My ex was my first real boyfriend. I met him when I was twenty-one and in my third level in university. I was doing my internship with a bottling company and he was an Engineer who had just joined them after his national service. We bonded quickly and became firm friends. I went back to school after my mandated two months and we tried to keep in touch through emails, text messages and phone calls. Along the line, these channels dried up to a trickle from both sides. One day, he called to tell me he had just bought a car and would like to visit me in school. I was then in final year. I agreed and we fixed a date.
He asked me out officially that day and said he would want us to think of marriage. I was surprised but happy. I liked him and felt he would make a good husband. We courted throughout my service year and I was lucky to get a job in the same city as he was. By then we had been together for almost three years and I had known him for almost a couple more. He spoke to my parents and they were happy for me. We did the first step of the marriage process and moved in together to save on costs in the city. Everything was going on well and I was dreaming of a wedding within the year.
My ex came back from work one evening and said he was tired of the relationship. He didn’t see himself with me in the long term any more. I asked if he was cheating, if there was another woman but he denied it. Strangely, I believed him. He said he had remapped his life and wanted to travel abroad to study. I said I would come with him, I would wait for him but he refused. This was the end he said. He would be moving out in a week and I could do as I wanted with the rented flat. No question could get any better answer from him. I was angry. I ranted and railed at him. After that, I cried and wailed. These were still angry tears. I couldn’t believe it. When I felt like hitting him, I knew I had to leave the house. I stormed out.
I needed to let it out but who could I talk to? Not my parents certainly. My thoughts were so jumbled. After going round in circles, I called my closest friend and confided in her. She was in shock. I was also still in shock. I felt numb. We talked for a while but could not figure it out. I went back home to find the beans I had been cooking for dinner burning. My ex had also left the flat. We had almost set the house on fire but that was not my major problem. I was consumed by thoughts of our relationship. I relived the years, the months, the days. I agonized over every minute, every word, and every action. It had not really hit me, not yet. I was overwhelmed but looking back, I had not even begun to truly feel what a breakup meant.
I was hoping we would get back together. I kept thinking and saying “I don’t know what I’m going to do. What am I going to do? Where am I going to start? This cannot be the end.” My friend had encouraged me not to think about that, to just get through the next few days. But it wasn’t that easy. I was almost as good as married. I had known my ex for over five years. That was more than half of my adult life. I felt anchorless and lost. My whole life seemed to have been jarred off-course and I was floating with no clue in which direction to head or where to land.
I waited for him but my ex didn’t come back. I remember wondering if I should go to work the day after. What reason would I use to call in? I get paid sick days but don’t like to lie. I was heartsick. True, I was physically sick to some extent – I felt like vomiting and I did. I heaved out everything in me and at the end I was empty and completely exhausted. I kept telling myself to snap out of it. This was my first relationship and I told myself that I was not special. People suffer breakups all the time and get over it like swatting away a fly.
The next morning, I got to work dazed and spent most of the day chatting on yahoo messenger with my closest friend. She didn’t try to cheer me up because I told her not to bother. I went unto facebook and changed my status. What I did was remove the option of relationship status completely from my page. Don’t get it wrong, it wasn’t that I wanted everyone to know, not at all. I wanted to use that to see if it would bring my ex back to his senses. I told myself this was just a quarrel, a tiff, an ill wind that would soon blow over. It wasn’t possible that my ex was willing to throw so many years down the drain. I kept shaking my head throughout that day that I almost developed a crick in the neck. After work, I dallied in the office delaying the time to go home and also thinking of what to say to him, strategizing.
Finally I walked out and got on the bus. I remember sitting down and beginning to shed tears almost immediately. I couldn’t stop the tears. I pulled out my sunglasses and put them on. The tears just trickled out steadily and I tried to stem the flow with a tissue jammed below the glasses. It was almost dark so I did not get much attention from the other passengers. If I did, I didn’t notice. I was lost in my own world of pain. That ride was a blur. When I got home, I tried to eat but had no appetite. I don’t remember eating much that first week. I do remember looking at the clock or my watch several times and at different points in time. It would calculate the hours and days and minutes and sometimes even seconds. I knew it wouldn’t change anything but still, I couldn’t help doing it. This was the end of love.