Since the age of eleven when I was privileged to be a flower girl at my older sister’s wedding, I had always dreamt of one day finding a man as fine as my sister’s husband and getting married to him. I later learned that there was a term used to describe people like me. ‘Hopeless romantic’. Of what difference did it make if I was hopeful or hopeless? The most important thing is that I was a romantic. While I sat in the front pew with the rest of the flower girls, my mind wondered away and took me to where my tender heart longed to be. I was standing in front of the priest with my elementary school crush, Jideofor, and he was putting the ring on my finger and telling me that he would love and cherish me till death do us path. I was quickly brought back to reality by Ify who jolted me (almost violently) in order for me to realize it was time to go pour the flowers on the newly wedded couple. It was over already. Was I gone for that long? I had never seen my older sister so happy before, so on that day, I vowed to find true love like she did, or like I thought she did, and come what may, I would marry him.
At the age of fifteen, I thought I had grown into a woman, and I was pretty sure that if I intended to be married by my target date of 22, then this was the right time for me to start looking for a husband. I was in SS1 in a federal government secondary school when I met Oscar. He, like all other horny teenage boys told me that I meant the world to him, and on Valentine’s Day, he bought me a huge fluffy teddy bear, chocolate and a frame with romantic words in it. I was in heaven, or so I thought. Oscar’s parents were very wealthy, so it was no surprise that he could afford to buy me the gifts he bought. For Valentine’s day, we planned on sneaking out of our boarding school at night and spending the night at an expensive hotel because ‘that’s what lovers do’ according to Oscar. He had the N250 to bribe Ali the gateman, but as fate would have it, that night Ali was sick and was replaced by someone who refused to let us out no matter how much we offered. We begged and begged along with other students, but it was a much wasted effort. Oscar and I ended up doing some heavy smooching in the cafeteria at about 1A.M in the morning. He wanted to disvirgin me, but I refused to let him simply because I did not want to lie down on the table and stain my white shirt with oil. Things went smoothly for Oscar and I that term, but when we went on holidays, I did not see or hear from Oscar. His family sent him to London for his vacation. When he came back the next term, he acted like he did not know me; he boasted of an English girlfriend he had in London, and of course, all the boys lobbied around him to hear more. I choked it up to experience and moved on.
At age seventeen, I realized how silly I was to think that I was ready for a relationship at the age of fifteen; I believed that I was now mature at seventeen. That was when I met Joseph who refused to stop pestering me. He wrote me several love notes and professed his undying love for me, but Joseph was Hausa, so I refused to give him a try, but that was until he took me to the newest club in Jos and spent a lot of money on me. He made me feel like a queen and before I knew it, I was in love with him. We ate suya every weekend and drank it down with fanta. Joseph proved his ‘manhood’ by giving me the speech about how sex was a result of love. I told him to go to hell with his lies, but that was until he bought me the reigning shoe at the moment. I gave up my virginity and thanked the Lord for bringing Joseph into my life, but that was until he introduced me to Jennifer, his ‘true love’. I cried for weeks, maybe months before I decided to choke it up to experience again and move on. At the age of twenty, I attempted yet another failed relationship. Tunde and I instantly hit it off and we truly believed we were meant to be, or at least, I believed so. Even my friends called us husband and wife, and once again, I let my emotions cloud my judgment. I became sexually intimate with him and at first, it was great. Tunde was on my mind every single second and life was good, but then his family won the U.S. visa lottery, so he had to relocate. I went with him to the airport where I shed my sad tears; he promised he would come back for me, but that was the last I heard of him. It was time to choke it up to experience. I had two more years before reaching my target age for marriage. I figured I had two more years to find, date and marry a man, so I strategized. I found Iyke, but something was not right with him and I soon found out what it was the day he pressed his hands firmly against my neck and tried to strangle me because he suspected I was cheating. I ran for my life and never looked back; thank God, I had not fallen in love with him.
From that point on till I was twenty-seven, all I did was date one man after another after another and sleep with every single one of them. It was not my intention; I was only trying to make it work. On my 28th birthday, I met Tony who seemed a lot more mature than all the men I had been dealing with. Though I was not physically attracted to him, I did not waste any time before deciding to date him because I was already six years past my target age of marriage. Tony turned out to be a wonderful man; our relationship was so good that he even proposed marriage to me. I wasted no time in accepting his proposal because not only had he proven to be a real gentleman, but we were also deeply in love with one another. We set a date for Tony and his family to come and officially ask my parents for my hand in marriage, but that day came and passed with neither Tony nor his family. The next day, Tony’s junior brother came to our house to inform us that Tony had been in an accident and his body was now lying in the mortuary. I blacked out.
