The Moment

I was excited! They announced there was going to be an over-night meeting because it was our turn to decorate the school. Seeing as I just joined a unit of the student chaplaincy, this was going to be the first time I would be decorating and my first time pulling an all-niter in order to get the student auditorium ready for the series of programs set for tomorrow, marking the founder’s day.

I was buzzed; everyone was asking why I was going. I was going, not because if I decorated tonight there would be an exception from the programs tomorrow which was compulsory for all students of the university, but because I had promised myself to try new things as soon as an opportunity presented itself and this was no exception.

The meeting was to start by 9 p.m. An hour to the time I had gone to the cafe to grab myself a pack of white rice, beans and fish, because that was all I would have access to; the cafe would be shut down by 9 and the halls of residence by 10. I had ulcer, so if I didn’t eat I would have to endure pains and that was not the way I intended to spend my all-niter.

At a quarter to nine after having my bath, I dressed up wearing a white and black striped polo shirt, a pair of black trousers and my palm slippers. My best friend commented on my look saying that I looked like someone going to see a girl, rather than someone supposed to be decorating the auditorium. I sprayed some perfume and grabbed my watch as I looked at the time. I picked a set of beaded bracelets that my sister had given me and I was off to the auditorium.

It took me about 5 minutes to walk from my hall to the university auditorium, it would have taken about 7 but I was walking fast. I was that excited. As I got to the auditorium, expecting to see a throng of people all working together to beautify the auditorium, I saw instead a few people sitting in different spots and talking. I walked down two flights of stairs and past an air-conditioning unit as I made my way to the unit office.

There were people inside piling up fabric unto different parts of the floor. The executive members of the unit were all present going over the final designs of the decorations to be displayed in the auditorium. They were all smiles as they said I should carry some fabrics and wait with everyone upstairs. As I waited, the auditorium gradually filled with the members of the unit. We were divided into different sections of the school which we were also supposed to decorate.

I was posted along with some other people to decorate the cafe. I noticed you and your friend.  You were the pretty, tall chocolate-skinned girl while your friend was shorter, fatter than you. Being a new member I didn’t know too many people in the unit and the few people I knew were executive members and they were too busy to socialize. I decided to join the two of you. I was rewarded with a simple “hey,” as I said hi to you. You were also posted to cafe along with me.

We marched along with the rest of the group to cafe. When we got there we couldn’t start with our decorations right away because the materials we needed were not there. We volunteered to go back to the auditorium office and talk to the head of the unit, John – my course mate – for the materials, mostly because we were bored and you kept saying how thirsty you were.

We figured that there would probably be water in the unit office. As you kept mentioning how thirsty you were, my throat began to dry up. We walked back to the auditorium, talking about our favorite songs, joking about random things that had occurred. Your friend stayed upstairs while you and I went downstairs to the office. John told us that the women who were supposed to bring the materials we needed were not yet around and that there was no water in the office, the women were also supposed to bring water for us.

The thirst was becoming a bit unbearable. John told us to wait till the women came. When we got outside, some guys were standing there talking, right on the air-conditioning unit was a barely-drunk sachet of Hebron water. We walked past it as we climbed the first flight. I mentioned the fact that we were looking for water and someone had left a barely-drunk sachet of water to you and you smiled.

The boys took off and the thirst got unbearable, so we ran and grabbed the water while laughing about it. We sat down on the air-conditioning and shared the water looking into each other’s eyes and laughing. All of a sudden the laughing stopped and we sat there facing each other not saying a word. There was this look on your face like you wanted more and so I raised my hand to touch your face and you brought your mouth down to meet mine in a kiss.

The kiss was electrifying, like thousands of little currents flowing through my brain. Neither of us wanted to stop, deepening the kiss. Thirst couldn’t even come close to what was rushing through my veins. You tasted like I had taken a swig of strawberries. The mumbles of people’s voices were coming closer and sounding clearer. We pulled apart like there was an invisible force-field separating us; you were breathing hard, with your lips swollen from the kiss. We walked back to the auditorium in silence not mentioning what just happened.

We see every day; you wave, smile and sometimes wink. Sometimes I do the same. We talk some times, but we never mentioned what happened. Sometimes I just think about the moment we had together and smile.

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Intense

I hid under the bed holding my favorite teddy bear close. I pressed myself flat on the ground; it hurt as my nipples were sensitive. But the pain I was feeling was nothing compared to the pain I would feel if my father found me. I hoped my mother would succeed in calming him down but something inside me told me that the odds of that happening were quite slim. I heard the combined sound of my father’s angry voice and my mother’s pleading coming slowly up the stairs. I thought about the events of the day as I moved further under the bed.

