What are you Looking for?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

[Story] Maryjane: My First Love – Last Episode (2)

“That is okay then. I will not steal you tonight, my love. How about tomorrow?” “I can’t make it tomorrow, honey. I have lots going on at university.” “I can stop by in the evening, by which time you should be back from university.” “Oh no, with my father being somewhat bossy these days, I am not sure that is a good idea. Let’s leave till weekend. I will come and see you at your place,” she offered. “Okay love, I will see you by weekend. I can’t wait.”
As I began to walk home, it struck me that something was awfully odd about tonight. Instead of walking to the bus stop, I headed for a small kiosk in a corner of Ilukwe Street on which Maryjane lived with her family. I bought a sachet of Nasco biscuit and a bottle of Fanta and began to devour both as I kept my eyes on the street. I was not sure what I was looking for, but I trusted my gut – my instinct. I remained there, scanning the street, buying more Fanta and Nasco biscuits as I killed time, patiently.
About 8:00 pm, I saw my elder brother, Chidindu walking up the street. This was quite a coincidence. “Chidi!” I called to him. “What are you doing here?” he asked. “You know my girlfriend lives here.” “Speaking of her, I saw her just down the street with some guy,” Chidindu said. For some reasons, he never quite liked Maryjane. Well, Chidi did not like a lot of people. He had an intrinsic knack to find faults with people. “Are you serious?” I asked. “If we wait a few minutes actually, they will be here. They are walking this way. She did not spot me in the dark, but I am sure it was her. They stopped in a corner to grab a quick kiss. I was going to tell you when I got home.”
I explained my concern to Chidi. “Was that the reason you were hiding in that kiosk waiting to see if she would show up with someone?” “Yes,” I replied, hoping he had been joking. We went back to the kiosk and scanned the street together. Minutes later, I saw Maryjane walking arm-in-arm with some guy. I felt my heart crashing down into the pit of my belly like a jumbo jet crashing down to earth from thousands of miles above. “I can’t believe this,” I said. “I told you she was no good, from way back in junior secondary school,” replied Chidi.
We waited until they passed, then we followed them closely behind. We were meticulous. My knees creaked under the weight of my body, as though I had undergone sudden weight gain. My palms were sweating, this time out of anger and sheer heartbreak. “I love you with all my heart, Andrew,” Maryjane said to the guy. “I will love you until my dying day he replied.” “I will never leave you Andrew. I will remain loving, loyal and faithful to you always.” “I trust you, Maymay!” The idiot said. He had no idea that she had another boyfriend – me. Besides, I hated to hear another guy call her ‘Maymay’.
That was my right – my sole right. To hear another guy use the word I believed I had coined…my pet name for my very first love; I wanted to clench my fist and deliver a devastating blow on Maryjane and her other boyfriend. Chidi held my hand, urging me to keep calm. What am I keeping calm for? I thought. It was over. My heart had been seared like a flap of plantain lying helplessly in a pan of hot boiling oil. Quite frankly, I felt like crying. If my brother had not been with me, I would have either fought them physically or just walk away crying. I manned up, walking along that treacherous path until they reached the main road. We stood away from the street lights and watched as they remained locked in each other’s hand.
Andrew waived a taxi and hopped in, not before hugging Maryjane and smooching her quickly. As the taxi pulled away, my brother and I jumped out of hiding and confronted Maryjane. She was surprised to see us. Shocked. “Chii honey,” she said, trying to fool me. My fist was clenched, but I restrained myself from descending as low as hitting a girl. “Who is your honey?” I shot back at her. “What is it Chisom?” “Shut up, idiot,” shouted Chidindu. “We have been following you. We know about Andrew. Don’t even try to lie,” Chidi yelled at her. “It is over between us…completely over. I loved you, Maryjane. I have loved you for years now. Why?” I asked painfully. “Don’t ask her why, Chisom. Let’s go. Forget that bitch. There are lots of better girls; more beautiful girls out there,” Chidi urged me.
I listened to him. Maryjane was not worth it. We crossed the road, boarded a taxi and left. I have to admit that it was hard…very hard. I was heartbroken for weeks. I had the option of either becoming a player – using girls and dumping them, and quite frankly, I gave that option very serious thought – or letting go and carrying on with my life. Eventually, I took the second option – letting go. I am glad I did. I met Linda about a year later. At first, I was cautious, but as time went on, I saw her warm-heartedness, which won me over. She remains my best friend, my soul mate, my love and my other half.
