Larai sat in disbelief in her living room, with her boyfriend Ikenna staring cooly at her. Her head was spinning, and she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She shook her head, as if to buttress her disbelief. She could hear his voice, which meant he was probably talking again, but she couldn’t even comprehend the words. He had just broken up with her…again! For the second time in less than a year.
She looked at him as he talked…looked at him from his head to his feet. Everything he was wearing, she had just gifted him less than a week before, after returning from a training course in Paris. She had been desperate to impress him, and so had spent almost all of her meagre allowance on gifts for him. But here he was, breaking up with her…again! Eventually, he was done talking, and he got up to leave. She couldn’t even bring herself to walk him to the door.
How on earth had she gotten here? About a year ago, she had met Ikenna through a mutual friend, and they had hit it off. After hanging out for a few weeks, they had fallen head-over-heels in love, and became an item. Their love was intense and heady! It was all so beautiful…and romantic…and perfect!!! Until, well, it wasn’t.
All of a sudden, Ikenna’s attitude shifted gear…and there was nothing she could do to please him. Larai felt as helpless as if she was falling off a cliff. Helplessly, she watched her relationship slip out of her hands, and when he eventually told her he thought it was best they went their separate ways, she was almost prepared for it.
Getting over him was difficult. They had become so intertwined in each other’s lives, that coexisting without him felt almost like taking away the very air that she breathed. Slowly, she started picking herself up, and started socialising again. It didn’t take long before she met Funsho, a good looking guy who was on the fast track at the bank where he worked. Funsho was husband material in capital letters…and he appeared to be totally infatuated with her. Larai didn’t feel quite the same way, but she knew that he was a catch, so she tried her best to reciprocate his affections.
That was until one evening, when Ikenna showed up at her house…all contrite and repentant for his actions. He declared his undying love for her, and told her he had been a shadow of himself without her. Funsho didn’t stand a chance. She jumped right back into Ikenna’s arms before he had even finished his apology.
And their love resumed…with even more intensity than the first time around. In the months since their breakup, he and gotten an apartment with some friends, so they had even more freedom and independence to do what they wanted. They did everything together…went everywhere together. And then, just like the first time, she slowly noticed the fire beginning to ebb. He gradually returned to his lethargic and uninterested way, and by the time Larai left for her official training in Paris, she knew they were walking a tightrope. Which is why she wasn’t too surprised when he broke up with her again.
Getting over this breakup was worse than the first time. She lost a lot of weight, and made crying herself to sleep her routine. She tried to reach out to Funsho, but still hurt from her rejection, he gave her the cold shoulder. She eventually decided to leave the country, and proceeded to the UK for her Masters degree. Whilst there, she relished the solitude, and stayed in her room many-a-night, happy she had gotten away from all the heartbreak and trauma of Lagos. She looked forward to what lay in store for her in London. That was until Ikenna showed up in her life again.
It started off with casual e-mails, checking on her and asking how well she was settling in. She responded to these casually as well…she was settling in fine, thank you. Soon, the e-mails intensified, in frequency and content, and soon, Larai found herself looking forward to these e-mails. These soon graduated to phone calls, and they would talk late into the night, reminiscing on how beautiful their love had been. When Christmas time came, even though Larai couldn’t travel back home, she sent Ikenna a copy of Daniel Beddingfield’s If you’re not the one CD…because to her, Ikenna was truly the one! She lay in bed most nights, singing along to the lyrics, and felt like the song was written just for them:
“‘Cause I miss you, body and soul so strong that it takes my breath away
And I breathe you into my heart, and pray for the strength to stand today
‘Cause I love you, whether it’s wrong or right
And though I can’t be with you tonight
You know my heart is by your side”
And by some stroke of luck, it appeared that Ikenna was just as love struck as she was. For the 6 months that followed, they spoke on the phone everyday, and developed a bond that was even deeper than anything they had shared before. By the time Larai travelled back home for the summer break, they had become inseparable. And at her friend’s birthday party, he proposed to her.
Larai was over the moon! Her joy knew no bounds! To everyone who asked how she could be thinking of marrying a man who had broken her heart, not once, but twice, her response was always the same; “Sometimes you have to see the worst in someone, to be able to see the best!”. To her, she was finally getting the best of Ikenna. By the time she returned home finally in September, they were already beginning to talk about their wedding.
She refused to acknowledge the onset of the familiar lull in their relationship. As they approached Christmas, Ikenna’s apathy slowly started re-emerging, and they started fighting about anything and everything. By the time the New Year dawned, they were at each other’s throats. That day, they had attended a party for one of his friends, and could barely keep the tension in their relationship a secret. As they argued on their car ride home, Ikenna grabbed her ring (which she had removed for cleaning), and threw it out the window, right over the 3rd Mainland Bridge, and into the lagoon. The shock of his action froze Larai to her seat, and she sat mute all the way home. She was later to realise that he had been having an affair with his work colleague, and was looking for an excuse to end their relationship.
This time, she was the one who walked away. Even though she was the one who ended it officially, this breakup was far more painful, and her heart broke into a million tiny pieces every single day. Her mother had to move into her bedroom, because most nights, she woke up out of breath, in a wild panic. The realisation that her engagement was over shattered her a little bit more everyday. Eventually, her family decided that she needed a change of environment, and made arrangements for her to move to the United States, to start life afresh.
So, once again, she left the country. She got to Dallas, and quickly started trying to settle in, and move on with her life. In a matter of months, she had gotten a good job, and had made quite a few friends. She had slowly learnt how to love herself again, and accepted that she wasn’t the reason why Ikenna had kept on breaking up with her.
And then she met Abiodun at a Nigerian barbecue party. He was funny, intelligent, and worshiped the ground she walked on. After only a few months with him, she knew he was the real deal!
And just like a bad dream, one day she logged into her e-mail account, and there it was! An email from Ikenna, lamenting how much of a fool he had been to let her go, and how badly he missed her. Larai stared at her computer screen for a while. She couldn’t believe that Ikenna actually wanted them to get back together. She had a mental flashback of the heady rush he used to give her, and how intense and passionate their love had been…but just as she was getting carried away, she got very vivid flashbacks of the 3 times he had hurt her…the 3 times he had left her broken and dejected…high and dry!
She held her mouse, and briefly hovered over the Reply button….before clicking on Delete. Nah, she wasn’t going to give him an opening into her life. No more! Not ever! This time, she was going to move on with her life! This time, it was truly over!
She had had enough of The Breakup Man!
“Loving you is like a battle, and we both end up with scars….Is this just a silly game? That forces you to act this way! Forces you to scream my name…then pretend that you can’t stay!
Tell me, who I have to be…to get some reciprocity. No one loves you more than me…And no one ever will” (Ex Factor, Lauryn Hill)
After several chaotic and volatile relationships in her late teens and early 20s, during which she had her fair share of heart break and disappointment, she found her Mr. Right in her 30s, and is happily married with kids. No, her marriage hasn’t been easy, but she has learnt enough from her past experiences to always turn even the most sour lemons to a cool, sweet glass of lemonade