Learning To Be Gentle

via Daily Prompt: Casual

I don’t regret a lot of things, but this one eh! It haunts me to this day. I had hinted in this post that I have ever turned down a very interesting someone only for me to regret bitterly. Well, here’s the juice!

On the evening of the first day of February last year (Yes, I still remember the date. This should show you the extent of my regret) after a day out with friends, a guy on a bicycle approached me. I had just alighted from a matatu (a public service vehicle) and I was walking towards home, soaked in mirth because I had had a really good time.

So this guy cycled fast and caught up with me. He said hi and proceeded to tell me that we had been in the same matatu two days before and he had tried talking to me but it seemed I could’t hear him. I did not have any recollection of someone talking to me so I apologized to him and let him know that I did not ignore him intentionally. All this time he was cycling beside me and I was walking quite fast because I was running late (read trying to rid myself of this somewhat creepy guy). Since no meaningful conversation could be birthed in that state of affairs, he begged me to give him five minutes so that he could tell me what he really wanted to say.

“I’m really pressed for time,” I told him, “but it’s okay. Just five minutes.”

We stood at the sidewalk and he begun by asking for my name. I don’t usually give my name that easily to people but this one, for some reason, seemed genuine so I saw no reason to hold back.

“Unebelle, girls fear many things: spiders, frogs, snakes, chameleons, you name it. What do you fear?”

“Uhm,” I hesitated, visibly shaken by this strange start. “I’d say snakes.”

“That feeling that is evoked upon seeing a snake, is it the same one you get when you see someone who has been bitten for a snake?”

“No, those are two very different feelings.”

“And can you describe the feeling you get when you see a snake without using the word fear, scared, afraid or any other synonyms?”

Was this guy conducting a survey on fear? I racked my brains but I couldn’t find a word strong enough to describe fear.

“No, I can’t think of a suitable word.”

“Sorry for the many questions but this is the last. Because you fear snakes, do you make sure you have a stick with you all the time because you never know when you’ll come across one?”

“No, of course not! That’s being paranoid!”

“Well, same here. When I go out of the house every evening with this bicycle of mine, I don’t go with the intention of looking for beautiful girls, or finding a girlfriend. I simply go out for a ride. But then, I have seen you for the last three days and every time I see you I get this feeling in my heart that I cannot describe.”

I looked at him incredulously.

“Anyway,” he continued, “since you are in a hurry, could you please give me your number so that we plan on how we’ll meet some other day?”

“No, not today.” I had switched to my attitude mode.

“I know what you are thinking. Trust me, I don’t believe in having conversations over the phone. I prefer we meet in person. I just want your number so that we can organize for another meeting.”

“No, I said no. Some other time.”

“Please,” his tone had changed to that of desperation.

“NO!” I was unrelenting.

“Okay then, take my number then you’ll hit me up when you feel like it.”

“No, I am not going to. I told you I will give you my number next time we meet. Please. I am in a hurry. Now if you will excuse me.”

I made as if to walk away. You should have seen his face. He was visibly dejected and heartbroken. However, nothing stirred within me. Who was I to care? Seeing that his efforts didn’t bear any fruits, he told me that it had been a pleasure to meet me, bade me goodbye and then he rode off.

After a day or two it hit me. That was one very intelligent person. Very few people put that amount of effort in wooing a girl. He was definitely someone very intriguing and we would have clicked, not necessarily relationship-wise. I passed up that chance. I very rudely passed it up. I had dismissed him casually and here I was being stung (not casually) by the very sharp spikes of regret. Regret has no mercy.

I never saw him again. Serves me right huh? You know, it takes a lot for a guy to approach a girl, and the last thing he wants to get is a rude dismissal. We as girls need to be gentle. Take it from someone who learnt that the hard way. πŸ™‚

Burn Those Bridges

He said, “If my legacy is to throw myself in the path of a bullet to save your life, then so be it.”

