After the Valentine’s day debacle, we had our mid-term break and went home for half a week from wednesday to Friday. My school has always been stingy with breaks. I don’t think they even want to let us out of the school gate except on very compulsory holidays. So while other schools would have a full week mid term, mine would give us a half week mid-term. I still remember my Jss2 Easter break, when we junior boarders crowded the gate and demanded to be let out. I had really thought that our massive number would make them let us out but it didn’t happen. And we spent Easter in school. But then I was young, now I think I’ve seen a bit of life, even though am still in secondary school (laughs).
In my head, I have always imagined romance to be something fun and spontaneous, you know, unplanned and magical. In the movies, they never show how messy things could go in a moment. Maybe we all need to do rehearsals in real life so that everything could go as planned.
Girls have one distinct priority over boys in the business of romance or love. They never have to bother about doing the asking. Nope. That responsibility falls on the male species. Well, we do have some aggressive females who can take the bull by the horn but that’s few and far between. I never imagined that asking a female out would be such a problem for some male, especially the young inexperienced ones.
I have not watched a stage play before but one evening, I had the ample opportunity to watch one failed romantic play with my elder brother as the star of the show. You see, he was standing outside with me, just gisting and talking generally. I think he was trying to convince me that my school was not so bad compared to his. He went to one Police Secondary School so I guess he was right. I mean, what kind of school has Police as teachers and guards? Not one I would want to attend.
As we were talking, Pamela, a pretty young girl in the area walked by. Normally, I wouldn’t see anything amiss but suddenly, my brother lost concentration. He couldn’t even complete his sentence. After trying and failing to continue his gist, he started urging me to go back into the house hurriedly. My young mind pieced two and two together and came up with one. So I pretended to enter into the gate and watched him take off after Pamela.
Feeling like a young detective, I followed him as he followed her. I just really wanted to see what he would do or say, anything. So we walked, all three of us, down to Pamela’s house which was a short distance from our house. I started singing the ‘three blind mice’ poem, you know, cos we were all walking blind.
Pamela, blind to my brother’s advances, my brother blind to my trailing him, and me, blind to the fact that I would see no action that evening. I just followed him follow Pamela till she got to her house and entered. Then he walked past like he was really just going somewhere else. But you and I know the truth; he couldn’t summon the courage to talk to her that day. You know, I never knew romance could be hard. The movies make it look so easy. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, everyone’s happy, end of story.
But real life is not like that. Things happen, life gets complicated, people leave, people stay, nobody laughs, etc. There is so much room for missed opportunities. Just one failed attempt and you might miss out on the supposed “love of your life.”
Maybe from watching too many movies, or reading too many books, we get the notion that we all have “the one”. So we spend our whole lives chasing after the elusive “one”, and we hang on to that “one” even though they turn out to be a nightmare.
Anyways, maybe am talking like this because of the complications with me and Alex. I’ve decided to just let it go you know. Am tired of stressing myself out with worries and anxieties. The twists and turns at every corner was making me dizzy and I was sick of it. Maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. I mean, I mustn’t date Alex right? It’s not a do or die affair. Besides, am sure by now he thinks am tooooo desperate. After watching my brother chase after Pamela, I have concluded that the romance business is too messy, too complicated for me. I would just chill all by myself. After all, I’ve been all by myself all my life. Nothing’s changed.
But all that was philosophy for the bulls because the moment I saw Alex after the mid terms, my heart flipped over and all the hopes I thought I had buried came crashing back with overwhelming intensity. I could see us going through life together, getting jobs, raising children, growing old together. But most importantly, my heart felt like a butterfly flying for the first time, my world suddenly came alive with colour.
I couldn’t let anything come between us. I really just needed to know for certain if he liked me or not and all of this confusion was not helping. So I had a meeting with my strategists(Me, Myself and I, three entities that live in peace in my head), to come up with a plan to meet with Alex and have an honest conversation without any interruptions or misunderstandings. Here’s how the meeting went;
Me: as the leader here, I propose that we find a way to waylay Alex and resolve this issue.
Myself: what issue now?
Me: will you concentrate? Can’t you see that we need to know for certain if all these resources we’ve spent so far on that Alex boy is worth it?.
