Lost Stars

How do you mourn the loss of a love you never spoke out loud, never felt with your two hands? – Shelby Eileen.

They will ask me when I knew I was in love with you. I will sigh and say I don't know. It happened in fragments, piece by piece, separate moments over the months. Moments… that's how I remember it. They will be surprised when I say I fell in love with you though I had never seen you. It was love in no sight. *****My phone beeped, and I knew it was you. You were the only one that sent me messages on Facebook. "Done with the class?" Yes, I just got to my room," I replied almost immediately. Though you were 25 and I was 16, you found me fascinating. I won't say we met by accident; maybe it was destined. But whatever it is, I'm grateful it happened. 

 About a year ago, an account had sent a friend request on Facebook; I quickly went to check for pictures, but there were none; with a lot of doubt, I accepted the friend request, and in less than a second, you sent a message saying your name was "Christian," it sounded boring to my ears, I wished I hadn't replied you…I felt you were a jambite, yes, I was also a jambite, but that's not the point. You went on to introduce yourself and told me you lived abroad and had been there for about seven years; I thought you were a fraud but went on to introduce myself. That was when you realized, to your dismay, that I was Nigerian living in Nigeria, but you kept talking to me just for that day…you had planned to ghost me the next day.

But in people's words, I am a lovable person, whether offline or online. And I did work my magic on you (unknowingly. You opened up to me that I was bullied as a kid, I sympathized with you, and you were glad I didn't dwell so much on your Japa story or ask you to dash me dollars (I was naïve then, though).**************

Weeks rolled into months, and we had become fond of each other. We talked about everything and nothing; you always told me that you were proud of me because I was just 16 but was already in university and taking my life seriously. And then you told me about your family in Lagos, Nigeria. **************

The day I asked you for a picture, we were in the middle of me teaching you how to cook jollof rice; even if I'm a terrible cook, you promised to send one and commented on how I was fond of you even if I hadn't seen you before. Three days later, you sent me a picture of you; contrary to your baby attitude, your body build was like that of bouncers in a nightclub, and you braided your hair. Asides from making a joke about your tiny eyes, I didn't really say much; you noticed and asked if I was okay, and I told you I was fine. After a few minutes, you shouted at me for the first time…I told you I was raped for the first time since we met months ago; you didn't call me "Bulgy"; you called me by my name, "Zara"…you sent a 7-minute-long voice note comforting me; I went offline and didn't speak to you again for three weeks. My world as I knew it ended that day.

Then one day, someone sent me a message on Facebook. He wasn't a friend on Facebook neither did we have mutual friends. I replied, and he went on to introduce himself as "Zion," older brother to "Christian" I froze for reasons I don't know.******************

I asked him if you sent him, and he laughed; I noticed that he had some sort of air of pride, just like you. He didn't reply but instead asked me what juju I had used on his baby brother, that had sworn never to fall in love with a Nigerian girl; I laughed… I'm irritated. He then told me, your mother wanted to speak with me; in her foreign accent, she thanked me for teaching her almost wayward son values of family, and because of me, he has come back home to her.************************

I have developed a soft spot for you. I loved that you were strong-willed and independent. But if I was asked when I knew I was in love with you? I honestly don't know when, how or why exactly I loved you.************************

One day in April, you sent me a message. You said you were in love with me and, like me, didn't know how or why; it just happened. I wanted to tell you I loved you too, but instead; I asked why you left me when I needed you the most; I sighed and told me; that night you had called your brother crying because you couldn't be there with me, you told me that, that night I I didn't need virtual comfort, I needed physical assurance of you by my side, I laughed, in happiness.  

You suggested we have a virtual date, I asked what we would drink, and you told me your favorite drink was coke because when you were younger, your brothers lied to you that the tiny bubbles inside the bottle were people trapped inside so that you would be so frightened you would dash them your drink. Now, whenever you drank it, it reminded you of them. During the date, you told me though I may never outgrow my hurt, one day, I will talk about it without crying because my heart had healed.********************

We never quite happened, even if everyone thought we did. You never really told me you loved me ever since the first time you said it in April; I understood; we were two broken people finding our feet again. You were going to ask me out in November; by then, you would be in Nigeria. You sent me gifts through your brother; I was particularly fond of the perfumes you sent because that was what you used to. I anticipated when you would ask me to date you, I would smile and hug you tightly with my lean arms, and you would wrap me with your arms that had muscles the size of my head.***************

Your brother's call woke me up the day you died. My world ended for the second time. Grief is hard. Because just when you think you're over it, it hits you that your person can no longer talk to you and then you get to is crippling feeling in your chest, like it's constipated, and your throat suddenly feels like a rolled-up wet sock. I lay on my bed and hoped, I hoped that the next day would bring better news. I still wanted to hold you in my hand for the first time. I didn't ask your brother how you died. 

Your mother asked me to come to you're your house in Lagos. I didn't decline. I packed my things like an architect in a rom-com and headed to your house. Your mother showed me your room; I laid on your clothes she had piled on the ground and coiled myself up in them. I didn't cry. I deleted my Facebook account.***********

Your brother came to visit me, and I told him how a bottle of coke always made me smile. He laughed, and I laughed too. Then I started to cry for the first time since you died seven months ago.

Then you, my brother, quietly told me how I died. A stray bullet hit you straight in the heart while you were having your evening jog. He asked me why I loved you…I sighed and told him that even though we weren't meant to be, you were home to me.

The end.

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