for such is the nature of lies that no matter how early they kick-off and how fast they run, the truth will always catch up with them. The truth cannot be conquered. The truth shall always prevail. Falsehood may endure for long but it can’t stay forever. It will one day be overshadowed by an abundance of truth such that it cannot counter it.
And this is why I write this: to tell the truth. Not in a bid to seek public approval (I care less for such and I would have done this earlier if that was my intention) but simply to place an alternative narrative to that which has been said, and this time around, a true narrative. As a student of History, I understand the importance of alternate narratives. The only way posterity will ever doubt a ‘fact’ is if there is another supposed ‘fact’ opposing it since there cannot be two contradicting facts without a cause.
Thing is, this letter would not have been necessary at all if the other person in this conversation had not gone ahead to say things that are purely untrue for reasons I will never understand.
You know me, Pepe. You know I try to be logical with life but when you fall in love, logic flies out the window most times. Sometimes this is a good thing. Most times, it is a call to doom.
In my case, I did not lose all sense of reasoning when I fell in love. I did not ask someone’s daughter out, asking them to be my girlfriend and that I would one day marry them, out of illogical reasons. This was a well-thought-out decision. I had known this person since before the pandemic, although we got close during the lockdown (a lab experiment, some would say). Whether or not they loved me was not even in the question. It was a certainty that they did. They had told me multiple times before I came to the realization that this was in fact true on my side too. I had fallen in love and this time around, I was ready to go all-in; something I had never done before. And I did go all in, in all possible ways.
But as it is with every desire that does not come to fruition, things got hazy. There are many reasons for this and to talk about them here would be to digress from the major reasons why I am writing this. People break up for various reasons. Some because they are tired, some because they have fallen in love with another, some because they realized that the person they were dating is not the person they want to spend the rest of their life with and do not want to waste their time. The reasons matter which is why I do not understand people who break up with people they claim to love and do not give a reason. So I am left standing with nothing but air in my hand and I am wondering, what did I do wrong? Am I small? Was I smelling? Was I not good in bed? Did I say too much? Did I scare them off?
As you already know from the bit I told you when I came home for Christmas (I hope you remember though since you were busy devouring the chicken that was not yours), mine did not go this way. In August, I started receiving these (voice) messages that were scary to me, that would be scary to anyone with my experience. The person I loved was hurt, crying. They were feeling small. They were feeling less of themselves. They were not waking genuinely happy because their happiness is tied to our relationship, and our relationship is not going well, so they are not happy. They were feeling terrible, bad, and unimportant. They had been trying hard not to harm/hurt themselves lately. These of course were their words, not mine.
This was not the first or second time. And this was not the only reason why I ended things. This was merely a trigger. There are many reasons why this did not work out as I would have loved it too. It did not end with a vacation in Maldives and trips to visit Emily in Paris. As you would realize, it ended in tears.
I am sitting in the kitchen around 9 pm and I am listening to these six-minute voice notes filled mostly with tears and other declarations which were worrisome. In my mind, I knew it. This was the end. There was no point beyond this point. That was the night I knew I was going to end things and never look back. But I am not one to make decisions on my own. Even to buy clothes, I make sure I go with friends. Making decisions alone can be so scary for me. So I call my friend and tell him, I am going to end this. This is the end bro. I cannot do this anymore. So he says we do a video call and we do a video call. So around 11pm I think or maybe 1am, I am on video call with my friend, telling him why I cannot do this anymore. I cannot bear this burden anymore. In the end, I tell him I am sorry because I feel I have disappointed my friends. I raised everyone’s hope with this because I was indeed hopeful. I even announced to the public something I rarely do with things I like to keep private. It was that important to me, this relationship. I was that certain. But my certainty was swept in the mud that day and I told my friend: I am going to end this.
I was in the middle of a project at work and I was busy (work and busyness, another pair of reasons which led to the end), so I could not travel. So I sat before my laptop and did the next reasonable thing for me. I am a writer so I communicate best with writing. So I wrote a 2000 word email which I titled ‘A Final Resolve’ and sent it to them. If you wish to read this email, Pepe, just tell me and I will send it across to you. In the email, I mentioned that: “The contents of this mail are not just inspired by your voice notes, no, please. Instead, your voice notes were more like the eye-openers I needed to tell me I was not satisfying you and loving you the way you wanted to be loved.” I also mentioned that “your expectations have advanced over time or my capabilities have regressed over time.” I also added: “I am writing all this because I have come to the conclusion that this has to come to an end; this relationship. I think we have moved from love and affection to something else. There is a lot of fear, insecurity, lack of understanding, and resentment is already setting in. The last thing I want is for me ever to resent you. I can never resent you, and I do not want ever to be resented by you.” – I am not so sure about that last bit now.
