AnD tHeN tHeY wErE nOt

Penelope,

I know I promised never to contact you or her again but I could not help it. Please, before you roll your eyes and throw this letter away in anger, at least, hear my side of the story.

I’ve been seated at our favourite spot in my room, staring out the window and reminiscing. Thinking on our days of being happy and carefree. I do not expect an answer but… how is she?  🙂

I will never forget our first day as friends, the day I walked into our JHS 2 class; eyes downcast, pushing my glasses up my nose every 5 seconds to prevent them from sliding down whiles my late mother stood staring outside the window, her eyes filled up with tears.

It was my first day in a new school and she was worried about me; worried that I might not settle and make new friends because I would be bullied like I was in my previous school. 

I looked shy and afraid but I was not. I just did not care what might happen to me here thanks to all the bullying I received.

Like all the other schools before this, I was expecting to be asked to sit at the far back where I could be in my own world but no, I was asked to sit in front. That was not the scary part! I had to sit beside someone, a girl; a beautiful one for that matter! Who allows a nerd sit beside a beautiful girl in class?!

I remember turning my head to get a proper glimpse of her later in the day when I finally mustered some courage.

She wore a pair of white Nike sneakers with ankle socks, her uniform carefully tucked in with neatly trimmed finger nails, and her hair braided in neat cornrows protruding her forehead.

The side of her face showed an outline of crescent shaped eye brows,   long lashes, a pointed nose and small mouth. “This girl must be a goddess!” I thought to myself whiles my eyes grazed her skin to look at her face.

Just when I was about to take in the full view of her, she looked me square in the face with her eyes narrowed. My breath hitched in my throat, I’d been caught!

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I knew she would yell at me like the girls from my previous school but I could not be bothered at the moment. I would savour this moment whiles it lasted. Whatever scolding I was to receive for staring at this beautiful figure before me was definitely worth it.

She opened her mouth to speak but shut it again looking as if she was thinking about something. I stared at her with keen interest like she was some new discovery on an experiment.

Suddenly, she broke into a bright smile. “Hello, I’m Maame. What’s your name?”

Though she smiled at the moment, she had a certain look in her eyes. The kind of look that said mess with me and I won’t let you have it easy. It scared the others, no one would want her near them but for me, that is what intrigued my 13-year-old self.

We clicked right away you know? And I am pretty sure she remained my only friend throughout Junior High.

Maame brought me absolute joy; she was funny — made me laugh bazillion times every day, I could be my true self around her. We grew closer by the day and it was exhilarating.

The girl looked harmless, a tiny creature who could do nothing but buzz around a person’s ear like a mosquito.  To me, she was like a house fly in the nose of an elephant.  She could provoke me to anger one minute and tickle my insides till tears fell from my eyes the next.

She would call me every micro second, text me unless she did not have some free time to herself.

My whole world was centred on her now. I lived, moved and breathed Maame. I loved the attention I was getting. I didn’t need anyone or anything else.

Throughout our high school to university days, we were inseparable. We played and hang around each other a lot. We had countless sleepovers.

She enjoyed wearing my clothes so she never brought any along and I did not have a problem with that. I actually enjoyed seeing her in my clothes. Everyone knew we were good kids, we would not do anything society frowned on.

I would fall asleep in her bed and so would she, mine. We would place sloppy wet kisses on each other’s cheeks, whether in private or public; well, we had nothing to hide.

As we would put it, it was harmless, we were just… friends, more like siblings. There were times she would playfully smack my buttocks or hit my chest and claim it was a way to keep me straight.

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I was never bothered because, in my eyes, we were family. What could possibly go wrong with family?

I should not have allowed her to go alone you know? The day she went to youth camp, her first camp without me.

I could not go because my mother was in the last stage of her cancer. She did not want to but I forced her to go because two youth leaders could not afford to miss being at camp. At least, she would learn a thing or two and could teach me.

I must admit those were the worst two weeks of my life.

We seldom spoke because she was busy with volunteer work and I had to be by mother’s side constantly. A week into the camp, Mother passed.

I do not know how she got wind of the news but I clearly remember how she rushed home to be with me, never leaving my side unless to help attend to visitors or something equally important.

She really cared for me you know? I did not need anyone to tell me that.

