They were laughing. They stopped laughing, but one look at his face sent her reeling with laughter again. She held her stomach as she laughed harder. He looked amused. ‘What have I said to make you laugh this hard?’ he enquired. She moved close to him and hugged him. He looked confused but accepted the hug and hugged her back.
He has always known her to be a special being, special in a weird way.
Silence fell upon them. It was a comfortable silence they were used to. Their love was pure and their friendship, strong. They were each other’s best friends and oftentimes, that was enough. It was enough when they decided they hated each other guts as a couple. Five years of dating and nine years of friendship, yet each day is different.
He, the quiet but terrifically wise one was looking at something on his phone. She, the chatty and optimistic one was staring at a book she has been struggling to finish. She tapped him on the shoulder. ‘Give me a minute babe. I need to reply this message,’ he said without looking up. Normally, she would have said something about him not giving her his full attention. She would have said he should tell whoever he was talking to that he was with the woman he would one day marry. Atleast, they hope they will one day get married, but they are not naïve. Nobody knows tomorrow. She might have been serious or might have been teasing him the days she said such words, but he has learnt to always take her seriously when times like that come in.
His mind gets easily cast back to one of their first serious fights as a couple. She complained about him not paying attention to her and placing much value on her. He had laughed cause that was what he would have done when they were just best friends. But she had thrown a tantrum that day and had walked out of his life for three days. Then, he learnt his lesson. She is no longer just his best friend. She now also has the title of girlfriend and girlfriend won’t always take what best friend takes. He has learnt more lessons after that. One day, he playfully told her that he was going to write a book chronicling all the lessons he has learnt in the course of his relationship. He was going to title it, ‘Girlfriend’s are crazy, but boy friend’s can’t complain’. She laughed and called him silly. Then she said he should do it. ‘Be serious,’ he had said. She put on a straight face and said she was serious. ‘Ideas rule the world and this particular one is a good one that will bring money my way. We would share the profits equally after all I was your case study.’ He laughed. She kissed him and amidst the kiss, said she was serious. Five months after, he found himself working on the book.
‘What’s up?’ he turned to her as he asked. She looked distracted. ‘Why am I finding it so hard to finish this book? I love Sefi Atta. So why is ‘News from home’ taking me ages to finish?’ she asked as if he knew who Sefi Atta was or what book she was talking about. He read a lot, as she does but they don’t have many authors in common. He has been trying to get her to join the fan base of Malcolm Gladwell and after telling her so much about some of his books, she decided to get one for herself. But she is yet to read it. ‘Children’s Act took me two days to read you know.’
He smiled. ‘Ofcourse it did. The book had law written all over it. It had cases you knew and terminologies you understood. Ian Ewan won your heart from the first two pages. Perhaps you should write a book that has law conflicting with reality.’ He said. She smiled. There was something about her smile. Apart from the fact that it revealed her dimples, he has also told her that her smile was sexy. It just makes her face different… more childlike. ‘Ian Ewan did win my heart without even trying. But it’s the same way Jodi Picoult wins my heart from the first two pages of her books.’
She paused and he went back to his phone. ‘But law is reality,’ she spoke up. ‘Hmm. Is it?’ he said with a raised eye brow. It was more of a statement than a question. If it were another day, she would have answered and argued with him and tried to change his mind. He had often jokingly said that he hopes he won’t regret marrying a lawyer. Whenever he said that, her reply would often be that he should be grateful he was not marrying a doctor whose schedule could be unpredictable. ‘Take your blessings young man and if you can’t, go to the other side thinking the grass is greener there. Get there and discover there was never really anything about the grass there. It just looked greener because we humans have the disease of comparing and not appreciating what we have,’ she said to him one day and he replied that it wasn’t that deep. He wasn’t going anywhere. Nothing could break their cord.
Today was different though. Her mind was unsettled and her peace was on hold. The future looked daunting and today, she questioned herself more than she did yesterday and the day before. ‘Am I good enough?’ she blurted out. He turned his body to hers. ‘Do you think you are good enough?’
She looked irritated. She had wanted an answer. Not her question thrown back at her. But she knew him, he would throw it back cause he believes another person doesn’t really know you as much as you know yourself. And for people like her, telling her she was good enough would not stop her from feeling she wasn’t. Rare gems like that could only be convinced if they personally believe they are good enough. But today was different. She didn’t want a philosopher, she wanted a boyfriend that would either tell her if she is enough or not. But she answered anyway.
‘I don’t know if I am good enough. It’s like I don’t know anything these days. Do I have what it takes to be successful? What can I bring to the table that someone else hasn’t? Fears are crippling me and I know you would say they are only because I am allowing them. But things are never that simple. Choices are never black and white. Sometimes, it’s not I either allow fear play me around or not. Sometimes I don’t have a choice and fear just takes the lead in the dance. Am I good enough? I don’t think so.’
He said nothing for the first few minutes. Over the years, he has learnt to say nothing for the first few minutes so she could soak in her words and they can form echoes at the back of her mind. ‘I think you are good enough. Actually, I can affirmably say you are good enough. Do I think you can be better? Ofcourse I do. Everybody can be.’ … ‘If you think you are not good enough, why not let that motivate you to work on yourself. Learn new things. Improve your knowledge on the things you already know. Believe in yourself. Days can be funny. There will be days you will wake up and feel you are walking on sunshine and there will be days, you will feel you have been punched in the stomach. But those days are good. Use the good days to be happy and truly walk on sunshine. Use the bad days to reflect and think of how you can be better and actually work on it. I think you are good enough, but it’s you that needs to know you are so you don’t give up on who you are and trying to be better than who you are.’
He brought her head to his shoulder and held her like a father would hold a scared child. He loves her and he loves how she can be so vulnerable. She has a lot to offer the world and she can shine wherever she goes if she wants to. But even strong and optimistic people like her forget it sometimes and doubt themselves. And that’s okay, but it’s even better when she doubts her doubt. Sometimes, that’s what he helps her to do. He gives reason and leaves her to make the choice of accommodating her doubt and letting it cripple her. Or doubting her doubt and letting it stir her forward. He hopes she chooses the latter today. She made herself more comfortable and slept on his laps. He picked up ‘News from home’ by Sefi Atta and decides to read it. Maybe he will have better luck at reading it.
photo credit: Favim.com1