My father had told me for as long as I could comprehend things that he never wanted to see me with a boy, talk to one, hold hands with one or even acknowledge one. He said it was for my safety and that boys would destroy me like they had destroyed his sister – an aunt I had never seen. After 14 years I was curious as to what evils boys would do to me but my fear of my father and the memory of the last time he lashed me with his belt out-weighed every bit of curiosity in me.

All the boys in school had been warned by the principal and the entire teaching staff not to approach me, my father is an influential figure in the school and so he was respected and feared and most of what he said was law. But today, a new student was transferred in, he was the cutest boy I had seen and he stood out from all the others. He was tall, surprisingly built, with dark skin, coal black eyes, wavy hair, shining white teeth and a model’s face. The story was that he and his parents were returning to the country after some years abroad. I pushed him to the back of my mind as I focused on the classes of the day.

The time flew by, the day dragging on. He passed by my seat during break and smiled at me, revealing his beautiful white teeth, making butterflies fly in my stomach. I swallowed and went back to being on my own. School was over and I packed my books into my bag in a hurry and as I turned to leave he was right beside me giving me a sly grin. My heart was beating faster and everyone in class was looking at him, shocked that he dared to talk to me. I tried maneuvering round him but he was quick and followed me for every step.

“I’m not moving until you say something to me” he said with his beautiful bass voice.

“Please…” I croaked out.

“School is barely over, chill a bit”

“I have to get home, my father mustn’t know about this. I have to be home in 15 minutes. Please.”

“Okay, but at least let me walk you home” he said with another perfect smile.

I agreed because it was a losing battle either way. He was determined to talk to me and he wasn’t bulging.  And besides he was the first boy I had spoken to in almost all my life. His name was David. We walked and talked and I realized that apart from being the most handsome boy I had seen, he was also smart and funny. He told me how beautiful I was, the only other person who had said that was my mother during the nights when we would sit in front of her mirror and brush my hair and apply Aloe Vera to it until it shone.

It was barely a 15 minute walk but it was like I had spent a day with him. Two blocks from my house, I had to let him go for I didn’t want anyone to see me walk in with a boy in tow. He gave me this look of understanding, and as he turned to go, he gave me a quick kiss on my lips. I was stunned. No one had ever done that before. He smiled and left. If I had been fair, I would have been pink all over.

My father’s car wasn’t in the driveway. He wasn’t due till 5. I walked in feeling on top of the world with a fuzzy feeling in my stomach. The door was open as usual and I shouted a quick greeting to my mom who was always in the kitchen at this time preparing lunch. I walked into the living room to see my father seated on a couch, looking angry. I mumbled a quiet ‘good afternoon sir’ and he turned to face me.

“Who was that boy I saw you with?” he shouted at me.

“What boy, sir” thinking he couldn’t have seen me with David.

“The boy I saw kissing you.” I knew then that I was in trouble. I had violated my father’s most treasured rule and I had gotten flogged for less.

My mother walked into the room, saying that I should go upstairs while trying to reason with my father. He pulled out his belt and I ran up the stairs, into my room and under my bed.

Their voices were becoming louder. My father barged into the room with my mother behind him.

“How many times do I have to tell what boys did to my sister?”

“Dapo, please. She’s just barely a child”

“She disobeyed the one rule that was most important to me and so she must be flogged.”

I peeked from my hiding place and saw his shining black shoes walk to the side of the bed and walk away. I felt relief.

“So you think you can hide from me?” he shouted from beside me. I screamed and ran out on the other side. My mother was quick to come in between us.

“Bimpe, run!!!” she screamed at me. I moved back slowly. My father walked towards me, with even more fury on his face. She pulled on his arm to slow him down and using his elbow he pushed her away from him. She slipped on a doll and fell hitting her head on the ground and the next thing I saw was blood flowing from the back of her head contrasting against the white floor of my bedroom.

I screamed again as I ran, my father still coming towards me. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, running out into the street. The skies were dark when I finally stopped moving. I had been walking for hours; I didn’t know where I was. I couldn’t even go back if I wanted to. My mother’s face as she lay on the floor and my father’s wrath were the images I pictured when I thought of home.

I looked up and saw that the neighborhood had changed; I was no more in the area of classy, well designed houses with driveways. I was in the area of poor housing and sanitation. I heard the loud voices of some men coming towards me. I didn’t know where to go so I bowed my head letting my hair cover my face as I walked quickly past them.

“Baby.” One of the men called just as I had walked past them. I pretended to not hear them. I instantly felt someone pull me before I saw them. His breath smelt strongly of alcohol.

“The babe set o!” he called out to his friends as he pulled at my breast. He was rewarded with a slap on the face from me. His face twisted in anger as he pushed me down and gave me some punches. I couldn’t move. I was pinned to the ground between his legs and I was seeing stars from the blows I just received. All I heard were the multiple sounds of belts un-buckling – a sound I was familiar with – and the pull of zippers as I faded into black.

