Tamar experienced a jolt in her heart at seeing Derek as he walked into the restaurant with the new dentist she heard he was now frolicking with.
She reeled back a bit and felt her heart shattering as if struck with a milestone. It was a good thing they did not see her and instead, headed to the counter to make their order. She had really thought she would be able to handle seeing him again without fumbling.
She did not delude herself into believing she was over him, she knew she was far from that but she assumed she could act normally around him.
Well, if it was the last thing she did, she would.
There was no way she was going to give Derek the satisfaction of knowing seeing him again was difficult, and definitely not the woman on his arm who was clearly suffering from anorexia and a good stylist.
She was deliberately refusing to acknowledge that their break up was her doing.
Derek and Tamar started dating in Secondary School and their relationship survived the dynamism of University. Everyone was sure they were going to get married and have beautiful babies with Tamar’s amazing curves and Derek’s beautiful eyes.
There was no doubt their union was made in heaven.
However, Tamar had her eyes set on leaving town after school to carve a niche for herself in the world.
She wanted to become a musician and opportunities were limited in New Moon, a small town where everybody knew one another.
Besides, she needed a larger audience.
Her chance came when she met a music exec from Lagos some days after her final exams. She thought it was a dream come true and quickly jumped on the opportunity to follow him to Lagos.
Derek was distraught even though he always sensed she was going to leave someday, but he understood. He told her he was going to wait for her as far as she promised to come back to him.
None of them expected the strain the distance would have on their relationship despite the frequent calls and visits when they could manage it.
Three years after, she was still working as the secretary to the said music exec while Derek’s construction company was doing well. Derek pleaded with her to come back home and do something better with her life but she vehemently refused, accusing him of not believing in her.
As expected, they both decided to end the relationship even though they were obviously still in love with each other. And Tamar never visited home again, keeping in touch with her family through phone calls.
About five years later, when it became clear to her that life in the city was not yielding results as she expected, she decided to come back home to pick up the remaining pieces of her life.
She stayed indoors for close to a week, rehearsing her speech for when she finally saw Derek. She was positive she would be able to get him to come back to her.
She couldn’t be the only one still in love with him; he had to still be in love with her too.
But seeing him with this woman now, she couldn’t be so sure.
Just as Tamar was hoping they wouldn’t spot her in the corner she occupied in the cozy restaurant, Derek lifted his head and sighted her.
He looked taken aback for a microsecond and then, after speaking into the woman’s ears, walked up to her. “Hi Tamar, how are you? It’s been a while”, he said in that gentle voice of his.
She pasted a smile that defied everything she felt inside on her face and told him she was fine.
There was an awkward pause after that as they both assessed each other.
Derek had always dreaded the day he would see Tamar again even though he envisioned it. He knew it was bound to happen someday; life was just not that nice to keep them completely from each other’s path.
He thought she looked good, but then, Tamar had always been beautiful and he also discovered at that moment that he was no longer in love with her.
It was probably for the best that he saw her again because now, he had closure.
He had been scared that although he was sure he loved Sara; there was a part of him that would never think of letting Tamar go.
“You really look good Tamar. I, on other hand, look older; age has a way of doing that to you. It’s been what? Five years?”, he said in a bid to lighten the mood.
She managed an answering smile, “four and eight months”. She realized too late that she had just told him, albeit subtly that she had been counting the days.
He had the grace to pretend he did not notice the slip. “Well, I have to head back; it was nice seeing you again. Welcome home, Tamar” and then he turned away from her, leaving her aching.
Tamar was still sitting with her head bowed about ten minutes later when she heard her name; she raised her head and saw Derek and the woman looking down at her.
Deciding it was rude to remain seated, she stood up.
“Sara wanted to say hi,” he informed her.
“Hi, Tamar. I’ve heard a lot about you and I hope you don’t mind that I wanted to say hi and I must confess I was a bit curious to see the woman that captured Derek’s heart in the way I probably never will. You look lovely, by the way, better than the pictures”, Sara rushed in a voice that many women could die for.
“Thank you”, Tamar replied.
Before she could think of something else to say, she found herself in the warm embrace of the other woman. “Welcome home, Tamar. And I know this really sounds awkward but I would really love if we could be friendly towards each other, I know asking for friendship will be asking too much but I am here if you need anything,” Sara whispered into her ears.
Tamar managed to keep the tears in check till they exited the building and then, she crumbled on the chair and wept, willing away the pain and emptiness she felt since they broke up.
She really did not want to like Sara but how does one react to such kindness? It would have been easier if Sara hated her.
Why did she have to be nice to her? Why did Sara have to compound her problems by looking stunning? Why did Sara have the kind of body that you only found in vogue magazine? Why is it you couldn’t call a size two anorexic? Why is it she couldn’t deny the woman had an awesome fashion sense?
And worst of all, she couldn’t deny Derek was happy and in love when she could clearly see him looking at Sara the way he used to look at her.
She came back home because nothing could fill the emptiness and pain Derek left behind. She came back to hoping to help him see how perfect they had been together.
But now she could see trying to do that would not only make her an awful human being; it would also make all three parties unhappy.
Tamar knew without an iota of doubt that letting go was the best option and truth be told, letting go had been something she had done four years, eight months, two weeks and four days ago.