“I am going to tell you a story,” She said
“What kind of a story, “I asked.
“You’ll see. But one thing it’s a story I have never told anyone before “She answered.
“Wow! I love the privilege of being the first. I do…But Why do I have a feeling that its like one of those scenarios of-I can tell you but I will have to kill you?” I texted back.
“Movie lines are such a cliché.Lol.But yea it’s a secret. I won’t mind if you retell the story though. As long as you never mention or reveal my identity ever “She said.
The last condition was however quite unnecessary because I didn’t even know her real name then. And how can I reveal an identity I don’t know? Earlier on as we got to know each other I remember asking her real name and her short reply was, “My user name 26 is okay. It should suffice. Just know me as V26 okay?” And then, she quickly added, “ And that name has a meaning,”.A surprising meaning, I found out later.
So why have I decided to take her up on the offer and retell the story here? One of the reasons, among the many, for there are many, is a master storyteller once told me, “There are only two types of stories: Good stories and Boring stories”. What’s the difference I had asked, “good stories are full of life” The master had quipped. So here is her story or rather the story she said was made hers with no interruption or editing.
And Like all good stories, her story began with the only thing no man can ever teach. For it is the only thing older than life. Love
So, here is 26 telling her own story or in her own words,
“So this is my story or rather a story that was made mine. For people make things happen but sometimes things happen to people”.
A story that was made her
“Just like every little girl” she began, “I had dreams. Some instilled in me, others I developed on my own. As I grew, some of those dreams began to fade off while I acquired new ones. So by the time I was in my mid-twenties, I had figured out cold what I wanted in life: A good job to put food on my table, a good man to marry a good relationship and me with God. But no I wasn’t exactly a saint. I had a crazy campus life. Not too crazy though. However, I had reached an age where I knew I wanted to grow up and do serious things because I had done everything else. Partied hard, fallen in love with the wrong people, had both good and bad sex, made some little money In between. So here I was now ready for the big things and weighing heavily on my mind was two priorities: A decent job and a good man.”
”On the two goals” she went on “of landing a dream job and a good man, I went to a close friend of mine for advice “At this point I interrupted her,
”Why her? Why did you trust that your close friend would have a solution for you “I asked?
“She seemed to have her life in check at the time, “She replied. “Anyway” 26 went on, “The close friend advised me to seek God’s approval in everything I wanted. So I would leave work every evening head to church and pray for the two things among other things that were going on in my family back then. And so it happened”
“And what is it that happened?’ “I enquired.
“I had prayed for a good stable job and a God-fearing, responsible man. I got a new job, and I met a man who carries the bible to church”, 26 answered adding ”nowhere begins the part of the story you’d want to hear. I will try and make it short,”
And so here begins the part of the story she said was important. Apart I walked in assuming that she was a person with many corners and I didn’t listen long before hearing just that.
“One day, on a weekend,” she began,” my God-fearing man happened to use my phone to read his emails. He was job hunting, so was I; so we’d spend the weekends drafting and polishing our CVs. He left his email logged in on my phone. On the following Monday, while at work, having my lunch, I was scrolling through my phone glancing at everything but nothing, I came across the open emails. I read them. And just like all stories go, there was another girl. I was heartbroken. Or so I thought. I flipped. I called him demanding an explanation and indeed I got one. She was his colleague, a bit older than he was, recently separated from her husband, a single mum. He said he wasn’t even interested, it was just a passing thing and he promised to end it. I was in love, I believed him. And to be honest, when I compared my life to hers I had more going for me” After that she paused and I took the opportunity to ask a question,
“I don’t understand the last part well. The one about more going on for you” I said.
