She said she never felt “pursued” enough. She was a proud woman, in her late twenties, who deserved at least that privilege to be shown and made to feel worthy to be desired and, in her own words, pursued. With her, he never did enough to pull the strings to ever make it any plain that he had any interest in her. It was somewhere during the previous year that they met at a function and became friends. Between the 13 months that separated then until now, she could not recall, at any time, by his actions or words, that spoke of his love for her. A woman’s pride lies in her being wooed and courted. In feeling her worth in the ways a man tries just to win her heart. She abhored ever having to feel cheap because she let her heart out to a man who did less to win her.
She vaguely remembered what she had heard before, it was in a movie, she recalled, to find a man who’d make a fool out of himself just to win her heart and she’d find a love for a lifetime. Afi wasn’t asking for fools for husbands. She couldn’t bear to see a man make a mess to impress her like she saw in movies. She even regarded that saying as unrealistic at the time albeit with a pint of truth. All she wanted was not a fabulous way of her man professing his love in extreme ways unimaginable but that little relentless effort. A succinct constant profession, not only by mouth, of his love for her. This she felt would have sufficed.
She cast her eyes off him to rest on the glass table that stood in the middle of the room. Sitting on the edge of the couch in a white casual satin dress. A grand chandelier hung right above the living room. The light emitting from this sparkled the room. Everything else in the room was bright and beautiful except the sombre silence that invaded the room with the last statement escaping her mouth. She sat on the edge of the couch, with her head still a little bowed and arms clamped and resting on her knees.
“You know,” Kofi began to say, letting his eyes rest on her and quickly reverting his gaze as hers rose from the table she’d been staring to meet his. “I thought I was the only one who felt it. And that you could have no interest in me. Many times I wondered if ever you thought of me. Not as the friend we are but something deeper. Lord knows the countless times I dream of waking up and realizing you were mine.”
He paused for a moment and looked up. For the first time their eyes met but it was as if in a duel that required lovers to maim each other. As if the gaze were the barrels of guns, each found it difficult to hold a little much longer. In his mind he remembered how he had longed for this moment before. This moment where he could look deep in her eyes. Those dark dainty eyes of hers and see her smile like she always did when a little shy. It meant the world to him. But to look in those subliming eyes at this moment was suicide. It chocked him.
“And you say that I didn’t ever make my intentions clear,” he continued, sounding a little coarse, “well yeah I could agree. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I was not sure. Not that I was unsure of what I felt for you. But I was unsure if you felt the same way”
“But you could’ve told me!” She cut in sharply, looking bemused.
“Yeah I could have told you and what benefit would that have served? Perhaps, as I know now, it would have done us a lot better but then you, you……….”
She peered at him, with raised eyebrows and head tilting a little to the left. “Ahuh, go on.” She said, with an urge in her sulky voice to make him finish his statement.
“You never gave me the reason to believe.” He said finally, rising from the couch where he had been sitting all along.
He was tall and handsome. A little past thirty. The grey T-Shirt he wore over a pair of dark jeans drew the muscles over his shoulders. His chest looked to be bulging, aligning nicely with his flat torso. Her eyes followed him as he made his way towards the other end of the couch, walked around it to stand behind it. She still sat. Moving only little. Her hands now folded up her breast. She kept her gaze at him.
“Can you please explain by….by that?”
She sounded coarse. Hardly getting the words out. It stung to know that she was partly to blame.
“No! Forget it.” He said. “Tomorrow is a big day and I don’t wanna ruin it for you, for us”
“I know. But it cannot be any messed up than it is right now so can you please tell me?”
“I don’t wanna…”
“But you have to. If you wish me well then you have to”
“OK. OK. I will.” He succumbed.
The apprehension that hung in the air was palpable. Sadness reeked and chocked the two of them. He looked sullen and morose. She felt forlorn and dejected. He sighed, tears stood at the brink of her eyes. When he began to speak, she bowed her head again but listened.
“All along I had prayed for that chance. I believed it wasn’t far of and I could reach for it anytime soon. I reveled in the sweet conversations we had. Day, night and there, there was a ray of hope. But then you recoiled. Not once. I became aware of this and couldn’t understand this roller coaster mood I was being put through. It never help build hope in me to ever make a confession and any confidence I had was weakened by this.”
He explained, with the last sentence sounding fainter than he had began, the lumps created down his throat stifling every word that passed there. Such that it was not with ease he let these words out.
What followed next was a deathly silence that pervaded the room. The clock’s ticktock, was louder in the silence. Lost in and tossed in the moment, a void penetrated into the room, into their minds. The clock’s continued ticktock seemed to be the only thing that remained to remind them of time. As it struck 4 pm, she was the first to break the silence.With a squeaky voice she piped,
“so what are you asking me to?”
“I’m not asking you to do anything,”he said, leaning backward against the wall and looking downward. “Even if I could I wouldn’t. And you shouldn’t do anything too, even if I asked.”
It is unsavory, enough, to lose love late and realize it has always been there in the waiting but to do so on an eve of a wedding was fatal, to say the least.
The door bell rang. Afi, having sat through the whole conversation got up to open the door. She welcomed her mother in, still looking sullen but managed to straighten her face, to hide her sadness. She helped her mother with the basket she was holding as she walked through the door into the room. “I can see you have company. ” She said, taking a seat in the process.
“Maa akwaaba.” Kofi said abruptly, with a well worked grin, from the wall where he’d been standing.
“Oh won’t you have a seat?” She inquired.
“Oh no thank you. I’m just leaving. I was sent to deliver this bouquet. ” He said pointing to a bouquet lying on the table.
“Ok. And why would Nana sent you?” She asked teasingly.
“Because the groom cannot see the bride on the day prior to his wedding. Besides, Kofi is the best-man.” Afi helped to satisfy her mother’s curiosity. But her own words cut like steel. Kofi took a look at her. Without a word he made for the door. She couldn’t move. She watched as he disappeared through the doors.