I always enjoy a game of cards, not the real poker (I need to be schooled), but other variants of it; I especially enjoy playing WHOT, I think I enjoy saying ‘last card and checkup’ a bit too much, it just gets me on a high. In order to win in any game of cards, one has to hide one’s hand, only revealing one’s card(s) at the right time.
In likening relationships to a game of cards, however, I have realized that I prefer showing my hand, laying my cards out at the get go. To further explain, let me tell you a short story.
Steve was Yvonne’s best friend. They had met at the Afro-Caribbean food stand at the farmer’s market during Freshers’ week in First Year, where their mutual love for plantains had triggered a conversation. They found out they were in the same department, stayed in the same building and were both Catholics. So naturally, they went almost everywhere together; classes, the library, grocery shopping, the gym, and church. Weekends were also spent in each other’s company, as they explored the city together. By the second semester, they had become very close friends and confidantes.
Yvonne knew deep within that what she felt for Steve was beyond friendship and she wanted more. She also thought that Steve felt the same way; why else would he spend all his time with her if he didn’t? She had once entertained the thought of broaching the subject with Steve but decided against that line of action, opting to allow him to make the first move, certain that he would. So, it was with a sad heart that she traveled back home for the summer break when he didn’t make any move at the end of the school year. He had decided to stay back and work during the holidays and she was going to miss him sorely.
She flung herself into his arms at the train station where he had come to pick her up, very excited to see him; it had been almost three months. Immediately after dropping her bags, they both headed out to their favorite Caribbean restaurant for some food and drinks, catching up on their way there.
As they dug into their rum cake and vanilla ice cream, Steve announced that he had some good news to tell her. Excited, she asked him to spill the beans. ‘You remember Trish from church? We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately. I really like her and I’m going to ask her out tomorrow’. Her heart missed a bit and started to pound loudly in her chest. ‘What?’ ‘Why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost? You should be happy joor’! ‘Your friend has found a bae!’ He said as he grinned proudly. ‘I feel sick, excuse me.’ She walked as quickly as her legs could carry her to the ladies and threw up the contents of her stomach.
With legs shaking, she walked over to the sink and splashed cold water on her face. She felt hot and cold all at once. Steadying herself against the sink, she took deep breaths and when the shaking stopped, she walked back to the dining room. Seeing her face, Steve got up and led her out to the bus stop where they caught a bus almost immediately. When they got to her room, she assured him that she would be fine so he left, asking her to call as soon as she felt better. The waterworks came as soon as she heard the door click closed. Her chest ached badly and she felt a cocktail of emotions, each trying to surpass the other. Anger, sadness, betrayal. She felt like the rug had been pulled from under her.
You see, Yvonne fell deep into that hole dug by assumptions. A simple playful discussion on the subject would have given her the right answers and saved her the pain. As for me, I do not know how to embark on a journey without knowing the intended route and destination. I’m too much of a control-freak curious for that. A friend of mine always jokes that I only see two colors, black and white and that I lack the capacity to see the shades in between. I usually reply that I see in straight lines, ain’t got no time for curves. So, before I start spending too much time with any bros, I usually ask, ‘unku, what is it that you want from me?’ (This question can be asked in several ways). Like the Holy Book says, two cannot walk together except they agree. We cannot come and be wasting each other’s time.
So my dears, please state up front what the terms of your relationship are, lay out the cards, and if you start catching feelings for a brother or sister, please let them know, or find out from them if they feel same, before you start building castles in the air and crafting your own heartbreak. Don’t assume anything. Our elders say ‘he who asks questions never misses his way.’ Peace!