Kemisola Olamiju ARIYO – (My reading partner turned an everlasting friend)
The best gifts I have received from God come in form of friends.
Just like your date, 29th February which comes once in four years, I have come to realise that I have very few friends, they don’t always come easily. There are many people around me, but very few friends, about half a dozen of them.
You, Kemi, are one of these few friends I am no more afraid to lose any more than I am to lose my life. I remember almost losing you. I remember two occasions in which our friendship was going down the drain – all to my fault, and on each occasion, you worked hard to sustain it, you gave me time to realise my mistake, you gave me time to reluctantly eat the humble pie, you gave me time to water down my ego, to come apologise, to come strengthen the bond again.
I remember meeting you in our first year in the university, Kemisola, you initiated it, but I am sure it wasn’t just you, it was God. I came to the university to be a loner, I wanted to be all to myself, didn’t want to be known, wanted to hide, but no matter how hard I try to hide, some things in me would just throw me into the light, and that was how you knew about me, something around the social messenger (Whatsapp), something around talking in the class, and you thought you needed my help, not knowing the reverse was the case, I was the one who needed your help, I was the one who needed to be discovered, there were many things hidden in me, some good, some bad, and I needed to discover them, to improve on them, to make the bad good, to make the good better, and all the time you never stopped helping me, thinking I was helping you.
You made me realise my fears, my desires, and joy. You encouraged and still encourage when I need it. We share certain things, our lives converge, and then diverge, and the divergence I have come to appreciate, I saw things in different view, I learnt to be less rigid, to bend few rules in favour of others (and I have broken some rules for you – in case you don’t know, you are the only female friend whose food I have eaten on OAU campus), to accommodate more, to love more. You have been my own foil character, and each time I think about meeting you, I think about having met an angel.
I became more of Kemisola, and at a point people began to think up something romantic going on between us, they were supposed to do that because we ‘were’ always in each other’s pocket. People would call me to know where you were. They were always right. We were always together, like we were meant to be. Until a change of hostel took me farther away from you in the beginning of our second year, and people began to think we had “broken up”, Imagine, break up, in which sense? Well, with location, we went a bit apart, a bit less in each other’s pocket, but out friendship remained ‘pristine’, and when I almost strained it, because of my masculine ego and ‘discipline’, you gave me the chance to come back, to be your friend.
I remember nights, when reading became boring, we would talk and talk, and people in night classes would stare and stare at the ‘unserious lovers’ that we looked like, talking away their time. Hmm, reading helped us, it helped me through you, but talking helped much better, the little trivial things, the very serious things – and I ended up discovering we share so much in common. And despite this, we were only meant to be friends, no strings attached, just friends, and it was difficult convincing people we are just friends (who are not just friends), and I gave up trying to convince them.
I remember your pair of glasses. You loathe wearing it, and I was instrumental to its loss. You always looked good wearing it, but you didn’t like it until it got lost and you were affected to an extent. You actually look better without it. And I am praying you don’t have to wear it again.
I remember how you always tripped when we were in our first year. Three days would not go without you tripping and falling at times, and I ended up calling you Windy.
I remember you saying your brother and I look alike, that we both have big heads, but that we are both handsome. I have never met him, but his pictures validate your statements. He is handsome, he has ‘big’ head. And then again, he has a bit of agidi, just like me. I am sure I will equally love him.
I cherish our friendship, the way we kid, smile, laugh and frown. You puzzle me with your mood swing (upon which you have now improved). You are one of the people who make me say “one of the greatest puzzle God has given men to solve is the complexity of women”. You would want this now, and that later. I would say I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. We would bet, and I would lose most times. I lost when I said I would get about 90% in a paper but ended up with around 80%. I have lost to you on many occasions.
But I have won once. I got the trophy. You have always said ‘something’ would not happen to your ‘heart’ until our third year in school. You said it with resolute determination. I saw it, that determination to make a choice when the time ‘comes’ – and you lost it (positively). I was right, loving (romantically) is not a choice, it is spontaneous, it just happens, but staying (in love) is the choice. We can choose to stay in love.
And I was right after all. It happened to you. It happened when I least expected it. I am not supposed to know how it happened. Our mutual friend and you. Two of you felt it, I don’t know who did first, but two of you made the choice, such Chemistry. You asked me for a piece of advice. I had very little to give because I didn’t have the experience, or the testimony. If I must advise, I should at least have something to back my point, and so I gave the little I had, when it happens to me too (preferable with an Igbo lady), I may have to seek your advice too.
I can continue typing and typing and I will not be done in a whole day. But I will have to stop. I cherish you. I love you (as a friend should). I pray that God give you long life and good health, make you fulfilled, give you happiness and extend it to your family, make you grow spiritually (helping you to fulfil you present assignment as a cell pastor in your fellowship), help your academics and protect you from going astray.
God bless your new age, Kemisola.
Happy 5th Birthday!
NOTE: I used the past tense in some cases, not because we are no more friends, but because we do not do those things as much as before.