The Anthology of Breaking: The Last Time That We Were Happy

by Nomfundo Shezi

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There is a universe where you exist better

You have loving parents

You are not neglected

Your mother does not call you a demon

Your father does not leave

You are not in pain

 

When was the last time that we were happy?

When was the last time that I felt happy?

 

I was leaving Malawi

Kola had invited me to her house for lunch

She had also threatened to drag me to her church

I believed her

It was a Sunday

The Sunday after the Friday that Kola and I had met trying to buy coconut oil

We hadn’t found coconut oil

But we had found friendship and a pair of blue velvet pumps which were lovely but uncomfortable

We had found better

 

That was the last time

That last Sunday, sitting in the lounge at the Backpackers, in my blue dress and uncomfortable but lovely blue pumps waiting for Kola and thinking lovingly about you

 

Football jerseys were displayed on the ceiling: cheap Backpackers kitsch

I really only cared about the Manchester United jersey

Your team

I took a picture and sent to you

A shared piece between us, a bit of you with a bit of me

You loved it

You called and we spoke about little nothings and more little nothings

You wanted to see my blue dress

My church dress

I wouldn’t let you

I didn’t think that you would think I looked pretty in it

I wanted you to think that I was pretty because then you would love me

I refused. I was not ready to have you not love me.

You laughed at my no, thinking it was just shyness

Warmly, kindly

‘You’re so cute’ your laugh said

Close enough to pretty

Close enough to being loved, to being adored

And then we hung up – Kola had arrived

But then you called again, to say nothing really, and that felt so good because it said: for no reason at all, you just wanted to talk more

Maybe you wanted to love me

Cute

I giggled after

Full of love and hope

All my walls fallen

 

That call reminded me of the other time that I was happy

When I was sick and you fed me medicine and sent me to bed

Spending your afternoon between the football and checking in on me with forehead kisses, even though you thought I was asleep

I felt safe

You made me feel safe and less alone

You made me feel like I finally no longer had to be alone

I felt like I belonged

 

Those times are different from this time

You are different this time

You are not loving

There are no forehead kisses

There is no kindness

There are no warm smiles which make me feel that I am cute and could be pretty and then loved

I don’t recognise you

You have left me

I am alone

Writer: Nomfundo Shezi       Photo by Eloise Ambursley on Unsplash

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