“Okay guys, let’s take this again from the top, Deji, take the lead this time, John watch the tempo, don’t forget the switch to some TRAP, so Ugo can do his thing with 16 bars, Bayo your bass lines man, I’m not feeling them like the very first rehearsal. Joan you’re doing a good job with the elec piano and strings, I dey feel you die, same as you Ted, in fact I don’t have any problems with the keyboards, the lead guitarist, and the backups” Tega our music director was saying. I just wanted the rehearsals to be over with, so I could get home, and get some sleep.
“Are we still maintaining the same key the original song used?” I asked
“Yeah, that’s G major, right?” Tega asked
“Correct” I affirmed
“Alright Deji, ready? Yvonne, remember the harmony at --It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference—and the other parts. Deji don’t forget that staccatoish stuff at the beginning, you guys know the arrangement already, let’s kill this one more time”
“Yes Boss!” Deji said
“Alright guys, Joan over to you to key us in”
“Aye! Tega” Joan said, she looked at John the drummer to give her a silent 1-2-3-Go count before she began playing the intro to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.
“—I wanna make a change for once in my life…it’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it ri-igh-ight..As I..—” Deji sang
“GO!” Tega directed, as I entered with the grand piano, and the drummer cued in too. We continued with the progression till we got to just before the ‘Change’ part where a modulation was supposed to happen, then John and Bayo did their thing with the drum and bass, then switched to some hiphop beat, then Ugo came in with the rap:
“Reflections Reflections, Mirror Mirror on the wall…I can see the bad in me tryinga make moves aint proud to be. Like the evil I’ve become, the world will soon be dead and gone, and if we do not act right, then I’ll be damned we never won. Huh! Reflections deflections, Imma make my own inflections, from the status quo of bad, good stuff that Michael Jackson sang. The problem isn’t people, the problem is who I am, and if we take it personal, all we’ll ever need is-“
“CHANGE!” the backup sang, as they went a tone higher
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror (Oh yeah) I’m asking him to change his ways (change)…” Deji sang.
“Okay give me some church in here” Tega shouted, and the instruments ceased, while the backups continued in harmony and claps.
“…Yeah! Make that change… Man in the mirror…” They sang.
“Guys, guys! Something is wrong, there are some flat notes from the backups, what’s up na? Then Joan and You, David, you’re not in sync again” Tega said as he looked at Joan and me.
“Maybe we are just fatigued, we’ve been working all day, then coming here and we’ve spent 4 hours already in rehearsals, I think we need rest” Joan said.
“Okay, let’s call it a day then, please learn your parts, vocalists, rehearse your parts, and stay away from stuff that’ll affect your voice. Instrumentalists, score this on your own till you can play from your sleep. We have just one rehearsal before the competition, if we want to come out tops, then we’ve got to put extra efforts ” Tega charged, and we dismissed. I packed my stuff and went to my car, I was in no mood to exchange pleasantries with anybody, I just wanted the solace in solitude.
“Hey babe, babe!” Joan called out. If only she knew how calling me babe now, irked me, if only she knew what I knew.
“What?” I asked.
“What? Okay, I’m just gonna act like you’ve been really stressed for 2 weeks and have become grumpy, what’s wrong? You don’t text or call me unless I do, and even when you reply, it’s monosyllabic and feels like I’m irritating you, and I’m really bothered, ‘cause that’s not you, so I ask again, what’s wrong?” Joan asked.
“I just want to be left alone” I answered, as I got in the car.
“Do you know what it feels like to be shut out by a partner? You don’t know the pain I feel? You’ve stopped caring, and I really need to know why, ‘cause it’s eating me up badly” She continued.
“Joan I’ve had a rough day, I’m not in the mood for talks, I just want to go home and relax” I said as I put the key in the ignition and started the car.
“Oh wow! It’s Joan now, not baby, not your dearest, not your bestest, just Joan- this is new, baby please talk to me, tell me my wrong, you’re the one who talks about how communication is important in a relationship, and you’ve just suddenly gone incommunicado on me” She said.
“Goodnight Joan” Was all I said, then drove off. I got to my compound, parked and just sat in the car for a while and was lost in thoughts. Few minutes later, a knock on my car window startled me, I looked and found Joan, Oh no! guess I needed to take a decisive action.
“It’s five years of my life I have invested in this relationship, a lot of sacrifices I have made to be your best, I can’t just stand and allow it go like that. So baby, you’re gonna talk to me right here, right now” She said.
“It’s over Joan” I said.
“What’s over? The drift between us? Oh thank God it’s over, don’t be acting that way my love” She said, sounding like she was relieved.
“No, this relationship is over, I’m done, I can’t continue with you” I said
“Wait! What? You’re kidding right?” Joan asked
“No I’m not, it’s really over”
“Are you seeing someone else?” She asked calmly.
