Sorry peeps, this is waaay overdue. I apologize. Thank you.
No. She wasn’t the finest person I had seen. Nor was she the most eloquent. She wasnt the nicest, funniest, most fun, religious person ever. On a lot of levels she was pretty average. But she was a woman who found a way to love me at my most unlovable (I think) and did with all of herself.
E-babay, like I fondly called her was just a phenomenon in herself, all by herself. She had this absolute adoration of me that often worried me till I got used to it and learnt to actually appreciate it. If Mancee said so, so it was or not. Mancee is never wrong. Sometimes I'm amazed at the absolute lack of guile in that woman. No she wasn’t a naive person by any inch; infact she had gone through quite a rough patch in life but had somehow come through it all with her head held mostly high. She was one of those people I'd willingly celebrate; people who recognise the pain in the world, have had more than their fair share of it and inspite of it all still choose to be smilers. For me these are the true unsung heroes.
You must understand that this was during my youth service, a time of intense smoldering anger for me against a lot of things too numerous to mention. A period when I was trying to make my own way and define myself without recourse to my parents for financial help. Needless to say, I suffered not a few, though I was damn too proud to admit it to anyone. There were many adays when I'd go without some meals and I re-discovered the 'beauty' of sliced bread and mayonnaise...Oh I forgot, You were not there in the beginning....
I was president of our Community Development (CD) group in the state. Her set was the one after mine and I had the task of showing them the ropes on camp. I took it further by ensuring that they all got settled well in the state before they have to make their own way. Of course, by then I had quite a network breadth and depth amidst the NYSC community and I leveraged on this extensively to get relatively good placements for each of my members and accommodation when they left camp on passing out day.
"So people, as your president, everyone's accommodation is my responsibility at least for the first few days till you find your feet and if you need anything, call my gsm...I'm certain I'll know someone who knows someone who can help"
Shouts of 'PRESIDO' went up admist thunderous cheering, complete with cat calls.
I had finished with everyone save her. She told me not to worry about her as she had enough money on her to book a hotel room. I would hear none of it. I told her if she thought I was going to leave her like that then she had another think coming. I eventually settled her with a female friend who lived in a small room. It was a last resort as it was getting late. I did feel like I was imposing on my friend but she assured me it was okay.
With an intention to 'buffer' their having to be together, I would go to their place after work and gist with them before heading home. My friend's boyfriend was usually around and I often found myself alone with her. We got talking and enjoying it. I don’t remember how...but we kissed one night, in the dark. It was beautiful.
She was later to ask me why I did not take her to my place that first night as opposed to going through such hoops to get her a place, or was there a girl living with me? I laughed out loud at this and took her to my place that night.
While we made out in my room, she said "Mancee, I love you". I rebuked her, saying she didn’t know what she was talking about as that word wasn’t to be used lightly. We made out some more and it started getting rather intense. I backed down. She asked why. I told her I didnt want to have sex with her. I could see the pained look in her eyes as she looked in mine looking for a reason. I told her I wasn’t down with having sex, protection or not. She clearly communicated to me that she did not understand. All the while we were together, we did not have intercourse.
I remember once while I was washing my clothes and she was visiting, she commented on my rippling muscles and came to sit behind me on the low stool. She ran her hands over my bare chest for a while and later slid into my boxers where she, of course, met a 'stiff opposition'. “You are very hard", she remarked in a surprised tone. "What were you expecting...?" I queried. "Why then don’t you want to have sex?". I told her it was a decision I made to myself to attempt to stay away from the usual rot associated with corp members and NYSC service year. After this event, she stopped asking for sex saying now she was satisfied that it wasnt that I couldn’t get it up…! Me! *aghast*. As an aside, I think I kinda compensated during our ‘Touchery’ sessions. *wink*
Often, I'd wonder how I got so lucky to have her. She was an exceptional person in herself. She made enough money from holding down two jobs in lagos (!). NYSC was just a formality. She had this killer figure and had done some modeling for a while. All I had to offer her was just my plenty dreams (I admit, some were waaay beyond me) and weird ways. When she's in lagos, she’d call me up every day (gsm was still expensive then) and we'd chat endlessly. I was the primary reason she came to that state when she does. She took an interest in every thing I liked. She’d clap her hands in glee whenever I read her poetry written for her. She made me feel like a King of kings. She'd try to give me money when I was broke (which was often, lol) and I'd vehemently refuse. I was waay too proud to. The "why don’t you want to take money from me", quickly became" Mancee, why do you keep pushing me away? Why don’t you want me to share in your pains too..."
