FOREWORD: I feel like I have to give you guys a heads-up. I am a romantic, so when I read this piece, what is essentially a celebration of love between two KDians, I very nearly cried. But that’s just me; I’m sentimental that way. So if you’re not, now’s the time to stop reading. And if you are single and searching for your man, believe me, this piece won’t help your situation either. lol

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It was one of those boring days at work. I was fiddling my phone; I’d just got off a long conversation on the phone with a good friend, and thereafter I decided to play around on Instagram. I’d not really been a fan of the photo-sharing app; I’d had my account for almost two years with very little activity, before my friends bullied me into posting my first picture on my 26th birthday. Even then, I’d only log in to stalk the likes of Rihanna, Genevieve Nnaji, Noble Igwe and a couple of other fashionistas I adore. I didn’t particularly like Instagram, because the life depicted on it always seems so rosy and virtually everyone on Instagram seems too perfect.

However, that day, when I went to the explore page, I scrolled down the timeline, feeding my eyes with the snapshots of beautiful people. It was during this visual consumption that my attention was snagged by this guy. I couldn’t really tell what it was about him that gave me pause when I came upon his photo: good looking and light-skinned as he was.

I liked the photo and was ready to move on. But then, I felt compelled to click open his page, to check out his profile. I went over the first few pictures on his page, picking up insights about him that appealed to me; he had a laidback personality that I liked, and the fact that he seemed like one who values family was also appealing. I saw pictures of him with his mother, in his hometown chilling with his family, photos that made me smile and wonder about him. Most people would rather update pictures of them in high brow areas with loads of filters, and here was somebody showing me how comfortable he was in his village. I admired him for that. And I didn’t even know him.

At the time, I had no idea if he was gay; although I had my suspicions from some memes I saw on his profile that seemed to me kinda queer. So, I asked for a follow back, even though I hadn’t followed him.

Afterwards, I continued with my day’s activities while anticipating closing time by 5pm. The day had been boring and I couldn’t wait to go home.

And then, my phone lit up. I heard my Instagram notification screaming like a siren. I checked; the light-skinned stranger had ripped through my Instagram page with likes. Oh my! I decided to reciprocate and began liking more of his pictures. He followed me too, without even confirming whether I’d followed him already. And then, I followed him back. For some reason, this silent online interaction between us filled me with some excitement.

I was so elated and waited, while staring at my phone, for him to say hi, you know, DM-style. He didn’t. Without thinking on it, I slid into his DM. We exchanged pleasantries and started a conversation. He was sweet and straightforward in his responses. And when, during our convo, he complimented me by saying I was cute, I knew he was family.

Soon, we exchanged numbers and moved to Whatsapp. The day suddenly began to look up as we chatted nonstop from 4pm to nighttime. There was so much to know about him, about me, about us. He asked me out, for us to go out sometime. It was a date, one that couldn’t happen because we were in different states. Knowing this didn’t deter him. In the following days, he didn’t waver in his correspondence with me, as we alternated between skype and whatsapp, and this I found interesting. Oftentimes, when people are getting to know each other and find out that they’re in different locations, far away from each other, interest usually wanes. Not so in this case; we kept on chatting, learning more about each other with every passing day.

I liked him. I was drawn to him. And this scared me because I’d not had it good with relationships in the past. But Kenny, this guy from Instagram, pulled me in and kept me there. The closer we got, the more open he was with me. I’m not used to gay guys being frank and open amongst themselves, unless with those who are their BFFs. But Kenny made himself an open book to me. He let me into his private life, telling me things I wouldn’t even confess to a Catholic priest, were they my secrets to own. He told me personal stories that made me tear up. He told me humorous stories that told me he was a survivor.

I do not know when I started falling in love with him. For two people who were yet to meet, it is hard to place my finger on the time when I knew there was no going back from him. Perhaps it was when he confidently told me: “You will be my guy.” Or when, during a vulnerable moment, when he’d told me a particularly ugly story of his past, and concluded with: “I know that maybe this will change your perception of me, but I had to tell you the truth about me, and if you walk away after this, I will understand.”

There was no way I could walk away. I told him that. I was in this for the long haul. I declared my affection for him, and it felt so very right.

For three months, we communicated. We talked and chatted on the phone everyday and Skyped at least thrice a week. Kenny was quickly becoming my ‘everything’.

The day I started getting calls and SMS from an unknown number, warning me to stay away from him, and telling me about how he was a hoe who gets down with anything with an ass and dick, was the day I knew that love, no matter how beautiful, will always be threatened by the ugliness around it. Here was someone, a stranger, who knew nothing about me, about us, endeavoring to destroy what was good. Unbeknownst to him though, Kenny had already revealed his entire messy past to me. There was nothing some stranger hiding behind an unknown number could say that would shake me out of my happiness.