“No, I’m not, but you’re sleeping with someone else” I answered
“Hold on baby, what did you say?” She asked
“I said what I said” I answered
“You’re accusing me of cheating? Where’s all this coming from?” She asked
“Oh that nice reunion you had with your ex two weeks ago, I got the full gist of what went down, and it all makes sense, seeing as your past was all about jumping beds” I said
“Baby, you really want to use my past against me? Because I opened up to you, out of trust, love, and a need for transparency? Baby, your past isn’t entirely spotless you know, we’ve all made terrible decisions at some points in our lives, many of us have pasts we are not proud of, and have made efforts to change. I’m sad and totally disappointed that you of all people would do this to me, I didn’t expect this from you at all, you have…”
“Joan please spare me the melodrama, only God knows how deceitful you have been these 5 years” I interrupted.
“What? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you being spiteful to me? What gist did you hear that’s making you hate me suddenly?” She asked. I took my phone out, and sent some pictures to her WhatsApp.
“Check your WhatsApp” I replied, she did, and I could hear her gasp for breathe
“No no no, noooo, baby nooo” She cried.
“Well they say a leopard can never run from its spots, I thought you changed, but I was wrong, bye Joan, goodnight” I said, as I turned to get into my apartment.
“Baby, these pictures were taken long before we met, please baby, let’s sit and talk this out” She said.
“There’s nothing to talk about. It’s really over, you visited your ex, and gave me excuses which I believed, then your ex sent me these pictures, with a caption –I took good care of your woman—, why am I even wasting time talking to you? Just go already”
“Baby, hear me out please, if for nothing, for the sake of the 5 years we spent together. Please, those pictures are not from 2 weeks ago, that’s like 8 years ago, and he told me he had deleted the pictures. 2 weeks ago, I explained to you that my car broke down at midnight on my way from work, I needed to be safe, you weren’t picking or replying my texts, there was no other friend that was close….”
“Good night Joan” I shut her out. That night, I couldn’t sleep, I wept hard, “Why me? Why do I keep being the good guy that gets stabbed in all relationships?” I asked no one in particular. I drowned myself in alcohol, but sleep never came. This was the 10th relationship I was hoping would lead to marriage, I had been dumped in previous relationships either because according to them, I was not spontaneous enough, some said I was not serious because I wasn’t ready, I was dumped for being too nice. Now after working so hard at becoming a better partner for Joan, it was all working out well till this stuff happened.
Joan tried severally to get me to listen, but I wasn’t interested, I was done, I didn’t need her in my life anymore, I just needed to move on and get on with my life, but it didn’t happen that way, I began to lose interest in everything, I ditched the music rehearsals and the concert without explanations, and even yelled at Tega to stop disturbing my life, I yelled at my boss too and got fired. I had become a jobless person and was gradually slipping into manic depression, suddenly nothing mattered anymore, I had become an alcoholic again, and looked for hard drugs. I was becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, but the truth is, none of them was making me feel better, rather it seemed to drag me into a dark vacuum, and the voices in my head kept reminding me about how much of a failure I had become, the voices kept getting louder until one day it screamed “DIE LOSER!”, yes! That was the answer to the trauma I was going through- Death!
Two months after, my health was deteriorating fast, I had become a shadow of myself, and in my manic state, I had excommunicated everyone who cared about me at some poin. Deep down, I knew I needed someone to talk to, but it was late now, death was the best answer to the pain I felt, so I went out to get some drugs from the medicine store, I intended to overdose on the drugs and just die. When I got home, I looked around me, there was really no reason for me to stay alive. A long WhatsApp text came in from Joan’s ex-
“-Hey dude- -you’re the dumbest fellow ever- -You let a good relationship of five years with Joan walk away, because I sent you some shit that happened way before y’all became foolish—I told her you were a dumb mofo, and couldn’t understand why she left me for you—I thought you would see the time and date stamp on the pictures and realize they were very old pictures, but no, you chose to be the stupid failure you are—I actually wanted her come back to me after the whole thing, but as soon as she left you, she went back to the States and got married yesterday—I’m sad it wasn’t me, well it couldn’t have been me seeing as I broke her trust, but damn I’m very glad it wasn’t you either—Bye failure! Oh and that day she crashed at my place, did she tell you she refused to sleep inside the room I offered her? She was up all night, and nothing happened between us…lol! I love this!” I read the text one more time, then looked at the raunchy photos he sent some months earlier, and indeed there were dates on all of them. Then the realization hit me real hard, I was a failure indeed.
Joan had brought me out of the darkest moments when everyone else had abandoned me, she made me see I had potential, that I could go beyond my own limitations, in our five years of bliss, she had never given me cause to doubt her, she was the only one who ever really knew me, and look how I let her go, because I allowed my fear of being rejected yet again, take over my sense of reasoning, because I refused to listen to her, she was the light in my life, she was my adviser, confidant, best friend, sister, lover, guardian, support, and yet I threw away the best thing that ever happened to me. I wept bitterly, and didn’t see any reason to stay alive, I had failed everyone that ever helped me in one way or the other, no, tell me what I was living for? I looked at the drugs, and was about to swallow when I thought to myself, “there’s one thing that needs to be done”. –Multiple stabbings as he got off his car at home, I felt so glad and loved the look on his face when he saw me, and I made sure my face was all he could see, as the knife kept plunging in and out, now we could go continue the fight in hell, now I could die happily knowing full well that I had just taken the life of the person who took my life away from me! Joan was the best I never had.