July is here already. We are still breathing and reading and we thank God. July is my favourite month by the way, for no particular reason. I think it’s its orthoepy, or maybe because it is a birthday month of a girl I once loved; for a very long time. She kissed my best friend, and then she confessed. So I left her. Actually, before she confessed, I already knew about the kiss and everything else. I asked her about it, she denied. I confronted her, she denied. I believed her every word. That’s what love is- believing every word your person tells you, trusting them and being deaf to the rest of the world, right? Months later during one of our deep heart to heart conversations I asked her if she has ever lied to me since we met. She said yes. I asked her when. She said she kissed Tom, my best friend. She confessed. So I left her. I walked away like I never knew her at all but I did hurt for months. It was painful. After the break up, her next birthday (July) was beyond endurance. We had already made plans to celebrate. It was all blown by the wind. I remember typing to her a long lovely happy birthday text that was never sent. She broke my heart with her wandering lips and her slack loyalty. During her tenure in my life, she was an angel, that’s why July is my favourite month. When I think of how she broke my heart, however, July swiftly becomes my worst month.
I am sorry I didn’t have to share that. July is here. We thank God. Happy new month! Today is one of those days I don’t step out of the house, unless entirely necessary. I just take the weight off my feet and write, or read, poems in particular. I am reading Johnswick’s Hesitation and I can’t help but think about Becky; a girl that smelled love. Oh Becky, where art thou?
First year in campus, innocent yet garrulous; that’s me. I’m not fully animated as I thought I would be but yes, the new environment, the new life, is as momentous. Classes are kind of different here. They are bigger and brimming. I learn they are called halls. Lecture halls. Not classrooms. In fact, no one uses the word class. It’s only during the first weeks of admission that one would say “I’m headed for a class”. After that things change and you hear “I’m headed for a lecture”. IRD 100 is my favourite unit. Every talkative person, one that loves making new friends and being a voice to the voiceless would love IRD 100. The lecturer taking us through this course is as interesting as my grandmother. He has funny jokes at the middle of his lectures. I love funny jokes, especially about short girls (they are my favourite, the short girls). He is the first person I heard make a joke on short girls. He says that short girls will never struggle when it comes to finding a tall guy, you know, tall dark and handsome. He goes on and says on Valentine’s Day, when they put on red, they all look like fire extinguishers. He is mean, and funny.
IRD 100 groups are formed. My group comprises three gentlemen and four ladies. Becky is among the four ladies. She is breathtaking, at least according to me. They say beauty lies in the beholder’s eye, which is true but even they guys in the group affirm my opinion on her. In my previous learning life, I hated groups. So damn much. I guess it was because we were all boys. Here, we are all; Lions and lionesses. Cocks and hens. Bulls and heifers. Dogs and bitches. Boys and girls. It is a free world. We are adults who’ve come all the way from kilometres away to quench our thirst for knowledge. We know what we are supposed to do here. We know. We came here to learn, to study hard to get jobs (biggest of scams). We came here to make connections, lifetime connections and inevitably, we came here to fall in love and to display our hearts out to be broken, or cherished.
Stealing glances at Becky is the best thing about this group meeting. Our eyes meet and it is a different level of pleasure. This girl is dark and spotless. Ever seen a black spotless girl with the whitest of teeth smile? No you haven’t. Trust me; if you haven’t seen Becky you haven’t seen beauty. I make plans to approach her, in our next meeting.
At my room I stand in front of the mirror to see myself say “Hi Becky, how much do you love ice cream” a thousand times. I don’t even know if she loves ice cream but I’ll shoot my shot (If I die I die). After all, I haven’t heard of a lady that hates ice cream- a fresher especially. So I get prepared, psychologically and verbally for step one of a possible love story.
It’s an afternoon; the discussion is heated and lively. It is so lively I hardly get a second to steal a glance at her. After concluding the discussion, she walks toward the gate. I follow behind.
I don’t know if you guys understand but when a beautiful girl melts your heart and you want to make her yours so bad, the amount of fear that creeps to your heart and head is unbelievably colossal. Sometimes, you shiver. Throat dries and a power cut occurs in the brain. Words flee and you freeze. I magically forget the rehearsals at the mirror and all the sentences I had memorised evaporate. I am not even thinking of ice cream anymore. I am thinking of hiding and screaming. From an amazing lovely girl she turns to some goddess who nature proscribed any man from standing next to her. Standing with her feels like breaking the law. She is smiling but all I see is a lioness unperturbed, ready to listen to an offer from a Chihuahua and then calmly reject it. I am scared of rejection.
“Hey, today’s discussion was lit” I finally say what I never rehearsed.
“Yes, it was”
“The reference you made on ‘Empathy’… can you lend me the book, for a day or two?”
“Of course, as soon as I’m done making some notes I will”
“Okay, thank you. See you”
I bounce. I flee like a gazelle running from a cheetah. I hate myself.
We meet again a few days later. I get every chance to say something but my lips go numb. It’s shameful how I am shy. The confidence I have in making new friends and laughing loud in a lecture hall must be pretence. Maybe the chatty me is not the real me. Maybe I am shy. Yes that’s me; shy. Do you know how many group meetings happen in a semester? In all those meetings I never talked of ice cream or coffee. Each time I prepared to, I relented. I hesitated. I tensed. Whoever taught me to be afraid of rejection, I hate you.
Semesters passed, academic year passed and Becky is still splendid. We are in second year and she is dating Karim. He is a guy from a different class and a different course. It is a taboo for men to compare themselves but I was a better shot here. It is funny how deep inside I am mad yet I never tried. It is weird how I expected she should have chosen me over him when I (stupidest of freshmen) never asked her out and never offered the ice cream or a cup of coffee, or lunch at the campus mess (we had a classy one). Poor me!
It’s a mutual friend’s birthday party and both Becky and I and invited. The house is too crowded and so I step out with my glass of juice and biscuits. She is already outside too. She is seated on the next door stairs that connects the veranda. I join her.
“May I?” I ask as I point next to her. I don’t wait for her to respond- I sit my butt next to hers.
“It’s overcrowded inside, needed some fresh air” I say
“Me too. I also want to sneak out, the sun is setting”
“What? There is an after-party.”
“It’s sad I’m gonna miss that. Represent me please”
“You can stay then chuck early enough with me. I’ll see you off”
“Not today, another time maybe”
We sit there as we enjoy the dying heat of the setting sun. I imagine how life would be if she was, you know, mine. Imaginations are sweet, too bad they don’t last. She stands up and bade me goodbye. She walks away as I follow her with my unblinking eyes.
“Hey Becky,” I run up to her, “you know, uuuum… way back last year during the IRD 100 group meetings I was carried away by you and I couldn’t help but fall for you. I did not tell you so because I was afraid or something but I always wanted to tell you… but I’m telling you now…is it too late to… ask you for a date?”
“Hey… why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t know. Guess I was afraid. Is it too late now?”
“Yes it is. You know I am dating Karim and you’ve met him”
This time, it is not fear that I feel. I am not shivering and I’m not scared of this goddess. My throat isn’t dry. I’m just heartbroken and she is not responsible, I am. The shy me a year ago broke my heart and I hate him.
“If I had told you this early enough, would you have…uuuhm… chosen me?”
“Mmmh. Who knows? Maybe I would have. You are a nice lovable guy, but, next time you fall for a girl, do not hesitate to tell her. Maybe she is yearning deep inside for you to say it.”
“Of course. Goodbye Becky”
I go back to the stairs to wait for the night party. I need it after all.