So I demolished the wall I had built and undertook the tedious task of building bridges. I kept a keen eye on the weak links that connected us, taking extra care that they do not break. Only for him to burn the bridges. Only for him to cut the links.

“But why would you that?” I was downcast.

“Come on here. Look me in the eye. You misunderstood me.”

“I thought you said you would take a bullet for me! You clearly don’t give a hoot about me. Your actions prove that.”

He sighed and took a deep breath. “I care about…”

“No, you don’t!” I cut him off fiercely.

“What if I told you that burning the bridges that you are struggling to build goes to show that I really care about you? That slashing the links that once connected us shows I have nothing but the purest of intentions? Because boo, I don’t want to string you along.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I care about you when I choose not to pretend that I care about you in that special way. That would be taking your heart and tossing it in the mud. I don’t want to lead you on, only for you to be disappointed in the end. Your heart is too precious. That’s the bullet I chose to take, being brave enough to hurt your feelings now and hence protecting you from much greater pain in the future. Believe it or not, I have saved your life.”

And then it dawned on me:

It is better to be flat-out rejected than to be strung along.

The Imposter Syndrom

A lot of you have asked me how I’m holding up after the incident. I am doing very well! In fact, I forgave him and moved on so fast because why would I waste my time crying when the guy has probably forgotten about it and is looking for new prey?

Also, that right there is a blatant lie. Did I mention that the guy is my classmate? I was therefore resigned to the fact that I was going to see him almost every single weekday of the semester. The sight of him was enough to make me relive that night. And to think that he would have the guts to come to me and say hi! As our eyes met, I felt the aplopletic beast within me break the shackles and chains that constrained it. Indeed, I felt like giving the hideous guy a slap that would dislocate his jaw. It took a great deal of self control keep me rooted to the spot and instead give a high pitched ‘I’m fine.’

Every night my pillow got drenched in tears. I was hurting. How easy it is to rid one of their sunshine! However one can only be angry and hurt for so long. After a long struggle, I actually began to see the good side of what had happened. Yes, you heard me right. I was progressing, baby step by baby step. I am very thankful to my friends. They listened to me and never once did they made comments such as, “But you are the one who took yourself to the slaughter house!”, “That is nothing, there are many people out there who are going through far much worse and do you hear them complaining?”

This incident got me thinking about something I dub the Imposter Syndrom. How many times have we trusted people only for us to be disappointed? How many times have we been thown off balance because the people we thought we knew very well turn out to be completely different proving that we didn’t know anything about them at all? We have all been victims of imposters at one time or another.

Here’s the catch, at one time or another, we too have been imposters. Maybe we still have the imposter syndrom. We are different things to different people, we live double lives. Because of that, we lose ourselves. We are not sure of who we are and what we stand for. One day, the different worlds we live in will collide and the effects will be disastrous. It’s time for us to maintain a consistent identity. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, be you. πŸ™‚

 

The Night That Was

1.00 a.m.

I wake up with a start to find him in my bed. A wave of anger and frustration grips me. I find myself hurtling unprintable words.

“You – ! What the – are you thinking! -! -!But you promised! You told me you’d let me sleep in peace! That you would treat me like a sister! That we would sleep on seperate beds the whole night! What in the world has gotten into you! I… I…” my voice breaks.

Much to my indignation, he laughs. Viciously. Ferociously. His is the quintessential evil laugh, the one that pierces through your being and extricates the little self esteem that’s clinging desperately onto you. His laugh serves to continuously remind you that you are stupid.

“Look here missy, I’m not, I’m not…” He laughs again. So hard that he’s grappling for air. After what seems like eternity, he speaks again.

“I’m not gay. Surely you wouldn’t expect a normal guy like me to survive a whole night with a girl in the same room and not pounce on her?”

How it started

I was the proverbial cow that dragged itself to the slaughter house. The guy’s desperate pleas to seek one one-on-one audience stirred compassion in me and I had to accord him that privilege. It was one of those boring weekends and I was sick and tired of my own company, so why not take a few minutes to try to know more about a new friend and listen to what he has to tell me? He also seemed interested to learn how to play chess and I offered to teach him. 

