Sunday, May 18, 2008

YY

children on the net

The hook up seemed a lot like a set up. It’s not that I didn’t like the girl or that in those days of receding innocence and overwhelming pubescence, I hadn’t lusted after her more than once. The problem was that I hadn’t told anyone I liked her, but here I was, being urged by my friend Osa to ask her out. I felt invaded. How could Osa, the most insensitive of God’s creatures possibly have knowledge of a thing that I had buried so deep? Was it so obvious? Had he made me talk in my sleep? It was the sort of thing he could do, after all he used to go around the hostel on some nights, covered in a white bed sheet, fastidiously applying Close-Up toothpaste to the eyelids of sound asleep, then he would slap them out of their slumber and watch as the toothpaste got into their eyes. As they lay there writhing in pain and screaming screams that reverberated throughout the building, he’d run off, a malevolent, cowardly wraith in the night. The next morning he’d gleefully tell me about the ‘painful sight’. That was the kind of person Osa was.

I was also suspicious because YY, the girl in question, was Osa’s cousin. We were all in JSS 2, but in different arms. If Osa was a rabid, untamable beast, then YY was the opposite- quiet and kind, but with a sense of humour and a certain glint in her eye that rumoured a capacity for great mischief. Sometimes she’d come to talk to her cousin when he and I were standing together, and we’d exchange a hello and no more. She was slim in a way that suggested she’d grow up to be a tall woman. She was beautiful even then. Of course that was a time when few of the girls had curves of any kind. They were straight in their housewears, and even straighter in their pinafores. A couple of unfulfilled lumps on their chests declared their femininity and promised a future harvest of womaness. But at that time we didn’t care. Some girls of course, were already somewhat developed. At those ones, we sniggered and behind their backs we called them old, and maybe really lusted after them. YY was as beautiful as an 11 year old could be, and even though we barely spoke, I wanted her, or wanted to be a part of her, or something.

Osa was always on my case. I know you like that girl. You had better go ahead and ask her out before someone else will. She has already turned three guys down this term. That was how encouraging Osa could be. I’d feign disinterest and question his motives. I know you like her. She’s my cousin and you are my friend. Again I’d deny, and then I’d ask him if she liked me. Ask her out, and then you’ll know. The thing was getting more and more dodgy. I swore to myself that I’d never make the foolish mistake of asking her out. Knowing Osa, it may well have been an elaborate prank designed to humiliate me. But still I wondered if she had told him she liked me and would want to go out with me.

Back then going out meant little more than holding hands and taking walks with your girlfriend or boyfriend during sports time, occasionally hanging out and sharing snacks at break periods, getting furtive hugs, and if you were really daring maybe even kisses once in a while behind some hedge. It meant writing love letters during night-prep, and finding creative ways to courier the letter from one prep hall to the other without it falling into the wrong hands. Personally, I wasn’t too big on the whole going out thing. I was the cynical kid who spent his night preps writing love letters for people in exchange for cash, or canned food.

Fast forward to a Christmas Carol Night we were having. I was standing with Osa in front of a choir which featured some of our friends. Osa was trying-with some success- to distract them by making silly faces. I was bored and sleepy. Next thing I know, YY sidles up next to her cousin. They start talking; I pretend to be interested in the choir, anything to avoid her gaze (assuming of course, that she’s actually gazing at me). Moments later, Osa grabs me and says we should go somewhere quieter. I have no choice in the matter, but there are alarm bells going off in my head. We get to a spot behind the crowds. He tells YY I have something to ask her, and then he disappears into the crowd no doubt to do even more mischief somewhere else.

My heart is pounding. Indecision, anger, weakness, fear, excitement, everything. A few yards away the choir is singing Glory, glory, Hallelujah!

It occurs to me that Osa is an inglorious bastard.

YY stands there, looking at me. Her left foot is playfully digging into the grass, her long, pretty arms are folded across her almost-flat chest. The Christmas lights bathe her in a soft stream as my awkward seconds tick away. Finally she cocks her head to the left, raises an eyebrow and says so?
I respond with a huh, or something equally lame, and then I try to seize the moment.

