Some say love is a thing of the heart, a divine, selfless decision one takes in relation to another. I am bound to agree, but truth be told, I never understood love. I am not sure I do, even now. From as little as eight, I asked questions and got unsatisfactory answers. The more I asked, the less I knew.
Fiyinfoluwa Peters was brought into our class looking all clean and neat in her pinafore, back in primary three. Our class teacher introduced her as a new enrolee in school and our latest classmate. Fiyin’s dad was an itinerant Yoruba missioner whose life bothered exclusively on church planting wherever the spirit led him. The Spirit had led him to Abeokuta to establish yet another church and he had relocated his family –wife and daughter- from somewhere in the savannah to the hilly city of Abeokuta.
Before Fiyin, I was the best student in class, consistently topping the class in all subjects. But when she came, that term, I came second. I avoided her for weeks and in fact studied harder. When the term ended again, she was tops. I drew further into my cocoon and doubled my efforts. She came tops again the third time. It was then I gave up and grudgingly courted her friendship. To my surprise, we quickly became best of friends and jointly topped the class till we left primary school.
As good friends, we plotted to attend the same secondary school. But her dad had other plans. She was bundled to faraway Federal Government Girls’ College, Akure while I went to nearby Abeokuta Grammar School. I was sad to lose my best friend. She promised to write me as often as she could and that she did. We became pen mates during school session and attended extra mural classes together when she came home during the holidays. It went on like that till her itinerant missioner dad got another call to establish a church in the north.
I lay in bed reading a pacesetter novel when she walked in. She looked regal in a knee-length dress that seemed bent on reminding me of her clean, straight legs. Fiyin had grown into a looker during the intervals she had been away. At just 17, she stood tall and fair-skinned with pointed breasts I never got comfortable with and round hips I couldn’t stop staring at. Her natural hair, something she inherited from her Fulani mother, reached to the small of her back.
“Daddy is going to the north, George.” She began immediately she sat on the bed, “and we are moving with him, as always.”
“But, why? He must not do that!” I shouted, scaring her.
“George? Are you okay?” She asked innocently.
“Yes, well, err, I am.”
“No George. Tell me your mind.”
“Why does he want to do that?”
She sighed and answered, “Well, that’s what he said and I’ve come to tell you,” and made to stand up.
“Just like that? But I love you Fiyin.” The words jumped out of my mouth as if they were hot morsels of amala dudu.
The silence that ensued was palpable. Maybe it was the Girls’ College she attended, what she did next shocked me to the marrow.
“Are you serious?” she whispered as she turned to face me. I nodded mechanically. “Then why did you not say that all these while?”
“I wanted to but, but…”
She moved close to me then and kissed me on the lips. She didn’t argue or resist when I pinched her buttocks, neither did she say a word when my hand unzipped her gown. She stepped out of the gown and stood in front of me naked save her bra and pants. I grabbed her breasts, lifted the bra and sucked her nipples furiously, like a starved puppy that was reunited with its mother.
The rod in between my legs throbbed for a bit of the action and I wanted to oblige it but somehow, I was not able to take the decisive step. But she did. She pushed me away from her, unclasped her bra and stepped out of her panties. The triangular trail of pubic hair that led to the Promised Land in-between her legs set my heart into alarming flurry. I didn’t wait for further invitation. I jumped out of my jeans, pulled off my boxers with it and led her to the bed. The sex was awkward but fulfilling even if I orgasmed barely one minute after I penetrated.
Before she left, we agreed to fill in the same university in our JAMB forms so we would be together. We were already in Form 5 and had just one year to finish High School.
The family left for Kebbi three days later. But they never got there. News reached us that armed robbers attacked their bus in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. As the robbers raided the bus, one of them apparently got excited by Fiyin’s pretty looks and called the attention of the others to her. She was gang-raped to death while her father was shot at close range when he attempted to protect his only daughter.
My first love was gone. And I blamed myself for it. Didn’t they teach us way back in Sunday school that fornication is a sin and that the wages of sin is death? I believed Fiyin was killed in the manner as her punishment for our sin. I expected to be punished too but I didn’t want to die. For days, I cried myself to sleep, begged God for mercy and hoped he’d spare me. He did spare me and I dedicated myself to Him; I got born-again.
I graduated from High School at the top of my class and went ahead to study Architecture at the University.
At the university, I joined a fellowship and got involved in God’s work. I shunned girls with all my will and instead focused on my academics. I was easily the best in my department right from the first year. Yes, girls flocked around me but I didn’t ever give any of them a chance to get closer. They said I was a good looking, brilliant guy but I begged to differ. I was pre-occupied with the hectic schedule of architecture and my set determination. By my final year, i’d never had a girlfriend and I wanted one. It’d been six years after Fiyin and I needed a girl to love and to cherish. I scoured the campus for the right girl but saw none. Even the ‘sisters’ in fellowship came short. I discovered half of them were interested in me for their selfish interests: the bragging right to say I am ‘engaged’ to the best Architecture student bla bla bla.
I had given up on finding my kind of girl when from the blues; Cynthia walked into the fellowship and my life.
