Episode 1 & 2 (Sour Sweetness)
It was the kind of kiss that made me know that I was never so happy in my whole life. It was our very first kiss… soft, warm and sensual. It was nothing like I imagined it’d be.
The moment our lips touched and her strangled gasp carressed my tongue, I instinctively took it to mean her consent, so I delved in deeper to explore.
I tightened my roaming fingers in a gentle lock around her hair, carefully holding back her soft dreadlocks, stroking her scalp with my finger tips.
Her response totally blew me away; her manicured fingers grabbing and running freely over my arms and back. I held her still as my tongue plundered and explored her mouth. She tasted of heaven. I would go to hell, but I did not care. Tonight we both let go, and relish the sensual agreement of our love starved souls…
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”
I had read this somewhere, sometime in another extinct age and as they ran through my subconscious, even Liz Gilbert, would have been proud. I had no more doubts now. Grace was indeed my soul mate and it had taken me 16 months to realize it.
“I loved you a very long time Pete… Last year… Today… Tomorrow… Always will” She breathed softly in my ears even as she clinged unto my rain-soaked body as if her life depended on it. Then she slowly helped me undress and discarded my wet clothes. I shuddered a bit, I can’t really say if my shivering was a result of walking in the rain that evening or something else. Sensations I’d never felt before coursed through my body and soul. I wondered what might have been if I hadn’t bothered to come by her apartment that night. Thinking of what might have happened was what made me shiver involuntarily.
“I thank my stars o” I thought to myself.
I snapped back to reality, as she dabbed me dry with a big white towel. It smelt of orange lavender, further calming me. I turned to her and watched, admiring her flawless ebony skin as it called out to me. Block out further hesitation, I took a deliberate step closer and she melted in my arms again as I started planting passionate kisses all the way down her shoulder and shine.
From the mini cd player in the background, John Legend wailed “…tonight’s the night, I’m letting go… tonight’s the night we lose control… tonight, I’ll be the best you ever had… ”
Grace Ude was the very first person I got sincerely friendly with upon admission into The University of Lagos to study Fine Art. Unilag was quite a whole new experience for me. I spent my first few days starring in disbelief at all the people and buildings, walking long distances and admiring the schools various academic structures and environment. There were more young people than I had ever been exposed to at a time (all rushing to and from God knows where). Young ladies and men came in various sizes and shapes. Some walked briskly alone, others sauntered along in groups. I remember a particular guy once strolled past me looking like a circus; he had virtually all the colours of the rainbow in his dress-up, I had to look closely to make sure it wasn’t Wizkid the renowned singer.
Unilag was a confluence of variety, the headquarters of metropolitan fashion and trend and I Peter Agemo did not fit in. As expected, I became a loner. I would go to the lagoon front by myself, to sketch in my drawing pad. The serenity helped. I would let myself be taken by the sight of the sea and let my imagination roam. It was on one of these escapades, that I met Grace.
I had strolled into the park one cool evening to see a dark skinned lady sitting in my favorite spot. She was reading a book out loud to no audience in sight. I couldn’t see what she was reading because she had her back to me. I was standing transfixed about three meters screaming “INTRUDER” inwardly when she suddenly stopped and turned. Beneath those transparent Ray-Ban shades were the largest brown eyes I’d seen and eye lashes as long as her legs, which she crossed nicely. She wasn’t strikingly beautiful but she looked elegant and intelligent.
“Its rude to staaarrre, mister man” she slurred, emphasizing ‘stare’ in a way that amused me.
“That’s my spot Dakore” I almost snapped, but decided to let her be. I turned away, obviously digusted and was going to look for some other place to curl up. She quickly noticed my intentions and quipped
“Hey, you could come join me if you want; you’re just as thin as me”.
Her silliness made me laugh out loud and face her “I’m not thin, I’m slender”
“Yea, slim… slender, whatever… bring your lepa yansh here” she rolled her eyes in the most comical manner I’d seen and made space for me.
Still intrigued, I reluctantly joined her. She introduced herself as Grace and asked if I had a name, I told her. She asked if I could listen to her read…
“Fine” I said (out of curiosity).
She was a 200 level student studying theater arts which I took mental note of to be an excuse for her talkativeness and crazy hairstyle-dreadlocks.
The familiarity that ensued between us aided familiarity. She was eccentric, loquacious, free-spirited, vibrant, candidly vulgar and surprisingly independent. At 19, her maturity beat mine even though I was a year older. We became friends.
In the weeks that followed, she’d come by my class and whistle noisily from the window to get my attention; less concerned about other students she might be distracting in the process. If I ignored that, she’d call my phone incessantly.
“What is it? Can’t you see I’m in a class?” I’d whisper
“Mister man, its lunch time jor!” She’d cut in.
We never missed lunch time at the SUB cafeteria. The ‘moi-moi’ there was a mutual delight. We had our fair share of fights too. I’d rant, she would counter-rant.
“I hate you” was soon cliched.
She really liked seeing my paintings and she always had something funny to say about them. Always making a fuss, saying she deserved a self-portrait. I was down for it and so we gave it a try a few times, but she’d twitch all the time, and end up cackling like a duck. We’d abandon it midway and I was always to blame for her inability to hold still.
I enjoyed listening to her read and rehearse whatever crazy script they were asked to treat in class.
We didn’t escape the normal campus ridicule and tittle-tattleaimed aimed at couples. Although, she handled well on her own, unlike me. My course mates would be totally idiotic.
“Ol’ boi, where your woman na?”
I’d get tongue-tied and bristly whenever she was referred to as my girlfriend. She had bailed me out of awkward moments on countless situations.
“C’mon you guys give Pete too much credit for balls he doesn’t even have. I be im mama. He nor reach”
And sometimes, “This one? Abegi” and just wave me off.