From the second the words start coming out of my mouth, I know I’m on the inexorable journey towards asking her out. I can’t remember what I said, but I must have spoken for about three minutes. An unnecessary, boring speech with the phrase 'I’d like us to go out' worked in somewhere near the end. I finish, feeling stupid, and manipulated. I make another empty personal vow to kill Osa. She has been watching me throughout my ordeal with as much expression as the famous Benin mask. She let’s me hang for a few moments more then she opens her mouth, and with her braces glinting menacingly in the light, she gives the orthodox response ‘I’ll think about it’ (or ‘I shink aboushit as I vengefully narrate to Osa later that night). At that moment, I’m not sure I like her anymore. I even wonder if I suddenly hate her. I have no doubt that she will return some days later with a big NO. I will be the fourth boy denied that term.

Two days later, she sends word: we may go out. By then I don’t know how to feel. That afternoon we spend sports time together, walking around (but not holding hands), and conversing in fits and starts. By that evening everybody knows we are going out. Osa urges me to send her a love letter. I refuse.

School closes for Christmas that same week. Over the holidays we talk over the phone a few times, and I get to start liking her again. By the time we resume in January, I’m pretty sure I’m in love with her. Her braces still make me uncomfortable, and I almost ask her if they’ll ever come off.

The removal of her braces is for me, like the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Iron Curtain disappears overnight, and East and West come closer. What has metal got to do with passionate pressing together of lips and eager excursions of tongues into previously unexplored mouths? For a while we live bliss. I write her one letter, and no more. She tells Osa to beg me to write her every night. I refuse. In my nightmares, my letters to her are read by the entire Girls’ Hostel and then photocopied, enlarged and pasted on their Notice Board.

Between us, there suddenly rises a wall of grievances unspoken. She sends someone to tell me to try and be like other guys. I send a retort asking if she wants me to start bouncing or sagging. She tries to tolerate me.
The final straw comes on her birthday. The tradition is that when you are going out with a girl, you spend an insane amount of money buying her gifts on her birthday. I simply buy her a box of chocolate and a book of poetry, in it I write that she deserves more words than a Hallmark Card can hold. The gesture does not go down well with her. She thinks I’m being cheap. She sends Osa to tell me she has broken up with me. I’m hurt by her misunderstanding of my gesture, and by this materialistic side she has shown. She immediately starts going out with some guy who bought her three different perfumes.

Many years later, she calls me and asks me to write her a poem. I can only remember the end:

…The next few lines will end this poem
Like a year December will close
My fire for you may be out
But this ember still glows


YY has indeed grown into a tall, beautiful woman and will be getting married to the Three Perfumes Guy this Christmas.

Osa is still alive and still very much an inglorious bastard.

41 comments:

Waffarian said...

You must have gone to my school...or maybe this story has repeated itself in so many boarding schools across Nigeria...but if the "Hallmark card",( and believe me I once knew just how important this was when Andrew sent me my own special card from Warri, made by an "artist" with my name and all, I thought it was so creative of him...everybody else thought it was RAZZ...I was too ashamed to show the card to anyone)is anything to go by...you must have gone to my school where valentine's day and birthdays were the only days when a boy's love could be "measured"....cakes, perfumes...

yeah, and those love letters were most likely read by all...u were right.

Atutupoyoyo said...

Porter you do the world a disservice by not writing more often. Reading this, I was at once rolling with laughter, reminiscing and admiring the beautiful praise. You even managed to sneak in the phrase "inglorious bastard" which I bow for.

I too remember that interminable wait between asking a girl out and her final decision. The whole going out thing as you said was just in name alone and nothing special really happened. If you got a few kisses then that is a successful relationship.

.....you have done it again!

@waffy: Na hear you dey?

Waffarian said...

@atutu: I swear, I am looking for you everywhere...wetin dey do you?

AnyaPosh said...

This line "a couple of unfulfilled lumps on their chests declared their femininity and promised a future harvest of womaness." the geniusness in characterizing those budding years is beautiful.

Have you been invited to her wedding with 3 perfumes guy?

יש (Yosh) said...

wkai, so much for being modest

...didn't know perfumes carry so much weight! :-)

badderchic said...

you gotta be kidding me, three perfumes and she hooked for life? what did the guy put in the perfumes or better still was he refilling the bottles? lol. on a serious note the dia love last o!

badderchic said...

ehen I don forget, try dey blog ,more abeg

Porter deHarqourt said...

