Friday, December 10

My Proposal


11:59pm
Sunday evening
The man of my dreams just asked me to marry him
I have fantasized about this since i discovered Harlequin romance - no scratch that, somewhere in between Disney movies.
It was supposed to be like this. 
I never wanted the whole extravagant, ballroom set, decorations up, orchestra playing in the background-kinda proposal
In fact it bordered very close to stupidity as far as i was concerned
I wanted something private, very intimate
Probably my birthday, at my favourite restaurant. Right after dessert 
My very own Prince Charming looks at me, and with all the love he can muster at the marvelous sight in front of him, goes down on one knee and surprises me by saying
’will you marry me’’
Earth-to-Zaara
But here i was, at 11:59pm, this fateful Sunday evening, in the living room of the 3 bedroom apartment i share with my two best friends
I was wearing a white knee length house-robe over my pink La senza nightie, hair loosely held back with a black scrunchy in my oversized but sinfully confortable brown moc slippers – with a shocked expression on my face
He said ‘’Lets just do it’’
PAUSE
Not much of a proposal there
Silence
Not the way i had dreamed . Yet It felt so unreal, i felt the room spinning around me. I held on to the doorknob for support, took a deep breathe, turned around and looked at the hunk of gorgeousness before me. Kamal. My Kamal
“Zaara, lets just do it’’
WOW

Okay Rewind to 10 minutes before now
I paused the episode of Modern Family to pick up my phone
9ice and Psquare All the way
It was Kamal. Weird because i spent the whole day at his place, he never mentioned coming over
he wasn’t supposed to be here until tomorrow
‘’helloooow kamaaal na, yane?’’ i always emphasized on the maaal part
‘’Lafiya lau Zee, where you at?”
I could hear Oleku Iceprince ft Brymo playing in the background, i could swear that was the song playing in his car when he dropped me at my place 2 hours ago. He sounded like Hershey's: chocolatey  husky  and sexy. I giggled
I could talk to this man on the phone forever
’Im at home wallahi’’ i took another scoop of the Ben and Jerry’s  caramel delight i had in front of me.
I really should stop this late night indulgence, its becoming a habit. And it all ends up in my ass. Not a good look
‘’Im in front of your house – let me in’’
‘’Whaat?’’ I almost coughed out the last mouthful of ice cream i had in my mouth standing up and dropping the remote and my music player to the floor as i did. I didn’t pick them up, i ran to the window and peeked. Yup. There he was
Wearing  a  brown turtleneck polo sweater and black pants. His blackberry pressed against his ears. He smiled when he saw me peeking through the drapes. My heart did a somersault as i said ‘’okay one minute’’ and hung up
I pulled the drapes,  checked my reflection on the mirror app on my phone, aargh i look like a mess
Thank God for the soft lightening in the living room
I looked at the clock. 11:50pm
Hmm... 'My mama said' bells started ringing in my head
What is this man doing in my house at midnight?
Okay. Confession
I wasn’t completely honest in the first paragraph