“I mean I was naïve and I imagined that there was no way a straight-thinking person would risk losing a good woman for a woman who had a load of baggage “She answered then went on immediately, “ Like I just said, I was naive. I felt prettier, younger and free of baggage-baggage of the baby and baby daddy thing. I had a clean slate. Loll! I was marriage material. I closed that bit of being heartbroken and stayed in love. Things were going well and my God-fearing man was doing everything right. We were doing things together. Good things. And I again began to feel secure about the relationship”
And it’s at the above point that she disappeared for more than a month. But then once she came back 26, in her usual way, resumed from where she had paused as she had never left,
“Fast-forward, the next year on Valentine’s,”26 continued her story,” Oh my! My man didn’t disappoint. Flowers and a bottle of wine were delivered to my office. I was happy. I wanted to thank him personally so I called him up and we agreed to meet after work. We met in town. Had coffee but he insisted he had to leave. He was nervous and jittery. Something I didn’t read much into. Love and naivety is a sickening combination. His explanation for splinting was his friend had traveled and his wife had a sick child who needed to be taken to hospital. My response to that should have been bullshit!! but when you are in love, you don’t think. You don’t smell deception. I later learned that the single mum needed my God-fearing man to dash her baby to the hospital. On Valentine’s Day!! He left me, to go be with her because she needed him.”
“How old was your relationship at this point, “I asked
“We were three years in the relationship “She answered.
” So Three years into the relationship,” 26 went on “an app was launched that kept record of who you have sent or received money from. The app excited my God-fearing man who had started his own business at the time as it would help him keep track of his expenses. And so one day as he was showing me how the app worked, I saw something. Something I wasn’t looking for. He had sent money to the single mum a few days before. All I remember at that point is we were in his house. I sat on the sofa and cried”
“Looking back” She went on” It was God telling me something. It was at this point that I should have left. However, my God-fearing man is a good storyteller and quite an actor. I don’t remember exactly how he put it but in the end, I was made to believe that he was just helping her. He was innocent, he was just a good guy helping a needy person. As fate would have it, I even happened to bump into the single mum one time at a banking hall. And she said she didn’t have anyone else she could ask for money. She was in need. She wasn’t in communication with my man. It was just that incident of needing a helping hand, and I did not only believe her but I also pitied her. Foolish me”
“The two love birds,” she said referring to her boyfriend and the other girl,” discussed the incident. They had agreed on what they were going to tell me if I asked. They were on the same team, reading from the same script and I was the outsider. I don’t know if at all I have ever felt that low. Things were happening to me. I cried every day because I knew it was something more than the money. And the more I cried the more my God-fearing man tried to convince me that I was overthinking everything. Again I scold myself every day. Three years into the relationship, we had been through almost everything together, we had been broke, in between jobs, unwell at times with no insurance. The list is long. I recall a time when we slept on a broken bed with a finished mattress. I recall job hunting together, literally moving from door to door-everyday only breaking to have cold chips at mc fries. I recall opening a joint savings account to put our money together to save for the future. My idea. Love is quite a stupid thing. And while I was thinking “us” him and me. I can’t quite tell you what he was thinking. Maybe me, her and maybe me. I will never know. What I do know is…” She paused mid-sentence letting her words trail off.