I told her about Maryjane. About six months after Linda and I started dating, I ran into Maryjane at the hospital. She was pregnant. She could not look me in the eye. She looked worn out and gaunt. “Are you okay?” I asked her. “Well, I am pregnant,” she said hanging her head. “I see that, but you look…you look unwell.” “Andrew abandoned me after getting me pregnant. He denied the pregnancy and vanished into thin air.”
She peered at the ground as tears left her eyes and headed straight for bare ground. Her beauty was all gone in her somewhat haggard clothes. Her father had died some months before she took in, she told me, and things were tight financially. “I am sorry! I wish there was anything I could do to help,” I explained. I dipped my hand in my pocket, sifted through the few wads of naira notes that I had and offered her one thousand naira.
“Thanks, Chisom,” she said as she took it, still unable to look me in the eye. “I am sorry…sorry for…for…how…for how I treated you,” she said, managing to look me in the eye, for a brief moment before staring at the ground again. I felt a pang of pity for her. “It is okay, I forgave you a long time back. I hope you are able to overcome your situation,” I said. I could not help but feel sorry for her. She really needed help. If only I could do more to help her. As I walked away from the hospital, I fought back tears…tears of compassion for her and the unborn child who had no idea what awaited him in the world outside.
Much as I wanted to forget Maryjane and her situation, I could not. Of course I had no intimate feeling for her…all I felt for her was compassion. I told Linda about her and we decided to do something about it. Through friends and family, we managed to raise a substantial amount of money over a six month period. When she put to bed, her family was ready to move to the village. They could no longer afford rent. Linda and I bought her as much items she needed for the baby as we could afford to buy with some of the money we had raised. When she saw me at the door of that same house where she had placed me in the corner while she smooched with Andrew inside, she could not stop crying with her baby in hand.
“You came?” she asked through tears. I nodded. Linda stood beside me. “Thank you for coming,” she said crying. She had just returned from the hospital with hospital bills hanging over her head. Her aging mother was beside her with worry written all over her face. “We brought you some things,” Linda said happily. She loves to help people. She and I brought in diapers, baby clothes, shoes, crib, buckets and several other items we had bought for her. Then, we left an envelope with forty thousand naira in it. “By the way, I heard from one of your neighbors that you are having rent problems with the landlord. We have paid your rent for the next eight months. You don’t have to return to the village. Here is your receipt,” I explained to her.
A storm of tears blurred her vision as I handed her the envelope and receipt. Her hand shook and so did mine. She had lost so much weight. “I did not know what I was doing back then, Chisom. You were the best thing that…that ever happened to me, but I threw it away; just to…just to have some extra fun. I am very sorry. I can’t believe you came…that you have done all these for me. I certainly don’t deserve any of it.” “Like you said, Maymay, you did not know what you were doing,” I replied. Linda robbed my back. She knew that I felt deep compassion for Maryjane. “I am very sorry, Chisom!”
“It is okay, my friend. It was not meant to be. It is okay…just let it go.” “If I had the sort of powers that God has, I’d got back in time and start our relationship all over again. Not just to have you in my life, but to correct my mistakes…you treat you right and show you the same loyalty and care that you shown me. I hurt you very much, but you…you chose to repay me with kindness. God bless you, Chisom. My son will be named Chisom – after you.” “That is an honor,” I said, fighting back tears. “No, it is an honor for him to share a name with you. I hope he has your kind of heart.” “I hope he has a better heart than mine.” When we left that house where I had felt deep pain years earlier, I felt very good.
Honestly, I never felt better my whole life. I felt no anger towards Maryjane. According to Rod Stewart, the first cut is truly the deepest. While I felt nothing intimate any longer for Maryjane, I have to admit that there was some connection there…one that pushed me to offer a hand when she needed it the most, despite our history. While the first cut may not always work, I guess it can shape your view of love and relationships. Whether it works out well or not, we all have a choice to make – to make the rest of our lives, our love lives and relationships better than the first one rather than recycle the bad things that we experienced in our first love or make that the focal point of all that is to come. Linda and I are now happily married and we have remained in touch with Maryjane who is now happily married, having turned her life around.
Written by:
Victor Chinoo