I looked at my watch and shook my head.
“She’s not coming Grandma, I am so sure.” I said.
Grandma looked at me with her all-knowing eyes, shook her head and went back to watching TV.
“You’re not going to say anything? Really?”
“I said something thirty minutes ago when you started to panic, why do I need to say something now?”
“She was thirty minutes late then, now she’s one hour late.” I said.
Still she said nothing.
I was not a very time conscious person, so it wasn’t Pam’s lateness that I had a problem with. I know that much. I was scared she was going to leave me; that was Grandma said. I don’t agree with her but even if she’s right, I have a good reason to fear.
It was three months already into our relationship and things which had started really great were starting to cool down. She cancelled on dates on a whim, she always had a gig, she had practice sessions all the time; it was exhausting.
“Sam.” Grandma called me. “Sit down, you’re making me nervous.”
“What is your problem exactly? Are you angry she is late?”
“Of course I am. One hour is a long time. And she was the one who said we should go see the play, I didn’t even want to go.”
“Have you called her?”
“No. Why should I?”
“Did you consider that she may be hurt? Stuck in traffic? Anything could be wrong.”
She was right. I had not considered that. I dialled her number and waited.
She answered. “Hello Sam, I’m sorry. I will soon be at your place.”
“Are you okay? Hurt? Stuck in traffic?” I asked.
“No, no, I left the house later than I planned. I’m sorry, I will explain when I get over there.”
She ended the call.
“That is it! I am breaking up with her.” I said.
“Really? Congratulations dear.” Grandma said.
“What?” What did she mean?
“Now you can leave her before she leaves you.” She said.
“Who said she was going to leave me?”
She waved her hand. “Don’t mind me, what do I know?”
I moved closer to her. “Grandma, why did you say she was going to leave me?”
“Because everyone leaves, don’t they?”
“Well everyone but me.”
I stood up, I wasn’t having this conversation with her. She wasn’t Doctor Phil and I wasn’t a poor old woman in emotional turmoil. This was between my girlfriend and I, we would sort our issues.
“Have you taken your meds Grandma?”
“Stop talking to me like I’m a poor old wretched woman who doesn’t know when to take her drugs.”
“Because you aren’t?”
“Because I am not.”
“Okay.” I said. “So have you taken them?”
She rose from her seat and walked to her medicine cabinet. I shook my head and laughed. A knock sounded on the door and I went to open it. It was Pam. I opened the door and walked away from it without a word. She closed the door behind her and hurried after me. She got close and hugged me from behind.
“I’m very sorry.” She said, very softly.
This was the simple reason why I couldn’t break up with her; I couldn’t say no to her apologies. And she also smelt really good.
“What is your excuse this time?” I asked. I had to keep up my angry façade.
“Do you really want to hear it?”
“If I didn’t I wouldn’t have asked.”
“Alright sir. So I was all dressed up to come when I got a call…”
“You know what, forget it.” I wasn’t really interested in her excuse. “You of course know that the play is not an option anymore.”
“Don’t act like you’re disappointed, you didn’t want to see it anyway.”
“Well, you got that right. I believe you have now lost all right to ask me to see that play.”
Where was my Grandmother? She was taking too long with her pills.
“Hold on, I need to check Grandma.” I said.
“Is she okay?”
I didn’t respond, I walked to the kitchen where Grandma had gone to get water. She was there, leaning against a wall, cup of water in hand and tears in her eyes. When she saw me, she wiped the tears and smiled.
This was not good, I had never seen my Grandma cry, not even when I lost my parents.
“I am fine Sam, just relax.” She said before I could say a word.
“What is wrong Grandma?” My eyes were a little watery myself.
“Wrong? Nothing is wrong. I just had a moment.”
I collected the cup from her and set it on the sink. I held her tiny hands in mine.
“Grandma talk to me. If nothing’s wrong, why are you crying?” I asked.
“Not all tears are sad.”
“Okay. I saw you with Pam just now and I had a moment.”
I smiled. “You remembered Grandpa, right?”
“Not really.” She said with a smile. “I remembered your parents.”
I released her hands. My parents were not a subject I wanted to discuss very much. Pam came into the kitchen, noticed the mood in the room and stopped at the door.
“Have you told her about them?” Grandma asked, nodding at Pam.
“Could we please not talk about that now, we have a play to get to.”
“We are already too late for the play Sam.” Pam said and entered the kitchen.
“I’ve never told anyone this, not even Femi.” I said.
“What is it Sam?” Pam asked.
“I’ll leave you two.” Grandma said.
