I held the phone in stupefied silence, not believing what I had just heard Mudi say.
“I love you, Gina.” he said again, “And I want to be with you.”
“Mudi, what are you saying?!” I whispered hoarsely. “This is madness!”
“Still on the phone?” Tobenna asked, walking out of the bathroom.
I terminated the call faster than the speed of light. “Done. Just some work stuff.” I mumbled, switching off the phone completely.
He shook his head and laughed. “I guess all employers are the same. I’m very sure that’s how the spouses of my staff complain when I call them at odd hours.”
I feigned laughter, eager to kill the topic before I blurted anything by mistake.
But sleep eluded me. My eyes were open all through the night, thinking of what Mudi had said. How could he have gone from one minute singing his wife’s praises to saying he loved me? How could he have gone from agreeing we were lucky to have found the spouses we had, to saying he wanted to be with me?!
The next morning, I delayed switching on my phone, for fear of what I would I would see from Mudi. It was ironic how I had gone from daydreaming about being with him…to being scared at the mention of the prospect.
In the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I switched it on…but there was nothing. There was no voice mail, there were no texts, there were no WhatsApp messages. There was nothing. It almost got me thinking that maybe I had dreamt the whole thing. Or maybe Mudi had been drunk or something. That had to be the only logical explanation.
But it didn’t hurt to daydream…
In the long car ride from Ikoyi to Oregun, I allowed my imagination wander…pondering the possibility…pondering being able to enjoy that kind of beautiful love again. And a smile slowly formed on my face. No…it wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all.
Walking into my office, I was overwhelmed by a lightheaded and excited feeling I couldn’t explain. I was like that for most of the morning, playing and replaying the brief phone conversation from the previous day in my head, over and over again.
Then at 10:25am, it came. What I had been subconsciously waiting for all morning finally arrived.
It was an envelope, and from the handwriting, I knew who it was from.
I smiled as I opened it. I was larger than a standard letter envelope, and I saw that there was a CD inside it, alongside a handwritten note, and then an envelope.
I read the note first.
To my heart,
I hope these bring back memories…
I smiled as I felt the familiar butterflies in my stomach. The CD was the first one he gifted me, all the way back in 1993, the very week we started dating. It was a single from Frank Sinatra, called The Girl From Ipanema.
“I used to listen to this song everyday, Gina.” he’d said to me then. “Everyday that I longed for you, I would listen to this song…because it was everything I felt.”
Sliding the CD into my media player, a smile formed on my face the moment the familiar melody began, taking me all the way back to the first day I’d listened to it in Mudi’s car, the evening he’d given it to me. And it was 1993 all over again…
Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes
Each one she passes goes “ah”
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes goes “ooh”
But I watch her so sadly
How can I tell her I love her
Yes, I would give my heart gladly
But each day, when she walks to the sea
She looks straight ahead, not at me
Tall, (and) tan, (and) young, (and) lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, I smile but she doesn’t see
It felt like I was levitating. It felt like I was floating in clouds. Opening the letter from him, the butterflies in my stomach didn’t just flutter…they literally went crazy.
Loving you gives me such a feeling of fulfilment that makes me feel close to Heaven. And that is why I have felt this huge emptiness all these years we have been apart.
I don’t know if I should print these feelings in a letter…I may even be misunderstood. But the reason I’m doing it is because I know you know me like no one else does. And you understand that this is more than simple desire, but the certainty that I love you…and that my love for you shows itself not only in my mind…but also in my body!
No colours, pictures or poetry could describe my love for you…but now that I’m about to tell you how true, pure and great it is, I find myself short for words, pictures…and even for a little poetic knowledge.
You are the love of my life, Gina.You represent, in the flesh, bone, blood and emotion, the great love that will accompany me till the end of my days.
When I think about you, I feel like I have everything one could wish for. In this case, all I could ask for is a little bit more of you…or make that, you forever!
Your forever love,
I shut my eyes dreamily. This was what I’d been dreaming of for years. This was the kind of love I’d been longing for for a very long time.
A little after noon, my phone rang. It was Mudi.
“I meant what I said last night, Gina.” was the first thing he said.