On resuming, 26 filled in the hanged sentence with an emotional roller coaster with excruciating clashing details that shows why people love-reading memos and why some writers publish posthumously or never at all. Cutting yourself wide open to expose not only your mind but the deepest part of your soul to people, takes more than courage.In
In an Overcrowded Life Boat
“Love” she resumed” had left me crying in the darkness but still it was not enough. My heart was starting to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. I had thrown out, pride, independence, and self-respect to keep the boat afloat but it was still sinking and it was clashing me down with it. Some loves are like that and I was getting sick of love or getting sick because of love.” She said
“Some days” 26 went on” I showed up to work looking like I haven’t slept in years. I wasn’t sleeping much. I had put everything in a basket that was cracking. I had invested everything in a human. I was so low and beaten. I didn’t have anyone who could understand how I was feeling. Heartbreak is a different feeling for everyone. Some people move on to the next as nothing happened. But when you truly love someone, it’s difficult. I was drained. I somehow felt it would have been better if he had found someone else to cheat with. Not someone in between her marriage/single mum status. A prettier single lady who doesn’t drag her son to their dates; because these kinds of things affect kids. Up to date I feel chocked with disgust”
THEN ROCK BOTTON
My low feelings led me to one of my ex-lover’s house. Loneliness is a disease that needs a quick cure. We hadn’t spoken in a year or two. I didn’t even inform him I was going over. And no, I wasn’t going on a revenge mission. I wanted somebody to want me. On arrival, and after opening the door in complete shock (thank goodness he was alone) I sat in his living room and cried. And when I was done crying, all I could say was “if you had loved me right, I wouldn’t have been here. Because I know you and you can’t put me through this” I needed to vent and cry to someone and I did. I left after realizing he was only happy to see me because he thought I’d showed up for a booty call. I don’t blame him, we never really had anything going beyond the sex. We never spoke again. I’m certain he thinks I’m a crazy person with issues. I don’t care. Because again love is blind and I felt I had nowhere to go, I put that behind me”
ROSE COLORED GLASSES
Her story went on, “Somehow again, my God-fearing man had again convinced me that I was overthinking and accusing him of something he wasn’t doing. And I started to feel like I was to blame. Like I owed him an apology for wrongly accusing him and acting out. I failed to read into his sarcastic tendencies. I admit, I was weak and I should have fought for myself.”
“Four years in, my God-fearing man proposed to me in a fairy tale proposal. My man does grand things. He goes out of his way to impress. I said yes. How could I not when the ring was so shiny and the beach was so pleasant on that early morning. We set out to plan a grand wedding. I could at least smile. I could at least now take a break from the heartbreak” She went on. Then the other shoe fell,
”Two weeks to our wedding. I purposely decided to go through his emails again. And Indeed I found something. A photo of her which I believe he took and the caption was-you are the most beautiful woman I have ever come across”. 26 said then for the first time she asked me a question,
“Do you know what that does to a woman?”. But happens it was a rhetorical question because she went on before I could reply,
“This was two weeks to our wedding and the email had been sent right after he had convinced me that I was crazy and overthinking things. I replayed the dates in my head and checked across my emails. The email had been sent on a Monday. I believe they must have spent the weekend together where he took that photo. On that same Monday on my end, I was planning a surprise for him”
“Not hurt enough,” said 26 “I scrolled a bit more and found more photos. Photos of her and photos of her son taken all through our relationship. Nude photos because they were also engaged in fornication and some phone sex. For the four years, she had been there in my relationship with my God-fearing man. They had their relationship going. There was more. More photos of women I didn’t know. And others who I thought were buried exes. I sat there, wearing my gold engagement ring, wondering what exactly I was doing with my life except wasting it away with the wrong person”
“The next day was my bridal shower. I went into tears. And because I was too afraid to embarrass my family by canceling a wedding, I walked down the aisle with the awareness that some people do find honest credible partners to build a good family life with. I am just not one of those people. However, since every one who seeks finds something, I was here with more than a rough idea of how deception looks like”
“For at the end of the aisle, stood a man who didn’t think I was the most beautiful woman in the world. There is something eternal that does to a woman-the thought of coming second in a place where you ought to be first. But I put on a smile and did it for the family”
”And, the wedding was a grand success with style and taste from the reception.” she went on” to the after-party where People ate drank and danced all night celebrating a story being made mine”
“One year on we are still married and we were blessed with a beautiful baby. But whenever I look at him –my husband, now all I feel is hatred. But will I leave him?, No. Do I love him? No. Can I ever love him? No! crazy right?” She said.
“And by the way” she added” the name 26 comes from a verse in Koran. It reads- where are you going? I hope you figure that out someday”
And with that, she disappeared like a train at night. Leaving me only with this:
V26” Where are you going?”