The second of April was the day we finally agreed to meet. He was going to travel into my city to see me. The night before, I was entirely euphoric. I could not believe the day when my love would come home to me was hours away. I didn’t know what to expect, so I was also nervous. I dreaded any disappointment now that stark reality was about to intrude into the virtual bubble we’d created around ourselves. On the day of his arrival, I was tense with so many rioting emotions: excitement, dread, anxiety, joy. I was so high strung that I left my house and was at the bus terminal four hours before his arrival.

And then the bus arrived, and he was in the terminal. And then we set our eyes on each other. There was something so Hollywood rom-com about that moment; that moment when you see him and you know your heart had been right all along, that here was the one you’d been waiting for. We hugged, and I inhaled all his scents. I held on a bit longer than was necessary, because I had this sudden desire never to let him go.

We got home. He had something to eat and rested a bit before we had to go out for him to shop for some things. Then we returned home, and ensconced in our privacy, we made love. It felt divine. It felt pure. It felt sacred. There was this feeling I imagined newlyweds have when they finally come together on the night of their wedding. Our lovemaking was skin to skin, heart to heart, soul to soul.

The weeks he stayed with me were the best days of my life. God bear me witness, the chemistry was everything. We bonded just as rapidly in real life as we’d done virtually. He was great with me. He was a good cook and a perfect homemaker, making meals for me and ensuring I was well taken care of.

He wasn’t perfect. He had his flaws, his wahala. He is very possessive and whenever he got jealous, he’d get very quiet, withdrawn, and not talk to me for minutes.

But I’d grown to love him, warts and all. We made a decision to open a joint Instagram account, a page where we would share the photo memories of our lives together, a gesture that is symbolic of our promise to stay together.

Then the day came when a new reality came upon us that made my heart stop beating for a moment. We were making dinner, slicing okra as part of the meal simmering on the stove, when he got the message that his visa was ready. He was ecstatic. He grabbed me, hugged me and kissed me real good, before gushing, “Baby! Finally, the wait is over!”

I wanted to be happy for him. I was happy for him. But I felt crushed. He was leaving. My love was leaving me soon. I was pained. How could I get this very real taste of happiness, just to have it snatched away from me so abruptly? This was a good thing for him, I knew that. Then how come my heart was breaking all over again each time I thought about the miles and miles that’d separate us now? I dwelled on these thoughts, and I felt too much pain. Most nights, while we slept, I’d wake up, look upon his face, remember the immediate future that was looming, and I’d cry. I was terrified of the distance. I’d heard stories of how long distance can wreck the steadiest of relationships, let alone one as relatively new as the relationship I had with Kenny.

Kenny knew my pain. And he strived to assure me that he may travel far, but his heart would always be near. He would be back, he told me. He would always be there for me, he promised me. He was the one with greater faith in us.

Finally, the month of May rolled around, and Kenny was all set to leave the country. The day was an emotional day for me. I thought for sure, there was no way I could survive it. I couldn’t eat all day; my insides were wound up in knots of misery. Tears threatened every now and then. Kenny stayed compassionate throughout my emotional crisis, promising me that he would work things out for both of us. He was basically going to try to make a life for us. Everything about Kenny was ‘us’ and ‘we’. It was very comforting.

Before we left for the airport, we held our hands in prayer. We prayed for grace and ended it with a passionate kiss. And he whispered to me, “I’ll come get you soon.”

At the airport, he decided to go check in and then come out for a proper farewell. I was sad, so sad that he was leaving, but happy it was for the best. I waited for him to come out so we could have one last moment. But then, he sent me a text saying he has already boarded and wouldn’t be able to come out. My heart broke. My tears flowed freely. I cried. He called and tried as much as he could to console me.

Then I got home and everything suddenly came together and conspired to remind me that he was gone: the silent echo of his laugh that was emphasized by how quiet the house was, his strong scents that lingered, his side of the body, the last things he touched – everywhere I looked and everything I inhaled was evidence of the man who’d taken my heart with him.

Yes, you, my darling, wherever you go, you take my heart with you.

I know you are reading this.

And I want you to know that you are everything to me. My love, friend, brother and my fighter. You’re my focus and my distraction. Every time I pray to God, I ask for His grace and sustenance because I know I can be heady. I don’t wish to leave you. I want to stay with you till the end. I want to be in love with you for decades. What am I even saying? There’s just no option beyond loving you. Life means nothing without you, and that is why there’s nothing it’ll sling at us that I’m positive we won’t survive.

And for this much love and happiness that you’ve brought to my life, I want to say, “Thank you.”

Written by DI-Navy

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