Surfing the waves of heartbreak with music

Where emotions and sound meet

words by Ehimenem Agweh

Sundays should be the most unassuming day of the week. No screaming, no fighting, no shouting, no breathing. Just rest and relaxation. Yet, I picked Sunday to be the day I wrestled the devil. The devil in this case is an actual human not the supernatural figure we know and marginally fear.


I’m not telling this story right. Let me start over.

My story begins with a phone call and an argument on a Sunday morning. My first love and I had made plans for this particular Sunday, particularly to take our first communion together as newly inducted adults of the church. Unfortunately, my dearest had lost all faith in the institution of the Church and as a result, caused me to run late and engage in a pissing contest with him.

The next few days were a tightrope walk. I refused to call him, believing that he would have the good sense to pick up his phone and grovel for my forgiveness. I, in turn would grant it to him after stalling for two days and making him swear never to repeat such a disastrous performance ever again. Once again, I was disappointed. But the real kicker came when my family opened my eyes to the wreckage that was my relationship with Victor dearest.
It was silent. Everywhere was silent. He was silent and it was damning. Even if he had never spoken the words, he had wanted me to choose. To decide if I was on his side or sticking to my loyalties. In his silence, I saw the truth of the words we never said. He didn’t love me. He didn’t even respect me.

A few days later, a girl who identified as his girlfriend tagged me in a picture on Facebook. I hadn’t even known who she was; I just accepted her friend request as it came in. She knew about me and she was mocking me. The battle lines had been drawn and I snapped.

That night, determined not to waste my tears on him, I scrolled through my music library looking for something to soothe my wounded spirit. Tired, I picked a song at random. To my horror, it was Michael Bolton’s “How am I supposed to live without you”. That just did it and the waterworks started.

I cried so much through each verse Michael Bolton must have pitied me. My heart was not just broken, it was obliterated. Just as I thought it was over, I stumbled on Gabriel Afolayan’s “Kokoro Ife” in the same period. “Kokoro Ife” was probably intended to do no harm, but the languid pain in Gabriel’s voice blurred any emotional respite the mid-tempo upbeat instrumental could have held. But it didn’t stop me from hitting the replay button, something about our mutual misery oddly comforted me.

For the next two years, these two testaments to the power of a broken heart became my anthems. By day, I was a snapping basket case lashing out at everything. By night, I was transformed into a mess of tears as I played them over and over and over again. I apologize to my family in case they have been traumatised by the constant replay. There was a complete heartbreak playlist which I had prepared months before Black Sunday. I thought I would never need it but well, shit happens.

I’ve grown out of those two songs now. At least, I’m putting K-Pop on repeat this time. I cannot even remember the last I heard Michael Bolton or Gabriel Afolayan. I’d cringe if I heard them again. But there was a time when such mood based music allowed me surf the waves of emotions without sailing away.

Featured Image: Seye Doregos

Laura Mvula’s “Generation Anxiety” shows the dark cost of talent