Aside the money quarrels. Our next big thing was religion. She wasn’t taking it as ‘seriously’ as I wanted her to. She'd often wonder why I was making a big deal out of religion. I have forgiven myself, you see, and I think you may forgive my stupidity too... but we did break up. Guess why! Of course good old opium of the people; religion.
The week we broke up, (this was after NYSC), I was a mess. I smelt her perf everywhere I went. I heard her voice in every call. Every woman looked like her! In fact I had to leave my office for the whole day once when a female client came to sit in front of me and all I could see, hear, smell in her was E-babay. This kinda ish one only reads in magazines and books but I lived it for like 2 weeks. She did call me to make up and my heart wanted to beg her to come back, promise her the heavenlies and the four corners of the earth. Rather, I heard my head saying "I believe that there is no future in this if we can’t agree on religion".
The only consolation, if any, was that we broke up just a week before I landed a really plum appointment. Thus it was hard to say I dumped her when I got ‘big’ etc etc
'E-Baby!, What a surprise. How you dey? Wasn’t expecting YOU to call me...'
She laughs. My! That laughter
'Abi?! If you sha wont call us. Big boy, you've forgotten all your peeps'
'Me? haba! Why you go talk like that now...you know it 'didn’t' possible for me to 4et my peeps now. Howz bros?
'He's fine o...'
We launch into like an extra 3 minutes of friendly banter. I've always loved gisting with her.
'Do you remember when...'
And it was like someone reached behind me and switched off all the ambient noise, dimmed the lights to a lustful glow and put on some Teddy Pendergras complete with candlelight flames dancing. Girlfriend was recounting the good times we had and asking if I remembered. I laughed uneasily and quickly changed the topic. Please tell me she's kidding! Who could forget...?". "How can I EVER forget...?"
She got wedded like 6 months after our split to a big bros who had always been on her case all the while. She didn’t tell me. I found out in a rather ugly way. I called her and asked why she didn’t tell me. She said she believed I didn’t want anything to do with her again. (!) When she told me who it was, I laughed and she retorted that "...when you said you werent doing anymore"
I remember when we met again, a year after her wedding. She was on a marketing run near my office. I went to see her commenting her looks and she reciprocating. We hugged, friendly hug intended, felt her linger on the hug. I did too. We hugged some more (yes it was full frontal this time). She asked me to kiss her and I longed to. I must have used up like a year's supply of self-control not to hungrily kiss her right there in that covered entrance.
‘She is married’, said my head to my stupid heart and hard loins. I smiled at her and slid away. She gave me a shy smile and asked me to again. I hardened my face and said through clenched teeth (more for my sake than hers) ‘You are a married woman’. "You and self control sha...”, she sighed, and smiling, shook my outstretched hands. I avoided her for another year or so after that.
We are still ‘friends’, no I’ve never met her husband nor been to her house, neither has she been to mine. We’d talk now and then-though not so often; she used to 'report' her husband to me (lol) and I’d tell her to calm down and try to explain things to her from a guy’s view point etc etc.
A lot of times did I regret our break up especially for the reasons it happened. My life hasn't exactly validated that decision you see...
You loved me (still do?) in a way no woman has ever; when I had nothing to offer, hardly two dimes to rub together for long, no fancy restaurant date, no glistening trinket could I afford, all I had and which you readily accepted was just me, my not-so-white-anymore gapped dentition and boyish smile and my lofty dreams and aspirations. I pray no one will ever have cause to love me in such circumstances- I guess that means your space in my biography is well secured. Stay smiling.