STAY WITH ME (A short Story)
To some, life is just right. To others, life is imperfect. To me, life is mysterious. Most times, we get what we don’t deserve—good or bad. Other times, we never get what we deserve—good or bad. Some folks call it fate, while some call it luck. But regardless, at the end of the day, life goes on and on, until we all finally realize that there is no actual way to comprehend life. Just live it.
As a young Muslim girl on campus, I had just a few friends and I hardly spoke to strangers. I had a regular style of dressing to school—I’d cover my hair with hijab or a scarf. I wouldn’t call myself a devout Muslim, but I went to the mosque often to pray. Despite all the strict rules I had for myself, I was by no means lonely. I was still able to have fun in my own way—I had this weird habit of staring into people’s eyes for a very long time without blinking just to make them feel uncomfortable. It worked so many times and it made me happy. Some of my friends called me weird. May be I was. I was also fond of standing in front of my mirror while I sang my heart out as if I was singing to an audience. Sometimes, my roommate would shake her head and laugh at me. Other times, she’d watch me in silence. One day, she finally admitted that I was a good singer after all.
It was the day of my birthday anniversary. I looked at my watch and saw it was around 4.O’clock in the evening. I had been at the university library but I wasn’t studying. I never studied at the library. No matter how I tried, I fell asleep each time I attempted to study there. Most times, I’d listen to songs while I browsed through the internet for random things; how to skip classes everyday without failing, ways to eat five times in a day without cooking or spending money, how to read the mind of your lecturers successfully. I got answers to every question I asked on the internet but I didn’t have enough courage to do what the answers read. Or maybe they were not just valid enough.
I turned eighteen so it was supposed to be my special day. But there were no signs of anything special yet. Everything seemed to work against me; I had an assignment of eleven pages that I was supposed to submit the following day and I had not even figured out what the question meant, plus the internet connection literally went off throughout that day. And unfortunately for me, I sat next to this strange-looking dude who had been staring at my finger nails. He did that every time I sat next to him. I found that really bizarre; who stares at a girl’s finger nails and never says hello to her? I had always known him to be a regular user of the school library. Sometimes I wondered if he ever attended lectures at all. Occasionally, I sat next to him on purpose, not because I loved to, but because I wanted to give him the chance to say hello to me. He lost so many chances but I kept trying. I wanted to hear him talk and know why he loved to stare at my nails. And apart from the fact that he looked unattractive from a distance, I knew nothing about him, but he seemed weak and sluggish so my instinct assumed that he’d never say hello to me. Honestly, that wasn’t the type of guy I wished to talk to on my eighteenth birthday. But wishes were not horses, so I didn’t ride. He jinxed my wish just as I was set to leave the library.
“Hello, my name is Brown,” he said, and then I thought to myself, “shoot me.” Brown? I was expecting a name like Frank so I could call him freak. But as unlikable as Brown looked, his kind of voice was one every girl would love to hear plus he had this kind of subtle British accent. Damn! I tripped for a second.
“I’m Purple,” I replied.
“No, really, that’s my real name,” he quickly protested. I knew Brown was his real name but I wanted to be funny.
“I know. I was just kidding.”
He smirked, obviously didn’t find the joke funny. I was embarrassed but I didn’t show it. I closed my laptop and disconnected the charger hurriedly. I wanted to escape from whatever was about to happen at that moment. “My name is Ameerah. It means princess.”
Brown and I didn’t get to talk again until a week after. We spoke about different things, from books, to movies, to sports. We synced fast; we talked as if we had known each other for ages and I wondered how he was able to do that. I had met a few fine guys and all they could say was just “Hello, my name is this, that.” And then, “Can I have your number so we could talk better?” Brown didn’t even ask for my number. I gave it to him myself after three weeks of constant communication at the library. During those weeks, I got to know several sides of him; the interesting and uninteresting sides, and he got to know mine. He was not the kind of guy one would like to ignore on purpose. He had an hundred percent sense of humour; he was fond of making jokes and occasionally, I would laugh out so loud until I began to cry. I found out that he was all shades of intelligence. It got me more attracted to him and as much as I tried so hard to conceal how I felt about him, I swayed slowly to the tune of his affection. Who wouldn’t? He taught me Calculus one time and I pretended to understand every bit of it. He would stare at my fingers and tell me they were beautiful. From time to time, we did almost everything together; we studied together, we did morning exercises together and we stayed longer at the library, to talk even more. Sometimes, we would be the last two people in the library with the attendants. People who were observant enough could tell that we were in love with each other.
We were engrossed with the inexplicable affection we had for each other that we didn’t realize we had missed an important part of our lives. We had grown deeper than we expected to be. We thought about ourselves so much that we forgot to think about the future. Our future. Days passed by, weeks went by, and several months slipped away until our last year on campus. We had beautiful experiences written in our memories. Some of these experiences I knew would be difficult to erase. Every good thing around reminded me of him. One time, I visited the zoo on campus and saw a big, healthy lion. He looked so calm and friendly yet I knew he was strong and fierce. He roared loudly and every one went silent in awe. It reminded me of Brown. Some nights, I would watch him sleep and realize that his looks contradicted his perfect qualities; the artistry in his speech whenever he spoke about intellectual topics got me each time. I envied his sense of adventure too. By evaluation, he was better than any guy I had ever met.
One evening, as we were walking home together, Brown paused and asked, “Have you ever thought of us getting married?” I had thought about it so many times. I had thought about waking up every morning to see him beside me. I had thought about us having four children—two boys and two girls. I had thought about growing older with him. I had thought about forever with him. But somehow, we both knew it was hardly possible. I turned slowly and gazed at him. I wanted him to see the answer in my eyes. “Yes, I have. I think about that more often. Have you?”
He only held my hand and remained silent as we continued to walk. Then he squeezed my hand and said, “I’m afraid of letting you go, Princess.”
“Then don’t let go.”
He squeezed my hand even more. “Can we elope together?” He said, “Your parents will eventually forgive you.”
“It only works that way in movies. This is reality. This is you and I, Brown.”
“We could just make our own movie, then.”
“Yes, but I don’t think we should. I think my father will have you killed before the movie ends. I love happy endings. Don’t you?”
He chuckled and we both fell into a long, sad silence. The woman whom he loved so much was slipping away from his hands, gradually and there was practically nothing he could do about it. I understood his fear; the fear of the expected, the fear of drifting apart from a special one, the fear of an unknown future. May be someday, we will get our happy ending.
It’s been seven years now since my family and I moved to Belgium after my graduation. Every night, I still look forward to wake up next to him the following morning. And every morning, I pray for Allah’s protection over him.
If he had a twin, I’d still choose him.
Ifetola Patricia Ojo is a 25 years old writer, who is also self employed.
Instagram: @ifetola_PatriciaTwitter: @patriciaojoblogFacebook: Ifetola Patricia Ojo