Sunken Ships is a Zikoko series that explores the how and why of the end of all relationships — familial, romantic or just good old friendships.
The subject of this Sunken Ships is Sarah* (28), who woke up one morning to find out her best friend was no longer in the country.
Tell me about how you met
Sarah: I met Kunle* in church when we were 12. It was his first time in the church, but I’d been going there since I was in my mum’s womb. I think that’s why the children’s church teacher chose me to welcome him to church. We spent a lot of time together that day.
We talked about ourselves, our families, and our life plans. Because they were new, his parents stayed back after the church service for prayers and all. My parents never left on time, so I was grateful to have his company. I think I knew at that moment that we’d be great friends.
So you only saw on Sundays?
Sarah: Yes, we did. I didn’t have a phone then and neither did I. Plus, he’s a guy. My parents would not have been okay with me going to see him. So it was Sunday or nothing. It wasn’t enough time, but we tried to compensate for it. From the moment we see each other at the beginning of service, we’re together whispering about how our schools were, what we watched and what happened in our various houses. At one point, the teacher tried to separate us, but we always found our way back together.
This was our routine for the next three years I stayed in that church. When I was 15, my dad got a job in a new state, so we had to move. The week before we did, we went to church for prayers and anointing. After the service, I spoke to Kunle. I cried a lot because he made church service so much better. We promised that once we got phones, we’d keep in touch.
When was the next time you saw him?
Sarah: University. One day, while I was walking around my faculty, I saw someone that looked exactly like him. I hadn’t thought about him seriously for a couple of months after I moved. I shouted his name and lo and behold; he turned around.
We spent the rest of that day reconnecting. I was entering university, but he was already in his second year. He took me out to eat and we spent the entire afternoon catching up on what our lives had been like. We also exchanged numbers.
Meeting up at that spot became our thing. We’d meet there every afternoon after classes and since we both stayed on campus, we’d take walks in the evening. We did everything we could together, and sometimes when we dated other people, they found our friendship a problem. We were that close.
He graduated a year before me, but we still kept in touch. When I moved back to Lagos and was looking for a place to live, he linked me up with his agent and even gave me some money for my first year’s rent. It was essential for both of us to constantly show up for each other. We did gifts, friend dates and occasional chores. He’d pay for my house to get cleaned, and I’d take his car to the car wash. It was just our way of reminding each other we were there.
Did you notice any changes before he left?
Sarah: Yes. He started keeping more distance and working even harder. Kunle worked hard, but this time he was moving with a vengeance. He was barely eating and sleeping because of all the work he was doing. I’d send him meals because he’d forget to eat, and I’d even have to do his laundry. I was worried about him, and when I brought it up, he’d say the economy was hard and he wanted to be prepared.
Did you believe it?
Sarah: Not at all. I felt he was hiding something from me because he stopped telling me his plans for the day. I’d ask a question about where he went, and he’d try to manoeuvre around it.
What made me realise something was wrong was when he started selling off things. It started with clothes he said he no longer wanted, then appliances he didn’t use as often, like his toaster and microwave.
I even bought his iron because mine stopped working. When I asked why he was selling, he said the things were not so helpful, and he wanted to use the money for something useful.
He never even hinted at it?
Sarah: A week till he left the country, I was making plans with him. He told me we’d see Black Panther together when it came out. He knew he was going and chose not to tell me anything about it.
How did you find out he had travelled?
Sarah: I don’t know if he did it on purpose, but his trip coincided with a work trip I had. I was in Abuja for two weeks. I couldn’t see him physically. We had video calls and texted. When I asked why his location looked different, he said he went to an Airbnb because the light in his area was terrible.
A week into my stay in Abuja, I saw his sister post a picture of him in a place that wasn’t Nigeria. When I replied to ask her if it was a recent picture, she told me it wasn’t. So I texted him. I think that’s when all the behaviour he’d displayed started making sense.
He told me he didn’t tell me because his mother’s pastor told him not to tell anyone about the trip, that evil people would stop it.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Kunle was hardly a religious guy, so to hear him say things and do things like this? I was confused.
I haven’t even had the chance to deal with the fact that my best friend is no longer in the country because I can’t stop thinking he lied to me repeatedly.
I’m so sorry. Do you think you’d ever forgive him?
Sarah: No. I don’t pick up his calls or reply his emails. Since I’m evil, he should stay away from me.
More stories about ended relationships: Sunken Ships: My Mother Never Loved Me