THE CURSE


Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash 

https://unsplash.com/@tents_and_tread


Whenever a guy broke my heart, I felt like dying. I would always cry and ask myself why I was constantly being unlucky.


For days, I wouldn’t eat, I would sit in my room all to myself sobbing and sleeping. I would repeat the whole cycle again from morning till night and for as many as four to five days.

“Ifemelu, you need to put your self together, enough of this!!!” Aunty Ifeoma would say to me in a raised voice, like I’d committed a crime, or as if I wanted to commit suicide.

“Aunty Ify you won’t understand” I would say to her and break out into more tears, only to regret letting those words out of my mouth; few seconds later.


One several occasions she would fire back angrily.


 “What do you know about love? Ehn??! Answer me. Do you know how old I am?” She would  query.


That fateful  morning, I rested my head on my knees and would not look  at her.

“You’re too young to be crying over Justin, there are many young guys out there” she said.


At the mention of his name I pinched myself so hard. I wondered why I did so; maybe because I had suddenly started growing resentments for him or that I was feeling his absence or that I was just behaving so abnormal and strange.


Justin had made a great impact in my life, and the thought of him, walking out of my life, was a really difficult one to bear. Few hours ago, he had sent me a text message. 


“I’m sorry I can’t continue with US anymore, I wish you Goodluck in all your life endeavors. It’s over” 


The most painful part was that it was a week to Valentine’s Day that it happened.


I tired to analyse the text over and over again. It sounded rude, polite, heartless, kind, respectful of Justin, all at once. 

I can remember that I let the mobile device fall off my hands and the screen got shattered. For several minutes I’d stood confused, until the footsteps of aunty ify running towards my room with a manner of emergency, brought me back to reality.


“Ogini?? What is it? What fell?” She asked.

—————————————————————————

I was 18 when Justin left me, a week to Valentine’s Day. 

And on that fateful Valentine’s Day, I learnt of his death.


That afternoon, I was sitting on the sofa scrolling through my android device, viewing people’s WhatsApp status uploads, while aunty ify; my guardian sat in her room knitting some fabrics which she would give to her customers the next day.


“Ahh!!” I shouted and few seconds later she ran out from the room, with the thumping of her heavy footsteps giving off terrific sounds, as usual.


“what is it again?!! Do you want to give me high BP??!” She asked.


“Justin is dead”


“Ah! You must be joking o, shut up your mouth, you shouldn’t be joking with things like these, you this child” she said to me.


“I’m serious mummy, some of my friends are posting it and even his elder sister just posted it on her status now” I raised the phone for her to see what I meant.


‘I-STILL-CAN’T-BELIEVE-THIS….FAREWELL-BROTHER’


We were silent for some minutes. 


“Heewwwu chim!” She exclaimed, suspending her two hands over head. “This is so sad o! What a premature death” she said. 


After standing for few minutes in thoughts and silence, she left quietly for her room. She didn’t say a word to me again till the next morning. I wondered why she felt so sad, even when I knew him better than she did.


The feeling of Confusion, pain, fright and fear, all enveloped me at once. I wondered what it would have been like, if I was still with him till the day of his death. I would have been the witch who would receive  and harbor all sorts of accusations and insults.


In school the next day, News had it that he hung himself for no just reason. Mary my class mate walked up to me during break period; her prying eyes staring at me with answers to satisfy its curiosity and suspicion.


“Didn’t he just break up with you last week?”

“Yes he did” I replied, chewing my nails so as to hide my pain.

“Why would a reasonable person kill himself for no just reason” she said, trying to ignite a session of discussion.

 

Anyways, I wasn’t in the mood to discuss about anything to related to it.

“I’ll talk to you later” I said to her as I stood up and made for the class.

She sat and kept staring at me in surprise; I cared less about whatever ran through her mind. I was in pains.


After school that day, all the SSS3 students were summoned by the school principal.


“It’s no news that Justin is gone” he began, amidst the silence that enveloped the atmosphere.


