Chronicles Of Lockdown: Tucked Away At Home, I Give My Ex A Second Chance
Before the lockdown, my days were a routine. From home to a quick stop at the supermarket down the road for breakfast, usually quick snack then I am off to the office, then another stop at the restaurant for takeout as dinner and sometimes small chops for late-night snacking, and then back home, and start that routine all over again.
Then in March, the coronavirus came knocking on our borders. The country instituted draconian laws that demanded a total shut down of the economy to reduce the spread of the virus, my colleagues and I were sent home.
It was the night before the lockdown and I needed to dash out to stock my pantry for the many visits to the kitchen to follow. The traffic was hell, the supermarket was overcrowded and the queue to check out was from an apocalyptic Hollywood flick in which the world heard that there was only one train left to heaven and it had very limited seats.
Bodies taking up spaces from other bodies in tight cubicles. Children in trollies being pushed by mothers. Trollies after trollies with heaps of cereals and cartons of drinks and mountain hills of liquors leaving shelves empty.
And there he was, dark skin glistering from the heat. Could it really be him? Decked in a crisp white shirt with sleeves rolled up from a long day at work most likely, paired with carton brown trousers, I was more than certain it was him.
And he was closer to the cashier to. Okay. “Do need this?” I pondered. What are my options? Stay on this damn queue till god knows when or say hi to my ex and stand a chance of leaving the stuffy supermarket any time soon. The latter seemed more logical.
“Anabel!” A deep baritone called out from the blues. Of course, he saw me first.
We had met at an event where he promised that he was different and that I must give him a shot and that he couldn’t stop staring at me and blah blah blah.
Our first date was at the Japanese restaurant at Victoria Island, Shiro where we ordered meals that we both didn’t like the taste of. And so midnight calls turned into visits and visits turned into what visits turn into and all that jazz.
That was my cue. I floated through the lines and met my knight in shiny armour. “It’s been ages,” he said. “It sure has,” I replied.
But little did I know that that will not be the end. It started as a just-checking-on-you WhatsApp message. To a what-are-you-doing message to a phone call then to more phone calls and then video calls. He couldn’t visit because he lived on the mainland and I, on the island and the government had set in place police checkpoints that make it possible that only essential workers could travel.
His video calls, just like when we dated last year altered my otherwise boring routine. My life was once again altered by his present.
The days when he didn’t call or called on time, I will sit on my kitchen cabinet with my computer turned open restless, hoping that I do some writing. And then he eventually calls and my world lights up. I also panicked sometimes on the phone with him. Was I keeping him for too long? Surely he had other things to do than just talk with an ex-girlfriend or whatever I was now.
And then during one of our phone calls, I summoned courage and asked him what are we now? “We are whatever you want us to be,” he said. But that wasn’t enough for me and he knew it. He always knows these things. “We can be more if you want?”
The lockdown came to an end in a Nigerian fashion with different stories. Some said it was false others said it was official. But then Monday came and we could go out once more, but not without a 7 pm curfew.
Lagos was bustling with people on the streets once again and the traffic had returned. I stayed home in the days after. Working as a PR agent meant that in a world free of event, I still could work from home.
And so we planned lunch at “Black Bell.” I wore skinny jeans and a T-shirt with sneakers and typically got to the restaurant before him. He showed up in a navy suit and apologised for being late. “I was early,” I would say the many dates I showed on time too.
He looked handsome. He had had a fresh haircut. I ordered stir-fried rice and he went for jollof rice. While we had lunch and chatted about our plans to leave the country, his phone kept on coming on. I looked at his phone. He looked at me.
After our date, I went straight home. Turned my computer. Replied a few emails. I had my bath thereafter. Then I had soggy noodles.
Then I crawled into bed by 4 pm. And then I started sobbing profusely. I was certain it was his wife that kept calling. I pulled out my phone and blocked his number, then deleted it. I hoped it worked this time. It didn’t the last time.