“Hey Bobo, everything okay?” Osime, my colleague asked.
“I’m good o, just a little tired.” I stretched and feigned a yawn.
“You’ve been acting strangely the last few weeks,” she said, “and these last few days you’ve worn a long face.”
“What are you now, the behaviour police?”
“Control yourself, my friend.”
“Don’t call me your friend, my friend.” I threw back, quoting someone from The Village Headmaster plays.
“So I’ve been thinking,” I said after a while.
“Bobo thinking? That can’t be good.” she teased.
“Olodo. Anyway, I was wondering what it meant if a girl suddenly stopped talking to her boyfriend.”
“Wait. What?” She swung her swivel chair to face me. “Cynthia stopped talking to you?”
“Why are you like this?” I asked. “It’s a hypothetical question jare.”
“Okay o,” the look on her face said she wasn’t buying it. “Suddenly stopped talking to him how? Did they fight? Did she catch him cheating?”
“Let us say he didn’t cheat,” I saw Osime raise a brow.
“He didn’t cheat, or do anything wrong as far as one can say while dealing with a woman…”
“What do you mean by ‘as far as one can say while dealing with a woman’?”
“You know how you women are, tackling a guy for not doing something, then tackling him for doing the same thing.” I said. “Aaanyway, she wouldn’t take his calls, then became unreachable, then blocked him on social media, then lost his number – or her phone, depending on who you ask.”
“There must have been a sign he either missed or refused to see.” Osime said. “People don’t do that kind of about-face. Especially not women. Did he try to talk with her?”
“He tried, but it didn’t go far.”
“Well, I would advise the person – hypothetically of course – to call her and have it out with her. Sit with her and look her in the face while they try to hash things out.”
“Okay.” I said. “So what are your plans for Sunday?” I changed the subject.
“Sunday? Church nau.”
“And after church?”
“I dunno… get some rest and then prepare for work I guess.”
“No valentine plans?”
“Don’t I need a bobo for that?”
“Aha. You have a Bobo right here.” I leaned back in my chair.
“So someone will come and bathe me with acid, abi?”
“Hello, how are you?” I asked. I was trying to keep my voice cool, but my heart was racing. I cleared my throat and rubbed sweaty palm on my pants.
“I’m good Bobo, thank you. You?”
“I’ve been better. Before I dialled your number I had these things I wanted to say, and how I was going to say them. But I heard your voice and everything’s gone.” I chuckled, but it sounded too loud, and wrong. ”
Get a grip.
“You can’t say you haven’t noticed something is off between us. We used to be impatient to talk with each other, and then we’d talk for hours. Now we just manage to say a few words and that’s it.”
“I know what you mean, and to be honest it’s you not me.”
You won’t get any argument from me.
“When we started six months ago, in my head it was a friends with benefit type situation. You seemed to be on board with it. But lately I see the way you look at me, how your eyes linger as if you’re making memories to take with you until we see again. I hear the things you don’t say about a future together and it scares me. I’m not scared for me, I am scared and worried for you.
“I get a sense that you’re dipping all of you into me, but there’s no depth to me and you’ll wind up disappointed and maybe resentful. I don’t want that to happen to us.”
“So you’re saying…”
“Shhh… let me say this.” She cut me off. “I am not in the market for love, at least not just yet, and it would be selfish of me to let you give your love to me with nothing to give you in return. I tried to caution you a few times, but each time I opened my mouth to speak I saw how happy you were and I stopped my mouth. Kept my truth to myself. December – and the loss of my phone – presented me with a coward’s choice and I took it. Why wouldn’t you just go? Stay gone?”
The words she said flayed me and flayed me anew.
A part of me registered it must hurt her to bare herself to me this way, but another part reminded me of the time I lied about my genotype to get out of a relationship.
I held the girl’s face then, looked at her with such earnestness and lied about being AS. She was AS too, and although she wanted to take that chance with me, I let the twin pools that were my eyes convince her this was the best decision. She probably didn’t see past the murky brown depths of my pupils. She let me hold her, kiss her forehead and release her.
Whether I believed what she was saying or not, I stopped listening, waiting for her to finish.
I clenched my jaw and raked my fingers through my hair, the phone warm against my ear.
When she was done I told her I understood, thanked her for her honesty and assured her I valued our friendship that much too. We said goodbye, and I swear I could hear the finality in this one, and then I hung up.