@waffarian...
...if a Buvel, Martin Luther King Jnr. and Saidi center mean anything to you, then we most certainly attended the same school. Well?

@atutupuyoyo...
...knowing what i know about you, you probably had several 'successful relationships' in those days.
and you are still doing it.

@anyaposh...
...of course. i might just get drunk, grab the mic, and tell this story at the reception...*hic!*

@yosh...
...i don learn my lesson sha, i guess that's why i was in school.

@badderchic...
...the boy from Benin. and no, I'm not insinuating anything.

@badderchic(again)...
...i intend to

Kiki said...

YY ooo!

femme said...

dont blame the chic, at the age who wants mr sensitive?(except me) i'd have swooned at poetry.

guy ive missed u.
im on holiday and hope all is well with u.

El-Baru said...

Porter, you have been MIA for quite some time and I must say that during this period of your absence, I kept missing your blog doses and pills, which contain hilarious and thought provoking articles that even surpasses those of our great and legendary african writers. Once again, you have offered us another masterpiece. I wish you all the best as you continue on this pathway to literary greatness and also pray you keep writing often. Besides, how is law school?

Anonymous said...

Nice One my dear porter.. welcome bak .. ive missed reading from u...
I concur with atutu..- u indeed do d world a disservice wen u DONT put up posts!
Candy

Nine said...

You are the first person I know to work the immortal words "inglorious bastard" into a blog post.Or conversation.Or anything other than a movie title.DO post more often.

@waffarian
Those gifts WERE for showing off.The phenomenon extends to universities.Just walk into any girls dormitory on Val's Day:)

theicequeen said...

inglorious bastard?lmaoooo

welcome bacccck! like finally! lolz, havent read, just commenting first..i seemy threats have been effective?

theicequeen said...

lol at your fear of having the letters read, photocopied, enlarged and pasted..i can imagine! :P

and now that ive read the post, the inglorious bastard description is quite fitting..he's such a schemer! sounds like lotsa fun!

and are you serious? the three perfume guy? what figures huh!? sha, at least you didnt like her that much to start wiv...hehe

and i agree with femme..im the kind of idiot that will swoon over poetry and be impressed by the thoughtfulness and originality..oh well *sighs*..i'm sure that now you include the perfumes with the poetry, you know, just to be safe?

lurve the way you write by the way...its er..for lack of a better word, beatiful.really is.

Afrobabe said...

awwwww and to think it could have been you..

Kai, my parents wicked me by sending me to an all girls school oh...

badderchic said...

when is d wedding sef, Im looking for free booze

OluwaDee said...

She is getting married to d "e perfumes guy"! lol.

You must have had some ordeal.

Sounds like you went 2 and FGGC or command skull.

Howz OSA?

Mz. Dee said...

I'm wonderin the same thing as badderchic... what did the guy put in the perfume bottles???
oh well..better to hv loved and lost than to hv never loved.. datz wat sum person once sed shebi.
Luvin the way u write!

badderchic said...

Guy, talk now when is the wedding, how much is woodin and cap? sorry gele, I was thinkin of another cap entirely.

Correctphbabe said...

I've missed you dear... nice one.

Porter deHarqourt said...

@kiki...
...ooo!(?)

@femme...
...i no blame her at all o. I hope your holiday is going great. Enough tory go fall out abi. Take care dear.

@el-baru...
...i appreciate your patience and wishes. your words are too kind.
I should be off to law school in September or so. Thank you for asking.

@Candy...
...hey you, how've u been?
I'll be posting more often from now on. Mid-year resolution and all that.

@nine...
...i will. thanks.

@icequeen...
...i hope the threat wasn't empty (i'd hate to think that i was scared shitless by an empty threat).
Thanks for always checking in, and for the other thing.

@afrobabe...
...na 4 the all girl's school you come learn to pose like that atink?

@badderchic...
...why wait for the wedding, come make i carry you go one backyard joint wey i just discover yesterday.

@oluwadee...
...no, i didn't attend any of those schools, but it's funny how the same experiences seem to be shared everywhere.
Osa is somewhere in the Atlantic...i pity his crew mates.