So at 8.00pm, chess board in tow, we went to his friend’s house. I texted a pal and told her of my whereabouts. I would not spend the night, I would leave by 9.30pm, I told her.

Agreeing to meet him was stupid, I agree. But what is being stupid? Is it choosing to trust people? Is it having a good heart and being willing to give people a benefit of doubt? And when people betray your trust, is it their fault that they don’t have good hearts, or is it your fault that you were stupid enough to trust them? 

9.30 p.m.

After more than an hour of extremely boring small talk, I want to leave. I glance at the chess board, lying untouched. The guy wasn’t even interested in chess after all! I shake my head internally.

“Hey, it’s been nice to speak to you. However, my time here is up and I need to leave,” I tell him, trying hard as I can to hide my boredom.

“But why? You can spend the night here. We’ll sleep on seperate beds.”

“You’re the one who told me that you’ll let me leave, remember?”

“I have really enjoyed my time with you and I don’t want to let you go.”

“I really want to leave, please.” I’m getting impatient.

Our argument continues in the same vein. I’ve lost the number of times I’ve told him that I have to leave. He even has the nerve to tell me that he loves me so much, he wouldn’t want to let me go. Apparently, my safety has become a matter of top priority to  him. At this rate, I would rather my things get stolen by thieves on the way to my place than spend the night with him.

11.00 p.m.

I’ve talked myself hoarse. This guy is not getting tired of arguing! I open the door and exit the house. Seeing my determination to leave, he has no choice but to leave as well to escort me. He takes forever to wear his shoes. He then accompanies me to the gate of the estate. There are around four dogs that keep an eye on us.

An obstacle that I had not forseen awaits us. The gate is locked! The guy maintains that he has no key. There is no sign of a watchman nearby. No wonder he was so keen on arguing with me! He wanted to buy time as he knew that the gate to the estate is usually locked at a certain time. What a -!

I have no choice but to get back to the house. I am exasperated. We sleep on seperate beds and I pray hard that I survive the night. 

4.00 a.m.

I am tired. Tired because I have been running from one bed to another since 1.00 a.m. The guy won’t leave me alone. He keeps following me. I have told him several times that I don’t want us to have sex but he wouldn’t listen. I get annoyed and leave the house once more. I’m determined to get the watchman to open the gate and leave this place.

I reach the gate and the dogs start barking fiercely. There is no way I can leave. I have no choice but to turn back, half-expecting the dogs to follow me, maybe rip me apart. They don’t. 

I have to swallow my pride and go back to the house. He opens, with an air of triumph. I foolishly hope that nothing would happen.

I make a mistake of lying on the bed and within seconds he is all over me. I turn him over with a strength alien to me and the bed collapses under our weight.

“Why have you broken the bed?” He is furious. “Get out! Leave!”

I am more than happy to leave the house. I am even happier that the bed is broken. He has some explaining to do to his friend. This is the price you pay for coercing someone into sleeping with you.

I sit on a verandah outside someone else’s house. I hope they don’t wake up and accuse me of being a thief. I can’t wait for daylight so that I can leave this dungeon. 

5.30 a.m.

I see a familiar tall muscular figure of a guy approaching me. Now what does he want this time?

“Unebelle, I’m really sorry. I’m not usually like this. I’ve never done this to anyone. Come, your safety comes above all else. I promise I won’t disturb you this time. Please forgive me.”

He picks my bag. I follow him to his house. He tells me not to sit on the broken bed. I seat on the other bed instead. He joins me.

“Unebelle, may I ask, are you a virgin?” he asks. 

“That doesn’t matter. Just know I’m one of those girls who don’t take sex very lightly.”

“But we would have used protection! I always make sure I use protection.”

