A day after my birthday, a friend called to tell me, “Samira, I gave your number to a friend of mine. He would call you so be nice.” “A friend of yours? Why did you give my number to him?” I asked. She said, “He saw you on my status yesterday and requested your number. I thought he was joking but he was insistent so I gave it to him.” “And what does he want my number for?” I asked. She answered, “You’ll know when he calls.”
I was eagerly anticipating his call during the day but that call never came.
Four days later I received a message on Whatsapp; “Hey, my name is Bernard. I got your number from Abi, I hope she told you about me.”
“Yeah, she did. That was four days ago. Good to hear from you.”
We didn’t say much that day. I guess it was just the calm before the storm. After our conversation, I called my friend to tell her the guy had messaged me. I kept asking her what he wanted from me but she kept playing dumb with me. The next morning, the gentleman called again. After exchanging pleasantries, he said, “I called to check up on you and see how you are doing.” I told him, “That’s kind of you.”
The last time a guy called to check up on me was some years ago and that guy was my boyfriend. When love was new and our dreams were all over the place, he called me every day to see how I was doing. He was the first to call in the morning and the last to call in the night. Those were the happy days of my life, knowing there was someone around the corner who cared so much about me.
Before long, the calls stopped coming. All my smiles turned to complains; “Why didn’t you pick my call?” “Ok you were busy so why didn’t you return my call when you were less busy?” He was the one calling but when the love ran dry, I was the one doing the calling and I counted myself lucky if he picked one of my calls and said hello to me. The dying day of everything is announced long before the day arrived. I saw the end in the middle of the relationship but I kept holding on to what was left, thinking somewhere somehow, things would change. Things don’t change when love is destined to die. One day, we had our last call and that last call also happened to be the last nail in the coffin of our relationship.
Here we are again. Another day, another man, another I-called-to-check-up-on-you. So I asked him, “What do you want from me? Obviously there should be a reason why you took my number from my friend.” He said, “Yeah there is a reason and the reason is friendship. I saw your photo on her status, I asked about you and asked your number. I only want us to be friends. Trust me, I have good intentions.”
The beginning of all heartbreaks is friendship.
It’s your friend who will hurt you. You’ll fall in love because he’s good at being a friend but in love, he becomes everything he was not and that breaks your heart into pieces. He wanted friendship. He was a nice guy so I gave it a shot. We had fun at so many places. We went out every weekend to celebrate the weekend as if it was our birthday. My friend called to say, “You guys, are you sure you are just friends?” That was six months after she had given my number to Bernard. I told her, “Yes we are friends because he hasn’t shot his shot.”
Weeks later, he said it; “I think you and I have come along way. Being friends has now become easier. Why don’t we try something harder? Like you being my girlfriend.” I was happy the way he said it and I was about to say yes but what came out of my mouth was, “But Bernard, I’m a Muslim and you’re Christian. What good may come from us if I say yes.”
For weeks, we contemplated our religious differences—who will convert and who will not. He was honest with me; “I don’t think I will convert. It’s not a decision I can make unilaterally. It will take a whole lot of consultation from parents and families.” I told him, “Same with me. Even if I try, my family will disown me. We can’t enjoy a union where one side is not ready to be a party to the union.”
After being frank with each other, it didn’t look like anything was missing. He wanted me still and I did too. So one night, after long hours of moving from one exciting place to another, we ended up at his place. That was the night I gave it all away to him. It was always going to happen but we didn’t know when and it wasn’t as if we planned to do it that night. It just happened because we allowed ourselves to fall.
From then on nothing could stop us.
There was no him without me and there was no me without him. I went to work each day with a smile on my face because I knew the night will come and I will see Bernard. They say everything relationship has some troubles but ours had none. Well, except our religious differences which we didn’t know how to solve. We were always happy. I had dated three Muslims and none could bring me the kind of joy Bernard brings to me.
After a year together, we revisited the topic again. “What does the future holds for us?” He said, “I’m your man if only you’re ready to convert.” I said, “Obviously nothing is changed so let’s not talk about it.” We can spend all the days of our lives being in love with each other but time is not waiting for us. At some point, one of us should regain his/her sanity and call it just the way it is. Both of us are wasting our time if we can’t compromise on our religious beliefs.
I thought of using the Ramadan period to end everything. I made it a prayer that Allah should take everything away from me. Yeah, it’s good but not all good things are meant for our good. I started using the Ramadan as an excuse to slowly pull away from him. I wasn’t calling him and I wasn’t picking his calls. The excuse I gave him was, “It’s the requirement of the season. I have to stay chaste for the rest of the month.”
Sometimes I would see him but I wouldn’t allow him to touch me. “It’s because of the Ramadan.” When I didn’t pick his call and he complained, I said, “I was praying when you called.” He sensed the change but somehow didn’t bother. On the last day of Ramadan, he asked, “Now what?” I told him, “I owe some days so it’s still not over for me.”
I tried. I really tried to end everything but he kept coming and coming till I broke down in his arms again. I told him, “I want you in my life and you know it but we can’t go on like this forever. For Christ’s sake let’s agree on something. If you really want me the way I want you, we should at least agree to meet in the middle. How about we get married but we both continue staying in our religion?” He answered, “I’ve thought of that too and it makes a lot of sense. Let’s give it a try.”
So the next week I took him to meet my parents. It was only a soft introduction just to let my parents know there was someone in my life. My dad: “He’s not a Muslim. Is he ready to convert?” I answered, “We have both decided to keep our individual faith after marriage.” My dad asked him, “My son, is that true?” He answered in the affirmative. He went on, “So what kind of wedding are you both going to have, Christian wedding or Islam?”
That was something we both didn’t think about but he answered anyway. He said, “We’ll think of something when the time comes.” When he left my parents’ presence, my dad looked at me in the eye and said, “You’re not too old to start building a new relationship. Find yourself a Muslim.”
Before I could meet Bernard’s parents, the verdict was already out. He told his parents about me and told them about his intention to get serious with me. He said his father laughed out loud and said, “You mean none of the ladies in the church is worthy of your attention? You better search again.”
Our fate was sealed by our parents and there was no chance for negotiation. That day when we met, it felt like the world was falling on us. We sat quietly thinking of what next to do. I asked him, “It ends here, right?” He answered, “It doesn’t end until we say so. There should be something both of us can do. Let’s give ourselves some time. Minds change and situations change. Who knows, they might reconsider.”
It’s been over a year now. My parents still say no. My dad has already started pitching me to the sons of his friends. Bernard’s parents don’t even want to meet me, let alone discuss the issue of marriage with him. We are now stuck between a rock and a hard place and it all started from a single Whatsapp status.
If I don’t leave him, he wouldn’t so I’m waiting for the day my dad will bring a gentleman home to meet me. That day, I will say yes to him and cling to him until Bernard sees a reason to concede defeat. I will break into pieces the day he finally leaves me but that’s alright, I will find the strength to mend so I can deserve a new beginning. It’s part of life, all good things come to an end eventually.