About her I have written before, but as with most aspects of my life I share, I share only the parts that are pertinent on the day.
I was in my final year when we met. She accosted me one evening after lectures, she wanted to make enquiries about a membership drive I had talked about and as I was on a number of committees, I went off on a tangent before she pointed out my mistake.
I did not see her again after that day, and probably would not have remembered her, but on a visit to one of my academic advisors there she was. “Look at who I have been looking all over the school for,” she said getting out of her chair. I looked over my shoulder then back at her, trying to place her face and failing.
When she mentioned the group, I remembered. That did not stop me stuttering an explanation to the lecturer who turned out to be her uncle.
A few short weeks later, we became an item. We went almost everywhere together, and people treated her special: students because she was my girl; lecturers because of her uncle and her guardian who, between them, wielded an influence not to be sneezed at in the school community.
Then one day , I was summoned to her uncle’s office. He had heard one of his wards was dating a student, but had only just confirmed it was this his sister’s daughter. I walked in there apprehensive, but after plenty talks, done mostly by him, I accepted he was only doing his part and looking out for his niece. I calmly got up, without a look in her direction, dusted the seat of my pants and walked away. I made a conscious effort to hold my head up and walk straight as I left him bellowing and thundering at her.
He banished her to the staff quarters, there to stay with her guardian and I was forbidden from seeing her.
That was on Thursday.
On Monday, I was recalled to his office. “I see that what you both have here goes beyond me,” he opened. “I have decided to allow this your friendship, but on the condition that you will be fair to her, and treat her with respect.” I nodded, got up to leave, and then he added “Consider this what a man goes through when he is in love.” I smiled at him, put my left hand in my pocket and sauntered out of his office.
A year later, I came to pick up my NYSC call-up letter when I met her uncle at the school chapel. After his good wishes he held my hand clasped in his palm, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Don’t forget your friend.” Uncomfortable with this kind of scrutiny, I told him I did not plan to forget anybody.
I was posted to Northern Nigeria and I went gladly. Mobile phones were not within my reach, and there was no cyber café in my school then. We relied on NIPOST for communication, then I up an e-mail account for her but she only checked it during the holidays when she travelled to the big cities. I have no recollection of exactly when it happened, but one day I woke up and we had drifted apart.
The next time I saw her was four years later, and that was because an old school friend of mine ran into her and told me how we were not over in her head, especially since we did not officially break up. As I was between relationships at the time, I did not mind the reunion.
While she had not changed much, I had. We did not seem to share the same interests anymore. We did not even have a lot to say to each other. It was awkward, the reunion.
Again we drifted, and again I carried on with my life.
Over time though, she became my fall back girl. Whenever one relationship ended, I tended to dig up her number and talk with her in the hope that… I don’t even exactly know why. One thing I have come to realize is, she’s still the same and whatever we had back then was valid only for back then.
So, when in September I decided my one year of ‘mourning’ my last relationship was up, and I was ready to open my self up to the prospect/possibility of love, her number was not one I called.
Problem though is, she called me up on the 22nd of September, the anniversary of my father’s demise, like she has done every year since 2000 when we met. She calls me on every birthday in my house – Mama, my siblings – and on any date she feels is important to me. One of my friends at whose wedding I was the best man still gets calls from her on his anniversary – I have to struggle to remember the date!
Listening to Bez’s “Technically” playing off my Blackberry, and knowing the story behind it as he told it, I knew I should tell my story too; this story.
PS: Last night I had the worst case of nerves I have ever had in a long time. I was going to be on radio. Ok, not me really, just something I wrote. I was cool with that because the presenter of the programme was going to read it, then I learnt I would have to call in and be asked a few questions on LIVE radio!
Let us just say I spent the better part of last night on the porcelain throne. Then it was time and there was nowhere to run/hide.
“Hello?” I said tentatively when my call was picked, the next thing I knew, it was over – and I survived it! If you missed yesterday’s edition, follow me on twitter for updates as to when the next one will be happening.
I once heard that one often meets destiny on the path he takes to avoid it. Destiny or not, I am embracing my here and now, and with it, all of you who have helped me grow this past year. Y’all know iLove you, ryt?.