Full circle (the anatomy of a heart break)

They say there are five stages of grief… First there is denial. Everything slows down to an almost imperceptible crawl, leaving you with the numbness of disbelief and a full blown Fariku Singularity. You replay that final scene in your head again and again until it is etched in your mind like an indelible tattoo. You deconstruct the words hoping to find an iota of comfort; and when the lads ask you about her, you pretend the phone lines garbled that bit of speech, or mutter various incomprehensible answers.

After a while reality bites, and Anger rears its head. You want to do something to hurt, something that will somehow in your mind atone for the loss, even if it is irrational. You delete phone numbers, wipe out emails, cut off social connections and add details to block lists. It is all to no avail, like a giant worm chewing away at the insides of your mind, the dull ache of her name – and her face –  remain, never mind the fact that you have dialled the numbers and emailed back and forth so much so that you know the details by heart.

In a rare moment of lucidity, you decide that Bargaining is an option after all. You convince yourself that you both had so much invested that at least one more punt – however unlikely it is to succeed – is warranted. You fire off the first salvo, it takes all of six days for a reply to come back. When it does, it is cryptic, impersonal and reads like something spat out from an automated answering machine. When you finally get to talk, it is clear there is still a mental connection, only the original issues remain and time apart has deepened the chasm.

Then depression comes in swingingly wildly; self-loathing hits you in the solar plexus and like a bag of potatoes suddenly cut loose from the weighing string you crumble. You mope around for days on end, make sloppy mistakes at work and even get pulled up by the boss. You go over all the events again, playing various what-ifs and what-mights in your head: if you hadn’t forgotten the birthday, if you had braved the odds and flown over for a face-to-face, if snow and work hadn’t conspired to pare 14 days down to barely six, if playful conversations about wanting only one child hadn’t taken on an unintended palor of seriousness, if…. if… if…   It doesn’t help that normal life continues, and the odd lad still brings her name up in conversations. Each night, in the bits of solitude that the minutiae of the life she once shared excitedly used to fill, there are alternate overpowering urges: to call her, to cry, to kick a door in, to overdose on cokes, to just do something. In those unguarded moments when you lie awake till the wee hours of the morning tossing and turning, you wonder what it is she is up to, if she still thinks about you and if she’s moved on to another bloke.

In midst of it all, there’s you, and the one bloke who can relate, he of the listening ear who has walked these self same paths before. You talk, and cry, and finally find the release that unloading the hurt brings. You let go of the hurt and accept it wasn’t meant to be, and that only time can ease this pain. In the detached clarity of your new found pragmatism, you recognise the differences were always going to be an issue – red herring or not, and that there is no way back now.

Life’s finally come full circle, and with it a semblance of normalcy, the only reminders of the season of heart break are the holidays you never took and the sense of de ja vu – you’ve been here before and you survived,  even back in 2009.

The weekly wrap Oct 28, 2011

  1. Nigeria building a 3km stretch of road for nearly 8billion naira.
  2. Apparently a bloke’s shoes are all there is to knowing about him.
  3. King of the dross – gas pumps top the list of filthy things.
  4. Don’t waste your crisis, apparently.
  5. Three years behind schedule, the Dreamliner finally takes to the skies commercially.
  6. Mark Driscoll weighs in on the Dating game.
  7. Shane Clairbourne weighs in on the #Occupy movement
  8. Flying humvees? DAPRA is willing to bet a shed load of dollars on a functional prototype
  9. Occupy LSE claims a religious leader.
  10. William Zinsser on the lost art of males wearing hats
  11. Going bust – The Crystal Cathedral gets sold.

On Reality

Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems..

…so said Salman Rushdie. The corollary is that memory is deceptive, and nostalgia can skew our recollection of things so much that it becomes an alternate reality far removed from the cold, hard facts as they occurred.

Sometimes clarity hits you suddenly like a blow to the solar plexus, at other times the bleeding obvious slowly becomes apparent. All told, some day a bloke has to decide – what’s important, what’s not, and what to leave to fight another day…. 

