I’m still in shock on how a guy you gisted about women, drug, alcohol, money et al could turn round and stab you in the ass. The thoughts of Ikem still leave me in shock whenever I try to reconcile what he has done, and the times we shared. How do I start to recall my ordeal? It would have been more forgivable, if it were just a random guy on the street or perhaps, even a thief or a burglar. But from the hands of my supposed best friend, it’s still just like a dream, an endless nightmare.
The image of Ikenna before I changed it to Ikem out of sheer fondness has refused to wash off my memory. Yes, he was my friend and that was at a time T, in the past. Since we live in the same neighbourhood we had lots of time together, especially in the evenings and weekends. We talked on virtually anything and everything two young men could possibly talk about; from women to booze, from money to drug, sex et al. We had so much in common and easily we let our guard down. He told me all I needed to know about him, even the those I deemed unnecessary, and I told him all I could possibly share, even beyond what I’d never had the guts to talk about.
Ikenna was IT for me. He’d this gentle mien I liked and was also very kind. He was understanding, generous, witty and amusing too. He just had this knack of laughing at my complaints like they were nothing. ‘You don’t have a problem Shoga’ he would say holding me softly by the neck, peering into my eyes, ‘guy, you would be fine. Se na job dey give u headache, wey u wan kill ursef? Mscheew, abegi! Wen dem oil companies grab u now, to see you go turn form-filling-protocol ba?’ He always had this reassuring look. It felt just right for me to be with him, possibly, all the time.
He is a typical African man and always mocked me whenever I talked on subjects like women emancipation and chauvinism, especially the latter, which seemed to be his don’t-go-area of the two open-ended subjects and I don’t hesitate to tell him his high tendencies of been a chauvinist to his face. He would just give that dry toothy smile…‘black oyinbo’ he would say. ‘Shoga you are just too soft for this terrain, if to sey u be girl, guy, na so so heartbreak go kill u o! See the other day wey u dey cry cry because of music? It just reminded me of this, it reminded me of that, guy, na wetin… na only u? Well’ he would shrug, and his hands would drop as it did most times, ‘if to sey e possible to turn u to woman, men I for yansh u die’…he would laugh and run for cover, because he knows I would be right after him. That was how most of our evenings started.
I would follow him with a weapon of whatever kind, ranging from my pams, to his shoe, my belt or anything handy and the strongest weapon in my arsenal was the broom in the kitchen. He would threaten to hit me back, if I dare come close with it, talkmore of hitting him. More often than not I ended up disappointing him. I only didn’t go close; I made sure I hit him. And hit him hard I did always with the broom, on his back or shoulder, or wherever I find. And he would wince in pain, running after me in whatever direction I take. With a frame at six one and a full muscular build, Ikem, no Ikenna was by far stronger than I’m and didn’t hesitate to show it. Anytime he caught up with me, he would simply carry me and spin me around. The broom still in my hands, my eyes rolling in her socket like it would fall. Lest I forget he used to call me oju yo bo. He had this peculiar way of laughing when he carried me, and always had this look in his eyes when he looked me in the eyes. His eyes would go hungry on me like I was some dessert. Not for once was I perturbed about Ikenna’s look, ‘Abriba boy’ I called him most times he did that and he would laugh, even the more showing off his milky white dentition with the conspicuously missing canines.
Whenever his mood was down, he would curl up in bed with a soft music playing. One of his favourite depressing songs was Rihanna’s Russian roulette, which doubles as mine too. Ikenna’s love for rap more than any genre of music is over the top. Even the classical he sings every Sunday stood no chance when it’s rap in-line. It baffled me, how he managed to play them all in his head and then, that gait…that gait like he owned the world. That it could crumble and be soft enough to listen to Riri still makes me laugh, even against my own wish now. Well you can’t blame me for any of those things that happened, because if you were in my shoes, I wonder if you would have simply changed your taste, because of one guy from the blues. Ikenna would have been every girl’s answered prayer but here he’s, my most dreadful nightmare. I still remember how vehemently he disliked Beyonce, for taking the shine of the other members of Destiny’s child and yet loves her track sweet dream. And how he idolizes Jay Z for all he represents. How we used to argue about, which of them-Destiny’s child belted the notes best and more often than not, we unanimously ended up with Michelle.
Been with Ikenna those times he was low was sweet, pardon the oxymoron. At five seven with a petite frame and calm demure, please don’t blame me for been a man who loves intimacy. With my girlfriends, it was a track or an artist we just listened to, together or something, a movie, a book or anything of common interest, it could even be their make-up and the line is opened to verbal simulation. I usually would have reached the crescendo without even knowing when I started the journey. It’s so consuming that once the course runs through; I would simply loose taste for any other thing. I just stand up and walk away. I’m a bit too selective with all my friends, girls and guys alike and Ikenna was just a perfect fit. Since I didn’t even have any permanent friend, ever since, after I’d left secondary school, thirteen years ago, his coming my way really filled a void, emptiness, ink can’t tell.
The way he sang I must confess blew my mind most times. He’s a Timi Dakolo in the offing, waiting to be discovered. I just can’t help but put you in the present and past-Ikem and I won’t be sorry for it. I’m not sorry or lost for words to describe every emotion that coursed through me from the day you said sorry when you stepped on my toes at the cyber-cafe, till when you put your lebe to my neck. Ikem is a chorister and sang Alto so well. He said he sang it for ten years before puberty dealt him a blow to Tenor. And I was an Alto singer before my craze for running notes drove me to Soprano, after two years. He would bring out a piece and we would sing it together and I still remember how he used to close his eyes when he was singing the Tenor solo of ‘Sing unto God’ from Judas Maccabeus. How he opens his mouth, more often than not carried me away beyond our the now, then.
Life was again liveable with Ikenna in the picture. He warmed up to me whenever I was around him. His calmness was his greatest asset to my blind eyes. I couldn’t even see beyond his laughter. And anytime I called him Ikem, which I presume he liked very much, because of the way he smiled. He would conjure his mouth in a particular way and call me ofe manu, and then I would call him omo ibo, or omo nna as I deem fit. He would laugh and call me Ogo mi and I still remember asking him the very first day he called me that, if he knew the meaning of what he was saying, and he simply nodded his head and wrapped his arms round my neck and said my glory. That was the kind of friendship we shared. He was clean and thorough, diligent and careful, yet he was a brute. His spoken English was beautifully spiced with Hausa accent. He told me he was brought up in the north, and he always recounted his glorious years at Kano. Kilishi was a delicacy he said he couldn’t do without then.
Gradually, we started staying connected together all day long, no thanks to technology and social media, now. He filled my boredom with his laughter and before long he became a part of my day, my sunshine. Yet we were far from the borderline. Job, music, money, women, alcohol and sex were still all we talked about, politics occasionally till the day I would never forget.