I hope you can now see the shape that I am in. This is silly really but I forewarned you, didn’t I? Whenever I think of you, my mind goes back to my very much younger self. As a child, I had been overly curious. My mother often jokes that it would’ve killed me just like the way curiosity killed the cat, if she had not been extra careful with me. I recall the day she left the kerosene lantern on the dining table and went to take her bath. She had warned me beforehand not to move near it, nor dare put my hands on it, but my inquisitiveness often got the better of me. I wanted to find out why this woman kept insisting I shouldn’t put my hand on the lantern and later that night I cried myself to sleep cradling an injured finger.
Just like my younger self, you decided to disregard the admonitions and the rumors. You called them claptraps. I tried to bare the fact that destroying things is truly who I am. The tenebrosity comforts me. But you resisted and persisted. You even went as far as planting your seeds in my garden, even gaining custody of the place as well!. You nurtured it the only way a person who has been spoon-fed with love all his life tended to the most delicate things.
We watched the sunflowers grow first, by observing how they always kept their faces towards the sunlight so that they would not see the shadows, and now whenever I look at sunflowers I am constantly reminded of your buoyancy and positivity. One of those afternoons I held you with my gaze and asked if you knew what you were doing, what you were getting yourself into.
“This isn’t a movie,” I warned.
It was difficult for me to understand the type of person you were for a long time and I still don’t know why. The fact that sometimes you appeared vulnerable and weak, just like an embodiment of what the society believes lack of masculinity to be and not quite intense and strong like the few men I have been in a relationship with over the years was a little unsettling. How you could switch so quickly to this valiant hero whenever you noticed that I was falling apart, the kind that dully exist in my mills and boons novels and several other rom coms I’ve seen still seemed too good to be true.
I have never met a man like you, ever. Because I’d stuck around with men who had been force fed a horrible understanding of virility, I had no clue on what to do with the tenderness you treated me with. Is it strange that I felt rather jealous of your compassion and the love you had to give? that I wanted nothing more than to see you revel in absolute hollowness just like I did? Is it strange?
“I am a doctor. I feel like it has always been that for me, the way a person unearths the talent of singing at a very young age. I have always had this rescuing spirit. I am a doctor before anything else.”
What you failed to acknowledge, doctor, was that I was never one of your patients. I wasn’t the one who needed saving. So when the first batch of flowers withered away, I tiptoed farther from you and witnessed the disaster from a distance. Of course you refused to count that as a loss, and while your restraint would have been admirable to others, I only felt sorry for you. Because of their quest to satiate emptiness, humans are known to cling desperately to things that hurt them the most. No matter how much you try, you simply cannot fix whoever chooses to remain broken.
As you worked endlessly to grow these flowers, I basked in my desolation, standing half heartedly on the slim chance that you would not be ruined, nor end up totally broken like your predecessors. But in the end you are made of flesh and blood and as days dragged on, you grew weary of the exhausting routine, gradually giving in to inevitable despair. When you finally left, the beauty of your soul was shriveled up and nearly shattered, while I sat in what remained of our once lovely garden wishing you had not ignored the first sign of weeds.
I did not mislead you. You brought this upon yourself. So now I hope you can clearly see the shape that I am in.
Ifeoma Harrison is a Nigerian writer who finds exquisite delight in expressing her through words. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s busy surfing through the web for cute baby names, eating junk food or watching cartoons.