Friday afternoon conversations

Huddled around the lone telephone in Meeting Room Twelve, how we end up talking about the potentially explosive subjects of immigration and living on the dole escapes me, but once the first, tentative blows are struck, it all takes off from there. There is me – very Nigerian, Ahmed – devout Muslim, Pakistani – born, but as English as they come and Steph – part free thinker, part new-ager, also British. We are waiting for the phone call which will initiate a teleconference – one which should have started a full ten minutes earlier.

Immigration and immigrants have been on the front pages again (are they not always on there these days?) – the Prime Minister has been seeking to regain the front foot on the subject by proposing a raft of changes aimed at projecting a tougher stance; stricter financial conditions for sponsoring spouses and a revamped citizenship test amongst others.

Interestingly, next to the surfeit of Poles in our building, the bitterest vitriol is reserved for people living on the dole. Ahmed and Steph both agree that the government is too soft on people living on the dole and argue that quite a few of the jobs filled by Poles (and other Africans) in our office building could conceivably be done by Brits, if the benefits system didn’t reward laziness. I counter with the argument that a civilised government owes a duty of care to its citizens. I add that I suspect that the crimes are less serious than they would be if people were driven by hunger to desperation.

Steph agrees with the crime rate argument but insists that the freebies effectively incentivise not working. [Apparently merely being an unwed mother with three children could net a woman around about £30k/yr in benefits, which would be what a Graduate RustGeek would get after the first year of working at KOX Corp].

Ahmed is less tolerant of either argument, and insists that a sense of entitlement is what is to blame. Try eking out a living in Pakistan  – he says, and you’ll have no grounds to complain about not being able to buy Jordan trainers. That sentiment might have its merits, but I suspect it is a gross simplification. Ahmed’s sausage soft hands and penchant for milky weak tea are hardly posters for eking out a living by any standard.

These are difficult conversations to have. As the one immigrant whose strongest only claim to Britishness is being conceived between swigs of coffee and PhD research on a November night in Bristol in the 70s [I was born in an obscure Nigerian town by the way, so this obscure fact doesn’t count], I am as much at ease as an old woman when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb. They reassure me though that I am different. Just how different I am, and for how long that difference will last remains to be seen, but I suspect I will always be a different sort of ‘them‘ – not that I am keen to ever become ‘us‘ though.

Thirty minutes later, our meeting is still yet to start. All that is on my mind is to get this meeting over with and kick start the weekend.

The weekly wrap Oct 14, 2011

  1. SBM muses on five things every man should know about women
  2. Two Michigan State University Professors  make the case for Skype weddings
  3. Getting your personal space signature, for only $300?
  4. RIM loosing their marbles?
  5. The first openly gay Presbyterian pastor ordained.
  6. Qwikster dies qwikly..
  7. Justin Taylor  shares an excerpt from the Arthur Ashe memoir
  8. The case for NOT giving head?
  9. Innovative sustainability? Building energy efficient buildings from bottles.
  10. Immigrants and immigration on the front burner again: Pragmatism, or merely playing to the gallery of an increasingly hostile host population? Plans also afoot to change the citizenship tests,
  11. The growing furore over Dr Liam Fox’s relationship with Adam Werrity; shady dealings by local councils, the army cutting their nose to spite their face, .. So much for the West being bastions of above-board-ness?
  12. Art, or just plain showoffishness? Child birth as art.

The Way We Once Were…

For the beautiful ones who almost were…

We may never
ever again
be the way
we once were.

We may no longer
dance the cha-cha
and sip palm wine
in the shade
of the coconut palms
as Coltrane serenades
and the sea breezes
ripple through
the flimsy thatch
that breaks the fall
of the gently
falling rain.

We may
now never know
the blessing of the
Old Man’s Libation, or see
his scrawny fingers
split the kola nut
or the unerring aim
of the red spittle
from his toothless gums

in that dark,
quiet place;
beyond the banks
of the Styx
where Forgetfulness,
blurs everything,
we may pretend;
but can’t forget
the delirious Joy
of the way
we once