I don’t recall my eyelids opening but I found myself in a space, with darkness everywhere. It was thick and choking. I heard voices calling me back from a place that was vaguely familiar. And then I saw my mother dressed in shining white walking towards me with the biggest smile on her face. I looked down and saw I was wearing a white dress too. She took my hand and we walked off towards the light with our white garments shining in the dark.

My Happy Ending

I had it all figured out. You would fall in love with me the way I fell in love with you. We would get married and have kids. You would be the perfect mother, always there for her children and her husband, looking perfect and beautiful as always. I fell in love with your beautiful eyes even though they were contacts, your long, beautiful dark hair even though they were extensions, your long legs that went on forever, the way you signed your name with a little heart on top, the way your trousers grabbed you, the way I knew without even touching, that your body was perfect and the way the cleft in your lips would fit perfectly with mine, everything about you was simply perfection. I had fallen and fallen hard. You were my happy ending.

We started talking by accident. We knew each other but we had never crossed the bounds of ‘hi’ friends. It started with a game of numbers. You would pick a number and send it to all your friends and they would publicly post what they felt about you putting only your numbers. Your comments were less than kind but they were well intended and I took it a bit to heart, wasting no time in telling you how I felt. You apologized stating that hurting me was not your intentions.

School resumed and your face was the first face I wanted to see, every other face was a blur till I saw yours. We sat and talked for hours and I would stop talking to stare into your blue eyes. On other girls, blue eyes would have looked stupid, disgusting maybe, but with you it was refreshingly beautiful. When I had to leave you it felt like there was a lump in my throat that I couldn’t swallow. The next day, once I saw your face, all my lumps were gone.

I had to impress you; your approval meant the world to me. My dressing improved drastically, I consulted my top fashionable friends and listened as they matched colors, and different combos and I would beam from ear to ear as I saw your approval. You had a boyfriend but I didn’t care. I knew love would prevail.

My birthday came and I wanted you to have a taste of my red velvet cake, like it was a taste of my heart. You were a vegetarian, so I made sure not to forget as I thought to buy meals for you. A few days after my birthday we were to leave school for Christmas break, before we left my closest friend told me to stop talking to you, I asked him why but he said “nothing” and I didn’t press him, he was my closest friend and I trusted his judgment. Besides, he had known you for close to three years now after he had crushed on you in our first year, although nothing had happened between the two of you. Christmas break was painful. I wouldn’t see you for a month even though we stayed in the same state, but I made sure to tweet and mention you all the chances I got.I called and we talked. I even got curious as to why my closest friend wouldn’t want us talking, and so I questioned you about it. You said you didn’t have any idea but I should ask him. I did and he said nothing again and that I should forget about it and I did.

The break was eventful, your best friend was celebrating her birthday and of course all of her closest girls were invited along with her boyfriend and two of her male friends. And of course with the celebration came pictures, the picture of the day being one you took with one of your male friends that was present, although it was strictly platonic, your boyfriend was angry and asked for it to be taken down, you guys broke up a few weeks later. My closest friend called me and said that there was something important that you had to tell me, that something had happened to you. I asked what it was but he insisted that you be the one to tell me.

I didn’t have airtime, so I sent you a direct message instead asking what had happened, you insisted that nothing had happened but I pressed on and I pissed you off. Your anger made me feel pain. I was like my stomach had sunk and it was never going to rise again.

Days went on and so did the weeks, school resumed again and I offered an explanation along with my apologies, it seemed all was well in the world again. I told her the role our mutual friend had played and she was curious into the motivation behind his action. They had had a little squabble and she had said she wouldn’t talk to him again. But our mutual friend had sunk his teeth in deep and in no time again they were once more friends.

He turned all my truths into lies while holding me close, and keeping himself informed of my plans. You refused to talk to me. I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking of you. I turned to one of the few people I could for advice – my sister – and she told me to focus, my academics couldn’t suffer because of you. I tried but I was failing miserably at it.

I summoned up courage and told you about my feelings and you acted like I had told you that the sky was blue by replying with a simple “so???”. My heart was shattered, my hopes dashed. I questioned myself and wondered what I had done wrong. I asked your best friend but she was being vague and implied I leave you alone. I continued on with my life as best as I could, closing myself up and becoming the type of guy I had always said I would never be.

It was good, the thrill made me forget till I saw your tweets implying that you and our mutual friend were now in a relationship, one faithful august day and as I sat in class listening to Avril Lavinge’s happy ending on my iPod, rain pouring around me, I realized there and then that there is no such thing as a happy ending.