‘Are you okay, Bobo?’
This, or a variation, had become the opening and the gist of most of my conversations with Keme lately.
‘Why do you ask?’ I would counter with a question of my own. I couldn’t tell what she knew or not, and I did not want to be caught out in a lie.
‘Don’t worry, it’s silly.’ The chuckle that followed was nervous or self-conscious, but without mirth. Always without mirth.
‘Talk to me.’ I said that evening.
‘It’s nothing, honest.’
My eyes did not leave her face and she cast her eyes sideways. Her voice was low when she spoke again.
‘It’s just that sometimes you appear distracted. If your nose is not buried in your phone, then your phone is face down. You know, little things like that.’
As she spoke I wracked my head, going over my recent behaviour, and I realised that what she said was true. I hadn’t even noticed.
‘Babe,’ I said, ‘work’s been kinda crazy lately, so if I seem distracted, it’s most likely work.’ I could almost hear the whistling as I lied through my teeth. ‘As for the other matter of phone, I have no idea what it’s about, but I assure you, there’s nothing to hide.’
There were things to hide. A lot of things.
Nudes. A lot of nudes, and not all Rolayo’s. But I wasn’t going to admit to Keme that her concerns were anything but unfounded.
Instead I made a mental note to be more careful going forward. And I was. Until the day Rolayo asked me to meet her for lunch.
Lunch was an innocent affair we had at Spurs in the Ikeja GRA. Keme sent me messages asking what I wanted for lunch and, full from the heavy lunch I just had with Rolayo, I told her not to bother.
Bobo I am not stupid.
I read Keme’s message a couple of times, trying to decide how best to respond.
How do you mean? I asked.
Bobo you know what I am talking about.
You were lying in bed with me, your legs and mine tangled. My God! Bobo you can kill somebody. You were lying naked beside me and sending I love you messages to another woman.
They were, technically, not “I love you” texts, but I did not attempt to point out that “I miss you” sent by another woman was not the same as “I love you”.
I messed up babe, but it’s not as cut and dried as your anger is making it appear. I rallied.
Bobo, and I asked you if something was wrong, I asked you if anything was going on between you and this… this person Bobo, and you lied.
There, she had me over a barrel. She did ask, and I denied.
At some point I started questioning my sanity. I wondered if I was just being paranoid, that maybe I was seeing what was not there. I am usually never wrong about these things, but in this case I chose to believe you over myself and I questioned my sanity.
Each word I read was a barbed hook embedded under my skin.
No, you’re not crazy. Or paranoid. I messed up big time.
I saw she had read the message, but did not reply for a few minutes and I wondered what must be going through her mind.
You fucked her Bobo. Remember when we started I told you I could never share with another? Never share my man with another woman? I meant it then. I still mean it, but for you I am willing to let it slide. Bobo you lied to me, and it’s the lies that I keep going back to. We both agreed that once trust was out the door, a relationship is as good as dead. You killed this one, because I don’t think I can trust you again. Ever.
I shook my head vigorously, tears blurred my vision and salt stung my eyes.
Don’t. Don’t say that babe. I’m sorry. I admit I messed up, but I did not set out to hurt you or disrespect you.
Well you did. Her response was immediate. You hurt me, and you disrespected me. Bobo you lied to me and made me think I was being unnecessarily paranoid. Do you know what that feels like? And now you tell me you’re sorry. Well Bobo, eat your sorry cos I’m not hungry.
She did not reply my other messages, and after a while she was gone. I tried to message her but the chat we had open was gone and she was no longer a contact on my phone.
I contemplated calling her, but decided that maybe she needed some time, and space.
So that evening, as I listened to my friend Max’s program, I sent her the message, Max, she just left me.