“And that may have protected me against pregnancy and all, but what about my emotions? Do you think that protection would have prevented me from having feelings of regret? Or unnecessary emotional baggage? What about the feeling of attachment?”

“But…”

“Lemme tell you why I don’t take sex very lightly. When two people have sex, it’s not all about the physical. Their souls become one. Think of paper. When you stick two pieces of paper together with glue, and you try to seperate them, some of the paper from the first piece will be on the second piece and vice versa. Now think of someone who has sex with several people. Think of their soul.”

“You know what, you’re right. When two people have sex, they become one.”

I’m surprised. Is this the same guy who was trying to rape me?

He continues, “Unebelle, I have a problem. I never see girls as just friends. There’s no way a girl would hug me and smile at me and expect me not to expect more from her…”

“Then you have a warped world view! To you women are nothing more than sources of pleasure. That’s sick! You need to change that! You need to learn how to control your emotions, don’t let them control you!”

Or maybe men are wired differently. Maybe they don’t think the same way we ladies do. I don’t know. 

Thankfully daylight is finally here. I leave the place. I vow never to get myself in such a situation again.

Unimpressive First Impressions

“Don’t you feel hot?”

A random guy, sorry, crush told me this, concern written all over his face. After several aeons of hoping I would get a chance to meet him, my over eager ears finally got a chance to relish his overbearingly sumptuous voice and my eyes got a chance to look deeply into his heavenly eyes. And if you have ever been in my situation, which I bet you have been anyway, you must be very aware of the fact that the struggle of making a good first impression is real.

The day was just like any other. I woke up to a chilly morning, not a ray of sun was to be seen. I made what I now call a fashion faux-pas. I, Unebelle Beau, wore a sweater without a top. There was literally nothing beneath my sweater. (Okay, there was one thing but I choose not to state the obvious). The weather would support me in this risky adventure, or so I thought. Midday came and the weather betrayed me: the sun decided to flaunt its hotness. It’s angry rays really scorched me. If the weather were a human being, I reckon it would be a woman. So unpredictable! 

“No, erm, I-I-I a-a-am okay. I’m really fine,” I tell him. 

“Explains why you’re sweating profusely,” he says, “Why don’t you just remove your sweater?” 

“NO! Sorry I meant no. I’m okay.”

I try to come up with excuses but the only things my mind can formulate are silly ones like ‘my sweater is permanently stuck on my body’ or ‘my traditions do not permit me to remove a sweater in the presence of a man’. I give up. 

My crush makes as if to say something but he chooses to keep quiet. Awkward silence ensues. After what seems like a year of quiet, I get to my destination. I bid him goodbye. 

“I hope you have learnt your lesson,” he retorts, a smirk on his face, a faint glimmer in his eyes. 

And that is how, my friends, I never got to talk to him again. The events of that day keep replaying in my mind whenever I see him. So much for a good first impression! 

Why do we care so much about first impressions? Just because someone was dressed horribly the first time we met them doesn’t mean that they are always bad dressers. Maybe they were having one of those ‘I don’t feel like dressing up’ days. Unfortunately we are bound to make conclusions about people based on how they were the first time we saw them. I have however been proved wrong countless times to know that first impressions do not say anything about a person. Just because someone was at their best the first time you saw them does not mean they are always at their best. 

But since it is human nature to judge one based on their first impression, I am afraid we don’t have any other choice but to make sure we make a good first impression especially in situations where we will not have a chance to make a second.

Too Open?

Kidneys. Eat kidneys. People eat kidneys. Kidneys are eaten by people. People devour the famous bean-shaped organs of a cow.

I am still struggling to come to terms with the fact that cows’ kidneys actually make their way to dining tables. But why? I told my friend this and he gave me a look that suggested that I’m no better than an extraterrestrial toddler who, in the spirit of being adventurous, found himself on earth. And his parents in Mars, after looking for him for so long, resigned to the fact that their child is lost for eternity. The toddler is left with no choice but to be assimilated into the human community. However, even after interacting with people for a long time, the toddler’s conversance of the strange creatures that call themselves humans can only be compared to a Mr Grain Of Sand in the desert world. Insignificant.