Two years later, I turned 30 and won the U.S lottery, so I moved to California where I met Steve, an architect who stimulated my mind and body. At this point, I had practically given up on finding my true love because from where I was standing, my true love and soul mate was Tony and since he was dead, there was nothing else for me. At this stage of my life, I had decided it was time for me to indulge in meaningless sex, which people preferred to call a ‘one night stand’. I was sitting at the bar alone when Steve approached me and told me how beautiful I was. I told him he did not have to kiss ass, and that if he wanted sex, I was open to almost anything. Steve seemed shocked and appalled by my offer, but not enough to refuse it, so I followed him home that night where he sweated out my curls, a man I had just met. The morning after, I did not feel so good about how cheap I had sold myself. I wished things had turned out differently, but I was just too tired of falling in love, having it blow in my face and then having to start all over again only to meet yet another dead end. I figured it would be more beneficial if I just satisfied my physical and sexual needs without getting my heart involved. I had learnt the bitter lesson that falling in love meant letting my guard down and exposing my heart to a battle field where my ribs could not protect it. No more; I had had enough. When I woke up that morning and looked over at Steve who was snoring lightly; he looked really nice and seemed like someone who would have taken good care of me, but I refused to let my heart think that way. I got dressed and walked the walk of shame back to my one bedroom apartment. When I got into my house, I dropped my bag on the floor and wept. There I was, a beautiful 32 year old lady living in an empty house. No pictures on the wall, no husband, no kids tearing the house down, just me and my furniture. Apart from me, there was no other living thing in my house, not even a plant. I was still standing there and crying hysterically when someone knocked my door. I wiped my tears and unconsciously hoped it was Steve. I opened the door to see a maintenance technician standing in front of me.
‘Yeah?’ I asked irritably
‘Morning ma’am, I’m from the apartment office. I’m here to fix your fridge.’
‘There is nothing wrong with my fridge.’
‘Isn’t this apartment 6A?’ He asked puzzled.
‘No, it’s 9A. The ‘9’ lost a screw and that’s why it’s upside-down and?’
‘Oh, I’m very sorry about that ma’am. My apology.’
‘Yeah whatever. Bye.’ I said and banged my door shut. I felt bad for displacing my feelings towards the innocent man, but not bad enough to run after him and apologize. I was still standing there when was another knock.
Without looking to see who it was, I snapped ‘I said there is nothing wrong with the fridge!’
‘Good. Does that mean there’s breakfast in it?’
It was Steve. I was ecstatic and the broad smile on my face was a living proof.
‘How did you find me?’ I asked not really caring.
‘I followed you. And you left your wallet in my house.’
‘Oh thanks.’ I blushed.
‘Can I come in?’
‘Yes, definitely.’ I said. I had forgotten that he was still standing outside.
‘I love your home.’ He said.
‘It’s just a house. I’m the only one in it.’
‘What about me?’ he asked smiling.
Steve and I spent the rest of the day together and discovered we had a lot in common. He didn’t leave my house till the next day and ever since then, the story has been different. It had been almost two years since we started dating and it was great, though I could not help being reminded that I was 12 years past my target age of marriage, but I refused to be bothered a lot. Steve and I had planned to go out and see a movie, and I was driving to his house. That was until I woke up in a strange room. After looking around for about 30 seconds, I realized I was in a hospital room. I started screaming to get someone’s attention.
The nurse came flying into the room and said ‘oh, good, you’re talking.’
‘Of course I’m talking. What kind of stupid question is that? How did I get here? Where the hell am I?’
‘Calm down ma’am. I’ll get your doctor.’ She said and walked out hurriedly before I had the chance to reply. A few minutes later, an Asian doctor came in and introduced herself as Dr. Yiu. She told me that I had been in a psychiatric hospital for the past two months and I had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She claimed that I had been having visual and auditory hallucinations; I had claimed that I lost my soul mate, Tony, but that in reality none of it was true. How couldn’t it have been false? I pinched myself to wake up from the bad dream, but I did not wake up. I asked her why I could not remember anything about my stay in the hospital and she told me it was because I had a fight with my hospital room mate the previous day and that she had pushed me into the wall so hard that I was temporarily suffering from amnesia. How had this happened? As far as I knew and remembered, I was on my way to my boyfriend’s house. Had I had an accident and died? Was this what heaven was like? Or maybe hell? Dr. Yiu was still trying to explain the enormity of my illness to me when Steve came walking into my room.
‘Hey sweetie! I’m so glad to see you’re finally awake. How are you?’ He said as he reached down and kissed my lips passionately.
I was very happy to see him because his presence gave me some hope that the doctor did not know what she was talking about. If Steve was still my boyfriend, then how could I have been in the hospital for the past two weeks? ‘Wait here; I have a surprise for you.’ he said and walked out of the room excitedly. I was sure he noticed the apprehension on my face.
‘Did you see him? He’s real right?’ I whispered to Dr. Yiu. Even though I believed in the love Steve and I shared, the past 10 minutes had been the most confusing of my life, so I wanted to be sure I was not hallucinating again.
‘Yes, of course I did. He’s your husband.’
‘What?! When?! How?!’ I exclaimed and looked at my finger. That was when I saw a ring with a huge rock sitting on it.
Before I could gather my thoughts together, Steve came back into the room ‘baby, I’m back! I brought our children to see you.’
I blacked out. When I woke up, I was still in bed, but not in the hospital one I remembered being in. I jumped up from bed and looked around me, but I could not recognize where I was; I was in a bedroom, but whose was it? I spotted a picture on the dresser so I went closer to see who was in it; it was a picture of me, Tony and the two kids Steve said belonged to us. What the hell was going on? Tony was dead or maybe non-existent as Dr. Yiu claimed, and I could not remember being married or having kids. Could it be that?
*the preceding story is a fictional account.*