We sat in silence. I was overly cautious of everything, not shifting my shoulder on which her head rested, regulating my breathing as on my chest, though not bare, she placed one of her hands and slowly and sensually, she stroked. And my face and chin, the tickling ensuing her stroking of my untended and rigid beard I endured gratefully.
It was breezy and cold, so cold I could feel myself shivering; only slightly though, I hoped she did not notice. I finally understood what my ears had grown tired of hearing about the energy they say is generated when two lovers are together, in the dark, at a place they were sure no human soul would appear and disconnect their sheer bliss. What dominated my thoughts were two verses from one of the first classic poems I ever read, John Clare’s ‘First love’ and how the reality of those words were unveiling on me. Clare wrote that:
“Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?”
I could not wait for a lengthy two weeks to complete our end of semester exams, as our previous agreement stated before seeing her, so I insisted we met that night. She resided at the school hostel. I claimed to be spending the night at school to read. “Who are you kidding?” I suspected she would have thought to when I told her on the phone earlier that historic night. Like a bride arriving late to her wedding, she came out of her hostel and walked slowly to where I was standing, seemingly in slow motion like a blockbuster movie’s trailer, for me to get a complete preview of a package I was to acquire, or hope to acquire.
“Let’s go somewhere less public.” I suggested seconds after her arrival.
We were somewhere between two main University buildings that housed hundreds of students that night, majority of whom, unlike me, were genuinely reading, or trying to read. I led the way as we walked to a place I knew we could sit comfortably. I could feel my heart trying to force its way out of my chest. It was beating loudly and fiercely. Maybe she was right after all, in her message on facebook, the message that prompted this meeting, maybe I was not man enough. I started talking shortly after we sat, picking my words like peanuts with a fork. I avoided her face as I spoke and she seemed so relaxed, almost daring me to talk.
“Why don’t you just say it? Just say what you want to say and stop beating around the bush.” She said, interrupting the incoherent gibberish I had been saying.
Like a little boy swimming for the first time, I hung my fear in the air and took the plunge. What I said next was less than one-tenth of everything I had said earlier, yet, a lot more sensible.
“I wonder why I waited three years to say this…” I started, fearlessly.
“…and I know it may be too late and make no difference but I think you, at least, deserve to know. I love you Bidemi, and it would be the greatest thing for us to be together. I have loved you since I first saw you and no matter what the outcome of tonight is, I will always love you.”
My heart stopped racing and my mind became lighter. I heard her sigh loudly and I knew what would follow. She told me how she had waited for me to say this for so long and how much she loved me as well, but she was with someone else and she was ‘too deep’ in that relationship to back out. Surprisingly, I was not upset. I had braced myself for this before meeting her; I just needed to hear it in her words.
She urged me to draw closer. It truly was magical what I felt, what I believe we both felt for the next hour. I felt as though she melted, and my shoulder received her head. I kissed her on the forehead and she kissed me on my cheek. I feared a volcano would erupt if I kissed her on her lips. I was sure she wanted me to, but I thought it was best we kept the molten in the ground. We shared intimate secrets that night. I recited a few poems to her and was surprised at my sense of humor as we talked. I struggled to believe we were not going to be together, that the energy we generated that night would go to waste. I wondered why love had to grow like flowers born in winter, never making it to spring. It was obvious she would leave the other man for me on a basis of love, but societal morality would not let her. I was in a glorious twilight, knowing the sun would set soon and never rise again. I savored the moment, we both did.
I escorted her back to her hostel later that night and watched as the most valuable asset I could ever possess walked away. I watched until the darkness took her away and turned around immediately. It was still breezy but the cold had gone. I felt nothing until the next morning. It hurt more than childbirth, I was sure.
The examination result for that semester was the worst I ever had in any exam in my entire life, I hoped it would be the worst I will ever have. All I have left to me are tormenting memories and a poem I wrote for her. The last stanza of which read thus:
“I picked my shaky legs up to walk away from love
With every step I took, I knew
I would be forever lost
I kept looking back,
And back I kept looking
I looked until the still night in the distance swallowed you
Then I knew that if it was not with you,
It really will never be, as it will with you.”