Myself: of course it’s worth it. You’re always too stingy anyways. You and your precious resources. And who made you leader here? I want to be the leader too. (stares at Me with vehemence).
Me: first of all, am not stingy. Am just being rational and logical with our resources. Do you even have any idea how much time, energy and passion has been spent on that Alex boy? If we had spent that much on our books, we would be the best student in this school. And secondly, I am leader here because I am most adequate for it. You, with your flirty mind and lack of focus, drive or determination cannot handle anything.
Myself: (gasps) how dare you talk to me like that? I will have you know that I can be very logical and rational too. I just choose not to. Just because I follow my heart and not my head like you do, doesn’t make me any less capable. And you, (turns to I), why are you so quiet? Say something. Tell that one over there (points to Me) that I can be a good leader too.
I: well, am a peace maker. I can’t approve of this power tussle between you two. Sometimes it’s good for the head to rule, other times its good for the heart to rule. But what I will say about this Alex matter is that if it makes all of us happy, then it’s worth it.
Myself: (looks at I with anger) Mrs peace maker, I hail thee. Mtcheeeew. I don’t know why I even asked you sef.(sits down and sulks.)
Me: (clears throat.) now that you are through with disrupting this meeting, let’s go forward. Talking to Alex might not be so easy. We can’t do that during classes because teachers and friends will definitely interrupt. Neither can we do it in the dining because senior students will definitely interrupt. Suggestions?
Myself: oooh, how about the chapel area? It’s usually quiet and nobody is always around.
Me: (glares at Myself) you know that senior students are always there in the evening for romantic trysts. What’s wrong with you? Use your brain sometimes. Oh, I forgot, you don’t have any.
Myself: (cries) if you know you don’t want my suggestion, then don’t ask for it. Just leave me alone.
Me: (rolls eyes) you’re too emotional, it’s damn annoying. (turns to I) Don’t you have any suggestion?
I: how about if we meet him after classes and talk during dining?
Me: but that will mean that we’ll both miss dining. And who knows if he’ll agree?
Myself: (glares at Me) that is the perfect idea. And besides, can’t we miss food for Alex? He’s worth it. And I know he’ll agree. It’s so romantic, we’re missing food for each other.
So now I had a plan. Will it work? I hope so. And, please forgive Me, Myself and I. They are talkative.
“So let me get this straight, you saw me talking with Miriam that day so you got angry and left? And that was why you shouted at me at the dining hall?”
I swallowed and nodded weakly, looking down at the ground with so much focus you would think my life depended on it. I and Alex were sitting on the walkway in the class room block. What he didn’t know was that I was extremely uncomfortable. I’m not used to talking about my feelings out in the open. It all happens in my head. Even though I have told Alex “I like you” a thousand times in my head, now that I sat with him facing me, the words just couldn’t leave my lips. So I chickened out and told him I wanted to apologise for the dining hall incident.
And I hoped desperately that he would be the one to bring up the topic of love cos it sure wouldn’t be me. If he did like me, surely he wouldn’t see this as just an apology. Surely, he would take this ample opportunity and ask me out even….
“Are you listening?” Alex’s voice interrupted.
I nodded, again. I hope he doesn’t think am a lizard, the way I was nodding at everything he said.
“At least you should have come to talk to me about it, instead of just assuming….”
I rolled my eyes. Great! He was going to give me the same lecture I had given myself a thousand times. Will he get to the part where he says he loves me too already? I was anxious and it was making me impatient.
“So………” I swung my legs casually against the cement pave way, biting my lips as I waited. I stared at his mouth, willing them to form the words ‘I love you’.
It didn’t come. He just sat by me, taking deep breaths until a thought occurred to me. What if he was shy? I mean really. Now that I think about it, it’s possible. I look down at his hands with my side eye. His hands were trembling slightly as he held the pavement. His breaths were laboured, like he was uncertain. He was shy. Wow! I never thought.
Smiling, I put my left hand atop his and looked at him directly. He looked at my hand atop his, then looked up slowly, at me, and smiled. He liked me too. He didn’t have to say the words. I knew. We smiled like that. I put my head on his shoulders and we stayed like that without saying a word, my heart singing happy songs.
