I walk into my office and sit down. I am late. I am literally a zombie with a good brain. My mind keeps wandering back and forth. The past and present. Why now? Why bombard me with the memories of…. A life I long forgot I had…….
University is such a drag. I just want to go out and drink but I am waiting for my boyfriend, Sam to come see me. The one thing I look forward to is the drinking and partying. I’m at UNZA and being here blurs the days into months. I know it will soon be a year. First year will have passed me by.
Rule 1: Find a calendar because I am a time lost mess. This is my fault. I need to catch up.
I need to stop with these silly rules. It’s almost two years since I lost the baby and Isaac. I need to move on.
The rules are my coping mechanism. My psychologist calls them “The Positive Rules of Control” to help me cope with everything in my life. After the suicide and abortion scare I have been forced to see 2 psychologists- one whose sessions I stopped attending after I started school. But I have a school psychologist who I see four times a week; and really this is what is contributing to my loss of time. Going back and forth over my ordeal. Get over it already.
I took a year off to fix parts of me after the abortion/suicide. A year in which I had to be home and see a psychologist with my mum every week. I was dealing with two losses but I got through in the end.
I hate school, I’m uncertain about alot of things but the one thing I do know is I just want to drop out and go home. Even in the company of my “friends” I am so far away. Lonely. I need a new adventure, one that will change my life. I have an idea of what it is but I am afraid of finding myself in a bad place.
“Sam is here.” Roomate’s voice jolts me back to reality.
I push my weird thoughts away as I get off my bed and head to the door of my room. I see my roommate packing her books into her bag. Probably going to the library like she always does. I open the door and there he is. Sam Malala. A mafosa in The School of Humanities. He does not look like a mafosa though in his faded jeans, white shirt and sneakers. He has a youthful look about him something that just makes him attractive I guess.
“Hey you.. Come in.”
“Thanks.” He says as he walks into the room. He heads for the only chair in my room and seats down. Acting all innocent. Gosh these church boys are a mess. Knights on the outside and pure sin on the inside.
I met Sam at a party some months ago. Not that we clicked. We just found ourselves stuck together. And well we became something more I guess. But it is a relationship based on “Sin” as he likes to tell me. And that we need to change. But this is a sin he enjoys participating in too and taking his sweet precious time in stopping.
“Thirsty?” I ask him. “I have juice, coke, water, a lager or two I think.”
“No. Was with the guys. I just had supper and a drink. So I’m okay. You okay? Have you eaten?”
“You know me. I eat late. I’ll eat later.”
I close the door and sit down on my bed. He is silent and so am I. We rarely talk if there is company. Company being my roomie. We just look at each other waiting. We get our prayers answered (his more than mine) when my roommate declares she’s going to the library and walks out of the room.
I don’t need to waste time. We don’t need to waste time. I have nothing to say to Sam. And Sam has nothing to say to me. But I have a lot of things to show him. And he has a lot of catching up to do. He gets the cue. This is who we have become. This is what our relationship has become. I don’t remember the last time we went out together as a couple. This is toxic. Where are the conversations? I will think about this when I need to converse.
“Isabelle…” He whispers as his eyes look into mine.
Let eyes do the talking because they say what words fail to explain I think. Important rule. Remember that.
He gets up and takes off his shirt. We have three to four hours before roomie gets back and we have to be done and satisfied by then. He stands up and walks a few steps to the bed. I lay back as he unbuckles his belt.
I need a new adventure. This one has gone too far. Tonight is the last time. No more sin. Bed and sleep relationships do not work out. Ever. I need a mature relationship.
Rule 2: When a shirt has a rip don’t keep it and stitch the stupid rip instead throw it out and get a better shirt.
Rule 3: Avoid the church boys. Picture perfect don’t mean reality perfect.
I smile. So many things I’ve done. So many lessons. In honesty, I am on a path of “The moments that defined me….”
I judge myself each time I find myself in this predicament of waking up to a man that is not Isaac. That self judgement lasts for weeks if not months at a time.
Time has passed. I behaved for three months after the Sam episode. Three months? And I am proud of that. What a joke. Celibacy is a crime. Sam is an old memory now. Ended that fast enough. I am with someone else and it’s kind of working for now. For now, since he’s not a student so it’s okay. Until I get tired of the bed and sleep type of relationship I seem to put myself in each time.
