It’s was a cozy room of four in the female dormitory village 2, Gusau. I had just finished tidying up the kitchenette and getting ready for personal study. This was the third time in my undergraduate program I would be staying in this hostel, although in different compounds. It was a comfortable accommodation and my roommates were lovely people. Everyone had their busy schedules but we still had time to talk, laugh, bond and have fun times. You are lucky if you had girls that had enough sense to live in peace and quietness – void of petty quarrels with others– in a small room that barely had enough space for all the clothes and accessories females feel obligated to stuff their wardrobes with and in other rooms, some manage to hang something on every available space on the wall too. Talk of bags and more bags.
We were not “big girls” and in place of a mighty shoe rack or some fancy medium sized refrigerator, we had a reading table and a chair just beside my bed, and where I happened to be studying before being distracted by a quiet knock on the door. I hated getting the door whenever I was in my reading mode. Or frankly, any other mode for the matter. Our door knob had a problem and opening and locking up was not as simple as it ought to be.
It was quite late in the night and the other two occupants of the room were back and fast asleep. I wearily said ‘come in’, hoping against hope one of them hadn’t turned the key already. Knowing the gospel truth and deciding not to keep a tired, and probably hungry student waiting, I reluctantly stood up and got the door. It must be Mabel, I thought as I opened the door without asking. It was indeed Mabel, but the look on her face was not positive. With hand still on the knob, and door wide open for her to enter, I whispered an audible welcome but didn’t get the usual cheerful reply as she walked past me straight to her bed, looking despondent. I was about to think of it when the evening breeze caressed my cheeks and I remembered I had a door to close and an assignment to return to. I was quite disturbed at the cold welcome. It was very unusual.
I locked the door and went back to my table wondering what was wrong with the cheerful and lively Mabel. I wanted to ask. Though my mother had warned me that in the university everyone minds their businesses, these girls had become like sisters to me. We cared about one another and I couldn’t just bury my head in my book pretending there was nothing strongly wrong at such reception. Courtesy, at least, demanded I asked what the matter was. And I was about to when I heard her quietly sobbing and sniffing. All these while since she came in, only about a minute had elapsed. I could still step in and show some love without appearing to have hesitated.
I stood up from the table, walked swiftly towards her and sat by her on the bed, gently touching her shoulder. “Mabel, what happened?”, I inquired, all kinds of thoughts creeping into my mind. Still, I managed to keep my cool.
As though that question provoked emotions already struggling to express, Mabel burst into tears, now sobbing audibly. At that point, I was getting all agitated and disconcerted. What could have happened? How would I handle the situation if it was very bad? For Pete’s sake, it was way past 11pm already, what if she had been assaulted whilst coming?! Or did she get a call on her way back? Maybe some bad news or tragedy… oh no! God forbids all these. I quickly rebuked myself while struggling to be calm. Her sobs were now loud enough to drown the voice of my mind telling my heart, ‘calm down, you’ve got this’.
“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?“, I asked, now with utmost concern, my worries mounting. Who enters a room and goes straight to bed to cry?? Not knowing if to press her to talk or continue robbing her shoulder or both, I called her name gently and reassuringly.
“Mabel…Mabel please, stop crying” I pleaded, “Tell me what happened”, I added as she sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand, driving her head further into the pillow.
“Let me cry, let me cry”, Mabel continued sobbing inconsolably.
“Tell me what happened at least. Talk to me, please”, I implored, wanting desperately to help or console.
“I’ll tell you later, just let me cry“, she mumbled, sniffed again and continued crying.
I hated to leave her disconsolate and I felt this thick heaviness in my chest. If she was not ready to talk about it I had to respect her wish and let her be. Asides the state of suspense I was unexpectedly plunged in, I hated anyone around me being in pain or anguish and I am unable to help or offer comfort. In this case, how would I? I felt very sorry for her. No one should have to go through such emotional pain. I just hoped all was well. Did I say hoped? I prayed.
That night, there were a lot of things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t concentrate on working solutions to my Runge-Kuta problem with a roommate crying. I couldn’t let my imaginations run wild on all the possible things that could have happened too. It was typical of me to think the worst of every situation. I was looking for a thought to dwell on. To change the gloomy ambience. To take my mind off what I was feeling. So I wondered if it was a bad break up. And surprisingly, I took great comfort in that and was able to settle down enough to continue reading.
I couldn’t even let myself question if a break up could hurt that much. Yes, people cry in cheesy movies for such reasons. But, since when do people cry in real life, I thought. Isn’t it always about straight faces, “good riddiance to bad rubbish” and having yourselves a good closure? Well, maybe some emotions here and a tear there, and all such mushiness ‘cause you’ll miss someone you decided to part ways with. Maybe it’s all trying to be strong on the outside while shattering inside. Maybe a break up does really hurt so much. Maybe not. To me, it was better to think it was a break up than to even entertain the thought she got a sad news about a deceased family member.
If it hurts so much to part with someone you love and you really feel like letting it out, by all means do. After all, no one will let you know how much they cried after a breakup.
Then a question without answer popped up in my mind. Does it really hurt this much?… I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I shivered at the mere thought of a broken heart. I had a boyfriend I was so much in love with I couldn’t imagine us apart. He calls me every single day and it really does feel like love. One that would never end. All was fine. All will be fine.
Then the sobs quietened and soon Mabel was fast asleep.
The next day, everything was pretty normal. Mabel was herself again. Or so it seemed. One wouldn’t know she had sobbed herself to sleep. Finding the right time to ask, I didn’t hesitate. “What was all that last night about?” I asked her with a questioning stare that seemed to jokingly say ‘I had let you cry, can I get the story now’. Mabel smiled with pain in her eyes, “You know that guy I once told you about….” she started, her voice strong but full of emotion.
I listened attentively, cutting in where appropriate to ask questions and give comforting comments, trying to be a good shoulder to lean on for a nice girl who just got heartbroken. Mabel had gotten the shock of her life the previous night and it sure hurts a lot to have wasted time in a relationship with someone who wasn’t sincere with one. Or any other of the many reasons that results in one having to part ways with a love interest. From her narrative, I didn’t think so highly of the guy. The red flags were all there but as they say,love is blind.
‘You shouldn’t have shed a single tear, Mabel! He wasn’t even worth you. Good riddance!‘, I almost retorted. “Don’t worry babe, it’s his loss. You’ll be fine” I said instead and smiled.
Little did I know that few months later, I would be hugging my insentient pillow tightly and sobbing, when it, being inanimate, didn’t even probe nor object, “Let me cry…let me cry”