One time, I read Steve Harvey’s ‘Act like a lady, Think like a Man’ and determined I would ask Jack some of the pertinent questions raised but I never got around to doing it. Somewhere along the line, I’d become really terrified of losing him that I wallowed in silence instead of asking him questions like, ‘what he really felt for me as different from what he liked about me?’ The question seemed needy and I didn’t want to appear to be that. Only problem was, that was exactly what I was.
By the end of first semester, i was busy with getting my IT placement, and Richard was getting worse. Although his surgery had been successful, he hadn’t fully recovered. His parents spent a lot of money on his treatment, they went to churches and we held special prayers for him at the fellowship too. I always had to cheer him up because his illness was beginning to get the better of him. I couldn’t dare bring up my relationship to him because it reminded him of what he would never do. Get into a love relationship with a girl. He was just twenty-two but had barely lived.
Richard had been born with an inherited Glycogen storage disease which had been misdiagnosed for a long time until it led to Cirrhosis. He had grown up with so much pain and limitations, it was difficult to be a normal child. But despite it all, at twenty-two, he was undergoing pre-degree to study medicine and was determined to become a medical doctor.
Maybe it was his strong fighting spirit that influenced me but like him I was determined to never give up. People said love was painful and indeed I was becoming familiar with pain. The pain that came with sacrificing your everything for someone who didn’t seem to ever acknowledge or appreciate it in kind. Sure, he had the sweet words to make you feel loved but his actions seemed to be the opposite. Just like Lai Mohammed and telling the truth ran on parallel lines that was how different Jack’s words were from his deeds.
Like the time I splurged thousands on him to get him an expensive gift on his birthday but I hadn’t received even a call on mine because we were not on talking terms then. When we eventually made up, he blamed it on me for getting him riled up.
Maybe all our problems were only in my head, but i knew things were not right between us, yet I couldn’t let go because I was determined to have him love me back.
That determination became my prison.
You’re really not like they said you are.”
Mark’s statement made me smile a little and if I was light-skinned, there would certainly be a blush on my cheeks. I thanked him and proceeded to leave but he was not done with me.
He walked with me to the empty class where I planned to do some reading and filled my ears with all the nice words. I felt flattered that Mark would pay me any attention so I indulged him and rather than spend the evening reading, we chatted about nothing and everything. It had been so long someone paid me some form of attention like he was doing that I felt like a dying flower suddenly rejuvenated by water and sunshine.
Who is Mark? Well, Mark is one of the older guys who stayed in the boys quarters. He had graduated a year earlier after spending six years for a four-year course. He was currently on youth service and had recently been redeployed to the state.
We had been neighbours for close to a year and had only said hi and bye to each other by way of communication. But he wasn’t the only one who’d had a skewed first impression based on rumors. I also had the mental image of him as a hard guy because of the fact that he rarely smiled and rumors, which were confirmed to be true, that he’d been a cultist in his undergraduate years.
Not just any cult but the deadly Black Sailors who at the mere mention of their name sent terror down the spine of hapless victims. I had also seen him and his friends deliver ‘matchet drills’ on the back of another neighbour who had insulted him. The matchet drills included using the side of short matchets to administer blows on the back of the victims. The beatings rarely drew blood but the pain was searing enough.
His cultist activities had been the reason he’d had to spend six years in the university instead of four. He and some other friends had been arrested and found guilty of manslaughter. Luckily for him, the school hadn’t been notified of this so he had deferred his admission till he served time; a mere two years based on the corrupt justice system.
He was a dangerous guy but I’d gotten to the stage in my life where I didn’t care anymore. I was beginning to get worn out with my relationship with Jack because it only seemed to be deteriorating each passing day.
Our last beef had been caused by my snooping. I’d had the strong urge that he was cheating on me so I put my detective skills to work, he’d caught me at it and things had gotten nasty.
Throughout my two-week exams Jack and I didn’t speak to each other. I was still so pissed at him that I didn’t call or inform him when I left for home.
Mark had been really kind throughout my exam period and even though we hadn’t been close as neighbours because of his notoriety, I found myself giggling when he chatted me up on Whatsapp on the bus home. I was only enjoying all the attention he gave me. And I wished Jack could see how another guy obviously wanted my company.