I kept thinking of Chikamsi. It’d been eight years since I saw her last. I cried when I heard she had left for the US. She became so distant from me all of a sudden that she couldn’t even tell me of her migration. Unfortunately, I wasn’t financially buoyant enough to get a passport or even think of going overseas. I starved myself. My world crashed beyond repair. She was my oxygen, my driving force, my heaven on earth. Once, we danced in the rain like two estranged teenagers. Another time, she came to my house for a sleepover. we brought out the matrass in the guest room to the open space at the verandah, lay on it with arms intertwined and we watched the stars in the night sky gleam until we fell asleep. Some time again, we chased ourselves on the road like children oblivious of the presence of people. We were only seventeen. We didn’t care what people thought of us. All we could feel was joy plunging through our souls. When we were in school, we’d bathe each other and beat ourselves with water. We did everything together. Her cuddles were as warm as a blanket. I never knew what her lips tasted like. I hadn’t summoned that courage yet. Our love was abnormal, weird, insensible, verboten, uncomprehending. But we understood ourselves. Every spare time I had, I imagined us living together, Chikamsi and I. We’d adopt children and live happily. Her presence was bliss. Her smile was angelic. Her soul was as beautiful as her face. Everything about her captivated me.
When she left, I was as lonely as a cactus in the dessert. Actually I was more lonely than that. My life became a triangular phase. I became oblivious of the world, of the people in it, of the friends I’d made, of my family. Loneliness drained every ounce of life in me. My dreams became my solace. Dubem kept pestering me for marriage. We’d met five years after she left, at the park. The park chikamsi and I went to in the evenings to stare at people and make jest of them or their fashion blunders. We exchanged numbers after a lengthy conversation. I didn’t really find it interesting but I played along. He dropped me at my apartment. Dubem picked interest in me after a while and we started dating but, I felt no passion towards him, towards any man– but I couldn’t tell him. Who knows, I may end up in a psychiatric hospital or in the shrine of my village chief priest for mental healing if I spoke up. I may be ostracized and I wasn’t ready for the consequences of my sexuality. Dubem shocked me after two years of dating when he proposed. I didn’t even like him in the first place. How he didn’t observe my stale attitude towards him baffled me. Maybe he did observe it and he was simply playing along. I kept turning him down for months, silently hoping and praying i’d see her again. But she never came back. I waited, but she never showed up. I finally succumbed to Dubem’s pleas for marriage. We had our introduction and he paid my bride price. My mother was so happy. Too happy to notice I was unhappy, it wouldn’t have occurred to her. I let her be happy. She deserved to be happy. Marriage plans with dubem were finalized. We were getting married early next year.