By Nkem Ndem
There is always that one person who will always have your heart.
If you are thinking the statement sounds like something from a cheesy love song, you would be right. It actually is the first line of the awesome duet by Alicia Keys and Usher titled ‘My Boo’. At the time it was released in 2004, I was still a dreamy teenager …although I had already had my ‘first love’ experience and nursed a heartbreak or two already as well. In fact, I remember buying the then NGN50 pamphlet that contained lyrics to popular songs just to learn all the lines of the song. That was how much I loved the song… and of course, there was also the fact that it reminded me of Ikenna*.
Ikenna and I had met and fallen madly in love at the time I was 6. He was 8 at the time. It sounds ludicrous… who falls in love at 6 and knows it for sure…right? I remember it clearly though, the first day I noticed him.
My best friend Ngozi and I had been in class, starring out the window, laughing at basically anything that caught our interest when he strode past us on his way to the toilet. He wore very conspicuous bow legs and extra droopy shoulders. My eyes had trailed him to the boy’s privy, and before I could stop myself, I found my legs walking my short body towards the same lavatory, right after him. Honestly, I had no plan. I just stood outside and waited for him to come out. And when he did, I said hello. He said hello back and we stared at each other for a while and he walked away. Having always been shy, words failed me. I stood there and watched him walk away from him.
It was the same way I stood and watched him walk away from me exactly 17 years later after he said to me he was getting married and asked to know my thoughts on the song he chose to be played when he walked down the aisle: Omawumi’s “Love nwa anti nti.” Perhaps I could have stopped him and told him I would be different, I would be less stubborn, learn to love him the way he wanted also, that he was “the one”. But I didn’t. I loved him, but he was not my “one”. I always knew the day would come when I’d have to let him go forever, and I guess I was already mentally prepared for it.
I have since moved on. Yes, a few times I have whispered his name out of the blues and for no reason imagined what it would have been like if I had married him and his beautiful babies were mine, even occasionally stalked him on social media…but I have never contacted him or reached out. Not that there is any bitterness or loathing. No. I have never felt like my life was incomplete without him or anything that dramatic either. In fact, I always say this: If I never find love again, I wouldn’t be utterly broken really, because I already have had one pure and great one, even if we did not get a forever after. This is because I am okay with the fact that we did not end up together and I appreciate the lessons learned. He showed me that love could be magic… and with him, I learned how to love and be loved back. He made me realize that I deserved to be loved despite my imperfection, and that is enough.
I never knew how he felt about us, our past and not ending up together e.t.c, so when he called a few days ago and we had a unique chat i was a little surprised. It was weird when I saw his incoming call because it wasn’t my birthday and I wasn’t celebrating anything (Although we never talked anymore. He religiously sent me birthday messages and Christmas messages that I mostly ignored).
“Nkemka, how are you?” he said.
“Ikenna?” I asked
“Yes,” he laughs. “Who else would it be?”
“Still a joker I see” I replied laughing as well.
He had been gifted a puppy and he couldn’t help thinking of me as I was the only one he knew with an insane obsession for dogs, and he thought I’ll be the best person to name his dog. So random. I obliged, gave him some options and we caught up on each other’s lives as well. He was happy and in love with his wife. Everything was great with him. Yet also he said to me: you know I will always have a soft spot for you Nkemka. I loved loving you, and I will always love you.
I admit it was a bit weird. But I awkwardly responded: “Really? When I’m not Whitney Houston”. A lame joke, I know. But he laughed. Him making that statement did not get my heart beating erratically or anything that serious because I was over him and I also understood that his statement did not mean that he did not love his wife, or he was looking to get me as a side chick or anything that sad. I was just the “one person” for him. The one whose memory remained inside his bones anyway.
The truth is, there is always that one person who, no matter how hard you try and no matter how long it’s been, will always beat in your chest and breathe in your lungs; even if the love you shared with the person did not last forever and you know you are not meant to be together. Little things, from time to time, bring them back to your mind but you also know that you are okay, happy and whole without them. Atimes you are tempted to try and rekindle the romance, but with these kinds of people, it is just easier to let sleeping dogs lie. Sometimes, we do not end up with the greatest love of our lives, and that it is okay too.
Do you have that one person you will always love or have a soft spot for, even though you are no longer together and you have no intentions of bringing them back into your life? Share your experience and let’s hear your opinion. xo.