Unexpected but it struck, no horror,
Cupid’s arrow, its sword hit; no warrior,
My lips, sealed, dumb, they won’t talk,
I pray, express my tender thing, lest it stalks.
My heart, pump blood, beat, thy little task,
Fall for a thing, for another heart, shouldn’t you first ask?
Wait, till the time I could elope with her to the moon,
A home, secluded for lovers wanting so soon.
Even the moon, so seems, a little place; too little place,
To give, take and share what we embrace,
The galaxy, waiting, brightening our world,
A place, where fantasies were never odd.
Could never be happier being in a flood; her flood,
I wait to be drowned, to be sunk in her love.
Confused was the word Biodun could use to describe his present state of mind. This mythic Cupid’s arrow had hit him hard at the wrong time and about the wrong person. He had read about such in books; how two can fall in love with each other. He had seen in movies too and believed it all to be fiction. Nollywood is such an industry where waste products are produced over and over. Now, Biodun seemed to be acting the Desmond Elliot and Emeka Ike.
Human beings are fickle after all. He was knowingly breaking his vows. He wasn’t supposed to have a girlfriend until he gets to the university. Now, he was just a decision away from breaking the vow he made at age twelve when he was just admitted into secondary school.
Biodun was from a religious family. His father was not the one you could call a rich man, neither was he poor. He earned his living as a Pastor of one of the new generation churches. Well, (if you care to know), new generation churches are the so-called Pentecostal churches as against the orthodox (old generation churches which are now mostly occupied by adults.
Pastor Olaolu, Biodun’s father was the kind of father a child would always dread. He was principled, in all ways. He governed his family authoritatively. He had hundreds of rules for the family. No rough dance or music, no friends, no short skirts or transparent clothes. At leisure, there are three options, read books, bible or pray. No visiting or hosting of friends.
Biodun was seventeen. His two sisters, Rachael and Dammy were fifteen and thirteen years old respectively. They were also beautiful. Their ‘oranges’ were okay, at least ripe enough to be plucked by Senators. They were the typical Omo Pastor.
Back to business, Biodun just couldn’t get over his feelings for Aminat, his classmate. He was writing his mock exam. He could not describe how he developed his lustful interest in Aminat.
His father’s voice as he delivered a stern warning echoed in his head. “A boy should not have a female friend until he has finished his education”, Pastor Olaolu had said in one of his moral meetings with Biodun.
Biodun knew quite a number of his classmates who had girlfriends. Mr. Osunkwo, his school Principal had a ‘black book’ in which he wrote the names of the ‘prostitutes’ caught in the school and he went as far as expelling some of them. As much as Biodun could remember, there were Wale (a.k.a Desco), Posi, Ibukun, Ayo, Bidemi (a.k.a Stadex), Ayo, Segun (a.k.a Planet) and Kelechi among others. They all had ‘lovers’. The ones not caught are still innocent. At least you are presumed innocent till caught.
Mr. Osunkwo and Pastor Olaolu were literally identical in beliefs and principles. The latter had constantly praised the former on his disciplinary posture to young ones. Biodun’s father believes that Mr. Osunkwo was the perfect Principal for this ‘immoral generation.
“Education is not a right for children who do not know its worth”, he would say whenever he addressed his students on the Assembly Ground in front of his windowless office tagged with a big PRINCIPAL sign on the lintel. This was at AGBA College, Ore, Ondo State.
Biodun always feared Mr Osunkwo’s look. The latter was however friendly to him, at least, as long as he does not disobey his Moses’ commandments.
Aminat was not bad, neither was Biodun. Aminat was the youngest daughter of the highly charismatic polygamous Alhaji Usman. Alhaji had told her several times that it was ‘haramu’ to have another lover apart from the rich Alhaji Tajudeen to whom she would be married after her secondary school education. Alhaji Tajudeen could only be patient till the end of her secondary school education. No more, no less. She didn’t like the idea of marrying Alhaji Tajudeen. Had she a say in the matter, she would have said point blank that she didn’t love the old man whose beard and white hair scared away children. To Aminat, the man was nothing but a scarecrow.
Aminat and Biodun had a thing for each other. The problem however was about who would express it first. The only method they knew was the constant staring at each other in the class. Their mates had started to notice.
“Can’t you see how Aminat and Omo Pastor are behaving to each other these days?”, Posi would say to Waliu, the same way many others gossiped about the duo.
