Moshood and I had been friends since childhood. Despite our cultural differences, we still had similar interests and hobbies. While he battled with his Hausa, I barely spoke Igbo. Our friendship bonded both families. We were raised at the heart of Enugu – Independence Layout – inseparable.
Back in secondary school, everyone knew they had to get through me to get to him, and him to get to me and most took advantage of that.
The boys who showed interest in me went to him and he would swindle gift items and money out of them with the promise of hooking us up. I did same to the girls who liked.
Our fondness for each other was purely platonic, then puberty set in. One day, I woke up, he had suddenly grown taller than I. He had beards all over his face. His jawline had that fierce masculine curve. His chest got broader. His skin, darker, shinier. Somehow I don’t remember, I got a glimpse – His pubic hair.
My body as well went through all the feminine changes. My breasts went from looking like a tiny pimple to a fat, round doughnut. My hips widened, and my waist got thinner. The hairs sprout too. Getting shy around him became inevitable, still, he didn’t stop removing his shirt in my presence.
The year I turned seventeen, he had punched an older guy who grabbed my butt to the floor. That day, he was almost battered. I had to beg.
The more we stayed together, the more I developed special feelings, different from what I used to feel. Maybe they had always been there. I was not sure. There was this feeling to touch his chest each time he pulled his shirts. Somehow, I felt his abs alone will protect me from anything. The beards were not left out too. Stroking them became almost a reflex action.
We saw other couples – what they did. We watched romantic movies together. We knew what dating felt like. The last movie was in his condo. I felt like tearing him apart. I had lost control over my feelings. What would have happened had mum not called, I don’t know.
You’d Love: Freedom Biting the Boob that Feeds You
Being with him like that hurt. The hurt grew to jealousy and anger and aggression. I transferred the aggression, mostly to him, then I decided to stop moving around with him. I wasn’t his girlfriend anyway. I wanted to be, but I couldn’t tell him. I was scared it would be one-sided.
He put a stop to some things as well. He stopped promising guys hookups with me. He stopped taking me to those parties we would have ordinarily gone together. He said he felt uncomfortable watching other guys look at me in those hot party dresses. He stopped letting me visit his friends alone.
I wanted him to tell me if he loved me. I needed to hear those words, but I couldn’t say them first. For a girl who loved certainty, his actions confused me.
To make him jealous or probably find out how he felt about me, I had introduced him to Uche, all cheerful, with Uche’s hand on my butt and our fingers locked together. I desperately wanted to get out of the sister zone.
My senses were high on observation. He could tell me something even from his body language. I noticed their handshake was firm. He even called him brother. I was disappointed. Two days after, he introduced me to a girl he knew I was jealous of – Misha. I felt like dying after squeezing the life out of her, them!
The day he texted me they officially in a relationship with Misha, I had a migraine which matured into a sickness. I was in bed all day. There was no amendment. He had officially left me. I refused seeing him when he visited. I couldn’t bear the thought of being replaced by Misha. I had only wanted to know his feelings, now Misha is going to be getting all my hugs and kisses. My heart burned. Mother told me to stop waiting till he confessed first and just tell him how I felt.
Upon recovery, I accepted Uche. We now had our separate relationships. The emotional distance between us got wider and wider. We friendship began falling apart. My feelings for him seemed to have faded as well. I accepted he didn’t love me back.
Days rolled into weeks, and weeks, into months, I refused answering his calls and blocked him on my social media handles, with Misha. She just couldn’t stop being annoying by posting their loved-up pictures all over the place. I needed to put an end to the emotional stress.
It was late when mother sent me to deliver new dyed wrappers to Moshood’s mother. I hoped I wouldn’t see him. The Dogs couldn’t stop barking when they saw me. I had left the wrappers with Simi, his younger sister. I couldn’t risk spending more time there.
At the tiny path that led to my house, he ambushed me. He just stood, dressed in all white, arms folded, revealing a bulging arm muscle, and waiting for me to cross. I either had to cross or go back to his house. I crossed.
“What’s going on?” he asked as I walked past him, sizing my hips with his eyes like they suddenly grew wider.
“What do you mean?” I took further steps away.
“You never walk out on me, Oly, what’s wrong?”
He stretched his hand to touch me. I wouldn’t let him. I withdrew. The images of same hands touching Misha clouded my thoughts. The way he stood with his calf bulging backwards, irritated me. I found fault in everything he did. Even his once sexy jaw annoyed me. They now looked like they were beaten to one side.
“Oluchi, we are still friends.”
“You and who? I don’t want to be your friend. Please leave me alone.”
“Come here.” He dragged my hand.
“Don’t you get it? I said I don’t need you anymore.” I shouted. Passersby looked at us. “Leave me alone.”
I struggled to get my wrist freed as he dragged me to a dark corner of the street. “Here is better. You can shout all you want, no one will hear. How’s Uche?”
“Uche is fine.” I answered, rolling my eyes.
“Won’t you ask how Misha is doing? She asks about you.”
“I don’t care.” I gave them a second roll.
“I know you do. She is fine anyway.”
Then a silence grew. He just stared at me. I just squeezed my face like I smelt something fowl.
“I left Misha,” was what I heard next.
I didn’t know how to feel. I was dumbfounded. I was already with Uche.
“She said I was in love with somebody else; that I always brought you up in conversations; that I made everything about you, but I swear I never did those. All I did was talk.”
I turned away, but he held my shoulders and turned me back, towards him. How could he be telling me now?
“How could you be so cowardly? What if I hadn’t come here today?” I fired at him, lifting my nose.
“I made you come. You wouldn’t see me. You wouldn’t take my calls. I had to beg your mum. There was no other way.”
“Mum?” I gasped.
“She gave me away?”
“She didn’t give you away,” he chuckled, “she is just giving you your happiness. “I love you, Oluchi,” he held my hands, “I’m sorry it took me so long to say but I love you. I’ve been dreary with the thoughts of you and Uche. It gave me nightmares. I want you. That day he held your butt, I felt like chopping his hand off. I don’t want to be just friends with you too. I want to be your side.”
“So will you be my girlfriend?”
There they were. The words I had longed to hear. But they had rather come too late.
“There’s nothing else I can do, Moshood. I don’t know. I can’t cheat on…”
He wasn’t hearing it. He pressed his lips against mine, for the first time, and wasn’t stopping. I felt the waves spread down my spine as he parted my lips with his. His breath was fresh. So fresh I wanted to feel the heat in mine. I parted my lips fully to let him in, then clutched my hands round his waist. He stopped to meet my eyes dimmed with passion. I had told him long ago that if such should happen between us, he should never spoil the moment by talking.
He raised his brows like he wouldn’t continue till he got the answer to his question. I gave a child-like nod that made us smile, and we went back to exploring our buccal cavities for the second or maybe the first time. Either way, it shouldn’t be cut short.
See: No Greater Love
Art credit: @Alfred darling art gallery.