I turn on my bed and face the window and see the dark night sky. What time is it? Insomnia has turned out to be a constant companion. Too many things on my mind. Isaac is one of them.
I still feel the ache of losing him sometimes when I am lonely. But to be honest I had no choice. I did what I did to make sure he goes and lives his life with nothing holding back. So he proposed again. So what? I wanted him to be happy even if that meant me being sad. I hate thinking about him. It hurts. Why am I thinking about him? Let go!!
I will not cry about spilt tequila or is it milk though I don’t know why they use milk. I’m lactose intolerant. I need sleep. I close my eyes. I will force this sleep to come to me. Like it or not.
No deal with sleep. I open my eyes and I reach out for my phone. I wonder if my boyfriend “T” is still awake.
Rule 1: Be faithful. Even if Men are plenty stay on the faithful lane and choose to make it work with the one you have chosen.
I dial his number while noticing the time is Eleven Thirty pm. Maybe I should call him another time. When I’m better.
Rule 2: If you want to call your partner call him. No one else matters. Why find another when you have one you call your own every day and night.
I decide to wait. He picks up; he’s busy with something.
“Hey T.” I say. “You awake.”
“Yep. Seems like you are too. What’s up?”
“I can’t sleep. Long day. Bored.”
“Where are you?”
“My Room. Where else can I be?”
“Uhhh okay. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. That okay?”
“Sure. Call me when you are here.”
He cuts the line and I smile. I need to bath and change if tonight is to go smoothly. If you know what I mean. Don’t judge me.
Rule 3: Dress up and show him you are worth it all. Lingerie saves relationships. Lingerie keeps the passion alive.
I need a better relationship. I know that. I need someone who will want to be with me without the bed being the glue to the relationship. It’s only a matter of time. But for now I’ll enjoy these moments.
Another day, another lesson, another study session, another test. This never ends. I stand up from my favourite seat in the library on the law deck. It’s the most quiet zone and I can get my studies in order even though I don’t feel like studying most times. But today was a triumph. I managed to study. I know I will ace my test. I need to celebrate this achievement.
The walk from the library is short. I enjoy the cold nights when the breeze comes through. The hostel is silent as I walk to my room. I need a drink tonight. It’s been too long. I’ve been busy with school. Maybe I can call my best friend, Valerie and we can hang out though I’m sure she’s with her boyfriend. I get my phone and dial her number as I reach my room. She picks up instantly.
“What’s up?” She says
“Where are you?”
“Student centre” She answers. “I’m with Tendai.” See she’s always with him. “And his best friend, Nkandu.” She adds.
“Ohhhh. Cool. I haven’t seen him in a while.” I say happily
“I know that tone. You have been single for only a month and you are already ready to find a new one.”
“Oh my gosh. I hope you didn’t say that in their presence. I will kill you.”
“No. I moved away. Anyway. I know you. Nkandu is alone and he’s probably feeling like a third wheel so sure come over.”
I want a new adventure. So maybe this could be it.
“You will find us.”
That’s enough for me. I tell her I’ll be there in 15 minutes and hung up.
I walk through the gates of the centre twenty minutes later. I see so many students around. I turn to my right and see my best friend waving at me. I walk up to their table. Valerie, slim girl with super waist long braids, a free spirit of some sort because she reminds me of the the gypsy women I see on television with their long designed skirts and tops. She has that air about her that just makes her an funny person to be around. I met her during orientation and we simply clicked. Opposites attract that kind of thing.
The guy sitting next to her, her boyfriend Tendai, Tall, light, well muscled sculpture of a man in third year of Engineering. Quiet guy who thought the gym was better than uttering most words. I used to wonder how the two still worked but hey I guess that’s what love means. Even the weird ones find love.
But the eye catcher is the guy who has his back to me. Tall, Dark and with a bad mouth to match in every way. Nkandu looks distracted as he keeps typing away on his phone. I had a crush on Nkandu in the first few months of seeing him in school but that ended after he outright rejected me when I found the balls to tell him how I felt. Never ever tell your crush a word. Truly a death trap. Keep waiting ladies.
“Hi.” I say as I sit next to Nkandu. Why next to him? Because Valerie has Tendai so the only seat left was next to Nkandu. Benches hey.
