“Hey, I’m home!” I announced as I walked into my apartment.
“Did you have fun?” Bola shouted coming out of the room.
Bola and I have been friends since the University. She’s the closest person to me, aside from my family, and since we both work in Lagos, it makes sense to join our limited resources and rent a small flat.
“I did. You know Lolu always delivers a great time” I responded. “He just left actually, he insisted on driving me home,”
“Insisted? You mean you rejected the free ride at first? I don’t even understand you o” She said shaking her index finger at me.
I leaned back on the seat, shutting my eyes, without bothering to answer her. I already knew where the conversation would lead. Bola is a certified Omololu fan, and if it were left to her, I would be married to him, with at least three kids. She just doesn’t understand that I’m not emotionally ready for that kind of commitment.
“I will go get out of this dress,” I said, walking into the bedroom.
This pressure to get married and settle down is getting too much, I thought as I change into my pyjamas. The pressure from my Parents has been subtle but since I told them Bola was getting married at the end of the year, it seems like they have taken it up a notch. Everyone I grew up with is married, some are already mothers even, but I won’t be pressured into signing up for something I am not ready for.
Lolu is a good man, the perfect husband, but I can’t let my decisions be based on the pressures alone. It must feel right, that man deserves the whole of me, without any baggage, and I know I can’t give him that until I stop feeling like this; so bereft.
“Bereft,” I muttered to myself. Oh my God, looks like I finally found the perfect title for my latest poem, I thought excitedly as I pulled out my laptop.
I’ve always loved to scribble my thoughts; that was the only way to clear my mind. And then, I started a personal blog where I share those thoughts and fictional works with others. Well, since I found the perfect title now, I may as well share this poem too, I thought.
“Your mum is calling you” Bola rushed in handing me my ringing phone.
Groaning, I answered the call. I knew what it meant, and the fact that she was calling me on Whatsapp is a clear indication of the long conversation we are about to have.
“Good evening Mummy,” I said
I looked up at Bola who was smiling knowingly. My mother’s calls were nothing strange, and like every other time, she called to greet me and to subtly ask if there was a man.
“Tell her about Omololu,” Bola whispered, taking a seat beside me.
Rolling my eyes at her, I assured my mum that everything was fine and that I was praying and using all the prayer points she sent me from the Pastor.
“I need you to take this thing seriously o, Teniola. You know we are not happy about this your unmarried state. Everyone you grew up with is married and people are starting to ask questions,” She said.
I didn’t bother to answer her, I learnt my lessons a while back that it was best to listen when the marriage talk is on. So, I just listened. She told me how many people had asked about my marriage, and also about the dream she had that I was getting married.
“Did you happen to see the face of my husband in the dream, Mummy? It would make it easy you know,” I teased.
“I didn’t o,” she said seriously. “But it’s a sign that your marriage is near. Or is there someone now?”
“There is no one ma”
I knew what would come after that response, and she didn’t disappoint. She asked if I was being too choosy and advised against it. “You can’t find a perfect man, just look for the important qualities,”
“Your Dad says hello. Take care of yourself my dear and continue praying Teni, you know you will be thirty in a few months,” She said, ending the call.
“That was new”, I said dropping my phone on the bed.
“What?” Bola asked
“My dear mother just reminded me that thirtieth birthday is near, hence I should find a man,”
“You know she’s just been a mum right? African mothers are like that when it comes to marriage, so don’t let that get to you,”
I rolled my eyes “I’m not even upset. I was just surprised, that’s all. Thirty or not, worrying about it won’t slow down the days,”
I picked up my laptop again changing all the ‘sad’ in the poem to ‘bereft’. I sighed wondering how much more of the marriage talk I can take. I’ve decided since my last relationship to focus on the things I can control, marriage will come when it comes. But it’s been hard, especially with all these calls. I’ve blocked the nosy ones on my contact list but there was no getting away from the parents.
“Is that a new post?” Bola suddenly asked breaking into my thoughts.
She quickly turned the laptop towards herself to check. “Oh, it’s a poem, let me read first,”
I feel bereft,
Like a part of me is gone.
I’ve known love
But never one that felt like this.
It was perfect, our love
It didn’t matter that we were imperfect
We were in sync
He would hide the receipt just as I was thinking of taking a peek at it.
That was him, he knew me
I was an open book, or so he says.
I feel bereft,
Like I’ve lost a life that was, and a life that could have been.
I have dreamt
But none felt as real.
We were happy
Even in silence, holding hands, or just fingers.
He would stare, and say how beautiful I looked.
I would smile, touch his nose, and say I know.
That was us; cheesy and cocky.
I feel bereft,
Like I’ve been denied all the many ways I planned to tease him.
I smile, remembering the ones I got to do.
We had a friendship
One outside of romance
The purest kind, one that supports
Laughs and cries.
And even when I’m sad
that the dreams of us will never come true.
I’m happy that we have a friendship
One that would last forever.
I feel bereft,
Like something in my world had shifted
And I know I will never be the same.
“Wow, is this how you feel?” Bola turned to me wide-eyed.
“It was how I felt till last night” I answered “But I’ve taken a few more steps forward since then.”
*Originally published 4 August 2020