It’s not every day that someone calls you beautiful and you actually believe it. Sometimes you think they’re just playing with you. Or maybe they’re just trying to be nice. There’s always that voice in your head that makes you feel otherwise, even though it may be the most genuine compliment. For me, when my first love called me beautiful I felt it directly in my heart. There was no doubt in my mind. I believed him. Maybe it was the way he said it firmly or his amazingly deep and authoritative voice, or maybe it was the way he maintained eye contact while he said it. I don’t know. There’s just something about how he said it that made me believe it fully, and I started to see myself through a different lens.
Unfortunately, life didn’t allow me to be with him forever. Ours was a short-lived love story. Although he’s not here physically anymore, I still feel like he’s around spiritually. So strongly. You may think I’m crazy, but I do. He taught me the meaning of love and I will forever be grateful for that.
I met Andre through Facebook. You may probably be wondering what kind of legitimate relationship stems from Facebook. But I know that this one was one of the sincere ones. You see, at the time it was very easy to message someone on Facebook and start a genuine relationship with them, and not just a romantic relationship. Friendships were started on Facebook too. I had seen Andre in my school several times, coming to pick his sister up. At the time, I was extremely shy and I had self-esteem issues. I did not think I was worthy of anyone’s attention, but he came to my life and changed all of that.
Within a month, Andre and I had become the best of friends. We spoke over the phone every evening. Being the shy girl, I stopped hanging out at the parking lot because I thought that if he saw me he would rethink his decision to talk to me. I waited excitedly for the evening when I knew he would call me promptly. His voice would take me to another world. It was deep and masculine. He made me feel butterflies and not only in my stomach, I think they got to my head too. I would say it was love at first sight, but let’s just say I was extremely infatuated by the idea of him actually being in my life.
Our friendship only became better with time. I was completely attached to our conversations and if he didn’t call my mood would change instantly. A few months in, he asked me to meet him. As I said I was really shy so I would constantly do silly things. I wondered why he still associated himself with me. He said he wanted to come to my house, and I agreed. We were both young, particularly nineteen years old so I didn’t expect him to take me on fancy dates. I had never been on one anyway. We agreed to meet at 2 pm, and when the time came, I just couldn’t do it. I was so anxious. I could hardly breathe because I really thought that if he saw me he would change his mind. When I think about it now, I think about that one extra day that I could have seen him, but I chose to be stupid instead. Now he’s not here anymore, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
At 2 pm he called me and said he was on his way. I agreed to it but then turned off my phone right after. I had it all planned out. I would tell him that our lights went out and my phone was dead. It was a really silly thing to do because although he lived in the same area that I did, he had to walk quite a distance to get to me. That evening when I finally turned my phone on I found about ten missed calls from him. Surprisingly when I explained what happened he wasn’t angry anymore. We started talking again and he even asked me to be his girlfriend.
One day, however, Andre just disappeared. His phone went off and he didn’t respond to his Facebook messages for the next two years. I learnt to detach myself from him. I was heartbroken and I didn’t know what to do.
Years later, we rekindled our friendship. I met him at a night service at church. I had seen him but I really didn’t want to talk to him. I was still hurt because he had disappeared from my life. As I was walking out of church he called out my name.
“It’s like you become more beautiful as the years go,” he said. Again, I believed him fully.
“Awww, thank you,” I said. I wanted to walk away but something made me stay. There was just something about him.
“Can I get your number? I really miss you,” he said… “Actually, why don’t we take a walk? We need to catch up. Let me walk you home.”
I wanted to say no. God knows how much my mind was telling me to say no. But it was my heart that betrayed me. Those feelings I had for him a year ago were still there. It’s crazy to think that I believed I had moved on but when I met him, all of that faded. I wanted him now more than ever.
Andre and I took the longer route home. There was just so much to talk about. I felt like I had known him my whole life. He pulled me by a corner and kissed me. The best kiss I have ever had. When I think about it now, it makes me cry. I would do anything to be in his arms again.
We became the best of friends. We had gone out on several dates and I was convinced that he was the one. I was even ready to introduce him to my family. That’s how deep it was. I had never experienced anything like this, and all the years of hurt were now starting to make sense. They were preparing me for something so beautiful, something so amazing.
I remember my first year at work. I hated it. I hated how every man in the office flirted with me, and it wasn’t enough when I told them that I had a man. I had already found whatever they wanted to give me. This place was extremely overwhelming. I was overworked and underpaid. I barely had time for Andre because by the time I got home I was extremely tired.
On this particular day, I had been so consumed by the work that I had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day. Andre called me at lunchtime and said he was at the gate.
“You know I don’t have time for you baby. I only have about thirty minutes,” I told him.
“Then let’s make the most out of the thirty minutes.” He responded.
I couldn’t help but blush. I walked out of the office smiling foolishly, and I’m sure anyone who saw me wondered what the problem was.
When I got to the parking lot, Andre handed me the biggest bouquet of flowers I had ever seen, lilies to be precise. He knew how much I hated roses. He asked me to get in.
He had packed lunch from a restaurant. My favourite pork ribs and sweet potato fries.
“Do you really have to go back in thirty minutes? What’s the worst they can do? He asked me.
“Well, they can fire me, and then what?” I asked, jokingly.
“At least you’ll have me.” He responded, and I laughed. He said things so sarcastically and with the most serious face. I found it hilarious.
“You have the best ugly laugh ever.” He said as he stared at me.
It became our tradition on every Valentine’s Day. We would have packed lunch or dinner in his car. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I loved it. He was everything I could ever wish for in a man.
Things were going great until they weren’t. Andre complained that I was too consumed by my work and hardly had time for him. Sometimes we would go for two days without speaking to each other. It wasn’t my fault though. I needed to make the money. I couldn’t live off of our love. One thing led to another and we agreed to part ways. We vowed to remain friends, because both of us knew, from the bottom of our hearts, that we were each other’s soul mates. I had a feeling that one day we would get back together.
It had been a month since we last spoke. I was sitted in the living room working on my computer when my mum called me and pointed to a picture in the newspaper.
“Isn’t this your Andre?” She asked.
Before I even looked at the newspaper tears started rolling down my eyes. Andre, the love of my life was dead.
“It can’t be, mum. It c…can’t be.”
I picked up my phone and dialled his number. I knew it off head.
“Why isn’t he picking up his phone? Why isn’t he picking?” I said frantically.
It soon hit me that the love of my life was gone. Never to be seen or heard from again. I just couldn’t take it. I didn’t go to work for the next three weeks, and they fired me eventually.
Andre was walking in the streets of the Central Business District when the university students started to strike. He had been confused for one of the students causing the strike and beaten to death by a G.S.U policeman. This was such a terrible way to die, and I couldn’t even handle the thought of it.
I found out about Andre’s death the night before his burial. I didn’t even get a chance to see him being laid to rest. I couldn’t help but keep up with our traditions. So for the last five years, I have been spending my Valentine’s Day next to his grave. I can’t let go of him, I don’t think I ever will. I will always buy that packed lunch and put a bouquet of lilies next to the stone head. I know he can hear me. I know he feels my presence because I feel his too. He listens to me crying for him because sometimes I want to follow him and be with him, and I know he cries with me too. I know he loved me, and I would do anything to experience that kind of love once again.