Hey dearies, how have you all been?
I trust you’ve been good. I’ve missed you all, missed writing been battling with some serious writer’s block. but last night, my laptop loved me.
I wrote this short story and just edited this morning. I hope you like, I hope you really like and spare some thought for Bisi as she goes through this difficult time.
‘…. It’s not you, it’s me.’ With those words he shattered her world.
We’ve all heard those words, jokes and memes have been made of those words, but you can never understand those words; their impact until they are said to you. That five letter sentence. Perhaps in analysis it might be that it isn’t quite a correct sentence. But none of that matters when those words are said to you; all that matters at that moment; is that those words signify the end of a journey for you.
Bisi had known Akin for a while, perhaps known off is the correct terminology. They had mutual friends, acquaintances, etc. they were even friendly, said hi pleasantly whenever their paths crossed. So, when on that day they met at his cousins wedding; they said hi, Bisi introduced him to her friend; Funke whom she attended the wedding with and tried to match make them.
A few days later she followed up with Funke to find out if they had been any progress with Akin. Funke said they had spoken a few times but she doesn’t get the vibes Akin was interested. Bisi followed up with Akin, extoling Funke’s virtues to the highest heavens. She and Akin got talking, got to know each other better.
It was on one of such follow up sessions Akin asked her why she was trying to push him to another when she could have him for herself.
Bisi couldn’t believe it; as much as she liked Akin (well, what was there not to like?) there was this little thing of a six months age difference. Being that they ran in the same circles; everyone had an idea of how old the other was. It was an age difference that didn’t matter in friendship but could matter in a relationship especially if things got serious.
Akin’s question got Bisi thinking. What she knew of him, she liked and would have been content with just being friends if this seed hadn’t been planted. Akin pushed and Bisi who would hitherto have sworn she could never date a younger man began to consider it. history and society was littered with couples where the woman was older.
It was just six months which happened to fall on different years, and Akin had a good head on his shoulders; better than his elders Bisi had had the misfortune of dating. She reminded him of her age, and he didn’t seem to mind (or so she thought). For looking back now, she couldn’t remember his response if any. Perhaps she had just taken his silence for consent.
She thought it through; what were the implications of being with him? No more themed birthday parties; as much as we Nigerians attempt to form enlightenment you can’t have your birthday with your stated year and your husband have his the next year. She thought about the fact that they ran in the same circles and those in their circle knew each other’s age; were they going to be fodder for back talk and gossip? This also meant a future walking on shells. She couldn’t be too opinionated lest it be seen as she showing her age and treating him like a younger brother. Like this literarily meant she was going to have to be super extra submissive!
This also meant a lifetime of always being on her toes beauty and fashion wise. She would never be able to just chill and let nature take its course; like she couldn’t afford to let herself age naturally and she asked herself if she could keep up. Marriages with a much older husband still had husbands trading their wives in for a younger model not to think of one in which the wife was actually older.
However to Bisi, all this paled to the fact that she really liked Akin. Like really liked him, she wasn’t just needy because she wasn’t in a relationship at the time, she really liked him. She had gotten to know him and loved what she knew. Best of all, he didn’t mind (or so she thought), afterall he was the one coming for her.
Against her better judgement, against her sister’s advice she decided to give it a shot. Well; in hindsight, she had about three good months. Three months in which she fell deeper in love with Akin. She glowed, she raved about him, and everyone could tell she was in love. The pessimistic, non-emotional, commitment phobic Bisi actually saw a future with Akin. She told her friends, family and loved ones about him, wanted to show him off to the world, factored him into her plans; was willing to go the long haul; this was it, this was really it.
….. And then the end began.
Akin had always had a demanding job; she had one too so she could understand. It wasn’t the easiest task to get him on the phone; she had to call many times or leave a message and wait for him to get back to her. His reply time became more and more distant, he never initiated any call or contact anymore. She went through a really trying time and he wasn’t there for her, she even got more empathy from the random colleague and neighbor than from her boyfriend. Still she made excuses for him; he was busy. Little did she know that was the beginning of the end.
They limped along with her in ignorant bliss until he suddenly became incommunicado. She one day realised it appeared she was in a relationship with herself. She was literarily the one carrying the relationship and she asked herself; na so I like man reach? It wasn’t pride which stopped her from contacting him, neither was it self-respect. It was concern that if three months into a relationship she had to be the one doing all the running, what kind of future did that hold for them?
To test this she decided she won’t reach out to him, let him do a bit of the running. And just like that her fears were confirmed. She could see his prints on social media, he was ok, communicating with others, just not her. Four days on she broke and called him.
‘Are you ok, is there a problem?’ she asked.
He replied that he would call her back and they would talk as he couldn’t talk where he was.
He called her back four days later, late at night on her birthday. He forgot and had to be reminded by seeing the felicitations on her Facebook that evening.
Like every normal female she had raved about her birthday for weeks preceding that day, but her boyfriend forgot her birthday and had to be reminded on Facebook.
He apologised, but by then she already knew they were not ok. It was probably over. All she wanted was to know why.
He came to her office the next day with a cake, she joined him in his car and barely glanced at it as she mumbled a tense ‘thankyou’. She was very nervous, in the next moments she was going to hear the life changing verdict or reason if you please. But a verdict to her because it was obvious his mind was made up.
‘I know you’re angry with me.” Akin began. “I’ve been thinking, thinking a lot about us. About taking this relationship to the next level and I can’t get past this age thing. The fact that you’re older than me. Is it something we can get past or is it something that will become an issue later in life. If you notice I’ve been withdrawing for a while, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. And well, what do you think about it?’ He asked.
While he spoke, Bisi felt like the bottom of her world had dropped away. This was her deepest fear confirmed. Regardless of the question, it was obvious he had thought it true and felt there was no way forward; hence his withdrawal. She couldn’t speak. She felt like screaming out in pain. She tried to get a grip on herself; she couldn’t afford to break down in tears, she had to go back to work.
‘I have a question.’ She tried to speak through the pain. ‘You knew our ages before we began. If this was going to be an issue why did you bother beginning?’ She asked when she could speak.
For the life of her she can’t remember if he replied or what he replied. She just knew she had to get away.
‘I have to go back to work.’ She mumbled, opening the car door she fled into her office premises.
He called her on her mobile. ‘You forgot your cake.’ He said.
‘Thrash it!’ She repeated. ‘Just like you’ve thrashed our relationship, thrash it.’ She ended the call. The tears were now falling freely as she made her way to the nearest restroom. She spent the next hour weeping her heart out. She wept for her lost love. She wept for a lost dream, she wept for she had dared to dream.
She wept, for age is nothing but a number was the biggest lie of all.