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On Body Count: “If My Frog Won’t Turn Into A Prince, Can I Move On In Peace?” A Writer Asks.

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On a sloped bejeweled vanity, Mercy’s smile lay. Ebube ended their eleven months thing a little over seven weeks ago. What a relief it should have been. Only, it wasn’t supposed to end like that. He was supposed to shed a few tears, the way men shed their tears, tremble as love for her overwhelm him, and then in that moment of electrifying emotions, state his life-long commitment to her, erasing every doubt in her heart with definite answers to her questions and a clear timeline of their journey together, as he made her his. That was what the Prophetess said will happen, if she told him “all he needed to know” about herself. Fine, she did not expressly put it that way. She had said, “Let him know who you are, so you can be happy.” And in Mercy’s deep thirst for him to be the one, which isn’t necessarily a bad wish, she interpreted it as walking him through her past, then together they’ll burst into their beautiful place of happily ever after.

If you’re thinking what I am thinking, I told her, you will see how his letting go can be a thing of happiness. All he gave you was eleven months of constant nitpicking at your person and actions, behind the excuse that he’s getting to know you, enough, before falling in love with you. While you were already sticking by him and “loving” his various forms, known and unknown to you.

Come on! Eleven whole months! God bless the Prophetess. You don’t spend eleven months swinging when you are heading to forty!

In the cool of the night at hers, with a few others, she leaned into me with lips bloomed by icy punch saying, “it’s my body count I’m sad about. He was my fourth. I wanted him to be my last.”

Those words traveled through me, slowly. I felt it waking up sleeping dogs. I should have given her a hug and smoothed some fabric over what was causing her to feel shame. Instead I gave out a loud laugh. Alcohol does that to you. It makes you do the mostest when you are upset. So, I gave out this loud laugh that got everyone’s attention. Then announced that Boss-girl Mercy had been a little slutty; she’d had four men. FOUR MEN. How significant is that.

Typical of women who have grown into who they are and were owning their journey and who they’d become, cheers roared across the room, subduing the sadness that is an obvious feature of the tale of a girl who has passed through four men.

“Here’s your garland for hitting number four”, Tolu leaped across to her and hung a shawl over her neck. “I bet you left with the last good fluid in them. You bad, bad girl.” She cooed.

“Here’s to number five, girl”, someone shouted, stoking more roars, and Mercy’s dam broke. Her sadness was understandable: her frog refused to turn into a prince and she has to deal with the shame that is in kissing a frog who won’t turn into a prince.

This was a room full of women who had learned to convert undesirable conditions into platforms for showing strengths. Hurts, for them, had become materials for forming new perspectives on life and seeing how the different aspects of life appear when they are viewed from all their different angles. And that, basically, translates to seeking to understand why people make the choices they make and what factors influence the outcomes of people’s lives, irrespective of the quality of their choices. As against making judgments based on general laws and one’s own limited sight.

In conversation later that evening, with a few others who did not feel compelled to leave early, Esosa said that her body count, to her, is just an indication of how much of a badass survivor she is, because those relationships definitely ended because the crap was more than the good stuff. Hanna said hers is a pointer to men who can’t tell a pearl when they see one.

Chioma said she doesn’t know what hers mean to her. Sometimes she thinks it means a streak for making poor choices. Other times she takes them as the punishment for disobeying Biblical instructions.

True, I said. “There won’t be an increase in one’s body count if they abstain.” And Melinda attacked me. She said abstinence is the reason I am always angry. That, for her, her body count signals to the richness of her life experience. That, collectively, each is a memorabilia of her love adventures and, she can say that, if nothing else, her life is rich in stories.

“Anyone here who has topped my number; 16?” She added and stirred the room into number-throwing.

16.5. 17. 18.…. I don’t know if these numbers are true, but I know they made Mercy feel better. I also know there is a girl, somewhere, who won’t leave a bad relationship because of body count.

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