I laughed. “Well, hello to you too, Mudi!”
“Did you get my package?” he asked.
I nodded. “’The Girl From Ipanema’. Brought back lots of memories.”
“I find myself feeling that way all over again. Having you so close…but yet so far…” he said, his voice heavy with longing.
“Did you read the letter?”
Oh, did I!
“I meant every word, Georgina. Every single word.”
I sighed. I had it at the tip of my tongue to ask about our partners…Tobenna…Eli… I wanted to ask him if he had thought about what it would do to our partners, if we got together. But I found myself tongue tied…
“I need to see you, Gina…” he said, “I need to see you so I can tell you exactly how I feel.”
“Slow down, Mudi!” I said, finally finding my voice. “How can you go from talking about Eli non-stop, to suddenly declaring love for me. Wasn’t it only 2 nights ago that we both agreed that we were blessed to have the kind of partners we do? I don’t understand where this is coming from…”
“That was me doing what I have been doing for years…trying to convince myself that my love for you had faded…trying to convince myself that Elohor was the one I loved….But I no longer want to fight it, Gina. You and I can never be ‘cool’. You are the love of my life…and I will never love another woman the same way.” he paused, allowing the weight of his words sink in, before he added, “And I don’t think I’m the only one that feels this way. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you no longer love me. That whatever you feel for Tobenna doesn’t pale in comparison to what we had…what we still have.”
I shut my eyes tight, wanting so badly to say those words, to tell him that my love for Tobenna was stronger than any old fantasy. But I couldn’t.
Instead, all I could manage was. “I’m not ready to see you, Mudi…”
“It’s okay, Gina. I can wait for you. I’ve been waiting 19 years. What’s another few days or weeks?” he answered. “But I’m not going to give up. Not this time. Not ever again.”
When the call was over, still with The Girl from Ipanema playing, I re-read his letter, and a broad smile appeared on my face. I pushed all feelings of guilt away, and allowed my mind travel to a distant of world…a place of love and romance…
And Mudi didn’t disappoint.
Just the way it had been in the early days of our relationship in 1993, everyday I got to my office, I met a letter from him on my desk.
To be hopelessly yours…this is my fate! And I live in the constant fear of the possibility of not having you again someday. That would frighten me…if not terrify me.
How could I live without your love, Gina? How could I be happy without the comfort of your words? You complete me as a human being, and for the last 19 years, I have been an empty shell…devoid of any spirit…of any soul.
My love, whether you like it or not, you are an extension of me…and I know you have been missing a part of you also. As I put myself in your hands, I know that you are in my hands,
I’m hopelessly yours, Gina. Hopelessly.
My darling, my Gina…
My one and only love. I have missed you so much for so, so long! These moments with visions of you next to me are constant now, as I count down the days to when you will be mine again…
Being apart from you is more difficult than I ever imagined, now more than ever. I feel hollow inside and my emotions are so palpable they actually hurt… my heart is empty, longing for you.
The only way I can be whole and happy again is to be with you. You remain my heart, my soul, my every breath…
I could wait for a long time, if you would just say you would be there. I could love you more and more, if loving you is worth all the longing for you…a longing which leaves an ache in my heart. You could be my music, a melody my heart loves to sing. You could be my forever; if forever would be your melody too.
Open your heart to me again, my Gina…and I will stay by your side as long as I live. I will do anything for you. I will be your companion, your friend and your guide. I will bring you the sunshine and paint a smile on your face. I’ll take away your tears and gather up rainbows to chase all your sadness. As long as forever, my love will be true. My Darling, my only love. We’ll walk life’s path togethers regardless of life’s sunshine and rainy weather. For as long as I live…I will love only you.
Every single day, every single time he sent a letter, it chipped away, a little at a time, whatever small resistance I still had to the idea of reconnecting with my old flame. It didn’t take long before I started living for those letters, memorising every line…every word.
“You’re always in a good mood these days!” Tobenna remarked one day. “Always smiling and humming to yourself. I must be doing something right?” he added, with a sly wink.
I laughed politely. If only he knew.
After two weeks of daily love letters, I got to my office and met 24 bouquets of roses; 4 pink, 19 yellow and 1 red.