@mz dee...
...i agree with you o, better to have...
and thank you.

@badderchic...
...Owambe girl!

@correctPH...
...what have u been up to?

Tairebabs said...

This post totally reminded me of secondary school. lol.love letters, couriering messages, once in a life time experience. I loved this post. The best part for e "the removal of her braces ... is like the fall of the Berlin wall"...very nice.

The ending wow. three perfumes guy won? gosh!

dat one okrika girl...xyz said...

wow that must be the best 3perfumes in the entire bloody world sha.

I didnt get to attend boarding school in naija, the type of shakara i for don do with these boys....

Nothing spoil sha, you poem to her (well the part you remembered) is sweet.



Oga I hope you had a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

lol yes oo we went to the same school.. just to prove it, does 'Mr Akinkowo' ring any bells lol.... ALL HAIL THE GREAT ...

NikkiSab said...

Inglorious Bastard!!!! Now dat is an Oscar line there...LOL!!!
Perfume guy won d maiden's hand?? Awww anyways no shaking o jare..bone face. Wen is d wedding? And will de make gift pack for guests where he will put one of his bewitching perfs? lol

Zena said...

lol, I couldn't stop laffing @ the end, so she ended up marrying him, gr8 post

Vera Ezimora said...

Ah, YY do u bad ooo. But you sef, you for buy her 3 perfumes na... lol.

If it makes you feel any berra, I'll appreciate the poetry book. Are you still handing them out? LOL.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

how is it that I didn't get word that you updated? All you other bloggers are mean!

BTW, Happy Nigerian Proclamation Day to you! Not sure what that is? Visit NIGERIAN CURIOSITY to find out.

Okay, let me go read, and welcome back, my brotha.

Porter deHarqourt said...

@tairebabs...
...sounds like you were a receiver of many an amourous missive. thanks for reading.


@dat_one_okrika...
...as if there wasn't enuff shakara for us to contend with already. LoL.

How've u been? Easy weekend o! No complaints.


@anonymous...
...we were in the same place mos def. those were the days eh? u must've been among the 'ogwags' patronizers.


@nikkisab...
...i don do as u talk bone my face o1 as for ur other enquiries, i'll sniff around and see!


@zena...
...hey, thanks.


@vera...
...handing wetin out? as if i haven't learnt my lesson.


@solomonsydelle...
...ha! the memo must have been misplaced by NIPOST.
Happy NPD to you too!

NaijaBabe said...

sheeeeeeeeeet,
that was lovingly DEEP...if that makes any sense, but awww, I felt so sorry fo you! I went to a day school and I was too slow to know that TINGS were happening under my nose from JSS1...I got to find out some things in sss3...hmm the joys of sec sch

Afolabi said...

Good one, the post got me revelling in literary bliss and memories of high school..

ozaveshe said...

how far?

this man u too like to dey disappear.

lol at the story. nostalgia and and all. u're lucjy sha. at least YY doesnt have chest hairs

wasap wit law schl, or u thru already?

AlooFar said...

Hmmmmm....

"a couple of unfulfilled lumps on their chests declared their femininity and promised a future harvest of womaness" Damn. Words.

You're good.

;)

Vera Ezimora said...

Update!!

Afrobabe said...

MR Man, we are in yune oh!!!

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

ol boy, just checking in...

princesa said...

Lesson for the guys: Girls love perfumes,lol!

Nice story Porter.

Porter deHarqourt said...

@naijababe...
...of course 'lovingly deep' makes sense.
u were a late-realizer eh? u really expect me to believe that mm?

@afolabi...
...those were the days i tell you!


@ozaveshe...
...ha! i am an ex-disappearer...true.

ozaveshe, lover of bushy bossoms ...lol!
haven't gone to lawschool yet o! September i hope.


@aloofar...
...hey thanks man.
:)


@vera...
...yes Ma! Done.


@solomonsydelle (or portersydelle?)...
...that na why i like u.


@princesa...
...hey thanks.
and just so u know? i read ur 'road rant' at least once a day. it never gets old, and i keep laughing.

Baroque said...

sorry man, to be misunderstood like that...i hope she's happy with the 3perfs guy...nice piece

nosa101 said...

*high fives blogger*