Zelinjo had once been the man of her dreams who had now turned out to be her worst nightmare.
They had met at the University, he had been a year four student, a happening campus dude normally referred to as an “omo-boy” and she was a year one fresher or jambito as was the normal slang around campus. He and his friends were well known on campus and were to be seen hanging around the girls’ hostel razzling and ferrying girls around campus, feeling cool and always seemingly idle.
Nene was terrified of campus life, as she did not seem to fit in with the happening crowd on campus. She had been lucky to have passed her jamb exams on her first attempt and gotten into Uni straight after secondary school spending only the mandatory nine months waiting for SSCE / WAEC and Jamb results.
This meant she was one of the youngest girls in her set who didn’t seem to know anyone unlike most of the other girls in her year who were fairly acquainted with each other having attended different Jamb classes around town on their quest to pass the gruelling jamb exams.
Nene didn’t seem to have much in common with them since she hadn’t gone to any of the jamb lessons around town. She never got any invites to parties nor did she have any of the million razzlers the other jambites seemed to have. Apart from being a petite and shy person, Nene was the only daughter and last child of her parents who had led a very conservative and cossetted lifestyle until getting into University. The only people she got to hang out with were the handful of very dry engineering girls in her year that would not have recognized what it meant to be bubbly even if it hit them between the eyes.
She felt easy in her own company, mostly preferring to lie low and blend in quietly in the background so she was surprised when one day Zelinjo suddenly walked up to her, fell in step and got chatting as she made her way to the campus library.
He started by saying how he thought she looked familiar, asking her if she had been to one of the popular jamb classes.
Nene knowing this was one of the oldest chat up lines, politely informed him she hadn’t attended any jamb classes and that he must have her mistaken for someone else.
He apologized and asked where she was headed? She told him she was on her way to the library.
Giving her a funny look he said to her “Let me guess, you’re an engineering student, right?” she nodded, “I knew it!” he chuckled softly
How had guessed she was an engineering student, was it that obvious? Nene wondered, looking puzzled. “Oh, quite easy”, he said reading her thoughts “you’ve got that timid efico look and you are actually walking to the library in broad daylight!”
So what’s wrong with going to the library in broad daylight? She asked.
“That’s really not a good look at all” He replied, “ it tells people you are all work and no fun, it scares all the guys away and none of the “in” crowd would be caught dead hanging out with you”.
“Oh, is that right? I wouldn’t want to be caught hanging around with dead beats either, I came to school to study first remember? Everything else comes second to that” she retorted.
“Fine talk, but not to worry, I will let you off since you are still a Johnnie just come (JJC) jambite. You will soon learn the dos and don’ts of campus life. I am giving you about 3 months before you change your tune, till then I will just give you space to get clued up on things before I ruin my street cred hanging around this campus with you, so hope to see you in a few months when you’ve got some inkling about what’s up on campus” he said as he gave her a bored look and coolly sauntered off.
Nene stared at him as he walked off with her mouth open, quite shocked at how rude and dismissive he had just been.
She had never felt so irrelevant in all her life. One minute he was being friendly and chatty then the next minute he had switched into this incredibly arrogant person. Who the hell did he think he was? She thought fuming silently but in time she would come to know more about this Jekyll and Hyde character that would be a hallmark for Zelinjo.
She walked briskly to the Library and hoped she never ever had the bad fortune of setting eyes on that creepy guy ever again.
But as fate would have it over the next few weeks she seemed to always run into him loitering around as usual in front of her girls hostel, chatting up a number of random girls but never giving her a second glance or even acknowledging her as though he was doing his best to ignore her.
She too did the same and avoided any form of eye contact with him especially as she had now decided after their brief encounter that she did not particularly like him or any of his stupid lay about friends.
They always seemed to move through a constant supply off fawning moronic girls and it never failed to amaze Nene how the stupid girls happily waited in turn to be asked out by any of those shady guys knowing they would be dumped for the next bimbo, why were these girls forever stupid, she mused.
“Hey watch it”, she heard what seemed like a frantic call, she had been lost in her musings and had not taken any notice of the white BMW heading in her direction. “I’m sorry,” she said on autopilot before turning around to see his face looking mildly irritated at her. “Why don’t you look where you’re going? I could have run you over just now and nothing would have happened remember this is Naija! Better pay attention, next time you might not be so lucky, stupid jambite girl” He mouthed off rudely at her.
“What’s your problem with jambites self? Why do you enjoy harassing people with your borrow, borrow dash me car…you too, look where you are going and use your stupid horn, old timer like you, mschew!” she responded and he started laughing very loudly at her which made her even more annoyed.
“Okay, let’s call a truce, I am sorry if I harassed you just now but you really should be more careful, there are many careless drivers about who are not even qualified to be on the road and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you” He said trying to placate her.
“Wow, this is quite the turnaround, I don’t get you, just a moment ago, you were ready to bite my head off and now you don’t want anything to happen to me,” she returned.
“It seems we got off on the wrong note” he said in a conciliatory tone, “All my friends tell me I am not very diplomatic and that I usually talk before I think but once you get to know me you will find out that my bark is usually worse than my bite”.
“I am Zelinjo by the way, but my friends call me Zel, what’s your name?” He asked.
“Hi Zel, I’m Nene”.
“Nene, nice name for a nice girl, I like it. I see you around a lot but you always look so distant and aloof, I have been trying to get a chance to talk to you again but you always seem disinterested” He said. “I would like to make a peace offering, how about I drop you off?”
“But you don’t even know where I am going?” she replied.
“Quite right and I intend to find out as hopefully you will point me in the right direction; hop in” He said.
And that was how it all began. Zel, took to dropping on her every evening and taking her everywhere around town.
It started as a gradual friendship since Nene had misgivings based on the impression she had of him from their first encounter and her reservations about his mood swings and the kind of friends he moved around with plus she thought they were like chalk and cheese, she did not fit the profile of his type of girls who were normally flashy and happening campus chicks but as she got to know him better she was able to adapt her ways to him. He kept telling she was special and different from all the other “airheads” he had dated.
It quickly grew into an intensely passionate affair as Nene found herself falling in love with him. Nene had never had a boyfriend and Zel was her first love, her friend, her confidante and she found it inevitable that they would become lovers in every sense of the word.
Nene however proved to be a welcome challenge for Zelinjo. He kept chasing her mainly because she had the will power to resist him unlike all the other girls he had been with. She had made him wait for eighteen months saying she had never been with any other man and she was afraid of getting intimate with a well known playboy who could love her and leave her as he had done with countless other girls. This singular action kept him interested and Nene became his obsession; he wanted her all to himself and could not bear to be apart from her until gradually he won her trust particularly as he never pressured her into doing anything she wasn’t ready for.
They spent every spare moment they could together during this time and Zel soon graduated and got a job working for oil company whilst she continued with her studies. She lived for the love they shared and counted each moment until they were together again.
Even after two blissful years of dating she could hardly believe her luck that out of all the “correct” girls on campus, he had chosen her, Nene, the campus loner, the shy and retiring wall flower who never hung out with anybody to be reckoned with and yet somehow she had managed to bag herself one of the hot happening club boys who had gone on to become one of the most eligible bachelors in town working as a manager at a renowned Oil and Gas Company. Most people wondered what he saw in her and secretly she wandered the same as their affair had since become a constant feature in most of the gossip rags around town but Nene took it all in stride and eventually finished her course at University and having served the mandatory youth service, with Zel’s connection she managed to get a job working in the same oil and gas company.
Soon after, they got married and the future looked very promising for the young couple.