The noise from the dining hall signalled that the afternoon meal was over, so we left, holding hands and smiling. And that would definitely go as one of the happiest days of my life, you know the joy you feel when a big dream comes true.
They say you never forget your first love; they have a point.
I used to be so emotional then, I used to feel things so intensely. Sometimes I wonder where all that passion, that drive went to. I even miss the blissful ignorance. There’s something about falling in love without any bad experience getting in the way. It means you get to love freely, without any barrier or fear. That’s why first love is unforgettable. Because it was the one and only time you loved freely.
Now, as adults, every time you about to fall in love, you get afraid and tensed. You can’t look before you leap because of bad experiences and fear of being hurt. I wish we would all love freely without our past hindering us. Then we would be able to give our best and not just the part of us we can afford to give. I think I did love Alex that much, with the exuberant intensity of a hormonal adolescent. Looking back now, I feel somehow foolish and happy. Such love has its consequences. We used to fight a lot. He was always doing things that annoyed me. Like how he was always talking to girls. I hated that. He didn’t understand why I always had a problem with that. If only he knew I was just insecure. I had gotten a slice of happiness and I didn’t want anybody to take it away.
Deep down inside, I felt that I was not good enough for him, that he needed all those very obviously beautiful girls and then, that was my biggest fear. I finally had what I wanted but I was the one driving him away. It took a while before I was able to watch him talk to another girl without feeling intensely jealous. I would just close my eyes, smile and pretend my mind wasn’t boiling with rage.
That’s not to say that Alex didn’t have his faults. Sure he was a good boyfriend. He used to wait for me outside my class everyday, then he would carry my bag and we would walk together. I would be in class and he would send a junior boy with snacks for me. He was so cute and kind of perfect.
But they say that ‘like begets like’ and ‘deep calleth unto deep’. If I was intensely jealous, Alex was insanely jealous. His was paranormal. Really. He refused to let me sit with Chika anymore. Instead, he made me sit with some other girls in the front row, using the excuse that he wanted me to do better in my studies. He didn’t like me hanging out with other boys, and he was very calculative about it.
Every morning while i’m coming out for the morning food, he would be waiting for me in the dining. Then we would walk to the assembly hall together, then to class together. There we would separate to our different classes. Sometimes, I would even feel like he was staring at me from the window. But immediately after the classes, he would be waiting outside my class and we would walk back to the dining together or just sit and talk with his friends. I felt cool about it sha, and I know other girls were envious. I didn’t realize when Alex became a daily routine.
Ladies always say they don’t trust their men because the men give them reasons not to. Alex didn’t give me any reason to distrust him. He put so much care, attention and detail to me that after a while, the thought of him with other girls didn’t bother me.
I didn’t realize the extent of his jealousy until the day he saw me walking with Chika to the primary school area to buy snacks. My school has a primary school located just at the back beside the chapel. The snacks from the primary school is much better than the old dry things they sell at our tuck shop. I met Chika there and we were walking back together. But Alex didn’t see it that way. He didn’t even say a word to me. He just went straight to Chika and pushed him down. Yeah, they fought. A small part of me was happy that guys were fighting over me (and girls always feel ecstatic when guys fight over them) but the big part of me was dismayed.
You remember I told you Alex was tall and kind of had muscles. Well, he used them that day to his advantage, leaving Chika with a broken lip. His friends came and separated the fight but he didn’t stop there. He warned Chika not to come close to me, then grabbed my arm painfully and took me to the chapel. (fyi, the chapel was locked so we sat outside on the pavement).
Once we got there, his manner changed drastically. He held my hand tenderly and apologised for fighting. Then he begged me not to walk with Chika anymore, that he couldn’t take it. Underneath, I got the sense he meant Chika and other boys. But you know silly girls and their love of strong men, I simply smiled and said yes. Anything to make my Alex happy.
So I stopped walking with Chika. Inside, I was kind of scared. I know I was jealous but not anything like this. But i did love Alex and if he didn’t want me walking with Chika, I was happy to do it. But I did apologise to Chika. He didn’t say much, just that he understood.