#BlogFest #50DaysCountDownTo2015 – DAY 4, Written by Ope Adedeji, she blogs at www.talesbycecile.wordpress.com
Yes. I remember that first Love of mine. Sauntering towards me in the finest exquisite suit I had ever seen. The smell of his after-shave and cologne linger in my memory. Six feet tall with a well-defined chiseled jaw. My first love, with his warm eyes and broad shoulders.
I had first seen him outside the church gates on that misty harmattan morning. I had climbed out of the car in my orange straw hat and flowery brown dress that had at the waist a colorful sash and flower and a Dolce and Gabanna blue ivory cotton bag. I smiled as I inhaled the sweet air and took Grandmama’s hands. He was staring at me with a broad sweet smile on his face. I had first looked up and then looked away, then taken a peek to access him. Yes he was staring at me. Grandmama, who was bent over walking with the aid of a walking stick and my hand was too busy monitoring her slow steps to notice him. Gently and slowly we walked up to the pathway leading to the church, Aunt Feyi trotting slowly behind us. I kept looking at him all the way up there, where he stood at the gate and then when we reached the brown iron bars he shook my hand and handed me flowers. Flowers that I hadn’t seen there before.
Grandmama looked up with a sweet smile exposing two missing teeth ‘nice young man’ she said and that was it.At the front pew in church where I usually sat with the other girls in their white and brown and pink flowery dresses, all I could think of was this man. This man who wouldn’t stop looking at me and who had given me flowers. This perfect gentleman who had this vintage look about him. This gentleman with perfectly white teeth and two dimples. I giggled softly at every thought of this fine man.
Then I had seen him again, walking up to the altar a few times to whisper a few words in the Pastor’s ears and watched the expression of the Pastor change. Then I had known again that this man wasn’t the ordinary in this sanctuary. When we stood up to say the benediction, I had told Sally who was like me visiting relatives in the village that this man had been staring at me. She had giggled and unfortunately said that I was ridiculous.
When the church service ended as I stood there helping the ushers in a natural goodness that I had to collect the leaflets that had been shared for hymns, he had walked–no sauntered towards me.
‘Nire’ he had called my name, my nickname, that gentle smile of his starting to appear on his lips. I could have fainted or better still sank in those brooding depth of his dark eyes. He took my hands and led it to his lips but I quickly withdrew shyly. I told myself, this man was too old to be flirting with me. I studied his black afro hair, well-trimmed and neatly shaped and smiled thinking again that he couldn’t be that old.‘Of course’ he said gesticulating slowly with his hands I’m not that old’ and I had thought was it that he just read my mind or it was a natural thing to think.
But I couldn’t say a thing before I was quickly drawn away by friends who wanted to take a look at my braided hair and new designer bag. I had glanced at him. It had been the first time I had seen him frown all day. His brows furrowed and where arched together. I couldn’t help but feel sorry. It felt like he was going through some pain–almost like he was love sick. He stood there rubbing his palms together but he didn’t move. I could feel his eyes on me even when aunt Feyi led me away to help her retie her gele some thirty minutes later.
The next time I’d seen him was at the neighbor’s garden. I had seen him working with shears from the room I shared with a cousin. Without thinking much I had gone down to meet him. He was wearing suspenders and a brown shirt with a brown hat that covered most of his forehead. Nevertheless, he looked beautiful. He was tending to their garden but stood up when I came out. Almost as if he’d felt my presence. I walked towards him, letting my maxi-dress brush against the grass that covered the front of my late grandfather’s house. I hugged myself not because of the breeze but because I was shy, I felt almost naked as he stared at me.
He waved at me and beckoned me to come. I did and noticed in awe that this man wasn’t sweating even as he worked under the scorching sun. Not even a dot of it had broken on his face. I frowned but then ignored it. I had a bottle of water for him in hand hoping it would be a conversation starter.
Ha Yes I remember what my first love had said to me when I thrust that chilled bottle of water forward, something any man would have collected in delight. He said with a graceful smile ‘No thank you. I am not thirsty’ he laughed a throaty short laugh ‘But if you come with me, I can give you a taste of the living water’ Where had I heard this before? I had sort of raised my eyebrow but he just took me aside and we walked down to the park and there we sat on the swings talking.
