We are driving back from the movies. This is our third time together.
The talk is usually sparse, peppered with jokes, and ending with an ‘I had fun, we should do it again’. So we do it again.
Today the air feels different. The movie, a long drama ending with the sad unexpected death of the main character, has triggered something because we shared that experience.
About fifteen minutes into the drive, she cracks open. She says:
“You know what I am scared of? I am afraid of making the wrong decision especially when it comes to relationships. I see couples, some are happy and some are not. And I wonder, how do you know when to fight for something and when to give up on it?”
She takes a deep breath and continues:
“Even the simpler decision, whether to open up to someone or be friends with them, each connection creates a permanent link.
My mother, she is always telling stories of how she ran into her best friend from secondary school or university at a wedding or a funeral. And how they reminisced about the adventures they had when they were younger. There are so many of them, these best friends. She is always running into them, like she went through life building close irreplaceable ties she wasn’t interested in holding on to.
I don’t want to be like that. Hanging on to many temporary friendships. You know?
I try to understand where all this is coming from. Did I miss something in the film? Then not finding that, I look for the proper response that will keep the conversation going. I imagine I am like a shepherd and I just have to herd the talk along with the right mix of nods and grunts.
At this point, I realise, shit, I have spent too much time thinking. The flow is lost. So I fall back to a nod, tilting my head with the amount of solemnity I think the topic deserves.
We stop at a red traffic light.
She turns to look at me and says, “What are you afraid of?”
I say, “I’m worried about being trapped in an infinite change loop.”
“Infinite change loop,” I repeat.
“You know when you buy something, for example from a market woman, and it costs three hundred and sixty five naira. You give her a one thousand naira note. She looks at it and says, ‘Ah oga, I don’t have change.’ Then she rummages through that cloth pouch thing around her waist, brings out a five hundred naira and a two hundred naira note and passes them to you. Meaning you’ve only given her three hundred.
You check your wallet, you don’t have change either. So you give her a one hundred naira note. She takes it, searches some more, and materialises two twenty naira notes from her waist bag. You find a ten naira note and give her… and so on to infinity.”
She stares at me for a long time without blinking.
She says, “Why wouldn’t you just dash her the thirty five naira?”
I say, “You’re missing the whole point.”
We settle back into silence.
Five minutes later, she says, “It can never be infinite.”
“That’s not the point.”