Amara was my classmate, an Igbo, with dark skin that beamed like shinny chocolate. She was an epitome of beauty.
We were friends. And as we became closer, drops of feelings plopped on my soul like raindrops dripping from eaves into a bucket until it filled up and overflowed and what I felt became indestructible, shoving off, like a rugby player, every contrary thought that came its way.
Each time I saw her, a shudder climbed my spine. Something within me nudged my heart out of its position so that it tripped and landed in my belly. Her presence was always pronounced because of the floral scent of her perfume. And it seemed to turn on the faucet where my feelings were stored, making them gush out, causing me to squirm and stutter as I spoke.
So I decided, with the sort of energetic self-determination for emancipation of Nelson Mandela, that I would ask Amara out. I didn’t plan to ask her out because my friends constantly made fun of my singleness or because of any sordid intentions relating to copulation. I did because I felt drawn to her. I had fallen in love with her; I had tripped and fallen and was now paralysed– I couldn’t help my state of fallenness.
All my male friends had girlfriends. My roomie–or more specifically, my squatting friend– Dave, had beautiful ones. Even though he had bad breath and was as thin as a toothpick. He had girlfriends and was constantly complaining, to my annoyance, about how they were a handful and difficult to cope with. This usually irked me, and now, it filled me with a sort of determination – if Dave had the temerity to flaunt his girlfriends like newly acquired electronic gadgets, why couldn’t I do so as well.
But I had to evaluate my chances beforehand. I wasn’t going to unscrupulously embark upon such a delicate task without thoroughly scrutinizing the possibilities of my success. I needed to dig deep into my mind and unfurl underlying proof that she actually felt the same way I did. I needed signs that there was a Yes at the corner of her lips waiting to jump out and make me happy.
On the night of the day my mind conceived these ideas, amid the vibration of my roomie, Dave, snoring, I sent my raised index finger here and there in search of indications that Amara loved me. A plethora of reasons stormed my mind: the consistency of her phone calls; the immediacy with which she replied my whatsapp messages; the coaxing tone she used when speaking to me; the way she always replaced my name, Greg, with endearments; her titillating facial cues; the way she looked into my eyes. And she once told me she missed me–this crowned it all up. Proof of her love hovered over me like a hawk stealthily observing its prey. I was convinced. Totally. Amara loved me!
All I now needed was the right atmosphere to pop the question : Will you be my girlfriend? I couldn’t ask her in class, neither could I over the phone. I had to be somewhere classy, maybe a restaurant, like in the movies. I nodded. A restaurant would be okay.The environment and atmosphere, I believed, were factors that could affect Amara’s response to my proposition. I planned to take her to Emeralds, the most expensive eatery around campus.
So I called her.
“Hello, Greg. It’s 11 p.m.” Her voice whined into my head.
“I’m sorry, Amara. I called to ask if you’d like to have dinner on the morrow at Emeralds.” I used a taut foreign accent. I hoped she was impressed– and interested.
An eerie silence loomed like dark clouds. A mosquito buzzed as though it were telling me something very vital to my ordeal. A cock crowed outside. I heard crickets chirping. Dave was still snoring.
“Alright,Greg, let’s make it 8 p.m.” She sounded very official, the network made her voice distant.
“Thanks, Amara, I won’t be late.” I was happier than I was the day the Super eagles won the African Nations Cup. I felt like summersaulting.
The next day, at 7:30 p.m., I was at Emeralds, feeling dapper in a suit, overwhelmed by anxiety. As I awaited Amara, I wished I had the benefit of clairvoyance or the prescience to know how events would pan out so that she didn’t slap me when I made the proposition like I had seen in one home video where the actress screamed,”What tomfoolery is this!” when the actor knelt down and proffered an engagement ring. I was nervous ;I broke sweat. As I wiped my face with my white handkerchief, I saw her approach, her gait more gracious than a tiger’s stride. She was elegantly dressed.
Then, to my utmost shock, I saw Dave following her as if he were a bodyguard. They both found seats in front of me. I glanced at face after face.The speech I had rehearsed escaped my mind and travelled aloft like a migrating bird.
“How far?” Dave giggled effusively like he had been tickled. Amara was studying my face, like she had an exam to write on it.
“What’s he doing here?” I was utterly confused.
“He’s my boyfriend. You said we were going to have dinner.” She paused. “And Dave is hungry.” She grimaced like she had just seen something eyesore.
I hemmed. I could feel tears gather on my eyeballs, there was this fiery sensation that blurred my vision.
“Are you okay, Greg?” Amara asked,rather plainly.
The words crept out of her mouth like a poisonous snake. They stung me with lethal venom which rendered me sick and heartbroken for days to come.