So much for my ignorance. Anyway, I found that out during one of my visits to the butchery. A man, who could not be younger than fifty, was being served. He was a jolly one, casually joking with the butchers. ( I stop writing as I realise butcher is too strong a word. I look up for synonyms. Slayer, slaughterer. Em, Thesaurus, no thanks). He had already placed his order for kidneys but on seeing me, he told them to serve me first.

As I waited for them to weigh the meat and all that, I thanked the man for this rare gesture and he said welcome, naturally. His follow-up question threw me off balance.

“Are you married?”

A normal girl would take offence, right? Yet I was amused. And pleasantly surprised too. Here’s the thing, I am frail. Thin. Slim. That, coupled up with a baby face serves to compound an already fluid situation. I have had the rare privilege of putting up with adults talking to me the way you would talk to a child, and children treating me as though I’m their age-mate. So you can now understand my excitement when he asked about my marital status. There is someone in the world who thinks I’m old enough to be married. What a relief!

I responded in the negative, trying hard to hide my amusement.

“Do you cook?” he asked.

“Oh yes, I do cook.”

“That’s really amazing. You know what? The food a woman cooks can make a man fall in love with her. I’m not joking! Several years ago, a lady, who is now my wife, invited me to her place. She prepared a delicious, sumptuous, amazing meal! I still recall the taste, I tell you. Cupid’s arrow struck me real hard. Even my daughter cooks a lot, she is married with one child.”

Wow. The only word that managed to leave my mouth.

“Anyway, where do you stay?”

Eh, these questions were getting too personal. Luckily the meat I had ordered was already packaged. I quipped a ‘just around’ while paying. He told me where he lived and I threw an okay at him while hurriedly exiting the butchery, my meat in tow.

A complete stranger talks to you for five minutes and you get to know why he fell in love with his wife, the marital status of one of his children, and where he lives. Yet people like me find it hard to say their name to a person they’ve just met. What makes one person so comfortable narrating their life so vividly to just anyone? Haven’t they ever been betrayed or conned before? Extra food for my already overstuffed thought.

 

P.S.

It’s been seven months since I last posted something here 😦 It feels so good to be back! πŸ™‚

When He Says Do It; Do It

Sometimes I just sit down and mull over the craziness of life. And I laugh. God really has a quirky sense of humour. Just when I have set my principles and boundaries, someone comes along that makes me want to throw all those principles down the drain and throw caution in the wind. And my emotions encourage me to do so. As if I have not learnt enough from my past! I talked about that someone in a recent post: The Dog That Bites.
I knew that things would not go down well with that person. His expectations of the relationship were too high! What I wanted was so different from what he wanted. Saying yes would mean that one of us would have to be short-changed. As I prayed to God that night, being the loving father He is, I heard Him say no to the relationship. I had to trust that He knows what is best for me; albeit with a heavy heart.
I hoped that I would not have to see him again in my life. I hoped that I would forget about him and that life would move on as usual. The opposite happened. I saw him almost every time I went out, from afar. Then my heart would crave for his presence. My thoughts would be affixed on him. Why did I have to go through all this torture?
That did not last forever though. I moved on with life. Yesterday I was on Facebook and he appeared among ‘People you may know.’ I was tempted to snoop around. I actually did that and what I saw shocked me. Apparently, he has a kid. And from the pictures I could tell that he is together with the mother of the baby. You know what that means? I would have been the side dish! I imagine being awakened to that painful reality after getting deep into the relationship. The heartbreak! The tears!
I am so grateful to God for shielding me from the greater pain that would have resulted! Sometimes following what He says might seem unreasonable, but what I have learnt is that if He tells you to do something, DO IT. You might not understand it at that time, but you will later on. And you would be happy that you listened. After all, He has our best interest at heart, doesn’t He?

Have a lovely time!