“Something is behind it; someone is behind it”


All eyes turned to stare at me as if I was the SOMEONE.

They had this ‘OF-COURSE-YOU-WERE-HIS-GIRLFRIEND’ inscription written over it, which I totally understood but I ignored them all and kept a straight face, staring at the principal as he spoke. I wasn’t expecting less.


“Justin was stabbed last night countless times, outside his compound, and his dead body was found hanging on a tree” 


Everyone gasped in shock; his death was even worse than what it had been described earlier to be. The felt that I must have poisoned him, or that I must have pushed him through a bridge and into the great river which ran through an area close to our school. The felt I wanted to have my revenge on him and to show him how angry I was for deciding to walk out of my life.


I heaved a sigh of relief and broke down into tears at the same time. 


-that I wasn’t the one who killed him, of course I couldn’t be the one plus I had a small size-


-that I still missed him even when he walked out of my life and it was even worse, now he was no more-

—————————————————————————-

(Fast forward to 5 years later)


I’m 23 now and I believe that I’m still trying to be emotionally mature, though I know I’ve not yet attained it. A lot of things have shaped my life over the pat five years, coupled with the fact that I’d been constantly battling with a trauma which started since I was 18. I still have this habit which I’m trying to get over with. It’s, always putting my all in a relationship only to be hurt in the end and then becoming the victim always. 


Anyways, Justin was the first love of my life and he had this space in my heart which I would continually reserve. Not only Justin, I found myself continually thinking of all whom I’d dated and constantly wished that they would one day come back to my life. Yes. They had all died mysteriously too after walking out of my life.


The most terrifying one was that they were always murdered on a Valentine’s Day by whoever it was, that was keeping a tab on me.


From Justin, down to Eddy; I’d lost them all. Five in all; one for each year.

It was getting out of hand. Even aunty ify had to call me one night to talk things out with me.


“All your Ex-boyfriends are dying mysteriously on every Valentine’s Day, Ifemelu what is happening?” She asked.


I remained silent and preferred not to speak. My living with her as my parent/guardian all these years, had helped her understand my personality. In fact we had gotten used to each other, that I could tell when she wanted to shout on me or cry, no matter how confident she was speaking to me at the moment. She could also decipher when I was having my mood swings, when I was happy, excited and angry too. Tonight I was heartbroken. It didn’t just come all of a sudden, it had been building up; ever since I was 18.


She watched as tears rolled down my cheeks, and moved closer to wipe them with the back of her hands.


“Don’t cry ok? talk to me Ify” she said, calling the short form of my name which was similar to hers too.

“Aunty Ify why me?!” I cried out “why me?”


“Why is my own love story always different. Why would all my Ex boyfriends be murdered mysteriously every Valentine’s Day?”


She was silent.


“Aunty Ify am I a witch?!!” I cried out 

“No you aren’t my dear”

“But all hands are pointing at me, what have I done to deserve this” I asked.


She was quiet for a while and then drew me closer to herself.

“No one wants to be in a relationship with me again” I said

“No one wants to die after dating me” I added painfully.

 She was silent still.


“Philip just broke up with me last week and he’s already sending me threats on how his family will come after me if he isn’t alive after the 14th of next month.”


Soon, she started weeping too. It was just a confusing situation with no solution and a seemingly no way forward.

“I’m not letting you go Ifemelu” she said to me; by then, she had pulled herself together and found a way to speak.


“If they will take you, then they should take me too, because you’re all I’ve got in this world” 


That was my aunty ify for you. A pure Igbo figure; an easy going individual, always wearing bravery and a never-ending support and passion for whatever and whoever brought her joy. Her close friends, her family. Yes I was her family; I was all she had.


“No mummy, I don’t deserve to live; I’m tired of being a nightmare in people’s lives” I said.


“I know your hands are clean, I know you’re innocent of all these allegations, I’m here for you no matter what happens” 

—————————————————————————

The day before valentine, Philip my latest ex boyfriend called me.