Cynthia was every inch a beautiful girl: tall, skinny and fair-skinned, she looked like a lady bred for the runway. Her skin glowed so much that her friends called her sunshine. I was on the pulpit that Tuesday evening, coordinating bible study when she walked in, spotting a knee-length dress and a flat-soled shoe, in company of four other girls. The image of Fiyin as she walked into my room some six years earlier rushed back to me. I felt then the exact same feelings I had for Fiyin.
Immediately after the service, I ensured I found a way to speak to her. I can’t remember what I said again but I recall that when she spoke, she reminded me of a spoilt brat trying hard to be nice.
I investigated Cynthia and what I discovered about her further made me like her: she was a 300L International Relations student and was her hall’s most beautiful girl for two consecutive years. There were rumours of a rich boyfriend off-campus but I didn’t care. She was my modern-day Fiyin and I had to have her for myself.
In relation to my spiritual lifestyle, Cynthia was my opposite, yet, it was her my spirit chose. And it was her I wanted. Maybe I had fallen in love, maybe not but one thing I knew: I liked her so much and would do anything to have her forever. I would not lose the opportunity.
When I informed my two closest friends of my quest, they felt I was crazy.
“Cynthia? Pastor G?” Dimeji, the one whose hair had receded so much he looked ten years older than his then 24 years, cried.
“Yes, Cynthia. What’s with her?” I answered.
“Guy, you need deliverance.” That was Seye, the gangling one who seemed to know about every girl on campus, “that girl would never ever date a guy like you! Can’t you see?”
“Why? What’s wrong with me?” I asked, my mind as plain as a white garment.
“You are a church person, this girl is a very social girl! Miss Tropicana for that matter! Ah! Wetin you know outside church and drafting board? You see fine babe, you wan die for there. All dem Sister Rose and Cecilia for fellowship no do you?” He asked sarcastically.
“Seye, I have never felt the way I felt for Cynthia for any girl since Fiyin. And I won’t let this pass me. It won’t hurt to tell her my feelings, would it?”
“Are you serious Pastor G?” Seye asked again, incredulity clearly visible in his voice.
“Of course I am!”
“Ah! Ok o.” He answered in resignation, and added, “I sha know nothing good will come out of this.”
I kept to my word and exactly fifteen days after I saw Cynthia, I walked up to her.
She was leaving the Lecture Theatre in company of her friends when I approached her. I took a moment to take in her sleeveless multicoloured boubou on a pair of jeggings. A Gucci spec, yellow Gucci handbag and yellow heels completed the look. My heart skipped as I caught a whiff of her perfume but I held on. I was determined to make my dream come true.
“Good afternoon Cynthia,” I greeted in my most polite voice.
“Hi, good afternoon.” She answered; a slight sign of recognition crossed her face and she smiled lightly.
“May I speak with you for a moment?”
“Err, er, hope no problem?” She asked sincerely.
“No, none. Just a minute of your time please.”
“Ok then,”-she turned to her friends- “please girls, excuse me for a minute.” They did and we were alone on the walkway that led away from the Lecture Theatre.
“I have not done this before but I have to do it now.” I began, my voice quivering and my will faltering.
“Done what? I don’t understand.” She asked, a frown had replaced the slight smile she wore seconds earlier.
“I love you and I want you to be my girlfriend.” I blurted out before my will would fail me.
“I, I, I love you and would like for you to be my girlfriend.” I repeated, a little confidence had risen from nowhere.
She removed her specs, and looked me in the eyes. I averted her gaze.
“Brother George, because I came to your fellowship once, you now think you love me? Eh? All the sisters wey dey your fellowship nko?” she asked. By then, I was not sure how to feel or react; I just looked on, a fake grin hid my true countenance like a gas mask.
“I like your boldness. I mean, coming from a brother,- she emphasised the word- “you impress me. But, I am sorry, I don’t do fellowship brothers. And be sure, you can’t cope with my kinda girl. So, sorry.”
“No, no, no. Cynthia, i’ll cope. Why don’t you give me a chance?”
“A chance?” she smiled. “No Brother George, it can’t work. Sorry. I’ve got to go now.”
She walked away and I revelled in the beautiful view her receding figure offered me.
As much as I tried, she became elusive, and deliberately avoided me on campus. After a long while, I gave up on her and focused on my final project, spending sleepless nights in the studio, only going to my room to sleep at noon and returning to the studio by evening. After all, I had little else to do.
I was in deep sleep one Friday evening when I heard a knock from my sleep. I dragged myself out of the bed and opened the door. There she was spotting a flowing Ankara gown which brought out her natural beauty and a Feragamo spec for her eyes
“I have been knocking for the past five minutes or so, have I come at the wrong time?” she asked slowly as she removed her specs.
“er, em, sor..sor..sorry, I was asleep,” I stammered out the sentence, my heart banging wildly in my rib-cage.
“Oh, ok. May I come in?” Before I answered, she had stepped into my unkempt apartment, cleared my shirts from the stool in front of my drafting board, and sat down.
I didn’t know what was on her mind that day. But three years after, we were married. I still don’t know why she married me. But this I do know, I have been blessed with my sunshine. Am I glad? Of course I am!
BANJO, Bankole Sijuade works fulltime as a copywriter. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.