In March, we’re bringing to you letters written by women to women they love, miss, cherish or just remember. To celebrate the support women continue to show each other, this is #ToHER.
From: The woman that misses an old friend
To: Chimdi, the friend whose values changed
Dear Chimdi (Chim),
Writing this letter feels weird because these are things I’ve never been able to tell you. It’s been three years of being friends, and in two of those years, this letter will be the most honest I’ve ever been about us.
I always saw you in church but didn’t really notice you because, well, we were in church. We finally spoke at a conference rehearsal in March 2019. That day was another chaotic Saturday of practising hymns, which I absolutely hated. Everyone did nonsense during practice if someone didn’t conduct them. We were 30 minutes behind schedule that day, and people were either gisting outside the hall or pressing their phones. I was getting pissed and decided to take the piss and lead. But I guess you were thinking the same thing because you beat me to it. Your voice, bringing the whole church/choir to order was effortless and powerful. I wanted to talk to you after that.
I started to notice you. I’ll never forget that blue skirt you loved to pair with a yellow blouse — thank God I taught you some style, sis. Your personality was as bubbly as the odd colours you loved to pair. You were everywhere. If there was an event or meeting, Fiona had to be there. Most of the time you were in a rush to leave after church —just a few “Hellos”, “How was service” and “Oh! Your dress is nice” greetings. Everything was still on the surface; I wasn’t sure you were a friend yet.
It had been six months of the light pleasantries. Crossover night in 2019 was when it really clicked. I admit I was a bit lonely then. I had just finished school and moved back to Abule Egba and life felt a bit bland. Thankfully, some church guys snuck in some alcohol during the service. We bonded over vodka on the church stairs while our parents were shouting, “Holy Ghost!” in the hall. Laughing over smuggled alcohol made me feel close to you, so warm inside. . That was the first time I wasn’t weighed down by the uncertainties of a new year during those final minutes of the previous year.
We became real friends that night. I finally had someone I could open up to — a confidant. My favourite memory of us is still our first-night clubbing in Lagos. It’s one of the last moments our friendship felt… real. Real in the sense of being that girl, I could open up to and connect with.
That night, you dressed up in a fire bodysuit and leather skirt, and I had my slinky ruched dress on. I remember it like yesterday. There was no overthinking or fear. You trusted me enough to plan the night. We drank, toasted to the years ahead and danced all night. I was happy until that guy showed up. If I knew the moment wouldn’t last, I would have held you back when he walked up to say hi.
The night you met Fred*, our relationship changed. I could see he thrilled you. His beard, money, the parties, the clothes — they gave you a high. As the months went by, our conversations became stiff. You didn’t want to talk about getting jobs anymore or going to school for our master’s. It was all about Fred and the things he did. I was fine with your happiness, but the day I pulled back was when you mocked me for going to work. “Na you dey stress yourself for money now,” you said.
Chim, that moment hurt me. You knew I was working so I could get by. I needed your encouragement, Fiona. I needed the friend I could spend hours talking to about anything.
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I hated having to filter our gist. Every time I opened up to you about a plan, it went left. But did I learn? No. I still ran to you for advice. I finally learnt my lesson after you convinced me to spend my rent money on a visa that I should have guessed wouldn’t work out. I started to hold back. I hate it, but I have to.
It’s weird not being able to open up to you and still call you a friend. We still drink alcohol together and go out to parties, but there is no depth. We don’t talk about the future we hoped to have anymore, the women we dreamt of being, the men we wanted to meet. I may have outgrown this friendship, but I’m too scared to admit that.
Regardless of the awkward shift in our friendship, I want you to know that I still love you, Chimdi. I miss the girl that made me laugh while we sipped vodka on the church stairs. You are kind-hearted, sweet and no-nonsense. In the middle of all the partying and nights out, I’m amazed at how you now take care of your family. I love that we can still share a drink and laugh at my balcony while we talk about the stress of adulthood. I know things are different and life will continue to impose unwanted change on us, but I’ll be happy for even a crumb of the moment we had that first night at church.