“Ifemelu, if I’m dead by tomorrow my family will never forgive you!” He shouted over the phone.


“Nothing will happen to you Philip” I said calmly after thinking on the right way to begin the seemingly heated conversation.

“You liar! You think I’ve not heard all about your past relationships?”

I was silent; there was nothing to say, there was nothing to prove.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before accepting me into your life” he asked.


After some seconds of silence… I spoke.

“I wanted to be loved, I needed you in my life, I…”

He interrupted me suddenly.


“Save all those for later please, what do I do now, because I don’t want to die  an untimely death because of you?”


I’d never seen them being killed; I didn’t even know how it usually happened. So I thought it would be better to stay with Philip throughout the Valentine’s Day. It was the smartest thought I’d ever come up with under few seconds of pressure. I was so proud of myself and I knew he would accept it because it was the safest thing to do.


“How about you come to my place and stay for the Val celebration, you can leave the next day when it’s over” I said.


“Never” we aren’t dating anymore, don’t you understand?!” He roared.

“That’s the best I can offer, Philip” I said almost immediately with an air of confidence and certainty.

After murmuring for a while, he agreed to come.


Few hours before he arrived, he sent me a text message. “I’m only coming over, just for my safety. No strings attached. For your info, we’re officially not together anymore” he texted.


That night, he arrived with his medium sized back sack. He wasn’t a stranger, he had been here countless times while the relationship was still on, so nothing seemed new to him. Aunty Ifeoma was away; she had gone to visit one of her friends who had just turned fifty, and wouldn’t be home till the next day. He sat down on the sofa close to the door and fixed his gaze on his mobile device. I wondered if that was how he had planned to spend the night. 


When it was a bit late into the night, I walked up to him and told him that it was bed time.


“I’ve arranged the visitors room for you, you can spend the night there” I said as calmly as possible. 


He nodded and stood up; picking his bag with him. Before entering the visitor’s room, he felt the silence between us; Philip knew I was expecting him to say something else. He then turned and asked about aunty Ifeoma.


“She’s ok, she went to visit a friend” I replied. Then he walked into the room and shut the door. 


I wasn’t expecting him to talk to me; not like we had anything else in common again. I lay on my bed and listened to the quietness which enveloped the house.


As soon as the clock struck 12:00am (February 14) it happened.

————————————————————————-

I heard a sound from the sitting room. It was that of the glass window being shattered to pieces; Someone had broken into the house. Before I could stand up from the bed, Philip ran into my room and shut the door. I knew who he was; despite the fact that he roared and acted like a tiger in the relationship, he seldomly acted like the man he was. He was a fearful type. Little things could give him high blood pressure.


He was sweating and breathing heavily. I didn’t know that he had been awake all through the night, trying to be vigilant and security conscious. He told me about it later.


“Someone is here Ifemelu”

“Yes I know” I replied

He ran behind me and held me tight as his legs wobbled in fright” 


I managed to squeeze past his desperate grip and bolted the door from inside.


“Please I don’t want to die” he whispered to me.

My legs also wobbled In fear as I tried to discern who was meant to protect who, between the two of us.


We hid behind the door and waited as the footsteps approached gradually. I picked up a machete which I usually kept under my shoe rack. I used it occasionally for weeding aunty Ify’s garden and for clearing some stubborn grasses which grew in front of the house. 


Soon we heard a phone ring, and the stranger stopped moving. The stranger stopped to pick up the call and only when the stranger spoke, did we confirm that it was man.


“My lord, he came to sleep over in her house” The voice said. “That’s why I’m here”

 Philip held me tight, I could feel him urinating on his shorts”


I shook my head in pain. Was this the killer of all my Ex-boyfriends standing on the other side of the door? Was this the person who had been causing me pains all these while for over five years? Suddenly, the fear in me was replaced by anger; I wanted to know who it was; I wanted to see his face; I wanted to curse him and abuse him. In fact I wanted him dead.


