Somebody took her. You did not know until today. A few hours ago.
She left, five years ago. You moved on. She moved on too. At first you had thought you would not but when you kept calling and hit voicemail and she never called back, you gave up. You said you would try forgetting her for a week. It worked. Two weeks. It worked. Before you knew it, her number was deleted.
You met her once, in the supermarket. She was with a friend. Female. She smiled, a thin smile, and said 'hi'. Then quickly faced away. You said 'hi' back. You wanted to make a long conversation. You stopped. She walked on. Laughing. Hard and louder. Not into the ears of her friend. Into the vacuum she must have been sure you were occupying.
You felt bad, again, after a long time. Because of her.
"I only wanted to be kind," you had later told a friend.
Seriously, you just wanted to be kind. You just wanted to catch up with an old friend. Exchange a greeting and all. You never wanted to resurrect anything. You just wanted to show her that there are no ill feelings you harbour. She thought otherwise. That is why she walked away. Laughing.
For her, the animosity was fresh. In her eyes, you were still the loser, mad at being dumped. She did not know.
She did not know that at this time you were happily seeing another one. A fourth year criminology student. A lover whose voice awoke your feelings the time you had buried them. At the supermarket, actually, you were at her insistence. She was to join you 30 minutes later.
"Visit those electrical shops first and then I will join you," she had said on the phone minutes before.
But her, the ex, thought you had not recovered. So, she said a 'hi' through a thin smile. Facing away, almost. Laughing as she went. As if in mockery. Actually, in mockery.
That was the last time you met her. It was the last time you talked about her. With the friend.
"I met her today," you had not said her name. You never said her name to him.
The friend read it. He was unemotional when asking you if you talked. He knew you better. He knew you had moved on.
You had explained it to him. The way she said 'hi'. You actually said she threw a 'hi' as one would throw at a dog that is dogged by flies. You picked it, like a beggar. And, yes, you wanted more. She walked away.
"You shouldn't have wasted your time," your friend said..
You told him you just wanted to be kind. He laughed. Not like her. He asked what kindness would you have for her.
"You just wanted her to catch a glimpse of your life, that you are happy without her. And than her."
Somehow, you thought what he said was the truth. But you dismissed it. You had moved on. You were happy. You were in love. You were just being kind.
But, she had dismissed your kindness. Her actions showed she had misinterpreted it.
You let her wander away from your mind. You clicked the 'unfriend' button on Facebook at the insistence of your girlfriend. She had said somebody had told her the two of you were secretly communicating. She did not want to see her on your friend's list again. You had obliged.
She was out. And far away. Even your girlfriend knew she was out, you suspected, but she only wanted to cause trouble. It was a way of defending herself from the accusations you were making to her concerning the classmate she fondly called 'darling'. The one she would leave you for a year later. The next day of which your ex, the one you met at the supermarket, would visit again.
She does not come to your house. She does not call your number. She appears on your timeline. On Sunday.
You are drunk. You are not sure really whether you are drunk. Or sober. You had five if not six bottles. You feel sleepy. You are going through Facebook. Watching but not commenting. Observing but not liking.
You are just scrolling through when you bump on her...
Another man calls her his. There are 6 photos of her, alone, and another 2 of them, together. Holding hands. Smiling.
You zoom the photos. You look at her. The smile in the photo they are together. It feels empty. Just a mouth stretched void of any emotion.
You wonder if something has changed in her. You click next. It is one of the photos she is in alone, puffing her hair backwards. A ghost stares into your eyes. A zombie. A skeleton tampered with by patches of flesh. She is supposed to be smiling. But, this is not a smile. This is something.
Again, you think, something has changed in her. Next.
She is in it with him. A handsome man. And a ghost.
"She has changed," you speak to the biting coldness of June in your bachelor sitting-room in Blantyre, Malawi.
"She is not the same."
Alone. She comes. A beautiful poetic caption under it. She is seeing a poet now, you discover. Her childhood dream. You remember how she had always complained that your messages were not exciting. Not romantic.
"How should they be?" you had asked after the one you had stolen on the internet had backfired.
"They should be something...I do not know how to put it...but you know...something poetic, like poetry, like lovely, like you love me...you know...like..."
You were a Scientist who was not just a scientist but who saw no beauty in poetry. Your beauty existed in the laboratory in mixing chemicals and experimenting. Sometimes, it was in her. And the girl who came after her.
You feel like calling her. To congratulate her on her poet catch. You remember her number is not in your phone. It is in your sober mind. This time trying to remember it proves hard. It just convinces you that you are drunk.
Next. You click again. This time it takes long to load. Malawian internet.
You cancel the loading. You want to send a message in her inbox although you are not friends. You look at the photo again. A ghost. No longer beautiful.
Laughter. Long and hard.
"Beer never gets old!" you shout. To nobody.