Anita had always been a slave to giving; she gave too much, too soon, and to the wrong persons.
She gave her money, her time, and her body to men, asking nothing in return but just to be loved, but she was yet to find a man who was also a giver of her caliber.
For some reason best known to heaven, she was drawn to selfish men, or players, and she always found out late. The part which annoyed her, even though she couldn’t seem to be able to stop was that she remained good friends with her exes.
Going from one unfulfilling relationship to another was not how she expected her love life to be from the time she began reading romance novels.
She was self aware enough to accept the fact that the romance novels had not done her any good. They only gave her false expectations, but she was also self aware enough to know that it was not all her fault.
She knew she shouldn’t have started giving her body to men who it was not for, she knew she shouldn’t give what she might regret giving, and she knew she should be less in a hurry to enter a relationship, but she also knew she was a good girl.
So she was tired of the wrong programming which only brought her pain and decided to take a break from the dating scene, hoping to reprogram her mind.
She knew she had too many attachments. She had attachments to her exes, she had attachments to potential suitors, and she had attachments to the romance novel kind of man (tall, dark and handsome). She also knew that all these attachments needed to be broken, and she went the only way she knew how; praying.
She prayed hard, and when she saw no noticeable change, she decided that maybe it was one of those things which will go away in their own time and terms.
She was still waiting and steering clear of men until she met Hamilton who always sat behind her in church.
Somehow, she was constantly aware of his presence, and it made her sing louder than normal.
It was the third week since she noticed him, and had been trying to get his attention, but it didn’t seem to be working apart from the fact that their eyes met every once in a while, their eyes keep meeting because she keep turning to look at him.
She had this part of her, the part that gets confident and tries to get a man’s attention. This part of her gets her into trouble, this part of her that awoke whenever she was single.
She convinced herself that she was not desperate for a man, but she somehow needed to prove to herself that she could catch the attention of every man who catches her fancy, and it wasn’t just any man, as not every man looked attractive to her.
It was interesting how their eyes would jam and he will stare until she looked away. No smiles, no winks, just a conscious gaze at him, and then she looks away.
She knew she played a game, a game she thought she had ceased to play, as it has been a long time since she was truly single and confident.
She was happy she had gotten her confidence back, but also it meant she was feeling too alone.
To her, that was one disadvantage of being without a boyfriend, which was one reason she was rarely single.
As the congregation rose to sing the last hymn, she queried herself on why she was playing the game and she knew it was because she felt free. For the first time in a long time, she could truly say she was free of any man.
She was not in a relationship, she was not expecting any man to ask her out, she was not still emotionally attached to an ex, she was just… Free.
Then it hit her! She was free! She would never try this if she had someone she thought was hers.
The feeling felt almost alien to her. In the space of nine years, since she began romance, she had been hung up on an ex, she had had flings which were her dark secrets, she had dated, she had loved, she had hoped, she had never been totally free of men.
Now she was.
She knew how she got here, and she knew it had been no easy feat; she had prayed for it, she had fasted for it.
This mind game she played was like a way to prove to herself that she was free, but this felt a little different. Initially she would have felt guilty, but this time she felt nothing. No adrenaline rush, no anticipation, just gazes and inward giggles.
In the past nine years, she would have been wondering if he liked her, or if she would say yes if he asked her out, she would have been wondering what his surname was and if it matched her first name; in the past nine years, she would have been running ahead of herself thinking of things she had no business thinking. This time, however, she was just enjoying the gazing and looking away of a handsome man who slept in church during service.
“I have to do something about that,” she decided, even though it may mean she had to talk to him.
She had stopped sleeping in church when she was fourteen, and she just turned thirty last month. She had told herself that she was done sleeping in church, and that was it.
Sixteen years ago, she noticed that once she got into church and sat down, it seemed like it was the perfect place for the ‘sleep spirit’ which would descend on her and consume her until the last ‘Amen’ was said, and then it would mysteriously lift off her, and she was alert again. She talked to herself one day, and had never slept in church since then.
It disturbed her that her game partner was sleeping in church. “I will have to do something about it,” she said again.
The church was in ‘greeting session’ when she walked up to him.
“Hi! Your brother’s birthday was yesterday, right? I mistook him for you; chatted with him on Facebook,” she said in a rush.
It was the truth. She had mistaken his brother for him on Facebook, but he didn’t have to know. It was the only way she could remove the awkwardness of talking to someone with whom you share funny glances with.
“He is the older one,” he explained, sounding a bit sleepy.
“Yeah, he said so,” she replied. She decided it was too soon to talk about his sleeping habits, and was wondering how to end the discussion.
“So what’s the name?” he asks, extending his hand for a handshake.
He pronounced the name with all the phonetically correctness he could muster, making her smile inwardly.
“It’s nice to meet you,” she said pulling her hand away from his, and picked up her bag and walked away.
As she walked away, she felt the feeling of contentment flow through her, when she realized that she honestly did not expect him to want to get in touch with her. She was just content with the ‘potential’. She didn’t feel a need to try too hard.
She was free.
She promised herself never to lose her freedom anymore, and it begins with Mr. Hamilton.
She would have to stop the game, lest she gets roped in. The taste of freedom was so exhilarating that she knew that she had to do anything to retain it, no matter its price.
Leaving her favourite pew in the church for another was nothing compared to praying and fasting for ten days, she could do it.
She left the church with freedom in her heart, a spring in her step and a smile on her face.
She was free.
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