An earpiece is a sad thing to lose.
This is not to say that it is not easily replaceable –abokis hawk different colours of it in the middle of traffic– but when you have had one faithful companion for so long to keep at bay the loud noises of every day's humdrum or to help you draw deeper into your cocoon, losing it is to be left vulnerable and stark.
It was a gift from my last boyfriend but its sentimental value was not the reason I mourned its loss. When I still had it, it was what it was- a phone accessory. I remember the day it was gifted me. A certain scruffy looking boy had come to the office bearing the earpiece for sale. The circumstance of the transaction was shady enough to make me believe he had stolen it. When my boyfriend offered him a paltry sum, the young man parted ways with the item. At the close of work, Somadina squeezed it into my hands. I guess he was tired of sharing his. I had been without an earpiece for too long and I received it gratefully.
That relationship –I and Somadina– was my most memorable affair. It was fraught with so much anxiety and mistrust and twinges of distress. Of course we had pleasant days of sneaking kisses in lonesome office lobbies, of shared meals and gifts and sleepovers. But the ill-feelings were so overwhelming in their wake that they hold chiefly in my thoughts of the romance. The clandestine nature we had to maintain because of the fear of ridicule from colleagues made me feel like a child bursting over with good news she was prohibited to share and this further heightened my misgivings towards our relationship.
Over time, people at work began to notice how affectionate we were to each other and of course we were brought to ridicule. But no matter how playful the ridicule was, their unwelcomed interference brought much discomfort to Somadina. But I liked it, this interference. I was tired of the hide-and-seek we played. If this was love, why should it not be brought to light? Why should it not be noised abroad? Yet in general, no one took us seriously. They felt we were "helping each other's ministry" and simply burning the fires of youth. They often asked, how could you date someone you saw every day?
But I took us very seriously – I built flamboyant castles in the air and filled it with precious dreams of kids and the sound of cooking and the noise of laughter. In retrospect I could say that my youth made me prone to such folly – I was 25; women of this age are ambitious in romance, hoping that every love would eventually lead to matrimony.
Somadina too was young and heady and very boisterous. He was also pleasant to look at. The latter factor was why we hit it off instantly soon as I began work at the firm. But his beauty was a two edged sword and contributed to my distress. My chest would tighten each time a customer flirted with him and this was capable of ruining my entire day. Such was the affliction I put myself through daily. But with time, his charm began to wear away in my eyes and my heart did not palpitate too much at the sight of him with another woman. The realities of the affair and all the misgivings diluted whatever it was that made me think he was too handsome to let go of.
He too was given to jealousy, often to a petty degree. My endless camaraderie with colleagues and pleasantness to customers drove him to frenzy. In those days, I was given to hugs that lingered too long and he found it very disturbing and undignifying.
Our mutual jealousy was like a ghost that stalked us endlessly. It crept up in midnight conversations, after office work was done and forgotten. The endless need to explain ones actions and debunk it of any significance it held in the other partner's mind became such a bore.
And I cheated. Uncountably. It was the only way I knew to vent the frustration this love garnered. Once we had a fight, I quickly called up any man I liked who was paying me heed. I would go out with him and act like I was not committed to anyone. It was the best way I could forgive Somadina. I was certain he too was doing same and I was in a joust to outwit him and fill my emotional arsenal with enough misdemeanours to counter any of his wanderings. But afterwards, I would be so stricken with guilt and doubt my capabilities at true love. I wondered if I was naturally inept at this form of human transaction and if better circumstances would make me love someone else better.
But gradually, my stark interest in him and his goings on began to fizzle out. I wanted more from life, not necessarily love. The fights I had to put up with everyday did not seem worth the energy. The fear of loss and failure wore off and I began demanding more from myself and from people and when these scales fell off in bits from my eye, I recognized the disrespect I had lived in within the duration of this romance.
Quitting was sad, long and painful. Distance was always my alibi to end affairs that grew awry. But I saw Somadina every day and I could not invoke the powers of distance and every day, I was made to remember that intimacy did happen between I and this person. As I struggled to let go, some days would present me the possibility to try again and get it right this time. But the disrespect, both self-afflicted and the ones perpetuated by him, held sway in my mind and held me back from that familiar path.