by Wilfred Okiche
You said you’d be coming back this way again
Baby baby baby baby baby
I love you, I really do, still.
– Luther Vandross
Jamie Foxx might have blamed it on the alcohol but I blame it on the television, for it was there I first laid eyes on you. Magnificient is the word that best describes your total package. Love hit me at first sight. You were the one I first gave my heart to. Countless other acts came in and out of my consciousness, and my Ipod too, but you were my ain true love. We grew up together it seemed and I supported you through all the years. Every single you released, I downloaded (legally of course), every album you put out I bought (original copies too) and I saw every movie you ever made. Hit or not, I was there for you. Box-office success or not, I gave you all of me. My friends said I was flirting with obsession, but what did they know?
Now kids do not grow up with their childhood icons, they say. They get to a certain age and as they leave behind the last vestiges of their innocence; they drop their idols along with their toys and kiddies baggage, but I carried you with me as I matured. Though your sounds and style changed with time, your very essence did not and my love for you remained the same. I saw you through a painful divorce and thought to myself, how could any one leave you? It is a thought that still baffles me till this day.
Perhaps what cemented our relationship forever was when your tour bus stopped by my neigbourhood, and I had the privilege of seeing you live in concert. The thought of finally watching a live perfomance from you, of coming close within touching distance of you was more than I could bear: I was so excited I bought tickets 4 weeks in advance and counted down the days patiently. When the day finally dawned, Oh! happy day. It was perhaps your most electrifying stage show ever. It certainly was the most dazzling display of talent I’d ever seen, live or on television. My friends (those spoil sports) tried to ‘rain on my parade’. They told me they had seen your act before, back when it was called by another name. They said it wasn’t really a live perfomance, that you were lip synching and miming to the pre-recorded beat. But I was having none of them. It was the best day of my life.
You said you were happy to be visiting, you said we were the best audience ever. You poured out your love, and we gave it right back. You kept screaming “I love you” and when you pointed in my direction, I just knew you were talking to me. Who else could it be? Our eyes met and for a moment, it was just me and you there – nobody else. At the end of the show, you pledged your undying love once more and said you could not wait to come back. You had never felt this loved before was what you said, and I believed every word. Oh! But I did. Five years later and I am still waiting for your return. But I don’t give up easily.
Now work takes me to different parts of the country and on one of such trips, I stumbled into you in a restaurant. I could not believe my luck. After the initial shock, I braced myself and approached your table, just to say hi of course, but your bodyguards would not let me. I called your name and you just turned and looked at me like I was a fly you could not wait to swath away. Then you whispered something to your bouncers, about wanting to be left alone. Yes, but I heard you. My smile froze as you cooly sipped the remnant of your drink, stood up and left the place in a cloud of star dust. You did not even sign the autograph I held forward.
Stunned? No. Devastated? Maybe. Broken, yes. I was broken, I am broken. Do you not remember me anymore? You said you loved me, you said you could not wait for us to be together again. You said I was your only, that you would stay with me. How was I to know it was all an act? Who could have told me it was just a part of your celebrity, that you said the same to everybody else, everywhere you go. I was broken. But you see, that is not the worst part. No. The worst part? When it dawned on me that even after this, nothing much had changed, not really. I love you. I really do.