YOU DO NOT KNOW WHEN YOU ARE GONE

“Cake is the answer. Who cares what the question is?”
That is the first thing you notice about her- the cursive inscription on her shirt.
You smirk.
But there’s more.
Her friend says something funny and she laughs.
Your heart skips a bit. Her laughter is light and soft like a breeze.
She reminds you of Bisola.
Your fingers turn into a fist and your smirk turns to a scowl.
How dare she? How dare she remind you of someone so pure and unique?
Your friends at the table notice you staring at her.
“Baba, go and get her number,” Moshood says, his hand reaching for another slice of The
Governor pizza.
You scowl at him. He knows that part of your life is over, and you want to hit him. He knows
how it went with Bisola and that you are not ready for a relationship.
But you can’t help it. Miss sweet-stuff has awakened you.
Besides, it’s not a relationship you are after.
You get up and approach her and her friend. They’re at the counter awaiting their order.
“Hi.”
Her friend instantly falls for you, you can tell. “Hi,” she says.
Your target, on the other hand, gives you a polite smile, already wishing you were gone.

Immediately, their orders are served. A large pepperoni pizza and two medium bowls of ice
cream.
Sweet-stuff reaches for her purse.
You hand the cashier your ATM card. “Let me,” you say to her.
She looks as if she is about to protest but her friend pokes her, “Enobong…” and shakes her
head at her.
Enobong.
Nothing like Bisola.
Enobong still shakes her head. “Thank you, but no, thank you.”
You know things, but you do not know that Enobong is not this rude to people.
“I insist.”
You lose the battle.
Enobong grabs the bags and rushes out. Her friend hesitates like she wants to talk to you.
Unfortunately for her, she’s not the one you are after. She follows Enobong a moment after.
You stand there for a split second, thinking on your next move. Do you return to your seat in
defeat? After all, she is nothing like Bisola and can never be.
Or do you pursue her? You know, just because you like a challenge.
You choose the latter.
“Enobong!”
She’s at the car park unlocking her car.
She frowns when she sees it’s you.
“What do you want?”
You spot an ABUAD sweatshirt in her car backseat, your saving grace.
“You went to Afe Babalola?” you ask.
She raises a brow. “Yes,” she says finally. “Why do you ask?”
“I went there too.”
Her tough countenance drops immediately along with her jaw.
“It’s a lie,” she exclaims.
It is, for a fact, a lie, but only you know that. “I’m serious.”
She covers her mouth with her palms. “Are you playing with me, oga?”
You grin. “How can I?” You search your mind for one of the numerous stories, your younger
cousin, Bukunmi, told you about ABUAD. “You looked familiar, that is why I came up to meetup.”
She looks suddenly guilty. “I’m sorry I was so rude. I am not usually like that. It’s just that I’m cautious around strangers.”
“It’s ok. I don’t blame you.” You glance at the friend before returning your attention to Enobong. “What year did you graduate?”
“2017, Mass Communication. You?”
“2016.” The closer the better. “Mechanical Engineering.”
She beams. “Wow.”
“You know Mr. Bypass?” According to Bukunmi, he is the most popular lecturer and is an
event host also.
She scoffs. “How can I not? My sister told me he won most popular staff this year too.”
You guys stand in silence. Surprisingly, it’s not an awkward silence.
“This is my friend, Sharon.” You shake hands with her.
“Okay, then,” you say, about to leave. “Let me get your number so we can chat up later.”
“Oh” is all Enobong says.
You are grateful that she doesn’t ask for details.
She’s so absorbed in her ice cream that she doesn’t notice you staring at her.
“Eh he, Nonso,” she looks up. “I asked my brother if…” She stops, noticing the expression on
your face. “Oga, what happened to you?”
When you don’t reply she rolls her eyes. “You must be asking yourself why I’m not fat. After
all, I take junk like water.”
You smirk. “Only God knows if you are not diabetic already. Or if you will blow up when you
are thirty.”
She giggles. “Ewo.” She stretches to grab you, but you dodge her. “Says you, the master and
demi-god of pizza.”
“You are the one that influenced me.” You can imagine spending your entire life with the woman in your front. But you cannot help but think you will jinx this relationship like you did with the one with Bisola.
“Don’t say that anywhere. Pizza and I are not friends oh.”
You give her a face.
She laughs. “You will be the death of me.”
Within a year, you guys are an official couple.
You are relieved that she actually agreed to be your girlfriend. But little do you know.
Ok, honestly, you know a lot of things.
You know that some of Enobong’s friends are jealous of her and try to get you to cheat on her with them. You know that Enobong wasn’t really upset when she found out that you didn’t go to Afe Babalola. She was just feigning anger so that you would think twice before trying to take advantage of her. You know that Enobong detests planning; she prefers spontaneity and surprises. So, it dazes you when she is furious when you get her a car for her twenty-fifth birthday.
You think you know things. But, in fact, you know nothing, Nonso.
You hand her the keys at her birthday party. She says nothing as her friends and school mates scream in shock. She gives you a timid smile before leading you into an empty room.
“Nonso, I can’t take it.”
“Why,” you ask, astonished.
She frowns. “How can you ask me ‘why? ‘, eh”, she almost screams. “Did you even talk to me about it?”
“Honey,” you begin but she interrupts.
“What point are you trying to prove, Nonso? Tell me. Is it because of my friends? They already know to back off.”
