How did he do it? How did he pluck out my heart like a flower from its root and make it so… numb?

A wise teacher once said, “When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily.”

I wish I knew the difference before I met him. Because what he did was pluck my heart, but never watered it.

Him. Ishmael Dantata.

The first time I met Ishmael was at a bowling alley in Wuse 2. 

He approached me first to ask for my number. I was surprised because whenever I go out with my gorgeous little sister, Yetunde, men always approached her first. If any man ever approached me first, it was for me to introduce my sister to them.

Yetunde was fair and had a great figure. 

Me… not so much. Let’s just say I look like a tilapia fish in leggings. 

So when Ishmael asked for my number, I did not hesitate to give him. The heavens had finally answered my prayers. 

He texted me that night. And called me the next day.

From then, he kept calling me five or six times a day. Even when he first texted me, he called me “my wife.” Awww.

But Yetunde warned me that he was love bombing me and that was a red flag. Well, that was easy for someone with one million admirers to say. As for me, I thought it was cute and romantic.

Ishmael took me to Chicken Republic on our first date. I paid for my chicken and chips and we had an incredible time together. No kisses, just gist.

Yetunde told me I wasn’t supposed to pay for my meal and that he was supposed to pay for me. I didn’t see the big deal and told her to stop nit-picking on my love life. But she said that was not how the game worked.

I didn’t give a shit about the “game”. I was here for love and that was all that mattered.

Omo, if only I knew.

Ishmael grew on me. 

He was like a drug. You start digesting it a little and all of a sudden, you’re addicted.

He was everywhere with me. On the bed. On the couch. In the car. In the shower. He was right there, right in my head. 

But the question was, was I right there with him too? 

Did he think of me the way I thought of him? Every morning and every night?

Did he feel my touch, when I touched myself while thinking about him?

I never knew.

Because soon, his calls started declining. It went from five times in a day to two to… none.

Some days, he would pick my calls, other days he wouldn’t. 

The more interest I showed in him, the more distant he became. 

And when I stopped reaching out to him, he would call me and tell me how much he missed me.

And I would fall into that trap of ‘distance does make the heart grow fonder’. And maybe the more distant we were, the more he liked me. 

Even though I wanted to talk to him every day, I could not tell him because I didn’t want him to leave me. 

The days his calls were consistent were for the late-night calls. He would tell me he was thinking about me and how horny that made him feel. He would start talking about the things he would do to me if we made love and he would push me to carry on with the conversation.

I would tell him everything he wanted to hear. Describing the things I would do to his body, and the things he would do to mine, like we were making love right there and then. Damn, it made him so hard just like it made me so wet.

Soon, that was all our calls became about. The sex talks.

But I wanted more. I wanted us to talk about our lives, our interests, our hobbies, our future and when next we were seeing each other. 

I would plan dates, but he was either too busy or cancelled last minute.

But when it came to the sex talks, he had all the time in the world for me. Like that was the only thing I brought to the table. 

I wanted to show him I was more than that. That I was capable of being a wife someday. 

I would not just make love to him, I would cook for him, I would clean for him, I would remove his boxers from his body and wash them for him. I would do anything for him.

All I wanted was for him to be mine, and me to be his. Was that too much to ask?

He would call me pretty. He would call me perfect. He would promise to spoil me, to take care of me when we get together. He would tell me I was all he ever needed.

Hearing those words sent me on cloud 9. It was as if I had reached the heavens and there was no coming down. 

Then other days, he would ignore me for days and disappear like a criminal on the run. It felt impossible to reach him and I would feel my blood go cold. Like I was trapped in a dungeon. But then, he would return like nothing happened.

It was a constant cycle of emotions. 

On the good days, I imagined our wedding day and the beautiful pictures of us I would post on my Instagram. On the bad days, the panic attack started all over again and I would question whether I could live with these feelings forever.

I did not understand myself. I did not understand us. 

This thing called love was so tricky. One moment there was too much happiness, the next moment there were too many tears.

Which side did we really belong to?

Just when I was ready to give up, he showed up at my house. 

I wore my prettiest dress for him.

We sat on the dining table and talked for hours. Not once, did he make a move to touch me. A gentleman, perhaps?

Yetunde came to join us on the table and began grilling him about how much I loved him. I was too shy to hear it all and left for the kitchen to warm leftover fried rice for him.

As I was about returning to the dining, I stopped on my tracks when I found Ishmael move so close to my sister.

He began talking about the things he would do to her, the love he would make to her and the expensive gifts he would shower her. The same promises he made to me.

He talked about how she caught his eyes the first day we met and he was only stringing me along so that he could get to her. 

I felt my heart drop, like the world was crashing down at my feet. But what came crashing down were the plates on my hand, which caused both of them to turn to me.

“Am I a joke to you?” Were the first words that spat out of my mouth.

He stood up abruptly, “Babe-”

“Are my feelings a joke to you? Do I look like a shoe rack?” I sobbed, “Am I not a human being with emotions too?”

“Babe, I was just practicing on her what I would say to you.” He argued. “Why are you being so emotional?”

The fucking gaslighting. The audacity. Oh my God.

Before I could argue, Yetunde slapped him. Not once, not twice, but three times.

“Get the hell out of our house!” She screamed at him.

He left without looking back.

I was too stunned to say anything. My brain had completely shut down because there was nothing to believe anymore. 

Oh my God. It hurts. It fucking hurts.

It hurts so much to know that was all I ever was to him, a bridge.

I never asked for this. I never asked to be put in this position. He was the one that moved to me first. So why did he have to bring me so much pain and confusion? Was it a crime to want to be loved? Did I have to be sentenced to life imprisonment for having feelings too?

The worst part of it all, the absolute worst part of it all, was that I still longed for him.

I still hoped he would return. That he would beg me. That he would say it was all a prank and he was just testing my patience.

I hated myself for feeling this way.

God, I would never fall in love again. 

I didn’t care how perfect the next man was going to be, love was not for me. It was for other people, people like my sister, but it could never be for me.

Even if love tried to knock on the door of my heart, I would never open it.

I didn’t want to go through those emotions again. The highs and the lows. The constant heartache, yet the constant euphoria. It was too intoxicating. 

And the worst part of it all- the heartbreak. The torture of your spirit fighting for its life, begging to go back to the days it used to be before I met him.

It had been months since Ishmael broke my heart.

My heart was slowly beginning to beat again. My spirit was beginning to breathe again.

It felt like my days with Ishmael was all a dream.

I was back to the bowling alley in Wuse 2, all alone this time. As I sit at the corner and watch others play the game, a figure came to stand in front of me, blocking my sight.

I looked up. A man. Another man.

He introduced himself as Isaac. 

He asked for my number and told me how I caught his eyes from the moment I walked in. 

His words swayed me like a breeze passing through. I believed him. Like a fool, I believed him after everything I had been through with Ishmael. 

I gave him my number.

Let’s just say it doesn’t hurt to play this dangerous game once again. This game called love. 

The only game that came with multiple tries, but no cheat code. 

Well, come what may, I can heal. Again.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. All characters, locations, organizations and incidents appearing in this blog are fictitious.

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