The argument started with, “You walk too fast.”
That wasn’t the first time and each time she made that comment, I told her, “I don’t walk too fast. I’m used to this pace of walking so it will take me some time to adjust.” Honestly, that was the only reason I could think of. We all have a pace we are used to and I thought she will understand. But she didn’t. One day, we were walking together when she made the same comment again. She said it angrily. I slowed down. She caught up with me just after a few steps. She said, “It looks like you don’t want to walk with me in public. That’s fine but don’t bring me out and walk ahead of me. It’s disrespectful.”
I didn’t understand her comment because I thought I’d explained things to her long ago. I told her, “You don’t have patience, that’s your problem. I’ve explained it to you. I expect you to, at least, understand me and call me to order anytime I’m ahead of you. It’s not intentional. If I’m shy of you, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. Why do you often make a case out of no case?” Of course, she had to respond so she did, “This is our millionth walk together. Each time, you walk ahead of me. How long before you learn to walk at my pace? How long does it take for you to learn something as simple as this?”
She doesn’t stop when she starts. I’ve known that so I’ve learned to be the one to stop each time we have an argument. I stopped talking. I walked beside her slowly. We went to the shop, bought what we went there to buy and started coming back. We were both silent throughout until she decided to break the silence; “Each time you do something wrong and I complain, you keep quiet and watch me talk as if I’m a talking machine. Why are we even together if we can’t solve issues without a fight.” The thing is, no matter what I did, she had a reason to complain. Talk and you’ll be in trouble. Keep quiet and she’ll still come at you.
As her mother told me one day, “You’ll need patience the size of the ocean to be able to live with this girl. I hope you have it.” I thought I had patience. I thought I could bear it anyhow but sometimes it got extreme. All I wanted to do was run. After that argument, she called to apologize. I forgave her. She said, “It’s not easy to be in my situation. It’s hard sometimes so all I ask of you is a little bit of patience.” “I have patience but you ought to realize it when you’re going overboard. Let me repeat it to you, I will make a conscious effort not to leave you behind but if I do, all I need is for you to draw my attention to it.” I responded.
That was settled but she didn’t stop complaining.
One afternoon we were at a phone shop getting her phone repaired when I saw an old friend coming. We were in school together. We were in a study group together. At one point, I had a thing for her but she said no to me. When I saw her approaching I wanted to meet her but then remembered who I was with. I said in my head, “If this girl sees me, the conversation will be too long. This girl right here will complain of being ignored so let me swerve my friend instead.” I raised my bag high enough to have my face covered. She asked me, “What are you running from?” I didn’t talk until my friend walked us by. I said, “That’s an old friend. I didn’t want her to see me.”
We stayed in the queue until her phone got repaired. I realized she wasn’t behaving Ok. She was angry about something. I asked her repeatedly, ”It’s everything alright?” She said, “Yeah…” I knew her too well to know that all was not well. I asked again, “I hope I’m not the reason you’re quiet ooo. If I am, please say it.” She didn’t say anything.
Later in the evening, a long essay dropped from her. The length of the message got me frightened. I said, “What did I do this time?” The first question was, “Are you shy of me?” I answered in my head, “No I’m not. Why will she even think this way?” She went ahead to say, “You saw an old friend. I believe if I wasn’t there you would have stopped her and talk to her. But you had to cover your face because you were sitting with your shame. I’ve said it over and over again. I’m not forcing you to be with me. You’ve even done well and I appreciate it but if you think hiding me from old friends is another way of showing me love then lose me on that.”
After reading the message, I screamed to myself, “Eiii Eiii Eiii asɛm bɛn koraa nie?
Honestly, I was angry. I didn’t want to even respond because I didn’t think it deserved any. “How is she able to draw such conclusions from innocuous act like this?” I asked myself. Not too long afterward she called. “You won’t respond because I’ve told you the truth, right? You’re not proud to show me out to your friends so I have to hide from them, right?” I said, “I’ve realized something. No matter what I do, you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions so I’ve decided not to question your conclusions. I will pretend I didn’t hear them because honestly, they have no basis.”
Another fight. Another “Leave me alone if you can’t be with me.” Another, “I’m not forcing you to be with me” lectures. Honestly, I was tired, and the fact that I didn’t know when it was going to stop made me worried. I wanted to leave the relationship without guilt but sometimes it pricked my conscience that if I leave, she won’t see the real reason. She’ll draw her own conclusion that I left because of her condition. I told myself, “Let’s give it another day and see what happens.”
I talked to her mother often and asked her to talk to her for me. “She’s making easy things look difficult. She picks a fight from peaceful situations and later blames me for instigating the fight. I want to go a whole week without fighting with her but…” The mother said, “There’s nothing I haven’t told her and you know it. She listens today and later behaves the same way. I’m even tired for you.”
It was her mother’s 57th birthday. We ended the celebration with a Sunday church service. After service, her mother was in the church receiving congratulations while I was out there waiting for them. Later, I saw her pushing her wheelchair to the entrance of the church. She was finding it hard to descend the stairs with her wheelchair so I hurried to help her out. She sat quietly and watched me pushed her to the base of the stairs. She said, “I didn’t need your help. I’ve been doing this every Sunday and I could have done it this Sunday too or you think I’m too weak that I can’t help myself? And What was the speed for?”
Her mother joined us and I escorted them to their house. Her mother wanted me to eat but I said I was ok. She quipped, “He’s angry, just leave him alone.” Her mother asked, “What’s the matter? I said, “I’m fine.”
I got home and sent her my final essay. It was so long my thumbs were hurting after typing everything. I was detailed. I didn’t want to leave any topic untouched. So she’ll know the real reason I was leaving her. Three minutes after receiving the message she replied, “I know you’ve always wanted to leave. I will be fine without you. Bye-bye.” I don’t think she even read the whole thing but she responded all the same. I took a deep breath in and said, “It’s over.”
It was her mom who called me a week later asking what the issue was. I said, “You know everything. I can’t keep up. I’ve tried but she’s not helping me.” She said, “Eiii this girl and her heart. She thinks men will continue to fall on her lap.” Weeks later, her mom called again telling me that she had been crying so I should try and talk to her. I didn’t want to but for the respect I had for her mom, I picked the phone and called her. She didn’t pick. Minutes later, a memo came from her. She said, ”This should be the last time you will call my line. And indeed, it became the last time I ever tried. We didn’t survive but our hearts did. We can love again.