April 8, 2013.
by Titilayo Olurin
Okay, there was no way I was going to own a blog without having this story on it so I had to go dig for it, and by ‘dig’, I really do mean dig. I wrote it in what feels like forever ago, in 2009, shortly after my service year in Bauchi (Boy, did I enjoy that experience! The one year was much more fun than the four years I had spent at school). Well, this story is about the monstrous crush -call it obsession if you like – that I had during that period. I wrote it not before I had told everyone who had ears, so those close to me must be bored with it already. Yet, I post it? Oh well, I won’t deny those who haven’t read it the pleasure of reading it. *wide grin*
It was probably the stress of just getting into camp and adjusting to a totally new environment but I didn’t notice him until the second time. I had not stood to gape but noticed how good looking he was. I saw him a couple of times more after that, going in and out of the NYSC Camp clinic. I had only thought him handsome and very neat but nothing more.
The night I had stood to gape – no, not stood to gape, followed and ogled – was the variety night in camp. I had not really wanted to attend. In fact, I had gone to camp with my mindset that I wasn’t going to have fun. I had hated the fact that I was posted to Bauchi. I had at first been excited but all that wore off when reality struck, that I was in a place that was not known to me. So on this night, I had decided to remain in the dormitory but, alas! We were chased out by the soldiers and made to attend by force, like every other activity in Camp.
He had stood watching the activities. A dance competition was being held and great dancers could be seen wriggling their waists to the music. There was a particular boy though, who was obviously drunk. While he danced, most people laughed and others only shook their heads in wonder or in disgust. He danced out of step and made the sound of the music seem useless.
I had been more interested in the young handsome dude than at the dance competition held for our enjoyment. Even from where he stood, near but still quite a distance, I could smell the strong, masculine whiff of the perfume that he wore. He didn’t wear the white T-shirt and shorts everyone wore, but a pair of nice blue jeans trousers, a pair of clean white canvas shoes and a light brown jacket on a white vest. He looked awesome. When he moved close to me, I couldn’t resist the urge to tap him lightly on his shoulder. He was tall but then I was sitting on the window ledge like most, since there were very few seats available – so, I could reach his shoulder.
“What’s your name?” I asked when he turned to look at me.
“Emeka.” He had replied in a voice that matched his looks. He even looked more handsome as he smiled, revealing even white teeth with a gap in front. I had never seen anyone look so perfect.
Oh! That part of my curiosity had been satisfied. I had always, wondered, imagined and guessed what his name was and what tribe he belonged to. Another part of my curiosity had to be satisfied, so I asked quickly before he moved away. “Are you a doctor?”
“Yes,” came his simple answer. And though he had smiled, it was pretty obvious he didn’t want to be interrogated.
I had a thousand and one questions but I kept quiet, perhaps out of fear that I would seem pushy. I didn’t talk to him again that evening, but followed him with my eyes wherever he went, until he completely disappeared.
* * *
“Where’s that yanyira that danced just now?”
I knew yanyira was the Hausa word for ‘girl’. It was the same deep, masculine and sexy voice. So I recognized it very quickly before I looked up but I couldn’t believe he was referring, let alone talking, to me. I looked sideways to see if there was a girl beside me that he was talking to. There were many but he was looking straight at me and walking towards me.
“Will you marry me?”
I just stood stupidly, not believing my ears. Emeka looked as handsome as ever. Tonight, he was wearing the uniform of white T-shirt and white shorts. The colour suited him perfectly. But what colour wouldn’t? He wasn’t the usual TDH – tall, dark and handsome. He was tall and handsome alright but he was light in complexion, with beautiful skin.
I felt really foolish, then excited. It seemed everybody had stopped whatever it was they were doing to look at us. All eyes were on me as he walked towards me and gave me a side hug. It felt like the best thing that had ever happened to me. I felt tingles in my spine and goose bumps on my skin. Since he was a good three to four inches taller, he bent to say, “Well done.”
I swallowed saliva hard and might as well have swallowed my tongue for I couldn’t speak. His breath was fresh as he spoke and I suddenly felt mine stunk. It occurred to me that I had eaten too much tuwo masara that had been served for dinner in camp that night and so I sucked in my stomach when he held my waist. This was the closest I had ever been to him. I mumbled some words in reply, but I would never remember what I had actually said. I was too shy to look in his face but he was looking down at mine. I was still in shock when he said his good night and walked away.
I stood in stunned silence and drooled stupidly at his retreating figure. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. My platoon’s cultural display had just ended and I was feeling really foolish for we had performed below expectation and everything had gone so horribly wrong. I had felt stupid dancing. I knew without being told that my dance was clumsy, I wasn’t the best of dancers and my dancing was worse when it came to traditional moves. As if that wasn’t enough, the space given us to dance was small, and even that was an understatement so I had not been able to move as well as I had wanted. My clothes had looked really funny on me. I wore Fulani costume on my white T-shirt and shorts. It made me feel really horrible.
So, I was standing outside after the dance, just in front of the hall to take off my costume as the others were doing, when Emeka came to me. It was funny because the previous night, as was my usual custom before sleeping, I had thought of him. I had decided then that I wasn’t going to try being friendly with him again. I thought he was really nice to me but it was obvious he wasn’t even interested in being friends with me.
He had always called me ‘dearie’ after that first night I had spoken to him. I was flattered but I noticed he called me that because he didn’t know my name and wasn’t keen on finding out. Even after I had told him my name, he was only polite enough to say hello but that was all. He was never interested in striking up a conversation with me. And I knew that I just would never be good enough for him. He spoke very well, tinged with a bit of an Igbo accent. He was classy, nice, handsome, charming and he always looked neat and tidy. I was the complete opposite, if I was ever beautiful; it wasn’t when I was in camp. I thought I looked horrible. I wasn’t just thin, I was emaciated, I didn’t look healthy, the white T-shirts and shorts given us looked worst on me. And my hairdo – I had seen really horrible hair styles but mine most certainly took the cake. It was pathetic.
Hence, it came as a surprise when Emeka complimented and held me. It felt so pleasant. I began to hope again that maybe he liked me just a teeny weenie bit and we could be friends at least. But that hope was dashed. He redeployed and I never saw him again.
“Emeka” was first published in the November, 14, 2010 edition of NEXT on Sunday