After this, in the email which you will see if you ask, I stated six reasons why I was breaking up. I said: “I have given this full and considerable thought. I may end up regretting this. But I want you to know that I have chosen this resolve; to leave this relationship because it is the most accessible to me right now. We have tried and tried. I think we can do more apart than together. And as hard as this is, I am not your enemy. If you allow me, I will want to be your friend. I know this is against most of the relationship advice you will get but you are an important person and I think maintaining friendship, perhaps after healing, of course, is the adult thing to do. Giving in to resentment is not the best. However, if this is not healthy for you, I will totally understand and walk away peacefully, as sad as that would be.”
And perhaps the most important thing I did was to add that: “To aid our transition, I will only inform my close circle about this and will not bother to change the narrative with the general public, at least for now, unless you want otherwise.”
My dearest frog, Pepe, in my mind, I had done the adult thing. I was no longer interested in a relationship for reasons which seemed valid to me and I had ended the relationship. Of course these reasons do not have to be valid to others. And that is why it is not a decision for others – the general public – to make. It’s a relationship between two people so one half is no longer interested, the deal is done.
For a relationship that had love in it, I did not expect them to take it without hurt. I who had done the act was hurt. I mentioned in the email that “I am hurt by this. I really wanted this to work. I wanted us to work. I thought this would be it.”
So hurt was present for me and for them too I am sure. But nothing prepared me for the horrors that followed and that are still following. For a severance that happened in August, is it not still problematic that I am receiving emails from them in December? On the day of our Saviour’s birthday? Is it not disturbing that five months after a breakup, I am still receiving these emails?
But perhaps what is even more disturbing is how it all went downhill. The first alarm was a message they sent after the breakup, telling me they would not reply to my email, that people were asking if they would but they would not. My first thought was ‘who are people?’ This relationship was between me and you and I promised not to disclose the breakup to the public until both of us are ready. I expected that you would tell your friends who would help you heal. Who are people?
And then after this came a barrage of emotional blackmailing messages. I did not take any of these in bad faith, Pepe. I replied some even, explaining even more (after a 2000-word email) why this had to happen. This went on for a while after the breakup. Me receiving messages from them and me replying because I know the colour of pain and I know how damaging hurt can be. I wanted to try my best to be as present as possible to help with the healing, if at all that is something I can do. I still have screenshots of these messages – of course, I would not share that unless there is a severe need to.
Little did I know that this was the calm before the storm. I soon began receiving calls from friends asking me what happened. Why would I do that? They are hearing this from this woman and if they did not know me better, they would think I am a monster. I did not understand what was going on. I was trying to heal on my end, in silence from the public and this was what I thought this other person was doing. I was fooling myself.
While I was in silence, they were telling every Tom, Dick and Harry. Pepe, why will someone who claimed to love you and dated you for months, why will they post poems you wrote for them, for their hundreds of contacts given that they are quite known, why would they post these poems with your name on it and caption them “Lies lies lies”? Why would they post on their status “I have returned him for all of you o. You can take him.” Why will they go about sending voice notes to people who have no business knowing that this person had broken up with them and this is why. Why would they add my friends to a WhatsApp group and send them disturbing voice notes, saying things that I must not even mention here, Pepe. Why would they then later call these my friends names after the friends refuse to attend to their hysteria. Why would they call my friends and yell to them that they never want to see them again in their life since they are all triggers? And while doing all these, still be in my DMs on LinkedIn, Twitter and email saying all sorts?
Who does these things, Pepe? Don’t they have people who tell them the truth? These things only happened on Twitter, not real life. Who goes around spreading lies about their ex after a breakup? Who goes around telling everyone? Like why for example would they enter my friend in Abuja’s dm and ask this friend : why didn’t you ask why me and Michael broke up/ won’t you ask why Michael and I broke up?
I will never understand why anyone would do this, Pepe. I would never understand why for example, they went to their status to talk about how they are a rising woman, a ‘power’ woman, a this and a that. To what end? Why paint a false picture of your present state to the public? Why?
