I stuttered and struggled to find the words to speak. My hands were shaking, my voice was suddenly muted, and as for my feet, they were barely holding me up. I could hear Mansa asking again “who is this”? I failed to respond and she hang up; for all she knew it could be someone trying to prank her.
I couldn’t understand how a confident person like me would be so shaken by a phone call. This had never happened to me. Why now, why with Mansa? But I was running out of time and literally losing my mind, so I had to think on my feet; no, scratch that, my feet had already failed me, I had to think aloud.
I reasoned that if I sat down to make that phone call, there would be one less thing to worry about. So with a little “mind yoga” and renewed determination, I called for the 4th time, she answered yet again with “hello, who is this”? Like an impulsive parrot, I poured out my heart. It was now or never.
“Mansa, it’s me James. Your friend James, James from the neighborhood”. James Peniel, JP? She asked. Ooooo, this cannot be good, I muttered to myself. “Yes, it’s me JP”. “You mean JP from Banga Street?” Yes, it’s me JP.
There was a moment of silence, and I was nervous. I couldn’t tell if that silence was good or bad. But I had no choice, but to wait. I really hurt her feelings 3 months ago and the fact that she even answered my call is a miracle. I wouldn’t have answered the call if the tables were turned.
So how did we get here? What exactly did I say to Mansa 3 months ago? Why Am I nervous? Well, those are good questions, and I’m glad you asked.
I had met her a year ago when she moved into our neighborhood. Before long, we became very close friends. Despite being from an extremely wealthy family, Mansa was very simple, friendly and hardworking. She was kind to everyone she met, and I really liked that about her.
Our friendship blossomed and I looked forward to spending time with her every day. One afternoon in September as we sat in her living room chatting away, she surprised me with the news of traveling to the US to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health.
I didn’t handle the news to well. I couldn’t explain the mixed emotions. I was happy for her, yet somehow I felt betrayed and angry. I said a few unkind words and left her home abruptly. Ever the kind soul, she called me to explain and apologize, but I was so arrogant and stubborn. I wouldn’t accept her apology and I didn’t go back there.
I made every excuse to limit my interaction with her. A month later at another friends party, I heard that Mansa was already in the US. I don’t know why but my heart skipped a bit. Anger turned to remorse, and remorse into ……….??? Well at this point, I’m not sure what emotions I feel. One thing was sure, I was really missing her. I began to wonder how she must have felt about my extreme reaction.
Gosh, what kind of a friend was I if I couldn’t listen to her explanation or even forgive her? But most importantly, why do I miss her this much? I can’t stop thinking about her, I smile whenever I reflect on our time together. It’s been 3 months and I can’t take it no more. I want my friend back, and this time, I want more than just friendship. That dream I had must be a sign. A sign that we need to be together. I can’t let her go. No, I just can’t.
“Yes, it’s me JP”, I continued. “How are you? How is the US”? “Not so bad she responded. School is going well and I need to get ready for class in 15 minutes”. “I just called to say hi and to let you know that I’m sorry, I’m really sorry for my overreaction”. “Hmmm, we’ll see about that,” she responded. “I have class soon and I really need to get going”, she said”.
I wondered if she was saying this to get me out of the way or if she really had a class to attend! Mansa, can I call you again later today after your class? “Yes”, she replied, “in 7 hours you can call back”. And just like that, she was off the phone.
What should I expect in 7 hours? Is she going to get her thoughts together and give me a tiny piece of her mind? How about me? Will my hands and feet remain shaking for the next 7 hours? O God, I brought this upon myself. Help me now, don’t fail me. I need my friend back. I want more than friendship.
I turned around and saw my 4 year old niece Helen getting ready for school. My simple instructions to her was this “If you find me sleeping when you return from school, please don’t wake me up”.
And with that, I went to my room, knelt down by my bedside and said a simple prayer:
“Lord, I’m going back to bed and I have just one request for the day. Please let me dream again, but this time, let it be Mansa walking down the aisle towards me. I don’t need a crowd, I don’t need any frills, just Mansa, our song, the priest and I. I have learnt my lesson. I will never let pride ruin a beautiful thing, and I will never take the special people in my life for granted. That’s all I ask Lord”.
What do you think happened next? Did James dream again? Did Mansa speak with him again? Let me know your thoughts.