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My Home by Chisom Arueze.

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“You can love someone so much but you can never love  them as much as you can miss them”– John Green.

Pain.

This was an emotion I was too familiar with because it was part and parcel of my family. Born in a typical African home where the mere expression of emotions were seen as some kind of weakness. That wasn’t all. I heard from my sisters that my birth was greeted with a hiss by my father before he left the hospital, while my mother adamantly refused to breast feed me. I know that sounds weird but it is what it is. I am the fifth child of my parents, the fifth girl to be precise. Maybe that was my first crime, to be born female.  Born with 7 sisters, my parents didn’t love us equally, so you had to hustle for you love. I  watched my sisters fight to be loved, I got the memo late so I was the least loved. I grew up content with the barest minimum.

Two days into my final exams in secondary school, I met him. He was in the other male school, we were always teased about. His name was Alexander but I call him Lex. We started off as friends . We were in luck as we got admitted into the same University, the same year. The next year we started dating. Believe me, Love indeed is a beautiful thing.

Due to the way I grew up, I’d never experienced unadulterated love,  love from within but with Lex, I saw what I had been missing. We were both ‘freshers’ but he acted like he knew it all. He was my inexperienced tour guide around school and with him, everywhere we went, hand in hand, I was sure to be seen grinning or laughing out loud . People said I glowed. I was a novice at most things, but Lex made me feel like I knew it all. He was protective, he defended me without batting an eye lid. We shared everything and anything together… no secrets. Lex was a 2 in 1 package; a friend and a boyfriend. His hugs brought me relief more than any pain killer. He gave me comfort, he gave me peace, he made me happy.. and I called him my home. It felt like my life had been in black and white but from the moment I met that gap-toothed boy at the bus stop, my life became a rainbow. Because of him, my horrible childhood was now a blur in my head.

He encouraged me to switch to fine Art, bought me my first paint brush and color palette. He was fond of gifting me unconventional things. Actually He was an unconventional guy, as optimistic as tomorrow, I saw life through his eyes. He would always say “ hazel, you have to look beyond what you see”.

Fast forward to our final year in the university, we had dreams; I wanted to be the Nigerian Pablo Picasso and he wanted to be an Ernest Hemingway. We made plans, from an A to a Z. Truth be told, it was hard to live by our dreams but we persevered. We said we wouldn’t give up no matter what, Lex’s optimism had rubbed off on me. As we were sending out CVs, left, right and center, Life happened. You know when you’re in love  nothing is certain. Absolutely nothing. You never know when that love, could be a memory because loving someone is like having HIV, because HIV leaves you porous, it let’s your guard down, thereby leaving you defenseless.

On One faithful morning, I woke up to see a text from Lex. Grinning from ear to ear, I grabbed my phone to reply, I was already typing, then my eyes caught sight of the message that I was replying. It read.

“ Good morning Hazel, it’s Alex’s mother. I wanted to tell you that Alex had an accident, we are at the hospital…”

At that moment my heart stopped beating but I somehow was breathing. With the speed of light, I wore a washed up jeans and a T, and dashed out of the house. At the back of my eye I could see my siblings and parents screaming, but I didn’t care…my home was on fire.

I got to the hospital in double time, and there was Lex’s mother sitting at the waiting room. I hugged her and then she started crying. Days turned to nights, and nights turned to days at the hospital. Lex was in a bad shape but I knew he would still be alright. That everything would be okay.

After a week at the hospital, I started to have these weird horrific dreams of death. I panicked and started prayed more. The next day Lex was to undergo another operation. I prayed like my life depended on it..  though my life did depend on it.

To God be the glory he survived. That was the first time in weeks since I saw my Lex smile. I was the happiest.  2 days later, we were talking.. and that goofy smile never left my face. Then I excused myself to go to the bathroom. Suddenly I saw a doctor run past me, then some nurses followed suit. I wondered what it could be.

Immediately I heard a cry, it was the voice of a woman. I felt sad for the woman already.. getting close I recognized that voice. It was Lex mother’s. My heart left my body, on getting there  I passed out. When I woke up, I remembered Lex, then I became hysterical. I wondered how I  went  from grinning sheepishly to crying like a mad dog in one day. I was inconsolable just like a widow.

It felt like one minute, you are walking with your legs then the next you wake up to see them chopped off. Words do no justice to how I felt. I cried so much that my eyes were swollen, I almost choked on my tears.

After his death, I became a recluse. The hardest thing for me was not talking to him like I was used to everyday. With every passing day, it dawned on me that he was never coming back..i would never see him again and that hurt as hell.

Afterhs of staying indoors, in a bid to forget, I applied for a scholarship for a  master’s program abroad. A week later I  opened my mails to reply messages then I saw one marked unread since the week before. I opened, then it read

“ Dear hazel….”

As I read through I found out it was an acceptance later to the school I had applied to. I leaped for joy,  head butting the wall. I quickly ran to my call log to call Lex…then the tears started flooding in.

Finally I went abroad. It was the worst feeling I ever had. I was lonely, overwhelmed with grief. Every moment reminded me of Lex. During my graduation, I just endured all through. I wore a smile but I didn’t know Fake happiness was the worst kind of sadness. And if ever I was going to heal from this, I know will never come out same.

 

Arueze Chisom Precious, a passionate writer can be reached through sommytilly1402@gmail.com

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