After months of endless trips to Awka and pleas for a fresh start, Lucy finally agreed and we were officially in a relationship, albeit, long distance. I was happy, I felt the long distance would help us abstain from sex and grow spiritually. I told her we would organise fasts, study and learn new ways to improve ourselves.  

We weren’t hiding the relationship so she could also stay in my family house while I was away, serving our nation. During her stay, mommy would call and make series of complaints about Lucy’s eating habits, asking me if that’s the kind of girl I wanted to marry. “She doesn’t wash clothes…”, she would say. But I always found a way to pacify her, even as far as telling her, we were just friends. 

About four months later, I was in awe at how we became better; despite the distance, we were closer. I felt at peace that the relationship would last. I looked forward to getting a job, so that we could take it to the next level; l didn’t mind marrying early. Then, it happened…

Like the strong wind that swept me off my feet when I was playing outside as a baby, this blow came;  the pain in my chest was so severe that I thought my heart would stop. You may be wondering what could cause such reaction from me…your thoughts may not be far fetched.   

Each time I recall this moment, I double over in pain and tears. After my Passing Out Parade (POP), I thought I should go to Awka to see Lucy before going home. When I got there, after greeting her parents, I went to her room. Something felt odd because we were chatting for the last hour before my phone battery died and she knew I was coming over. So i was expecting a grand welcome but I opened her room to find it empty. Maybe she went to the market, I thought happily. The surprise welcome might be underway after all.   

I lay on her bed waiting for when the big generator would be turned on so I could power my phone. In the process I slept off. When I opened my eyes, the room was dark. At first I was disoriented, wondering where I was. Immediately, my mind registered. The generator just came on, so I plugged in my phone and I stood for a second, thinking where Lucy would have gone to. It never occurred to me to ask her parents until then.  

So, I went downstairs and found them watching TV. I sat with dad and after some minutes, I received it. “Lucy travelled to Lagos the day before, her flight to Canada just moved an hour ago” Seeing the shocked expression on my face, he said, “she didn’t tell you? I thought she’d have told you that’s why we didn’t mention anything when you came” This sounded like Greek to me but I acted like she mentioned it and I forgot she was leaving so soon.  

I went upstairs and opened her wardrobe, there were still some clothes in it. I looked sideways to her shoe rack and found an envelope sticking out of a shoe. Not knowing what to expect, I tore it open and this is what I saw:

My love, by the time you’ll have opened this letter, I’ll be out of the country. It breaks my heart to leave you this way; you’ve been a gem. I want you to know that this wasn’t your fault, it’s me, I don’t think I can do this anymore. Please don’t wait for me. I will always love you.                                          Lucy. 

I stood, transfixed to the spot still holding the note. My face was itching me, I raised a finger to scratch it and discovered I had been crying. There was so much pain on my chest that I crumpled up on the floor, coiled in a fetal position.

I don’t know how long I was in that position, but I felt the blood wasn’t flowing to my hands. So I got up and went to the bed. It felt like a million worms were chewing their way out of my stomach, but I had no appetite. I laid on the the bed and cried myself to sleep.  

 The next morning, I packed my bags; leaving the letter on the bed, I took one long final look at the room, relieving happy moments spent in it; then I walked out. I didn’t tell her parents what happened, but that I needed to get home to my parents. I walked out of the compound that day, resolving not to call or text Lucy again. This was goodbye… 
                                  To be continued…

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