WHO would you call the love of your life? Is it the person you still think of with a bit of nostalgia regardless of whether the relationship lasted or not? Many of us believe that our first grand passion, rather than the dependable type we end up marrying, should be revered. According to a recent survey, one in seven admit they didn’t end up with their ‘true’ love and opted for ‘second best’ instead. Some 40 years ago, Chika dumped the so called ‘love of my life’ and was lucky enough to go on to be happily married to her late husband whom she lost to a heart attack last year.
“Despite my good fortune in settling down with a decent husband, my mind fluttered from time to time when I recalled Taofic, my first love.
“When we met all those years ago, Taofic and I had the odds stacked against us – he coming from a very wealthy Muslim family and me from a modest Christian home. There’d already been an ‘understanding’ he would get married to the daughter of his dad’s close friend who happened to be a respected Muslim cleric; and I’d been forbidden – at the risk of being disowned by my very religious father who was desperate for me to marry within the faith – from ever seeing him. We’d both met at the university where we’d both been studying in the seventies. Tall, athletic and devastatingly handsome, he was also clever and sophisticated beyond his years – thanks to a privileged education and years spent travelling with his family.
“Taofic thought nothing of wining and dining with me at chic restaurants all over Lagos or dancing the night away at night clubs. Everything he did was excessive, extravagant, pleasurable in the extreme and all new to me. I was like a lamb led to the slaughter. When we weren’t making love and vowing devotion, we listened to mushy music and videos. And when he wasn’t teaching me to eat properly with the right cutlery and what wine went with what exotic meal, we were taking trips to neighbouring countries in his brand new sports car.
“All these wining and dining didn’t blind me to the rows we had throughout the affair – the slammed doors, the hysterics at his home, threats from my parents, the terrible scenes, the promises he never kept and the pain I felt every time I heard he was with yet another ‘hot chic’. These ‘replacement’ chics were always waiting in the wings during our frequent splits, which our crowd followed as if we were the Ajala and Alhaja Shade love birds of those years.
“After almost three years of on and off, it all came crashing down when I realised he would never grow up and I sadly ended the relationship. Despite his charm, Taofic had one fatal flaw – he did not believe in fidelity. Or rather, he could not tolerate any vacuum – it would be instantly filled by one of the many women who seemed to swirl around him. Not only could he not resist a pretty face, but the face often belonged to one of my so-called friends.
I’ve no idea how many times he cheated on me – and he didn’t seem to regard it as important as I was ‘the one’. Normally, if I found out, he’d simply say: ‘come on darling, you know you’re the one I love’. And that intoxicating subtle musk of his aftershave and his sheer charisma would convince me to forgive him. I would be back in his arms, ready to end the war with a most passionate love-making. That’s how all our arguments ended – in bed.
“Sadly, all the love-making in the world wasn’t going to resolve them for good. The final straw came when one of his relatives ‘confided’ in me that his dad had already earmarked an apartment for him to move into with the fiancée he told me he’d ditched long before. And soon after he graduated, he went on to marry his Muslim wife. After that he made a spectacular political career for himself – thanks to his dad’s muscles. Sadly he had his own share of reversal of fortune. As for me, I went straight to work for a huge manufacturing firm where I met one of their executive directors over 10 years my senior and still single and we got married.
“We were married nearly 24 years before he died last year. During this time, I’d occasionally heard news of Taofic. He’d been out of touch for a very long time when, a few years ago, I received an affectionate e-mail begging me to meet him. He obviously seemed to be fantasising about those loved-up days. I agreed to see him and he revealed he was being treated for prostate non-life-threatening caner. Had this prompted his desire to meet me? I felt puzzled and curious rather than excited. I had no illusions. But there was, in spite of myself a slight flutter in my heart as I waited for him at a restaurant near my office. When he finally showed up, I had to look twice. The man advancing towards me was tall, white-haired and bearded. His old features were still there but his face was fuller, slightly jowly and his eyes unfathomable. It was him, yet not him.
“Too many years had elapsed and I felt nothing as we embraced and exchanged greetings. He might just as well have been a statue. I was vindicated when I discovered he’d divorced a few years after moving into the fancy apartment his dad got him. Worse, he went on to have three more wives! Each marriage ended in heart-break-for the women. I’d had a lucky escape! We made conversation but I felt no connection. Even the cosy atmosphere of my favourite restaurant failed to do the trick. I felt flat, irritated, even bored. Conversation revolved around him – his high-flying career, his divorces and his finances. He seemed to have little interest in my own life, apart from telling me I ‘work too hard’ and ‘looked tired’.
“I felt both relieved and let down that I wouldn’t feel obliged to see him again. I’d been wise to end things all those years ago. Far from being ‘second best’ my husband was very much the right choice. He brought out the best in me –allowed me to develop my potentials, while I, hopefully, helped nurture his creativity. Together we’d created a family – three sons and a daughter – the most precious thing of all.
“So if you hark back to the ‘one who got away’ take note. The end of the relationship was probably the making of you. Far from regret, we should congratulate ourselves for choosing enduring love over short-lived, jagged passion.”
A Rose By Any Other Name… (Humour)
For three weeks, a woman had been the main contestant on a national TV quiz show. Time after time, she had defeated every other contender and was only one question away from winning N5 million. Came the eve of her big day, nerves were beginning to make her ill, so her husband sneaked into the TV studio and found the jackpot question and answer. “Doris” he said, “tomorrow’s question is about the male anatomy and the answer is head, heart and penis.”
For the rest of the evening and during the night, he asked her the same question every 5 minutes. Alas, her nerves were so bad, she kept forgetting the answer. Ten minutes before the show, he was still instructing her. “Come on Doris, don’t forget, it’s the head, the heart, and penis.” “Head, heart, penis” she kept muttering to herself, as the programme got closer.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” announced the quiz master, “please welcome back Mrs. Doris Smith who is one question away from N5 million. Doris can you name the three main parts of the male anatomy? You have 12 seconds.” There wasn’t a sound to be heard as the seconds started ticking away. “The head,” said Doris “That’s right, nine seconds left.” “Er… the heart,” said Doris. “Yes!” said the quiz master, “five seconds left.” “And…um,..er…oh dear, my husband kept driving it into me last night ..er… I had it on the tip of my tongue this morning.” The bell went for the end of time. “Well, that’s good enough for me,” said the quiz master. “You’ve just won N5 million!”