I recall asking her during those times to share what happened at camp just so to take my mind off the pain.

She smiled as usual and, I can never forget her response, “Danny, stop running away from it, grieve your mother. Cry if you can, get angry, whatever but please, do not shut it out. After everything, I will bug you with what I learnt till you cannot bear it but in the meantime, I will be here to hold your hand and help you through this.”

I should have taken her seriously when she said that because after everything was over and at least, I could go on with life, Maame would not stop talking about this thing she learnt at camp; boundaries.

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She kept saying Boundaries are necessary and very important. We set them to keep people on track, to know their place in the lives of others so they do not hurt themselves unnecessarily, so they do not end up doing things God frowns on; that would cause ruined relationships and people or end up with regret. 

You know, I never understood when she used that word. What was the essence of boundaries to us?  We never needed them so why all of a sudden? What could possibly go wrong with me kissing her on the cheek? She would forever remain a sister in my eyes. We were family, there should be no boundaries with us!

There is this thing my grandpa Fred would always say, “We all pay attention to the big pimples on our faces because that’s what everyone notices first so we try to get rid of them as quickly as we can. Funny enough, they do not really hurt but the ones we choose to ignore, the smaller ones, they are the most dangerous. They are barely visible yet they hurt the most.”

Soon, people began to sow seeds, how? Just wait, I will tell you.

People would see us and start talking about “How good we looked together”, how we would make an “amazing couple” and how we had already spoilt each other’s “markets” so would have to stick together anyway. 

Anytime I responded that we were just friends, they would taunt me by saying both of us were in self-denial. Just a few told us to come clean about our true feelings and be careful on whatever path it was we decided to tread.

Well, we sure did look good together, but just as we were, as friends and nothing more.

Everything looked good till I started spending all my time thinking of how rounded Maame’s hips were in the clothes she wore and how good my skin would feel pressed up against hers.

I knew something was happening to me but I just shook it off and said to myself that I had to stop watching too many romance movies.

We kept up with our routine; sleep overs, phone calls, texts, etc. We were good. At least, that is what I thought until that night. It was supposed to be a pillow fight, the kind we had every night before bed, I did not mean for any of that to happen.

Everything happened so fast; clothes on the ground with the covers, pillows torn with contents spilt, I can barely remember the details. The next I knew, the deed had already been done; virtue lost and replaced with shame, trust completely was broken and replaced with hate. 

Now, here I am, saying I didn’t mean for this to happen. I want to go back in time. I know she would ask, go back in time and do what? Go back in time and set the records straight or go back in time to set boundaries like she always asked?

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We were two lonely people with nothing but each other, we became too close for comfort.

It is indeed true that some relationships (friendship, work, church et al) are better off the way they are. The moment it moves a different level, things will never be the same.

I honestly cannot tell if Maame and I moved to a next level because even if we did, we did not know it. We were friends one moment, best of friends the next and then… I don’t know!

Maame won’t look me in the face anymore. She won’t visit, she won’t call or text back. She avoids me like the plague! That is why she left town to be with you Penelope, she could not bear the sight of me.

Please be rest assured that I do not blame her, I cannot even bring myself to think of blaming her.

I blame myself for not listening to her when she kept talking about drawing boundaries, I should have listened. Now a beautifully crafted friendship has been ruined. I think she hates me now.

I have been broken and still being broken. How we got to this point is beyond me, maybe it is not. I probably saw it coming (those tiny pimples; the seeds people sowed in our minds), but turned a blind eye, maybe it was the doing of the devil (do I even have a cause to blame him) but I have to say this; I am sorry, sorry for being a lot of things I shouldn’t have.

I am sorry I let her down, I am sorry I let myself down and I am sorry I let God down. I am biting my fingers in regret and pain because sorry may just not work this time.

Our life together would have been awesome you know? If we had set those boundaries, if we had allowed ourselves remain as we should have, as best friends.

Please give her a message for me, would you? We got off on the wrong foot, is it possible to turn back the hands of time? 

THE END

© 2017 Naema

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. PENELOPE says:

    Boundaries are very necessary. one of my best read piece. “Penelope Maame”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Naema says:

      Thank you for reading Pene!

      Like

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