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.
To *Yinka, *Chioma was the closest friend she had in university, until she asked her to make a choice: Jesus or their friendship.
Chioma approached me in school after a workshop my department organised, and as we walked to the bus stop together, we talked about everything, from the classes we shared to the lessons we learnt. The next day, we both actively searched for the other person in class and walked home together after. Thus began our friendship.
We had exchanged numbers, so once we both went our separate ways, we picked up our conversation over the phone. Although we lived at opposite ends of campus, we’d walk each other to and fro, eventually choosing a middle point to depart. We were inseparable.
I would go over to Chioma’s house just so she could braid my hair. We’d also bake cupcakes and fry eggs with crayfish and noodles. Sometimes, we’d ditch classes to do these things, just so we could spend more time in each other’s company.
Since we took whatever chance we could to spend time with each other, I started going to her church. Not because I felt drawn to God, but because she was there, and religion made her happy, so I was going to suck it up. Unfortunately, that’s where the problems started.
The closer we got to one another, the more obvious how different we were became. Before, the snide comments she made about feminists were only met with eye rolls from me, but then it started causing little fights that would make us not speak to each other for hours. The fights never lasted longer than a couple of hours though. We’d rush back to apologise to one another, promising to never let it happen again, but it would happen again. In fact, it happened a lot of times. And the fights started moving from arguing about feminism to religion.
The longer I spent in the church, the more miserable I became. Sometimes, I’d snap at her about Christianity, and it would lead to more fights. When I started talking more about being bisexual, she said I could pray it away, and then, that led to even more fights.
One day during the holidays, she made a statement on her WhatsApp status about how homosexuality is wrong, and I texted to ask if it was directed at me. We had a long conversation that made me realise, nobody is going to come back begging this time. We had two different stances we weren’t going to budge on, so we just stopped talking. Maybe we were waiting for the other to apologise.
School resumed, and we still didn’t talk to each other. When Chioma did try to reach out, I asked her if she finally saw me as a human being. She told me I was asking her to make a choice, Jesus or me. I told her that if that’s how she saw it, then she should make the choice. I wasn’t the answer she chose. She said she’d always choose Jesus, and we’ve barely said more than three words to each other since then.
You were so different. How didn’t you know the relationship was going to end?
We were both lonely people, and I think we bonded over that loneliness. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much other than an insane love for one another. Love wouldn’t always be enough, and I learnt that the hard way. You have to understand each other. Make allowance for one another and communicate greatly and compromise.
The thing is, I love her so much. I was willing to forgive everything she’d ever do. It’s just the day we had that conversation on WhatsApp, I had hoped she’d pick my side. Me, the person she claimed she loved more than anything.
She told me she loved me but hated what I did. I tried so hard to explain to her that what I did was me. It’s not something I had a choice in just as much as she didn’t have a choice when she was breathing, but she didn’t listen to me. That’s why I asked her if she was choosing Jesus over me. She told me it wasn’t a choice, and that Jesus will always be number 1. That statement hurt more than it should have, but it finally gave me the push I needed to leave. We should have stopped being friends after the fights about feminism and Christianity, but I forgave her every single time.
We were never a good fit, and that’s okay. Her faith is important to her. I respect that, but my sexuality is important to me just as much. Before, I thought we could have had a middle ground. Now? Not really.
How did you feel after you stopped talking?
A mess. Do you know how hard it is to break a routine? I had to physically stop myself from texting or calling her. I no longer knew what she was doing every time of the day. I’d see things we’d usually make inside jokes about, but I wasn’t able to share them with her.
When school resumed, I was still waking up early so I could go to her house before class. On occasion, I’d take walks close to her house because I was tempted to knock and ask her if she missed me the way I missed her.
What was the hardest part about seeing her in school?
Not being able to say hi. I felt like if I talk to her even once, I’d forget all the pain her statements caused me, and I’d move on. I couldn’t go back to being friends with someone who’s made it clear she doesn’t like a serious part of me.
How long has it been since the fight?
About three years. Almost four. We’ve had situations where we’ve had to talk because of assignments, but it wasn’t like how it was before, and I don’t think we’d ever get there again.
What if she apologised?
I don’t know. I’d have to be sure there’s actual changed behaviour. We’ve apologised to each other a lot of times in the past, and still gone back to doing the things we didn’t like. I’d have to know she’s changed, and if she has? I’d probably cry. I’ve missed her and her smile.
Have you considered apologising?
Yes, the first few weeks I spent without her was miserable, but if I didn’t apologise then, I wouldn’t now. She stood her ground and made her choice. I did the same. I won’t apologise to someone for their own homophobia.
Do you think anything good came out of the ship sinking?
I definitely do. Cutting her off was what I needed to help me figure myself out, in a space with no judgement and condescension. I’m a queer woman, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s also definitely not something I’d stop being because someone doesn’t like it. I’ll be queer till the day I die, and that’s just how it is.