You shake your head. “Can’t I get a gift for my sweetheart?” You don’t think it’s as serious as she’s making it seem. For crying out, other girls would have started crying tears of joy.
“Nonso, stop joking around.”
You look at her, then, like really look at her. You aren’t joking and you are wondering why she’s upset.
You know Enobong. You know that she can sit in front of her laptop all day, writing for her blog. She can live on marshmallows, chocolate and ice cream. She’s such a romanticist that apart from the selfies she takes with her friends, the other pictures in her phone gallery are the
ones of clouds and greenery. You know that her best friend is her older sister who is already married.
But you don’t know this about her: she never owes anyone.
Now, if someone tells you this about her, you may reply that you got her designer items that were expensive. Then again, it is an established fact that you know nothing.
The thing is: she could afford those things you bought her.
Today, she cannot afford an eleven million naira BMW X6, in the event that you are like her ex-boyfriend, Bode, who asks for every gift to be returned after a break-up. She’s just watching after herself.
Nowadays, what you don’t know might not kill you, but it might kill another.
In that empty room, you are both angry.
She doesn’t want to get her guests worried so she sends you away. She’ll talk to you later, she says.
You leave her apartment and head to Jevenik because you are extremely hungry. Enobong will come to her senses. You are at a table, waiting for the waiter to attend to you when you spot Bisola walking in. She’s at a man’s arms and your heart beats much faster and you cannot swallow- you are hurt. Has it really been four years, you ask yourself?
Bisola sights you and stiffens. She tells the man with her something and he becomes visibly angry. Bisola seems to restrain him but he doesn’t let that stop him. He walks towards you and gives you a nasty blow on your right cheekbone. You don’t have enough time to recover from the blow when he grabs your Tommy Hilfiger shirt by the collar and says, “Don’t ever come
near Bisola again. Don’t think about her at all. Don’t try to contact her.”
By now, the restaurant staff is grabbing him off you. As he is being led away, he says very loudly to no one and everyone, “This man is a woman beater. He put a woman in the hospital for three months and went his way without getting the justice he deserved.”
Because of the terrible looks you are getting from the people in the restaurant, you stand up to leave. You make a mental reminder never to go there again as you step into your car.
It’s only once you’ve ever been angry like you are now and you don’t want to remember that night.
You drive to the liquor store near your house and get three bottles of the imported Sunset Rum.
You know that you need some alcohol in your system to get your blood calm. You choose Sunset Rum because your friends have hyped the life of it. What you do not know is that Sunset Rum has 84% alcohol content and you will get higher than you have ever been in your life and faster than you can say the Lord’s Prayer.
You get home and drink straight out of the bottle.
You drag yourself to the guest bedroom where your punching bag is and you begin attacking it. You need to let off steam.
As you punch it, you begin thinking if you made any mistakes in your relationship with her.
Okay, it might not have started with the purest of intentions, but you know that you love her.
You have gotten the ring you want to give her on her parents’ thirtieth-anniversary dinner next month. It is big and shiny and unless one looks closely, it would be difficult to tell that the diamond is in the shape of a cupcake.
You take another swig of your drink. You are not even halfway of one bottle and your brain is already as unclear as Jos during a fog.
You continue hitting the punching bag. You can imagine Enobong calling your name “Nonso” as you kneel on one knee and pop the big question, bringing out the ring from your pocket. She probably wants to ask if you want more pepper soup. When she sees the ring, she screams in
surprise as you can hear her in your mind. You grin as you hear it echo. You are pleased.
You say a short speech. “You’re the only one I want to spend my life with. Please, accept this ring. You deserve it.”
She says yes. You stand up and kiss her. The people at the dinner clap and it reverberates like the sound that your punching bag makes. You sigh.
Nonso, sadly for you, you don’t know that what you don’t know can kill you.
You know a lot of things. After all, you have a Ph.D. But you don’t know that while you were busy with your punching bag, Enobong let herself into your apartment to explain herself- with the key you insisted she collected. You don’t know that you ended up breaking her spinal cord, paralyzing her.
You don’t know that you died early that Saturday morning, after a heart attack. You don’t know that you killed Enobong too because she has nothing to live for except to curse herself for being so sweet. She’s no longer the woman you know. She cannot move or talk, and she feeds
through a pipe. There is no more sweetness in her. How can there be-you took it all out of her?
You don’t know that her friends laugh at her for dating you. You don’t know that her parents never got to celebrate the anniversary because, Enobong’s mother, on Monday, after you died, the day the cleaning lady came in as was her usual routine to clean the house and instead saw you, died of a stroke.
No, Nonso, you do not know these things. Why? you may ask.
You do not know when you are gone.




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