She patted me on the back and left the kitchen. I walked over to the kitchen window and stared out into my estate. I had not seen the view through my kitchen window very often and the tears in my eyes were preventing me again this time. Pam joined me by the window and put an arm around me.
“My parents died when I was three. I barely remember anything about my mom. My dad; I remember nothing of.” I said.
“I’m sorry dear.” Pam said. “How did it happen?”
“They were both in the army, can you imagine that? They just left me with Grandma most of the time. What kind of parents leaves their only child to be soldiers? Both of them!”
“I’m sure they loved you very much, it was just something they had to do.”
“You sound just like my Grandma.”
“Were they killed in a war?”
“No they weren’t. At least that would have gotten them recognition of some sort.” I stopped and fought back the tears that were threatening to burst. “They died in a car accident somewhere in Kano.”
She pulled me closer and hugged me.
“I’m so sorry dear.” She said. “At least you have an awesome grandmother to take care of you.”
“I think I’m the one who took care of her.” I said. “At three years old I was already smarter than she was.
She laughed. “I bet you were.”
She released me from the hug and cleaned the tears in my eyes with her sleeves.
“Thank you for telling me this.” She said.
I nodded and kissed her on the forehead.
I was definitely not breaking up with her now, not with the way I felt at the moment. Will I feel the same tomorrow when she cancels another date on a whim?
I was at weekly catch up lunch with my friend Bola; she plays the trumpet and is a Jazz musician.
‘’Have you picked out the songs for your solo show?’’ Bola asked.
‘’Yes, I have but I am not telling you’’ I said
‘’Come on now’’ she said batting her eyelashes at me
‘’I am not John oh! Those your eyes don’t work on me’’
‘’John and I broke up’’
‘’Ah! When? What happened?’’
‘’It just didn’t work out’’ Bola answered with an almost smile. ‘’We are changing the topic, how is Sam?’’
‘’He should be fine. I could be joining you in the singles department very soon’’ I replied
I went on to tell about how distant Sam had become since the weekend of our failed date to see the play, the one word replies he gave when we talked on the phone and it felt like he was pushing me away.
‘’You should talk to him about it.’’ Bola said.
‘’Bola you know I suck at these kind of conversations, what would I say? ‘Sam you are running away from me?’’’
‘’Do you like him?’’ she asked.
I nodded in response.
‘’Then talk to him’’ she said.
Things were getting worse, at least that is how they looked to me. I always wanted to visit one of the parks at Alausa in Lagos state so I practically had to drag Sam out of his house that Saturday evening. I looked at him sitting in front of me and wondered what was going on.
‘’Sam, are we fine?’’ I asked him.
‘’Where is this coming from? Are you looking for a reason to leave me?’’ he asked.
‘’No, only if you want me to.’’ I answered.
He looked straight ahead and didn’t say anything.
‘’We are not us, our conversation feel forced like you are holding back and I am oversharing.’’ I said. ‘’I want us to work on it.’’
He turned on the bench, looked at me and said.
‘’Everyone leaves eventually, you can exit early I wouldn’t hold it against you.’’
I looked at him; my Sam – the Sam I thought I knew, wouldn’t say that to me, I clenched my fingers and released it to keep from screaming at him.
‘’Why are you twisting my words?’’
“You are the one looking for problems where there are none, you can break up with me if that is what you want to, but stop fishing for problems’’ he said
‘’I am not going to join the army and die in an accident if that is what you are waiting for.’’ I left bench, got into my car and drove off.
When I got home I remembered that Sam didn’t have a ride home and I left my camera and journal on the table, he could walk home if he liked but I hope he didn’t read my journal and that he keeps my camera.
I hadn’t spoken to Sam in the last 5 days; he sent me a text to ask if I got home fine the Saturday of the fight and I just got another text from him ‘’Hello?’’
Who sends that? I thought to myself and continued reading my novel; my sister walked in and yanked it out of my hand
‘’You have chased Sam away abi? That is why you are walking around with a long face and no smile’’ She said. ‘’You and your bad mouth and shapeless dresses’’
‘’Shut up and get out.’’ I screamed at her.
She dropped my novel on the bed and walked out but not before she added. ‘’You are getting old oh. Do you want to live in our house forever?’’
I threw my novel at her and she ran out the room.
I remembered the hateful comment I said to Sam about his parents, my sister was right about one thing; I do have bad mouth. He was never going to forgive me for that, I thought. I didn’t even forgive me for that statement, he told me something personal and I threw it back in his face.
Maybe Sam was right I was looking for an easy escape, but this wasn’t just my problem, right? I hated the state I was in, seconding guessing myself.
I had a show that night; I decided to push Sam to the back of my mind and focus on the show. I would fix things with Sam.
If they were still fixable.