“Don’t tell me you don’t love that boy. He is such a handsome guy, and he is brilliant too. I’ll do anything to taste those pink lips of his”, Janet, the one ‘unexpelable’ girl that the Principal called ‘Chief Prostitute’ once told Aminat. Popularly called Saint Janet, her untouchable status came about as a result of her father’s friendship with the school Proprietor.
“Leave me alone. Abi who hold you? Did i say you should not do whatever you want to do with him?”, Aminat responded as they sat under the huge neem tree in front of their class.
Janet hissed, made a balloon bursting sound with the gum in her mouth before replying Aminat ““I am just stating the obvious. Everyone in the class knows you love him. You may be from different religions but that makes it even better. Alhaji’s daughter and Pastor’s son, lovely combo”, she said, teasing Aminat. Her facial features changed into something more serious and she looked straight into Aminat’s eyes “You two have got your hearts and feelings; it is not just about your parents now. Think of it, in this class, Ayo and Abigail, Waliu and Kemi, Ibrahim and I, Stadex and Funke, we are all enjoying ourselves. Art Class is such a paradise on earth. We will never be caught in the act” as she looked straight into Aminat’s eyes”.
On another occasion, Segun Planet called Biodun. “Guy, no dey deceive us o. We know you love Aminat. You are just shy. Hear this; I used to be shy too. When I started with Funke before Stadex took over from me, I wrote her a short letter. It was all I needed”, Segun said to Biodun on his way from the school’s Christian fellowship.
Although, Biodun paid little attention to Segun and left him without a response, he carefully thought about the boy’s suggestion. “Writing a letter to Aminat won’t be bad now”, he thought to himself.
Aminat on her part could not deny the tingly feeling Biodun gave her. She questioned severally the wisdom behind having the kind of funny feelings she had anytime he was close to her. She knew what she wanted but was not sure she could give in to him. “Keep faking yourself, you will fall yakata for him”, something inside her head told her. In the deep recesses of her heart, she was waiting patiently, hoping that day would come when he would walk up to her to talk her into a relationship. She thought of the controversy she was opening herself to with the idea of dating a Christian. Alhaji would behead her because of that shameless scarecrow, Alhaji Tajudeen. “I don’t even know what he sees in me after three old women”, she thought.
When Biodun woke up to write the letter, he wasn’t afraid. It was a night towards Monday morning. His father would see the reflection of the bulb in his room and think he was studying hard. The letter was precise
“Dear Aminat, I hope you will understand why I am writing this to you. I have tried to get over you but it seems I’m destined to fail on that. Now the impossibility lies with you. Much love. I am 1,2,9,15,4,21,14. Decode with corresponding letters of the Alphabet. Thanks.
Biodun could not believe he finally did it. His conscience tugged at his heart strings. “You are now one of the prostitutes, a member of the evil generation”, his conscience spoke. He almost blurted out that it was no big deal. He could not believe he did it.
He looked for a way to borrow Aminat’s Literature textbook and shoved in the letter before returning it. Aminat readily guessed what it was when the borrowed textbook was returned with a piece of paper in it. She grinned, retrieved the paper and went out of the class ‘to ease herself’.
15 minutes later, their class teacher, Mr. John (the students called him short John) came into the class with his register. The class greeted and he began to mark the attendance. “Number one, two”… he went on without waiting for the students to respond.
As he called the numbers, his broken teeth were exposed. The incident about the teeth was a case on its own. It was as a result of a shot of opa eyin (alcoholic concoction). On the fateful day, he was the first to taste Mama Risi’s opa eyin.
Mama Risi was the alcohol vendor who always added excess alcohol to her herbal medicine. This drew more customers to her. On the fateful day, Short John had ‘loaded’ his system with Mama Risi and was staggering as he made efforts to find his way to his room at the AGBA staff quarters. In the process of ‘shining his eyes’ as he always said after his regular dose from Mama Risi, he missed a step and fell losing parts of his two upper incisors as they broke into smaller pieces as a result of his humpty-dumpty like fall. The incisors were reshaped in a triangle form towards the gum. It was an incident that made one wonder if it was correct to say “a lot can happen over a glass of Valeta”, instead of “…over a glass of opa eyin”.
As Short John was leaving the class, he requested for a literature textbook and readily sighted Aminat’s which was still on the girl’s desk.
At 9.30 am on Monday, the noise-making school bell was rung for emergency. Mr. Osunkwo was in front of his office while the students lined up. He held a long “pankere” cane in his right hand and bent it from side to side to assess its strength.
“Quiet!” Osunkwo shouted and brought out a book from his back pocket. At the sight of the book, Biodun knew that at least, one other name had entered the black book.