          When i said ‘my Kamal’
Okay really, its like this
Phew. God, explaining this will be hard
Okay technically
Kamal isn’t mine. He is not my boyfriend – he is actually my friend.
Did i like him?
Hell Yes. Since the first time i saw him. At  a Hospitality conference at the Chateau Frantnec in Montreal
It was during the refreshment break, i was having a conversation with an old employer Gus, when this absolutely good looking brother came over to say hi to him, and Gus introduced us and fortunately or unfortunately (now thinking in retrospect) saw a couple and left us. 
During our 20 minute conversation, i had a polite smile plastered to my face and intermittently glanced around casually surveying the rest of the meeting room acting totally uninterested at the 6 feet man that stood 4 feet away from me. 
But my oh my. Never in my life have i ever seen a man who actually made me take a second glance. And a third.
                He had this aura of self confidence that just made him look even better he did at first glance
We spoke on a vast range of things, The weather, The meeting, Gus, Politics, The Sheraton's much publicized merge with The Four seasons...
His voice was deep and brooding,  with a baritone that made the words glide in such an effortless and intelligent way,.
Never underestimate the power of meaningful face to face interactions.
Did he like me? Well...
Of course he did. What were the odds of meeting someone you had so much in common with
One German parent and one Nigerian Parent
Both of us haven’t been to Nigeria in the last 10 years, we both worked for as Accountants for Canadian Hotels. He worked at The Westway and i worked at the Marriott . Both of us have been in Ottawa since 2006
Well not everyday
                 Kamal and I became the best of friends over the summer - couldn't believe we hadn't run into each other in our own city until we were in another and we found out we had more than just Hausa, German and French in common
We actually went to the same primary school in Kaduna, Turkish International, well he graduated before me.
We were both allergic to sea food, had quit smoking two years before and we were both left handed
We both own complete seasons of The Cosby show and he even watched Def jam poetry!
So how could he not love me? Right?
Right
Well Kamal was in a live in relationship with someone he really loved, someone i met about 3 months after our initial meeting.
Martin
                                                                ****
3 months after 1st our meeting
            I could swear that Kamal had double personality problems
Sometimes when i was in the middle of telling him something really important, he'd be lost in thought
Sometimes i could swear he wanted to ask me something very important, or tell me something really important
but he always changed his mind right before he opened his mouth
Finally he got the courage to tell me
No to ask me
We were at the Coliseum movie theater,  it was a cold day in December
We had just watched Avatar, i was still going on about how i wanted to go to Pandora... and predicting that Avatar was going to be the Oscar movie that year. He was helping me into my Jacket. He seemed lost in thought.
Then all of a sudden he said
''I have something to show you'' I adjusted my veil and looked up at him, He looked serious
''What?" I asked, i was getting uncomfortably suspicious. He pulled out his phone and started scrolling through
And my wild thoughts scrolled through my mind
Oh my God. 
He is married
He has a kid
He's an unmarried father
Calm down Calm down Zaara. Be positive
Maybe he just wants to show you, a picture of a ring
Err... maybe not
its too early for that
we are not even going out
I mean, he hasnt asked you out, or anything. You guys just spend all your free time together. He is always at your place all weekends, you watch movies together. He takes you grocery shopping. You have a box of old items in his basement cos you dont have space at your place....
You call him everyday. He calls you everyday
That doesnt mean you guys are a couple
Maybe... he's gonna ask you out
Or maybe not
"This'' He said. He handed me his phone
It was a picture
Of a guy
Oh my God. He has a child!
A boy
But wait, his child is white?
His child was shirtless, and he had a hairy chest
Wait a  minute. This is no child. This is a Man
A man in his early 30s
One fine looking blond, Blue eyes, nice abs, greater smile
Wait!
Was Kamal trying to hook me up with someone what the hell?
Infact i should slap....
''That. is Martin my boyfriend. He wants to meet you''


                                                       ***
Back at Chestnut Drive. Apartment 2506, Later that day
''i still cannot believe this'' Grace, my close friend and house mate. She has been looking at me the past hour like she was expecting me to burst in flames and turn to ashes "Pomaa did you ever, even by mistake suspect that Kamal was gay''
''At all'' Pomaa answerd. Pomaa and I went to the University together ''remember when we used to say you were very lucky , he had eyes for only you...''
''...i know ehn. we were even calling him perfect gentleman cos she was like he never tried any move on her'' Grace completed the statement for her
Exactly. I was still wearing what i wore to the movie, sitting on the sofa with my two best friends.
The smell of kenke and shitoh filled the room, they were about having dinner, when i came in. The food lay unattended before us
''Oh my God, Zee and you broke up with Sadeeq because of this guy!'' Pomaa said, as if she was reading my thoughts
"It wasn't because of Kamal, you this Pomaa sef, as if you didnt know they were having problems even before Kamal came into the picture'' Grace answered angrily
They started arguing and stating facts. I was not paying attention
I was on another realm entirely
Sadeeq. I didn't even want to think of that. I threw a relationship of 3 years away simply because i didn't want to be 'tied down'
In other words, i didn't want to be the cheating partner, i wanted everything between me and Kamal to start with honesty
Given me and Sadeeq had our problems. 
Cheat on me once, shame on you. Cheat twice, shame on me
I had to end it
And honestly, as soon as Kamal and I started spending time together, Everyone just seemed... irrelevant
So indirectly it was because of him
Oh ya salaam!
Zarah Kabir! Na you be this?