Reading the accompanying note, I smiled.
Four pink roses for our days of young love. Nineteen yellow roses for the years we spent apart. One red…for new beginnings!
New beginnings. I liked the sound of that!
Alas, receiving 24 bouquets of roses couldn’t be kept under the radar, and my entire office was soon buzzing about how ‘romantic’ my husband was.
If only they knew.
“Did you like the flowers?”
I smiled. “What does new beginnings mean, Mudi?”
“All you have to do is give me the chance to show you…” he answered, making me melt like butter.
But I still stood my ground. “I’m not ready to see you…”
“Did I tell you I was tired of waiting? I’ll wait for you forever if I have to, Gina…”
Mudi had me right back in the palm of his hands.
I had no idea he was about to take things up a notch.
The following Saturday morning, a gift-wrapped package was delivered to my house. When I saw his handwriting, my heart lurched in fear as I quickly whisked it to my bedroom, locking the door behind me. Why on earth had Mudi sent me a package at home?
But my exasperation was soon replaced by beautiful feelings of nostalgia, as I poured through the contents of the package. It had almost everything that was a momento of our earlier relationship; from the albums that formed the soundtrack to our love (Jodeci’s Diary of a Mad Band, R. Kelly’s 12 Play, Boyz II Men’s II, Anita Baker’s Rhythm of Love, Luther Vandross’ Songs, the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack, D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar, Tevin Campbell’s I’m Ready, Mary J. Blige’s What’s the 411, Joe’s Everything), the perfumes he’d gifted me with back then (Guerlain’s Samsara, Givenchy’s Amarige, and Christian Dior’s Hypnotic Poison), my favourite Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and a stack of half finished letters…drafts of the ones he had eventually sent me…the ones I had destroyed only a few months before. I shook my head as I read them all, one by on, surprised that he too had preserved everything…preserved every single memory.
“Did you get the package?” he asked, calling me later that afternoon.
“How can you remember every single thing from back in the day?” I asked, a wide smile on my face. “And you preserved all those letters too?”
“For every letter I finally sent you, I always had like 2 or 3 drafts beforehand. I never destroyed any of them. Can I make a small confession?”
I giggled. “What?”
“Over the years, I’ve read them from time to time…especially in times when I felt the need to desperately connect with you.”
“Did you ever write Elohor any?” I asked.
“When we were in school, yes. Before there was you, yes.” He answered. “But after you, I’ve not been able to write any letter like that to anyone…until a few weeks ago.” he added, and I could hear the smile in his voice.
“And those CDs! Gosh! So many memories!” I gushed. “The perfumes, the chocolates! Wow. They took me all the way back!”
“I was hoping to jog your memory a bit more. To remind you of how magical we were…” he said. “I love you, Gina. And I want to be with you so desperately!”
“Is that why you sent this package to my house, Mudi?” I asked. “To put me in a tight corner? Was your plan for Tobenna to see it?”
“I was just hoping it would jog your memory a little bit faster.”
I smiled. “Well, mission accomplished!”
“Did you like the…the other present?” he asked.
“Apart from the CDs, perfumes and chocolate, there’s something else?” I asked, rummaging through the box.
“Yes. It’s actually the most special one.” he said. “Call me back when you see it.”
I found the box shortly after he got off the phone. It was tucked in a corner, under another box of chocolates I’d missed. Opening it, I gasped.
It was the same hourglass…with the beautiful pink sand…that settled to form the same words…
I love you Gina.
And that was when the last molecule of resolve I had melted away completely. That was when I knew I wanted nothing more than to be with him…and only him!
Catch up on Gina’s story here:
- Where is the Love? 1: Where is the Love…
- Where is the Love? 2: Love Letters
- Where is the Love 3: A Family Issue
- Where is the Love? 4: Tobenna
- Where is the Love? 5: Loneliness
- Where is the Love? 6: Bad Romance
- Where is the Love? 7: Pandora’s Box
- Where is the Love? 8: Butterflies
- Where is the Love? 9: Roller Coaster
- Where is the Love? 10: Cool
Catch up on our other series here: