I was 26 the very first time I met my socially awkward best friend and brother from another mother. We were in a social situation that was more panic-inducing than having a heart attack. We gravitated towards each other later when we met in the unisex bathroom to wipe our brows of the sweat that had been accumulating due to the said situation. Over the course of that year, we become very close – not in a romantic sort of way, but in the realisation that we had more in common with each other. We were both socially awkward and suffered at the hands of social butterflies that fluttered around us during social occasions. For several years, our relationship was unlike either of us had known – it was supercharged with constant companionship, love, and unwavering loyalty. For some of our families and friends, it was their first time to see a full-blown platonic relationship that worked. Some didn’t understand and accused us of unsavoury things. It didn’t matter because we had smart and realistic ground rules that worked.
In the face of ridicule by social butterflies who had no problem making new friends, who couldn’t understand our awkwardness, we made profound decisions: enjoy our lives together and rely on each other. We soon became best friends who no longer dreaded the outdoors. We enjoyed each other’s company and when we were together, nothing fazed us. We were fearless and at times reckless – like when we drank too much JD baptised with weed. We laughed until our ribs hurt, and joyful tears rolled down our faces. We rolled in the grass and didn’t care if our clothes were stained with green that might never come out. Passers-by looked in utter shock, some with disdain – we didn’t care because we had each other, and we vowed we would be together till death parts us. Well, death didn’t part us – a girl did.
There’s a quiet desperation when you are dumped by someone who was not your lover. He got engaged and she wanted me out of the picture. Surprisingly, he agreed. She said I was a bad influence, quoting the JD incident as one of many to come, and one she wouldn’t stand for now that they were dating and in a serious relationship. I was left high and dry, mostly because I did not see it coming, but mostly because he agreed. It appeared to me that our friendship only served as a time killer while he waits to meet the love of his life. All the promises we made to each meant nothing – they were just empty words that came out of our mouths for the sake of making sounds.
One day he called early in the morning, he told me, coldly I might add, that I shouldn’t worry about him anymore. I digested those words and assumed his social awkwardness was making a comeback – what I know now and didn’t then, was that the love of his life was standing over him as we spoke, and her look said everything he needed to know. A few weeks later, they were engaged. I didn’t know about this development until I saw a Facebook update that he was in a relationship with a Rachel and that they were engaged. I wanted to like the post but was worried I might unleash demons that even Angel Gabriel could not tame. I knew all along that just because we were best friends I didn’t own him or him me, but still, I felt betrayed and worse – deserted. Somehow over the years, I had assumed I would his maid of honour and he would be my best man: I felt robbed of my right to be happy for him and revel in his joy.
I lamented my feelings to some other socially awkward people I had met over the years: some were kind others cruel. The kind ones said things like ‘let it go and move on’, the cruel ones asked, ‘what did you expect’. Well, I didn’t expect the friendship to end just because he had met his soulmate, but it happened and yes, I had to move on – Jezebel reigns supreme.
I am reminded that some relationships are not meant to last a lifetime, and everything do happen for a reason. I will mourn the death of my friend because he might as well be dead. His fiancée has warned me off – I have no intention of breaking that promise – I will back off. I now know the pain of losing someone you love and looked up to, but most importantly I’ve learned how to depend on me and the importance of one-foot in. I also realise now more than ever, that feminism has a big fight on her hands when some women won’t trust other women to have meaningful platonic relationships with their men – I know this opens a whole can of worms – so let’s leave it as a topic for another day.