With the unique embellishment of nostalgia, the Samco orange drink that you shared with me that break time, retains, to this moment, the immortal sweetness of ambrosia. That feeling of victory, attained in spite of a clutch of suitors, was as gratifying a moment as any significant landmark I have achieved since. I remember how you used to watch me playing football – from a distance. With little tactical acumen and with even less consideration of my teammates, I would seek to impress you by picking the ball and dribbling as many players as I could. Scoring a goal was merely an incidental bonus. I would often beat no more than five players before being rugby tackled by Obiajulu who I could never get past. On the one occasion I shimmied left and feinted right, sending him sprawling to the ground and tackling air, you had already returned to the classroom.
I apologise now for the lack of manifestation of my heart’s true intentions. The eight year old boy is poorly acquainted with grandiose displays of affection. In the event, you left school convinced that I hated you. I remember one incident where in a fit of overflowing, uncontrollable love, I threw a blackboard duster at you. Even as I knelt down outside as punishment for my transgression, I swear that I have never been more sure of my love for another person. If only I loved you older, my love would surely have exhibited itself as love and not cloaked itself in explicit abhorrence.
Remember Ikoyi Club 1938? Men we haunted those grounds like the spirits of old lovers. I still remember that first wet, awkward kiss in the rotunda that tasted like suya and onions. You giigled and ran off to tell your girls. You had a secret nickname for me – MJ. You said I looked like a pre-pubescent, pre-cosmetically altered, pre-white Michael Jackson. In the 1980s, MJ was the epitome of fineness so it is a nickname I cherished. Remember Friday night movie club? Our wet kisses soon became the main feature.
Yours was the first love that hurt. It is a most traumatic day when you learn that love is bittersweet. In retrospect I should have spotted the signs. You were the older woman. You were at least a head taller than me. You already wore a bra. Those two small mounds on your chest sparked a carnal curiosity in me but it was one which I never dared to explore. Perhaps a sneaky hand during a rerun of Herbie goes bananas would have cemented our union.
I remember the day I saw you with Basil. At Ikoyi Club. In the Rotunda. On a Friday. My haunted soul fled from purgatory and descended into hell. It would be a while before I glimpsed heaven again.
The entirety of our love was spent in non communication. It was a crush of gargantuan proportions and I repressed it, coward that I was. My crush actually preceded our initial acquaintance by at least three years. The affair began on celluloid when you starred in that Ogbanje film I used to tease you about. What was it called again? Ah yes.....The Reign of Abiku. I think your name was Motara in it. That NTA Channel 5 production scared the bejesus out of me and I spent the majority of the time watching it from behind the couch, emerging only when you appeared on the screen. Years later I confessed this to you and my proclamation sent you in to alluring, melodic hysterics. By that time our relationship was firmly in the realms of Plato and I had long since crossed the dreaded threshold of “Too friendly to be a boyfriend”.
Even as you complained about the quality of boyfriends in the periods of plenty and lamented about a lack of them in the times of drought, I would playfully entertain thoughts of a time when I could call you my girl. It is not true what they say about lasting friendships not budding from early romance. You remain one of my best friends to this day.
My bow legged Lou. My queen of indescribable perfection. Our love was never meant to be. My best friend and blood brother was crazy about you and it is the unwritten code between men that “Thou shall not cock block thy best friend”. To further complicate matters, you had dated my other good friend and therein lay another rule in the code of men.
But we could not help the way we felt could we? I saw those covetous glances during Thursday lunchtime. I perceived the stolen looks as we passed each other in the hallways on the way to Chemistry. I ignored all these pleasing portents until that dream. It was not a wet dream o. No, it was far more innocent than that. We merely held hands and it was as if the cumulative tension of repressed desire congregated in such a simple act. I awoke from slumber in love with you.
But how could I betray my friend? It soon became obvious that your interests lay with me and not he but I could not jeopardise my friendship. We had our moments though. Remember after school that day when we made out behind the SS3 boys’ toilet? You allowed me to squeeze your breasts as we kissed and your hand explored some parts of my body. I have never had such a guilty erection in my life.
My emotional maturity had begun to develop and I eventually had to explain to you that because of the ongoing attentions of my friend, no good could ever come out of our feelings. I made the audacious offer of quietly cutting shows on the side without the ceremony of an open relationship. We called it UnderG in those days. You were a lady of honour and rejected such an arrangement.
My sister yellow with your skin like paw-paw in the wet season. I ignored your overtures for three years barely even throwing a careless word in your direction. And then one summer, school resumed and you had bloomed. It was too late, boys started taking notice, no longer were you the quiet hibiscus that resides in the corner of the garden; you had blossomed into the bold bougainvillea that sprawls with undeniable beauty beyond its limited confines. Even boys from Kings College, ISL and St Gregs were alerted to your beauty. They would travel from far and wide to gaze and to toast. However in spite of the newfound attention, you still retained some residue of emotion for a blind fool and I capitalised in those moments we had together sitting private SSCE.
Our love did not last because of my jealousy. I grew wary of the unwelcome gifts and the unsolicited telephone calls. I felt inferior because some of these toasters were richer and more attractive than me. My behaviour towards you became despicable and I grew aloof. You implored all my friends for an insight into the genesis of my mood change. I felt I was letting myself down easily for the inevitable moment when your head would be turned by some governor’s son. I should have had greater faith in your unwavering love.
Our love was tragically brief but was one that endured and I am grateful that we managed an encore performance in subsequent years. However distance intervened and served to fizzle out the promise of a lasting romance.
My Waffy girl. My amazon. Why was I so unfair to you when all you ever did was care about me? Was it because of Monica? Was I still getting over her? I was selfish and un-gentlemanly to you many times and yet you persevered. How many times did I call you? It is not that I did not care about you Evie. It was just that my heart had not yet been completely returned to me and the part that had was capable only of yielding a diminished output.
We had potential with your big brains and my big ideas. We worked so well together and your Waffy blood ensured that sexual relations were always very charged. I wasted too many years dithering and holding you back. By the time you ended it I had become a bitter person. I respectably befriended you on more favourable terms and I am pleased to call you a friend once more.
My darling Scholastica:
My brother has recently written you a very public note. And I will always remain sworn to secrecy. After all as they say - what happens in Warri stays in Warri. Let us leave it at that...........