What Does This Mean?
Here is a story for you:
The boy does not know when he falls in love. He is not even sure it is love but then, he knows it is something more than a mere attraction. He knows the feeling is not ordinary. He has had this feeling before, many years ago while he was still trying to know what love was, while he was still unsure what to call the girl, his ‘girlfriend’ – which was a lot then, or his ‘female friend’ – which was the safer option.
That was then. Now, the boy doesn’t even care what he calls her when he is with his friends, whether ‘girlfriend’ or ‘female friend’. It does not matter. What matters really is this funny feeling deep within him. What matters is the way he suddenly feels cold whenever he sees the girl, whenever he looks through the lens of her eyes. What matters is the way he cannot sleep at night because she is in his head, she is in his heart, she is in his dreams. What matters is that the way he cannot help but write love poems for this girl, even after he tells his readers that he will no longer write love poems. It is this control, this telepathic control that this girl has over him that matters. And so they get talking.
For a year – or more – their relationship is undefined. You know that moment when the relationship is actually defined already and what is really happening is that one party is waiting for the other party to make the move and the other party is trying to be careful, making sure this is the right time so he does not blow up the whole thing. But what this other party does not know is that, sometimes, the right time is when you make it. It is not defined, not definite, not cast in stone.
So, the boy and the girl are in this limbo for what seems like forever. The boy can’t get his head in one place and finds himself thinking of the girl day and night. What he does not know is whether or not the feeling is mutual. Is the girl thinking about him the way he is thinking about her? Is the girl eager to pick his call the way he is eager to pick her calls? Is the girl hugging her pillow every night asking God why this feeling has to be this strong the way he is? What exactly is the girl thinking? What does the girl call him whenever she is alone with her chi? Who is he to her? The boy does not know.
After a while of maintaining a steady undefined relationship, they are making progress, or so the boy thinks. And then, the unexpected happens. The girl suddenly becomes cold. She does not pick his calls and she does not acknowledge them. Whenever she picks, the conversation is always stiff.
How has your day been?
Is everything fine?
Monosyllabic answers. Nothing can be more terrible for the boy than the girl giving him monosyllabic answers, closed answers to open questions. Before now, the conversation would have gone this way:
Hey! How far?
I’m fine. How are you?
Terrible. I had five classes today.
Seriously? First day of the session?
Abi o, they want to kill somebody…and on and on. But now, the boy gets monosyllabic answers.
She does not reply his text messages too. He thinks hard and crafts a nice text message for her but she does not reply. He goes to WhatsApp and says hi. Two blue ticks and two days after, he is still waiting for her reply. He does not call…he does not want a cold conversation.
Silence does something terrible to this boy. It kills him from inside. It kills his vibe. It holds his insides tight. He does not know what to do. He does not know what she is thinking. He does not know what is happening. Is this a test? Is this real? Are we really fighting – or rather, is she fighting me? The boy does not know.
And so, it happens. For weeks, they do not talk. The boy tries and tries but he gets nothing back. They remain radio silent for weeks. Every day, the boys wakes up to the thought of her. He looks at her picture until his eyes become glassy orbs and salty waters begin to flow. It breaks him. She breaks him.
Once, they stumble upon each other at a bus stop and say hi. It is awkward, this meeting. They have not seen for weeks because she is always saying she is busy, she has this to do and that to attend to, a big pool of duties. And now, they are meeting. After saying hi, there is nothing to say. There is nothing to say because there is a nagging question between them, a chasm waiting to be filled. The boy asks where she is going and she tells him, without the usual smile. He wants to talk more when a bro appears and calls her. She says hi and gives him a hug. The boy looks away; he misses the hug. The bro talks to her freely and, slowly, she turns away from the boy to the bro and laughs as they talk. The boy is left hanging in the air. After what seems like forever, the boy clears his throat and says bye. She turns slightly, waves, and returns to the bro.
That night, the boy has an attack. Picture him in his room panting, gasping for breath, clutching his chest. He uses his medicine but it does not help. So, he picks up his glasses and makes for the health center. They strap him to a machine, put the mask on his nose and tells him to breath deep, in and out, and then repeat.
They go on holiday for a month and then, out of nowhere, events begin to undo themselves. She chats him up and asks what he is up to lately. He cries, because she has to ask. While things were still smooth between them, she did not have to ask. But now, she has to. He plays along and slowly, he sees that things are different. The monosyllabic words go. She talks and opens up. She calls and replies his messages promptly. He plays it cool. He does not push. After a month of silence, a man is broken.
Now, they resume and she calls him. She calls him and asks if they could see. He thinks she wants to address what happened between them so he says fine. They meet and talk and laugh and make jokes and he realizes how much he missed her. He takes a walk with her and waits for her to fill the burning chasm between them but she does not. So, he writes her a letter in an unsuspecting way, asking, what happened? Why did you go quiet? What does this mean? This new thing between us, what does it mean?
So, I’m asking, what does this mean?
P.S. Happy Birthday, Adeola. Keep shining. The stars are all out for you today.
Happy Birthday, Michael Tolulope. Keep writing. The world is waiting for that novel to pop out.
NB: I was unable to post on Tuesday. This Tuesday thing is getting hard people. I hope Thursday isn’t too late. Sorry. About the fiction series, I am still going to write it. My head is not in one place right now but it’s only a matter of time, I will unleash the dragon. Soon.