“Hey.” Valerie and Tendai both say. Cute. He knows the word “Hey.”
Nkandu nods but does not turn to face me. Brooder. He gets up and walks to another table to talk to some of his friends. Okay. That went downhill fast.
Rule 1: Be proud of being bold even if the horror and shame never leaves you.
“What you wanna drink?” Tendai asks.
“Castle I guess. What else can I take?” I say
Tendai stands up and heads to the bar. Valerie looks at me and laughs. I shrug and smile. This will be interesting. And it’s only seven pm.
Rule 2: Have fun. Don’t get sad. Drink to be happy but don’t blame the alcohol for anything. That is one rule I will never forget.
“I’m sorry I ignored you.”
I turn around and come face to face with Nkandu. Now he’s sorry. Now? After I’ve been at the table for four hours. The nerve of the guy.
“Its okay.” I answer “Don’t worry about it.”
Rule 3: Do you. Be You.
I turn to face the group I am with. Within four hours our small group had others join it. The conversation and drinks are flowing. I’m happy that I made the choice to come to come to the centre.
“I am sorry I ignored you in school too.”
I turn around and Nkandu is still behind me. Did he just apologise for the past too. Wow. He must be feeling sad.
“Are you okay?” I ask him
“Yeah. I am not drinking if you haven’t noticed. Sober mouse tonight. Just tonight anyway. I needed a sober night.”
I did notice that he took coca cola only for whatever reason. I don’t tell him that. Instead I just look at him.
“Look.” He says. “I didn’t think you would be here. It’s one thing to ignore you in class and all, but it’s another to ignore you when we are in same place together with the same friends. I left because I didn’t want it to be awkward. But I’m gonna apologise. You did nothing wrong.”
Wow. What a mature statement. Rejection hurt but I’m past it. Shocking he had that somewhere inside of him.
“So I’m sorry. I want us to start afresh if you let me.”
I keep looking at him. Whatever happened to the Nkandu I knew in the past. Must have gone through something. Besides I am not looking to make enemies tonight.
Rule 4: Forgiveness is golden should be Forgiveness is rich.
“Sure. Why not.” I answer
He smiles at me. His teeth so perfect and that dimple. Omg. He is still a hottie. I would soooo tap … My thoughts are losing it. I smile back and turn back to face the group of friends. I smile happily. I guess my coming here brought one good thing out of it.
We stay still past midnight before people start leaving the group heading to their respective rooms. I’m so alert but I know I need to force sleep, so I know it’s time to head to my room. I see a couple of hostel mates leaving so I say my goodbyes to everyone and I turn and see Nkandu behind me. Must be his favourite spot. Never mind.
“You heading to your room?” He asks
“Yes.” I respond. What does he want now?
“I can escort you since my hostel is near yours. Besides I think it’s time to leave and rest.”
I smile gratefully. And we head of the centre and towards the hostels. It’s a quiet walk. Dark shadows around us. I hear voices of the others in front of us but it’s mostly silent. This is what I love about school. The silence. It’s like life simply disappears.
It doesn’t take long to get me to my room. Nkandu gets me to the door of my room before he says goodbye and walks away. I don’t know why but I feel as if I’ve made a giant leap with Nkandu for the first time. And for the first time I sleep with ease.
Rule 5: Crushes are only crushes until something happens then that crush becomes one of two things: scrap metal or recycled thing.
Rule 1: Being in love is an awesome feeling. Always stay in it.
I open my eyes and see his face. He’s fast asleep on his back. He looks peaceful when he sleeps. I could stare at him for hours. I should wake up and bath. Classes will start soon. I can’t miss class. Being in 2nd year is all pressure. I don’t know why I slept over.
I sit up and slowly get off the bed. I know it’s almost six am because I can see the light in the sky. I’m gonna need hot water to fix the body aches. Maybe later on because I am not boiling water today. I dress up and I kiss him before I leave. He doesn’t wake up. But that doesn’t stop me from saying.
“I love you Nkandu. I will see you later.” And I leave. Life is perfect. I am happy.
What could possibly go wrong?
Rule 2: Be Optimistic in everything. Nothing could go wrong. Nothing.
Sometimes life tests you by throwing a curveball at you. Do you dodge it or do you let it hit you and you keep moving towards your intended direction. Do you stay when your palace is no longer a home?