It’d amaze me how she could say things like that without blinking an eye. Squeezing what little guts I had and squashing any prospect I had been nestling in my mind that we could ever be something more than friends.
We maintained our typical Tom and Jerry friendship for over a year.
Text message conversation be like:
Me: Morning Gracy. U thr?
Me: U up already?
Grace: No. I’m sleeping and chatting with you from my dream *rme*
Me: I only asked if u’re up… :/
Grace: Why are you not in school? results are out. Come now, lets go and check.
Me: Jeez!! Pls. I’m with my dad, if you see mine, msg me.
If its bad say “good morning”
If its very bad say “good morning to u and ur dad”
Grace: good morning to u, ur family and ur whole Village :( :(
I failed terribly. I had taken the borrowed course just to show off, now I’m done for. Grace… She’d gotten me a course-edit form before I got to school and handed it to me. And a back rub. That was her way of paying her condolences.
I had now come to rely on her very much and vice-versa. We basically shouldered each others weight quite well. I was a good listener and she could talk for Africa! She was bold and fearless. And Her rather instantaneous decisions brought me enough trouble. I still come to her rescue every now and then though.
Like the day I met with her ‘Lagos bigbabe’ sister, Toke. Toke was light skinned and packing. A few contrasting features from Grace’s, but not enough for me to have never guesed they were sisters.
Why? This was the same @misstouchediva. Popular instagram celebrity. 56K followers (ranging from the likes of Honourable Desmond Olusola Elliot to Chris Brizzy! )
“Az in ehn! She sabi pipo. Hiiigh levos!”
I never knew that; Toke, according to her talkative sister; was the one who constantly broke their fathers heart and was the source of their mother’s high blood pressure.
She came back from the U. K, after spending 5 years of her life doing nothing but living fresh, off Daddy’s money. Dropped out of College, got pregnant and brought back a gorgeous 4 year old child instead. The Jamaican father of the boy just upped and disappeard into thin air, sentencing her back to Lagos – to the fake life of a social media celebrity. Flexing more of Daddys money all over big Lagos parties and other owambe functions.
Although, their dad, a pastor in a leading pentecostal church, didn’t condole her wasteful style. But anytime he complained, she’d threaten to leave and never come back. She did once. Left her son, and went off to South Africa for six months! People said she was with a former Lagos State governorship aspirant. Or, they are just kidding. Who knows.
No one heard from her till she called Grace one evening. We were together, in the AmphiTheater Hall, where Sovereign Army fellowship had just taken place. Gisting and eating popcorn after the service. That was when her call came in.
Grace: Hello! You’re on to the Saturday night groove. 98.1 Smooth fm. Caller name and where you are calling from?”
She said all these with her mouth full of popcorn. I just shook my head and continud eating.
Toke: Gray Sugar. Don’t scream or tell anybody yet. I just arrived MM now. Please, come get me”
I watched as her eyes eclipsed the Moon and popcorn dropped from her mouth which was agape.
That was how I had to call Dele to come and pick us at Unilag Gate and take us to Murtala Mohammed Int’l Airport. He drove a third-hand manual BMW. The car had obviously seen better days, but Dele was the only guy I knew who could have done us that favour on so short a notice.
That was how I met the famous @mstouchediva that evening. On getting to the arrival lounge. She starred Dele and I down as if we had a contagious disease. She looked even more incredulously at the car. She was not very hard to dislike after that. At one accessing glance, she had reminded me of the slums of OworonShoki, where I came from. I suddenly became conscious of the timeless gulf seperating the rich from the poor. And all the reasons why my friendship with Grace was odd.
My family… We were poor. So poor, we’ve seen days without food. But, I was determined to drag my existence out of poverty. So I chose education.
I wasn’t exactly very bouyant in school, but I did well to fend for myself by working overnight at a cyber Cafe. Anti Funmi, my boss liked me a lot and was always very generous. Together with Grace’s ‘motherly’ care, I lived fairly well. Whenever she couldn’t come through for me on anything, she’d let me know well in advance, and if I seem exasperated, she’d bluntly say something like;
“Last time I checked, I’m not your babe dude. Quit moping”
And so she was always inclined to pester me like that, saying
“Get a girlfriend nau” or “Oga hook up with a girl o, or is it boys you like?” She wore me out with such non sense.
Until that fateful morning in March, when she came by my off-campus ‘apartee’ (which was quite a mess that morning). Seeing the disarray, she exclaimed
“Pete! You really need a maid to clean up your mess o”
Weary from being rebuked all the time, I fired back.
“A girlfriend is exactly what I need and I am actually planning on getting one you know, I’m grown and don’t need you kissing my ass all the time, o.k?” I snapped back at her.
If it was surprise I saw in those eyes or something else, maybe pain? I really can’t tell now, as it was quickly replaced by a defiant glare.
“Go ahead… If anything, verify that you are not gay. And yeah, I actually forgot to tell you, I have a date with Goke tonight” she hissed.
I couldn’t believe her guts! “Who? That lout? Why do you need to bluff now ehn?” I exclaimed in disbelief
As if to substantiate her announcement, she dialed what must have been Goke’s number and chattered away, ignoring me completely.
Common, Goke? Of all people! That… that oaf? But she wouldn’t take my whinning. We parted with bad blood that morning. I was angry and blinded with jealousy and sulked all day over my bruised ego.
She was going out with Goke that night and I would never be outdone. Never.
Dear reader, remember that tramp of a girl back in your school? Well, Tife was the one in mine and had constantly been flirting with me in return for little favours like doing her assignments, attendance and things like that. Though I was like the only guy who had not yet had a ‘piece of the cake’. The day had come.
To be continued