Frank and I lived in the same neighbourhood. We only saw each other around but there was no communication between us. I noticed him because of his quiet and calm demeanour. It gave off the impression that he didn’t like people.
One day he walked into my mum’s supermarket with his brothers. With them, he was relaxed and playful. I was surprised he could be like that. After watching him teasing and laughing with his brothers for a while, I joined in. While I was bagging the items they bought I looked at him and said, “You are the shortest among your brothers.” He didn’t seem pleased that I had body-shamed him but his brothers got a good laugh out of it.
From that moment we became friends. Our friendship grew as time went by. We formed an unbreakable bond and in a matter of time, we were dating. He was a student in the university and I was preparing to go to school. We were both broke but that only made our love stronger. Whatever money I had was ours, and whatever money he also had was ours. When he ran out of food in school, I shopped for provisions (groceries) and I cooked stews for him. Sometimes I ordered lunch and had it delivered to him. Frank also gave me gifts when he had money. We didn’t have much but we made it a point to show how much we meant to each other through our little acts of kindness. I was everything to him and he was my all. I felt loved and protected and proud to be his.
By God’s grace, Frank completed school and got a job. When he got his first paycheck, he took me on a trip to the city. It was my first time going to the big city. He said, “You’ve been an extra pillar in my life since we met. I want you to know that I appreciate all your efforts. What is mine is always yours, so don’t hold back on enjoying my money.” It is one of the most memorable moments in my life.
Along the line, he introduced me to his family. His parents loved me and they opened their doors to me. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the same luck when it comes to my parents. They said I was too young to have a boyfriend. They were worried that he would distract me and jeopardize my education. That was the beginning of our end. Frank was my first love. Everything I knew about love I learned by loving him.
My parents’ disapproval got to me so I tried to break up with him. He didn’t accept the breakup. My parents continued to pressure me to leave the relationship. They didn’t believe that love like ours could be real. “What do you know about love?” That’s what they always asked me. Sometimes they would even laugh at me; “Young people of today, instead of you focusing on your school, you are letting that boy confuse you.”
I couldn’t face the pressure anymore so I went to Frank and asked that we break up. He refused. One day my parents came at me with threats and insisted that I break up with Frank. This time, there was no telling what they would do to me if I disobeyed them so I went back to Frank in tears and delivered the breakup message. I knew Frank would try and reach out to me so I blocked him everywhere he could contact me. I saw from afar what the break-up did to him. He lost weight. He was walking each day under the pain of the breakup. I knew his pain because I felt it too.
Years down the line, we reached out to each other and rekindled our love. When things started to get serious we ghosted each other. This happened more times than I can count. The love we had was still burning bright in our hearts but we were scared to take another leap. So we just stood on the precipice of what could be. We tried to play it safe by dating people we possibly couldn’t love. Frank told me the number of women he dated and it was shocking. Let’s say about ninety-nine girls. He ended up impregnating some of these women. So he was entangled in baby mama drama on different fronts. I also dated a few people but none of them held a candle to him.
We had a talk and accepted to give our love another chance.
This time it was his parents who didn’t want me to get involved with him. They said, “You put him through hell. He almost went mad when you left him. Now that he has healed you want to come back again? Not on our watch.” I knew too well how parents’ disapproval could impact a relationship. I had been through that with my own parents and I didn’t want to experience it a second time with his parents. We went our separate ways.
A few years ago he reached out to me again. Like old times, we fell back into the old pattern of our love. This time, I was tired of the back and forth. I was ready to plunge myself into the abyss of whatever future we would face. I told my parents that Frank is the only man I have ever loved. I reminded them of how they tore us apart and the harm it caused. They listened to me. They gave me their blessings.
I was ready to be with him even though his life was complicated. His baby mamas were always giving him hell but I saw myself as the one who would help him face all of them. He chose me over them and that was all that mattered to me. We were separated by distance but our love wasn’t hindered. I was happy again.
One morning, I woke up to a no ‘good morning’ text message from Frank. I texted and called him but no response. I tried to reach him in the days that followed but was unsuccessful. Then it dawned on me that he had ghosted me. I was heartbroken for the second time because of him. Somehow I blamed myself for it. I said to myself, “Mabel, you deserve this. He purposely came back into your life to hurt you. This is your payback for the heartbreak you caused him.” Even after this, I waited around for him for a while.
When I saw that he wasn’t coming back, I moved on and started dating Fiifi.
Later I saw Frank’s wedding photos. He didn’t marry any of his baby mamas. He married someone outside all the drama in his life. When I saw the photos I broke down and cried. “That’s truly the end of us. Now that he is another woman’s husband, I will never have him again,” I said to myself.
We’ve started talking again but only as friends. I respect his marriage but sometimes we reminisce. We play back memories. We fight each other for messing up our love lives. He blames me for everything and I blame him for some things. I kept asking him if the last time he came back to me was an act of revenge. He says no but I doubt him. I feel he wanted me to taste what I put him through. I am telling myself that even if it was meant to be a payback, I deserved it.
I’m not here for advice because I don’t have a solvable problem. I’m only here to vent because I lost a good man who worshipped the ground that I walked on. I haven’t seen him in fifteen years and I want us to meet one last time. We would go somewhere public of course. I want to know how I would feel when I set my eyes on him. I am getting married next month and I need some closure.
Before I start a new chapter with Fiifi, I need to close the chapter on Frank. I need to know that I am walking into the future without any remnants of the past clinging to my heart. I shared this story with Frank before submitting it and he suggested we write a book on our love. That made me smile. Maybe someday we will laugh about all this.