“I don’t know why you insist on drinking every night Nkandu.” I say as I watch him get his sweater.
I sit on my bed. I’m so angry and irritated by his irrational behavior. Drinking every night doesn’t solve much. Drinking won’t bring his Dad back. He’s dead but he sees it as basis to destroy everything that’s living. He doesn’t answer me.
If only I could help him get past this hurdle. It’s something he’s carried for years. And it got worse after his memorial months ago. I had hoped my influence would change his need for alcohol but it didn’t.
“Nkandu. Talk to me. Stay here. We can watch a movie. Have dinner. You don’t have to go and see your friends.”
He looks at me, turns around and leaves. I wish I could help him but I know I’m beyond his reach. He has to come to me. What’s that saying? Patience pays. So I’ll wait. I’ll wait. I’ll wait. I have all the time in the world.
I hear a knock on the door. I know it’s not any of my roommate’s friends because my roommate is home with her parents for the weekend. I put my books aside and leave my bed and head to the door. I open the door and see Nkandu. He’s clearly drunk. It’s only fourteen hours, why this? He walks past me and heads for the bed.
Not this again.
The leave me for days in silence then come back drunk and expect a free lay when you come back. When did this love story become a horror story.
I close the door and walk to the bed where he’s sitting.
“What do you want Nkandu?” I ask him.
“You can’t be here. You are drunk. I can’t deal with you when you are like this. So what do you want?”
“You know what I’m so sick and tired of you using your Father’s death as an excuse drink and ruin our relationship. You need to be serious. You are losing it. I doubt this is what your father wanted for you. But you don’t see that. You keep drinking and drinking. When will you stop!!”
Ever heard don’t poke sleeping bears. Oh don’t poke quiet men either. Why? Because for the first time since his his walk off the good boyfriend path, I see him react. He gets up and lifts his hand. To slap me? But he stops himself and just looks at me. I should be scared but instead I’m angry. I’m so angry. I’m furious. At myself.
He touches my face and he leans in close to kiss me but I push him away.
“I want you to get out!!” I tell him. “Get out. You are a mess. I want you out. I have my own problems and I need to sort those out. So get out.”
“Fine.” He says and he leaves.
Rule 3: Always find a way to let go of your anger.
I don’t sit in my room. I quickly wear my shoes and leave. I know if I stay Nkandu will be back and I don’t think I want to see him again. For now. I know I can’t visit my girls because he will go to them too. I need air. I need to find a way to let go of my anger. I walk to the bus station. I know where I need to go.
I find myself in chelstone. Far from UNZA. I’ll be better now. I knock on the gate and a minute later the gate opens and I see “T”. He smiles at me.
“Wow. This is a surprise. What’s up.” He asks. This is what you get for showing up an unannounced.
“Was bored alone in my room so I remembered you said I could come over for a visit so here I am.”
“Sure. Come in. I was just watching a movie.”
I smile at him. If only I could do this another way.
I hear my phone ring. I reach out for it and read the message.
Nkandu: I’m so sorry I’m a mess. I promise I will change. I know what I did was inexcusable. What I’ve done is inexcusable but don’t leave me.
I put the phone down. What do I do now? What do I say?
I feel a hand on my back. The hand rests on my waist. I don’t move. I just lie still letting mixed feelings roll over me. Guilt and pleasure. That’s it. I feel the guilt of my decision. But I also remember the pleasure I got from the same decision. But I had to do this. I had no choice. He was taking me down. I was leting him take me down. I was taking myself down. In the end only I matter.
Rule 4: According to Pat Benatar “Love is battlefield ” but really it is a minefield and emotions are the land mines waiting to blow up and overwhelm you.
Nkandu: Hi Isabelle. I know my message was delivered but I still haven’t received a response from you. You know what I’m done. Through. You are right we are not working. I need someone who will understand me not bring me down. Goodbye.
Nkandu: Isabelle. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just a mess. I need to talk to you.
Nkandu: Isabelle I love you. Can you please pick up.
Rule 5: If you can not say the words “It is Over” then simply disappear and they will get the point. It’s that simple. Silence speaks volumes.
I need to change my number. Its time for a change.
Rule 6: To be tough you must make some shitty decisions. To be strong you must make some bold moves. To be me, well you have to be ready to live with the consequences. I always do.
To be Continued….