                                                   ***
 If you think the series of unfortunate events you just read made me delete Kamal from my life,
 you thought wrong. I dont know how it happened but we became closer friends. 
Maybe it was because Kamal was totally oblivious of the fact that he had broken my heart.  He did not have the slightest idea that i actually felt something for him.
It surprised me. How could he not know that i liked him. Well apparently gay guys dont notice it when girls throw these subtle hints, not that i was much of a hint thrower myself. 
                 The first time i met Martin was at a dinner party me and Pomaa were having for Grace, right after New year, they had just come back from a romantic weekend get away in New-York. 
Apparently Kamal had told him so much about me, how i was like the sister he never had, how he is himself around me. Ha! if only he knew. In the beginning i wasn't exactly honest when i said, 'nice to meet you' Hell i disliked him, he looked like someone Straight out of a Calvin Klein ad. The picture did him no justice, He was like Greek god, if there were blond ones. And such a gentleman. 
For the first time in my life 
I understood defeat
There was no competing here. 
Envy was new to me, and i was slowly embracing it. It was an ugly feeling. I have never wanted something i couldn't have. Never. Things fell in place for me, Always. Except this one time
Me and Martin finally got to talk, He was so open, and really funny. He was really excited about meeting someone from Kamals side, everyone in his family knew Kamal and they liked him
So that was how Kamal saw me - Family. Great! This is worse than heartbreak
I can't really tell when my walls of anger and envy started falling down, but they did. Gradually 
Martin and Kamal became regular faces around our place.
They were opposite of all the stereotypes about gay couples, they acted more like buddies around us.
What baffled Grace and Pomaa was the fact that me and Martin clicked like peanut butter and Jelly. 
Which was why his death was a big blow to me

                                          ***

       Kamal. How do i even start. In simple english Kamal was not en-route to recovery. He was not even trying to
We all tried to be there for him. But i knew Kamal well enough to know that he wasn't going to get over the love of his life like that, especially since he blamed himself for driving the car that took Martin's life.
It was a very ugly accident      
Martin died on the spot Kamal escaped with multiple fractures and a ruptured spleen. It was a terrible period
His parents came to North America to see him
That was when Kamal asked me for a favor
He needed me to lie along with him, he told his parents i was his girlfriend

                            ***
"What?! Kamal how could you? i can't lie to your parents haba'' I was shocked
He winced, maybe from my words, or the pain that went through his body as he tried to sit up
I think it was both.
I moved closer to help him sit up, placing the pillows behind him. I felt a migraine creeping in
''Zee, please, i beg you,  they will only be around for a few days...'' He winced with every word. It hurt to see him like this
''Kamal but why should we lie? You can just say i'm your friend, we are like family now...''
''Zee, they have been asking me about my fiancee for a while now, sometime back i told them they would meet her whenever they came over... ''
''Kai ina, No way, Kamal i have a bad feeling about this. Kamal just tell them the truth'' I stopped
He shot me a dark look, bowed his head and sighed. What was even thinking? I asked myself, was i even thinking at all. How could i even suggest that he come clean to his parents. 
God forbid! that would send his mom to her grave.
Suddenly my whole outlook/bother line nonchalance acceptance to gay and lesbian relationships seemed like something from my previous life
Reality was here. Knocking at our door
Kamal's parents were coming in a few hours.
They were bringing all that we know with them, all that we've been brought up with. Tradition. Religion. Culture. A reminder
A Knowing
Gay relationships are not even acknowledged talk more about accepted
That's an ultimate death sentence. A big disgrace to the family. 
An unspeakable shame
How could we forget? When did we forget? 
Living a lie. Literally. Accepting it. Embracing it
It was a whole hour before any of us spoke again
"Zee who else can do this for me? No one except you''
No one

