Twist of Fate

A sudden global pandemic spirals out of control and then leads to lockdowns across major cities. What does that leave someone with? Nothing but a trail of disruption. For me the situation was a cocktail of activities and opportunities I had never dreamed about either doing or not doing. So here I was, this Nigerian lady of twenty-three trying to figure out my ‘new' life. Starting a relationship was never, ever part of my considerations. So how then did it eventually happen? Educational institutions had gone on break, most businesses and establishments asked to closed down or restrict opening hours and everyone ordered to stay indoors as much as possible to contain the spreading viral disease called COVID-19. But alone at home with little of my life the same as it was before the crisis, my world had transformed into something strange. I was at home doing nothing much except reading my books, catching up with old friends in town through social media and helping around with a little renovation with my siblings. Finding a traditional job that I could engage myself with around my neighborhood and beyond proved futile. It simply was a disaster. No one was hiring anyone new for a job. However, four months into my university break, I found something to do at home that I should say was fascinating: online freelance work. How I got into such a job sometimes makes me wonder but it all started with a friend of mine back from secondary school called Felix. He had sent me a Facebook message asking if I could help him out with some writing gigs. After my initial negative reply which was based on my little experience with creative writing, I agreed to help him. Back in secondary school, Felix was the most captivating of all the boys in my class and I considered him the most brilliant. Once in a while he would top the class but his periodic genius mind wasn't what started our friendship back then. Rather, it was his love for writing and drawing that got my attention. Some probing and demanding on my part made him finally take me as his apprentice. Weeks later, just as I was making some progress with these creative skills, I decided to quit. My love interest in art had gone and in its stead a close friendship had formed between me and Felix. I didn't feel I had it in me to be an artist of any sort or so I thought. Still I occasionally practiced when I needed a break from some stressful things. My first client was a lady, Felix's friend. She requested for a drawing of her boyfriend ahead of his birthday coming up in two weeks. A simple but unique piece of art was my first product in this new world of commerce and it was highly appreciated by many. I did many more interesting gigs after that but the most heartwarming was a love letter I wrote for a girl whose father had survived COVID-19. She cried after reading it stating it was the most love filled message she had read in a long time. Felix had told me about it in the happiest voice and for once in a long while I was moved by that knowledge. Many times I had to refer to the internet for tips on how to go about some projects. And like a mentor that he was, Felix was there to guide me through it all. He shared tips, experience, techniques with me that would help bring better results than the last projects. A year later since I started this new journey I found myself not so enthusiastic about it. It's like I had lost my love and interest for this phase and experience of my life that I felt so withdrawn. True, it was very demanding especially on my creative abilities but I sadly realized I was not in my most unique and comfortable zone. And so like years before, I decided to quit. I sent Felix a message in June, 2021, thanking him for everything: the teaching, support, advice and of course friendship. I told him in the nicest way that I wasn't ready to continue down this road of entrepreneurship, As a second-year nursing student my future career still obsessed me and I did not want to let that go. I did make a request to him that I wanted to be his official business partner in the art industry in future. More of a inactive one I reasoned. Sadly, he did not give a reply when I expected. I was hurt. I imagined he also had the same feeling of disappointment despite the confidence and encouragement he had given me and I still let him down. Some weeks later he responded. “I would gladly have you as my official business partner. Would you please accept my proposal to be my girlfriend?” he wrote back to me. Shock and surprise hit me as I digested the meaning of the message. I had a number of male friends but I had never dated or had a boyfriend before. This really was a first for me. I sent him an affirmative reply teasingly asking if he has had a girlfriend before. He said yes: me, in those days when we were in secondary school. And so that's how my love journey began with a guy called Felix. And till now, we are still going on strong in our relationship.

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Bernard Jan

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