Pepe, let me put it in a way you will understand. We have been disgraced. Our names have been soiled and we have been soaked in the murkiest of mud. There is hardly anyone in Awolowo’s city who did not hear a barrage of lies from this woman. They told my friend from secondary school. They also sent their signature voice notes to my doctor friend whom I had known from my fellowship in 100 level. Who does that? Why do you have to announce to the whole world that you broke up and tell them one lie after the other? They also messaged the only Star in Lagos, the leader of a fearless army, and told them. Then they returned again months later to my LinkedIn DM with their signature voice notes, claiming they were hearing that people are saying they are slandering me and that they did not slander me. They cursed and swore and did all things doable – all this while maintaining a false calm and strong image to their minions.
Why are human beings like this? When the love started it did not start online. When it ended, I did it personally. But when you received the news, you became a whole different person. When I saw them months ago, they told me how they had destroyed everything I ever bought them. Of course, someone else had told me this already, much to my sorrow. Just imagine the effort that goes into destroying things – reminds me of a certain woman on Twitter who destroyed her ex’s Macbook. Such shame. Also reminds me of the scene in Half of a Yellow Sun when Ugwu, Master and Olanna returned home to find Odenigbo’s books heaped up in front of the house, all burnt. Imagine the effort that goes into that, emptying someone’s personal library and setting them on fire. The effort, Pepe. Such disregard for value. Such wickedness. Of course the excuse is “I was hurting” but hurt is no excuse for malady. I was hurt when OAU did not release my transcript early. You don’t see me breaking into the OAU senate building and setting the place ablaze. Because that is not how things are done. You control your emotions not let them control you and wise and adult people confront situations from a place of wisdom not hysteria.
When we saw each other last year, it was with what I thought was repentance. Tears from their eyes. And a hug from here. Only to keep hearing stories, seeing posts, receiving voice notes they sent to friends and people who have no business knowing.
I often think about an alternate universe where after I sent the breakup email, they did not reply. But they took their time to heal not destroying things, not telling lies, not seeking external validation from the general public, not calling my friends names, not asking people why they did not ask about the relationship, not posting my poems with terrible captions, not posting that they have left me for them, whoever them is; I imagined a world where all these did not happen but that world does not exist. And in this world we live in, there are people walking on the streets with this woman’s version of me in their head. This is to say that whatever you have heard is most likely falsehood.
Why go through the stress of writing this? 78 years after Joseph Conrad published A Heart of Darkness and told racist stories of who Africans were, a true African, Chinua Achebe published a book titled: An Image of Africa. In his book, Achebe told the truth about Africa and debunked the lies Conrad told. But why did he have to? Conrad had died since 1924. There was no need right? People had moved on. No one still believed that Africans lived in trees.
Why does it matter that Achebe wrote a whole book to debunk the lies? It matters because the truth always matters. It matters because a girl came to visit me in December and before we went out to buy books and read poetry to Lola Shoneyin, we talked about my former relationship and she told me all the lies she had heard. And guess who she heard it from? You guessed right. It matters because now, when people ask about the King, there will be another narrative to counter the lies that had been told ahead. Now I can rest knowing that if in the future, someone searches for my name, they will not just find the lies this woman had said about me. They will also find this blog. They will find the italicised words which are all direct references. And then they will get to determine the truth themselves. They will have a choice. Before this came out there was no choice, only one narrative from a hurt woman.
Now, Pepe you can rest knowing that this is what happened. I expect that you have things to say. Please say them respectfully in the comments to both parties. Words of encouragement are welcome. You can also ask questions. I will answer those I can. Please do not abuse anybody or say hurtful things. I have the magic wand so I will make the comment disappear.
Thank you for reading. This is a long one so I understand how hard it must have been. So thank you really. I hope this puts an end to this entire mess. I hope I never receive emails or voice notes about this again. I really hope so. I am tired of voice notes. I do not want them.
It is our ancestors that said: “Until the lion learns how to write every story will glorify the hunter”. This lion has finally told his story, or at least a part of it. I will share the rest of it later. Let us take a break here, my friend.
Till we meet again, Pepe,
With love, Your Master.
PS. I wrote this over a month ago. Now just feels like the right time to share this.
Thanks for reading. Hope you dropped a comment? To receive notifications when next there’s a post, subscribe here.