He’d said he wanted to be my friend. He’d taken my hand and said “let me be your friend” almost a plea. I had looked at his hands and thought “whatever did the question mean exactly?”
He opened his palms and showed me a wound “I keep hurting because I’m not your friend.” They were the words of a classical toaster. I wanted to laugh but one look at his eyes made me feel like he was saying the truth. His whole aura, his whole specimen bespoke honesty. He was this sort of man you said came down from heaven. He was a keeper.
I looked away afraid I’d give myself away, blushing. He traced his hands on my fair cheeks and indeed I did turn red and there were tears in his eyes. Actual tears.
“Let me be your friend” he said again.
“But how, I live in Lagos and you live here– I mean I’m busy with school and stuff” I had a thousand excuses in my head but then he’d just been asking me to be his friend and not his lover to which the excuses might have applied.
“Let me be that friend you run to with your burden.” he’d said going on as if he hadn’t heard me.
“Let me the one you tell your secrets to. Let me the one to comfort you. Let me be the shoulder you cry on. Let me the one to help you when you’re in a fix”
“I’m with you everywhere” he said taking my jaw so that my eyes and his met in an embrace. His eyes were smiling. They danced softly as if searching me and smiled at me “I’ve known you since you were a child. I’ve loved you since you were a child”
I was compelled to shout stalker at this point but I just kept quiet wondering how it was possible.
“I don’t even know your name?”
“They call me Emmanuel” he said “Nire would you be my friend? I’m tired of watching you waste your time. Many times, I’ve knocked on your door but you never welcomed me. Many times–”
“You don’t love me–you cant love, I’m incomplete. My past is a shame to me. I am not this beautiful innocent girl you see, I’m dirty–” I looked away breaking the lock of our tight embrace.
His eyes seemed to laugh at me but no they didn’t, they sympathized with me, they seemed to feel my pain in this mild gentle way.
“Let me help you gain a clean slate” he said “I love you despite these inadequacies, I really do”
“You can do that?” I asked repulsed somewhat “Who are you? You aren’t like many of the men I know” I said now forgetting my “romance” and now thinking about what I’d gotten myself into thinking I could fall in love with this man who seemed ten years older than me.
He smiled that smile that made me feel like he was reading my thoughts “simpleton” he whispered ‘let me be your friend. I can change everything. I can give you everything. All I want is that you love me as I have loved you.”
And then again with those words I had felt butterflies rumbling in my tummy. It wasn’t the sickly feeling it was a beautiful feeling; those butterflies seemingly millions of them dancing in my tummy and fluttering high up. Yes, I had felt a beautiful sensation the moment I fell in love with my first love.
‘Yes I would be your friend’ I whispered as if hiding it from the world. I nodded and he had embraced me and I had felt complete for the first time in my 16 years. Subsequently, he visited me buying me chocolates and sending me poetry. He would whisper words from his Father’s book in my ears and I would call him my Lord.
We would talk so much at length and into the night (me doing most of the talking.) He was the first person I spoke to when I woke up and the last when I went to bed. He watched me constantly, shielding me from those other boys or men who just wanted a taste of my body. He made my decisions for me from the simplest to the hardest. Yes, what again could I ask of my first love.
I would give him food, sweet smelling delicacies, I would buy him clothes exquisite designer suits but he told me his joy was in my love and my worship and I would call him My Lord. There were times I betrayed this my love but he stood there with pleading eyes, ready to accept me when I came back from Vanity.
At times we spoke in codes. He’d said ‘lest the enemy hear us’ and I had simply smiled at this beautiful romance. Ha yes, my handsome first love who kisses me and attends to my every need, who is there unlike every being. Yes he is my first love.Now here on my deathbed, he whispers to me that he has prepared a place for me in our home, for us to be united forever. Yes what more could I ask for in Love. What more could I ask for from That First Love….
Written by Ope Adedeji http://talesbycecile.wordpress.com/
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