In anger and without thinking straight or logically, I made for the door. 


“Ifemelu what are you trying to do?” Philip asked, raising his voice loudly in terror and more fright. 


But no sooner had I taken a step forward, than he released a bullet through my door. The bullet flew above our head, narrowly missing the tip of my head and a portion of Philips right ear. It shattered the glass window which faced us from behind and continued its journey outside the building till wherever it stopped.


“He’s armed, we must leave” I said to Philip whose trousers were already wet. We quickly jumped out through the smashed window;

Soon, we made our way out of the compound, into the dark night.


I tried calling Aunty Ifeoma but her line wasn’t available. We were running to where we didn’t know. I promised my self that the best which I could do for Philip was to save his life that day and I was ready to sacrifice my own because I loved him and wanted him back, though I knew he never did.


Not long and the stranger located us. He ran after us with his whole might, shooting into the darkness towards our direction.


One of the bullets touched Philip on his left leg and he fell to the floor crying. 

“Hey we have to go, he’s almost here b-a-b-e” I didn’t know when those words left my mouth. I wondered why I was still finding it hard to die the fact that we were no longer together.


I pulled him up and helped him as the flight progressed. I turned to see if I could catch any glimpse of the stranger in the darkness, but I couldn’t see anything; the moon had decided not to show its light that night. Everywhere was pitch black save for the bright colored clothes which we wore. He was wearing a lemon shirt and lemon shorts while I was putting on a white top and black skirt. 


I heard footsteps approaching us;

“We must move faster, he’s right behind us!” I said, as we kept on moving to where we didn’t know. In the confusion and darkeness which surrounded everywhere, we both collided with a tree and fell to the floor.


I was the first to regain my consciousness and tried to sit up, Suddenly I felt a loud thud on the back of my head and I became dizzy.


I heard Philip shouting; the stranger wasn’t after me, but him. I would do my best to save him even if It costs my life. I didn’t want to lose another of my Ex again on a Valentine’s Day. 


Suddenly a street light which was mounted some distance away from us came on. Its lazy dull lights gave an appreciable illumination and helped me see what was going on. We were in between an empty street and a little bush not so far from where I lived.


The stranger was dealing him blows when I regained consciousness fully.

I stood up, and picking a stone with me, I rushed the the stranger, and flung it towards him. The stone hit him hard on the back of his head and he sat back as he groaned in pains; holding the area in discomfort. He quickly rushed me and used the butt of his gun to hit me on my head again and I fell to the ground.


All these while, Philip lay on the floor shivering like a chicken about to be slaughtered. “Please I don’t want to die!” He kept on shouting.


I was too weak to stand. I lay half awake watching and praying that Philip wouldn’t get shot.

The Stranger loaded his gun and pointed it towards Philip. After corking it he said to Philip;

“Happy Valentine’s” and there was a gunshot.


I closed my eyes in grief as tears filled my eyes. Indeed I had been cursed. I blacked out immediately.

————————————————————————-

“Ifemelu are you okay?” It was aunty Ify; she shook me gently and touched my forehead. She heaved a sigh of relief when she saw that I was still conscious. 


“He’s gone” I muttered

“No he isn’t, he is gone” she said pointing to the stranger who lay on the floor. 


Philip walked up to me and pulled me up gently.

“Are you okay?” He asked calmly.


I nodded and looked around in shock to understand what was happening. It was still dark, and the we all depended on the streetlight for illumination.


I managed to see uniformed men standing at different positions with their firearms.

Aunty Ify had planned ahead of me, ahead of us.


“Which mother would leave her terrified daughter   Who is in danger, at home to visit a friend?” She asked and hugged me tightly.


I wrapped my hands tightly around her. I turned to look at Philip and ran to hug him. We went closer to the corpse to see who it was.


I gasped in shock after identifying who it was.

“Do you know him?” Aunty Ify asked.


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