I was with my dad when his mobile phone rang. He picked up the call and handed it to me after a few seconds later. He said, “Someone from your school is on the call.” My first reaction was, “Who could that be? I hope I’m not in trouble.” I had concerns because there was no reason why anyone from my school would call me through my father’s phone. When I said hello, the person on the other end quickly introduced himself. “Hello J, this is Mike, your childhood friend. I am currently at your school to see you. I was told you didn’t report today. There is something important I want to discuss with you? When can we talk?” I didn’t know what to tell him so I said, “Give give me a few minutes, I would be in the school to see you.”
Mike is someone I attended primary school with. I hadn’t seen him for ages. I didn’t even have the time to think about him. The last time I saw him was when my parents were living in the town Mike was in. After they moved, I didn’t see or hear from him again. I kept wondering what was so important that he could come all the way to my school to tell me. While I was getting ready to leave the house, my dad asked about the caller. I shared details of my conversation with him and he was equally surprised.
My school was just a stone throw away from my house. I was a final-year student. I didn’t report that day because we had started our final exams, and I didn’t have a paper to write. When I finally met Mike he didn’t look like how I anticipated him to look. He was different. Something far from what I remember. Mike was very skinny back in those days but the person that stood before me was lean and tall. I remember thinking, “He is all grown up and good-looking now.”
I gave him my warmest smile and asked why he came to see me. He didn’t beat about the bush, “Do you remember how close we were when we were kids? I always wanted to be around you.” I nodded and urged him to go on. “I was in love with you then. I was too young to understand those feelings so I couldn’t even tell you. I have pined after you since your family moved away. As the years went by, all I thought about was finding you. Now, here we are. All grown up and beautiful. A lot has changed but something still remains the same, my feelings for you. Would you be my girlfriend?”
I could not believe my ears. Someone I hadn’t seen for so many years came all the way to find me because he loves me? I almost laughed but I didn’t want to be rude. Instead, I asked him to tell me about his life. He was in his first year at the university. I repeated a class so that put him ahead of me. He told me about his family and some of our old classmates. We spoke at length about what we both missed in each other’s lives. Before he left I told him “As we both know, your visit today was unexpected. And so was your proposal. I am currently writing my final exams. Wait for me to finish so we see if there could be something between us.” He accepted my answer in good faith and left.
I didn’t have a personal phone but we found ways to keep in touch. After my exams, I decided to give him a chance. He was very happy when I accepted his proposal. I still didn’t have a phone so we only spoke when I called him with someone’s phone. This worked while we were friends but it wasn’t working for our new relationship. He complained a lot; “You are my girlfriend now, J. This means I always want to talk to you. I want to know about your day. I want to know how life is treating you. I can’t do all that because you don’t have a phone.” I listened to his complaints but I couldn’t do much about the situation.
After staying home for a while, I got a job in hopes of saving money for school. I used part of my first salary to buy a phone. That made things easier between us. We spoke often on the phone and it made Mike happy. A little into the relationship, he asked me to visit him. I told him I was busy with work. Every time he asked me to visit him, I brought up work as an excuse. I was scared that he would try to get intimate with me if I visited him. That’s why I kept refusing to go. As time went on, he started answering my calls with “Let me call you back.” But he wouldn’t call back. When I complained, he said, “I’m busy with school work.”
After two years of being together, we just stopped calling each other. There was no official breakup. Things just died off. I moved on with my life as I suppose he did with his.
Twelve years and a series of failed relationships later, Mike sent me a message on social media. It was nice to hear from him after so many years. We started talking again and things felt easier this time around. He told me he was living abroad. It didn’t take long for him to propose to me again. I had gone through so much suffering in the name of love that his proposal sounded like a bad song in my ears. I was sceptical about giving him another chance. To add to that, he and I didn’t end on good terms in the past. I expressed my concerns to him, “The last time we dated we just stopped talking. No breakup, no closure. I don’t want to go through that again.” He assured me that things would be different this time around. “We were so young back then. We mostly didn’t know what we were doing. I am a man now, and I have learned a lot of lessons. The biggest of which is that I belong with you. I haven’t had any meaningful relationship with anyone else because of how much I love you. Give me another chance to prove it to you.”
I gave him another chance. I was very certain about him and I believed in his love for me. I told myself, “He is the only guy who has loved me for this long. His love must be true.” We dated for another year. We were sure we needed each other. A year into our relationship, we made plans for him to come and see my family for official introductions. About two months before his arrival. The Covid-19 pandemic broke out and international travel was banned. Our dreams got shattered, but we kept our love going. We survived the distance. We survived the loneliness and most importantly, we survived the pandemic. When the ban on international travel was lifted, we started talking about our plans again.
I was happy that I was going to see him again after so many years. We were having a casual conversation on a video call when he asked me, “How old are you?” That question came out of nowhere. “All this while you don’t know my age?” He shook his head. After I told him he said, “So you are sixteen months older than me? Wow.” I asked if it was going to be a problem. He said he was fine with it. But he didn’t seem fine.
His attitude changed after that conversation.
He got busy with work all of a sudden. He replied to my texts late and avoided phone conversations. It reminded me of how things ended between us the last time. After one week of poor communication, he called me and said, “I don’t think this relationship is working. We should break up.” I asked him, “Is it because of my age? Things were working just fine until it came up.” He refused to deny or confirm my suspicions. He just insisted that he couldn’t be in a relationship with me again. I couldn’t force it, so I gave him what he was looking for.
It wasn’t easy for me. I had waited for him thinking we are so close to getting married. Nothing made sense to me, the sudden change and the final goodbye. I was really hurt at first but eventually, I put up a brave face and moved on. I thought I’d moved on but once in a while he comes to mind and it hurts again. When I think about things, I don’t think his love was true. If it was true love, my age wouldn’t have mattered to him. We were that close until he pulled away because of my age. Should age really matter? To the extent of making someone who loves you walk away? This whole thing is strange–this love thing.