                       ***


A week after Kamal was discharged from the hospital, his parents  were returning to Nigeria
It was the most unsettled period of my life.
Ladies, want to lose weight fast? Skip the gym, throw out the pills. 
Try living a lie
Like literally breathing lies. speaking in lies. Smiling a lie. Laughing a lie
It started with removing Martins pictures from their shared apartment. It was stress. Everyone thought i lost so much weight because of the whole incident
It was solely because i was lying to two loving people who took me like their daughter
They ended all their sentences with a prayer and  a blessing
God i was bleeding inside. 
Somehow without words, Kamal understood the torture i was going through. As soon as we were left alone. He'd start telling me it was almost over. 
I almost broke down when we took them to the airport
The prayers never ended, The wedding plans started getting mentioned.
The plan was that Kamal was going to call his parents a few weeks after they got to Nigeria to tell them that we had broken up due to some irreconcilable differences
Lie upon lie
We told more lies to keep up with the last. 
Conveniently skipping the truth.
Not once was Martins name mentioned.




                  ***


Kamal went to Nigeria for the first time in 10 years that summer. 
For some reason he had postponed the 'breakup phonecall' to his mum
I just needed him to hurry up and lift the weight from my shoulders
He felt it was going to be better if he told them in person and since he was going for his younger sister's wedding
this was the right time. 
When Kamal came back, we had a little welcome back party for him. 
I left a little early, told everyone at the party it was the end of the hotel season and i had accounts to close, which were due the following week
Honestly i just needed to get away
I had episodes of Modern Family i wanted to catch up on
Not to mention my insatiable icecream craving


                    ***
PRESENT TIME, PRESENT DAY
''What are you talking about Kamal?"  I was surprised at how calm my voice sounded
I was a wreck of a billion nerves standing infront of him
2010 is my year of Shockers. 
I leaned back against the door, He came closer and took my hand in his
''Think about it this way, all we told my parents wouldn't be a lie. You've always talked about how marriage should be based more on Friendship than love. Zee, you are my best friend, we don't have secrets, We can really make this work'' He looked so happy, like he had just found the cure for breast cancer
I took my hands away from his. Okay this guy is going mad, I glanced at my phone. 911 is on my speed dial number 2
'' it still doesn't change anything'' I gave him a knowing look
He looked at me puzzled, as if he was asking what i was talking about
''You are gay, how can we get married? Just listen to yourself"
''Zee, Pomaa told me - she told  me everything'' He was not joking
Pomaa! way to go girl, way to go
''She what? look Kamal, that was a long time ago, before i knew about you and Martin, besides what makes you think i want to spend the rest of my life with a gay guy anyway?!''
He went pale
His face went through a few transformations. Shock. Hurt. Anger. Disappointment
Umm... Okay maybe i shouldn't have said the last part
Or maybe it needed to be said
I was suddenly scared. He looked like a stranger. I have never seen this side of Kamal. I put my hands on my chest. 
Silence
He walked to the door
He stopped
My heart was thumping
 He opened the door, and walked out
The door closed with a bang
without thinking, i rushed to it and locked it


I looked at the clock
12:14am
I am not sure about a few things that happened this year 
but i am sure of this one
I just lost a friend. Forever










''Same-sex sexual activity in Nigeria is illegal according to Chapter 21, Articles 214 and 217 of the Nigerian penal code and can be punished by imprisonment of up to 14 years throughout Nigeria

Truth is the number of Homosexuals in Nigeria is on the increase, irrespective of age, tribe or marital status

Public hostility to homosexual relations is widespread. Very few gays are out.

A lot of Homosexual men in Nigeria and abroad still go into heterosexual relationships and start families''
Culled from wiki


DISCLAIMER
Yes oh. I don't care what you feel, hear or conclude, based on my tweets or just the story
This is a complete work of fiction!!!
I didnt want 2010 to end without posting another blogpost. So i made this up

In just a day :) 
Tell me what you think guys!!