By Moyinoluwa Okunloye
On my way from work that day, I decided to stop at the mall to shop for some groceries. We had been advised to close early so as to have enough time to prepare for the lockdown that was soon to start. There is a pandemic in the world and the only way to curtail the spread is to distance oneself and families from contact with other people. There was panic everywhere. And I knew the mall was going to be packed, but I needed to shop for a few things. So, I went in determined to take necessary precautions.
Before I entered, I did the necessary ablution with hand sanitizer and I had my nose mask on. I made sure to touch only the things that I knew I was going to buy. I tried to stay some steps away from the persons in front of me, although that was a bit difficult. It appeared as though everyone in Lagos was shopping at the mall that day.
As soon as I was done, I took my place on the queue to the cashier. It was quite long but I had no other choice. And it was then that the unexpected happened. I saw someone that looked like someone that I know. While I was doing my shopping and going through the racks, I had seen the figure. But I shrugged it off as I thought it impossible for him to be at the same place with me at that time. I mean, what are the odds? Now, he was in front of me on the queue. I couldn’t believe it. I was still trying to imagine the coincidence when he called out my name. “Lola, is that you? Is it really you, Lola?” He asked.
Oh! My God, it’s him. My ex – boyfriend, Tolu. He looked as charming as ever. “Of course, it’s me. Wow, you are here in Lagos! How are you?” Before, I could get another word in, he had gone in for a hug. He held me so tight that I couldn’t breathe. But I loved it. I love the smell of his skin against mine. I took in the scent of his perfume and I enjoyed been held by him. He is a huge man. Even more so than I could remember. We chatted for a few minutes as we got close to the cashier. He waited for me to be done and he carried my groceries as we stepped out of the mall. He was so sweet. Then he insisted on dropping me off at my house. But I had to refuse. I didn’t want to bother him. Besides, I knew someone was waiting for him at home. I caught the wedding ring on his left hand, so I knew he was married. I didn’t want to relive memories of our time together. I couldn’t bear to go over the pain that the break – up had caused me. He was the one that got away.
I had known Tolu in the University, but we never dated. He appeared to be the arrogant Christian brother that everyone was always flocking around. Everyone seemed to want his attention. And I was the quiet sister who went to fellowship and went straight home without being noticed. But he noticed me. Or so, he said when we eventually spoke. He had wondered why I never use to stay an extra minute after service was over. He had studied how I had kept to myself most of the time while in school. And he didn’t know how to approach me.
By the time we became friends, I knew I was in trouble. We had gotten each other’s contact through a mutual friend. I already loved him before he got around to ask me out. He was charming like that. And the day he asked, I responded to him immediately. Unfortunately, he had left the country for his graduate program. But the distance was not a problem, at first. He was so sweet. He called often, so much so that it never really felt as though we were apart from each other. And he was so strong. I felt safe with him. Because he knew what he wanted from life. He knew God. And he was so hardworking. I could tell him anything. And he knew exactly how to treat me at different times, all through the time that we were together. Everything was right with world. Until it was not. He decided he was no longer interested in the relationship. The distance was too much to handle for him. We had not really even met physically. And he couldn’t deal with it. So, he felt been together was a mistake. He was sorry for everything.
I was broken. For one full year, I could not move on from him. I stalked him on all social media platforms that he was on. My guise was that I wanted closure. But that wasn’t it. I wanted him. He was right. Everything was right with him. But now, he is married to someone else. As he drove off that day, I felt the sting in my chest. I was pained all over again. But I sulked it in and went home. I busied myself with work just to take my mind off all the memories that sighting him had brought. That was my last trip out.
Until few days after, when I had to be whisked away to an isolation center. I had been infected with the virus. And there was my friend in the same center, getting treatment for the same thing that brought me in. And again, he was sorry. He had just gotten into the country a few days before we bumped into each other, “and I had no reason to think that I had the virus. I am sorry Lola.”