Hey guys. A big thank you to those who are still following this story. I hope you learn a thing or two about life from me. And second note, I wrote this 3 years ago 🙂
I’ve only lived twenty years, but the amount of information, philosophy, religion and bullshit packed into my memory is enough to last a lifetime. I’ve heard different kinds of things. I’ve listened to all kinds of preachers. I’ve watched all kinds of things. I’ve listened to all kinds of music. They teach you how to maintain good relationships with people around you, but I never saw anyone that taught how to start a good friendship. Especially with a girl you like!
But there was this new guy in our school who came from the United States (I can hear you US lovers cheering…but that’s enough… back to business). See, he was sent down here to Nigeria, to learn some sense, you know? And he had to be sent not to a school, but to a correctional facility. Let me explain.
Trinity International College is in Ogun state, nested within the forests of Trinity Hills (I’m told the school bought the whole area up, but that could easily be a lie or a half-truth!). Now, we weren’t allowed to leave school without an exeat. No, my school back then did not have electric or barbed wire-fences. But, Trinity is so deep in the middle of nowhere that if you tried to escape, you would either (a) die in search of food or water (b) go mad with hunger and become a savage (c) take to cannibalism and eat any human being you found.
Okay, I’m just kidding…the nearest town is Mowe, Ofada (yeah, where they plant Ofada Rice, and No, we did not eat Ofada rice every week. We ate it only twice throughout my stay in that school). But Ofada was still so far from anywhere; the natives spoke mostly Yoruba (which I’m sorry to say few of us could make coherent sentences in Yoruba) and then we had no mobile phones back then (so you couldn’t call your parents to come pick you up). Besides, some teachers lived in Mowe and could catch you! And then you’d have your name written in…you guessed right. The BLACK book.
SO, this new boy In school, Hecareth Adefila. Fresh from the United states, with all kinds of ideas about Africa. Have you foreigners ever heard any frightening stories of what Africans are like? That we have tails and eat our newborn babies? When our housemistress went to school in the UK, her friends asked how she got there, if they lived in trees and all that. She just sarcastically answered, “well, I just swung from tree to tree like a monkey till I got here”. Or in Chukwuemeka Ike’s book, “The Bottled Leopard”, some family in the UK thought that Africans ate wood simply because they found their houseguest brushing with a chewing-stick! (You know what that is, right?)
And Hecareth, who incidentally was Nigerian, met the shocker of his life when he came here. In Nigeria, Pastor’s Kids are actually some of the worst except God arrests them. In America, Pastors live the life they profess. And so on.
Hecareth was tall (I think about 6 feet 5”). meaty, muscular. He played basketball. He could break-dance. He had an amazing artistic talent (once he drew an African dancer complete with beads and horsetail…he called it CHRII). He was American by birth. He had everything it took to be bad. But he wasn’t. And that was amazing, you know?
For one, Hecareth would NEVER hit a girl. With all his strength and size, with all the chattiness and pettiness of teenage girls, no matter how much a girl annoyed him, he would NEVER hit her. The bad guys in my school got extra street credibility for “shutting up” annoying, loudmouthed girls (shame on you! Hahaha!!!) with their fists. I mean, girls feared you if you beat one of them up. It was cool then, but looking backwards, I consider it another one of the foolishness young people display. Violence is Never cool.
In trying to find why Hecareth wasn’t bad even when he had the chance, I began to talk to him. Cautiously at first because the NEVER-hit-a-girl rule probably didn’t apply to boys; but then whole heartedly when I discovered he was human after all. He had challenges just like me. He stuck out just like me. He had no real friends just like me. He loved computers just like me. He was seeking God just like me.
Hecareth was only sixteen then, but he had a lot of street smarts. He quickly noticed that I liked Tolu. And he wondered why I wasn’t dating her.
“are you insane? Dude the girl can’t possibly like me!”
“did she say so?”
“No, she didn’t”
“then how do you know that?”
“Nobody likes me…besides, we hardly ever talk”
“Peter. She won’t tell you stuff if you aren’t friends”
“well, she would already be friends with me if she liked me”
“then you gotta make her like you, man!”
“Tolu, like me? Pigs may fly…chickens may grow teeth…Nigeria may win the 2006 world cup”
We both laughed at that one. The Super Chickens (sorry, Super Eagles)…as much as we loved the team, we certainly didn’t see that happening in the near future. But we could watch the tournament hopefully, you know?
Hecareth steadied me with a hand on my shoulder. He looked me right in the eyes and said,
“Peter, I’m gonna tell you something, but you must promise to keep it a secret”
“dude, we’re not allowed to have secret societies in school!!!”
“do you really wonder why they think you’re dumb? Listen. This formula I’ll give you will get you any girl you want”
My ears perked at that statement. Any girl?
“And I have to keep it secret?”
“Yes, you have to. If anybody knew I told you…”
“Alright, man, whatever”
“okay, this is it. It’s called the three C’s”
“Celestial Church of Christ?”
“No, dummy…sorry…you listening at all?”
“yeah. Sorry. Just fooling”
“It stands for Cool, Calm and Collected”
I turned this over in my mind. Cool. Calm. Collected. How the heck was that supposed to do that? So I asked,
“how the heck am I supposed to do that?
“it’s easy. Be cool around her. Act mature…girls always go for older guys”
“dude, she is older than I am”
“really? How much older?”
“two days. She was born on 12th June. I was born on the 14th”
“doesn’t matter. Now, be cool”
“Do I have to change the way I walk? Acquire a foreign accent?”
“no, dude. Just don’t be TOO smart around her. Don’t be disorderly. Iron your stuff well. Be calm…don’t freak out when you see her. Show her you’re cool. Man, you gotta make her chase you!”
Stop freaking out when I see her? I believe in Miracles. Dear Jesus!
The next day, we were sitting in class. I think we had a free period before Mr Apata’s English class. Then this girl Ameh Oputteh (Y’all remember her? Cute, I mean intensely cute girl) who was a year our senior walked in to our class, right in front of me, and asked
“who’s got an extra pen?”
I must tell you that my hand moved of its own accord, whipped out my favourite extra pen and extended it to her.
“I do…you can have it” I said
“why…thank you” She said, and gave me one of those her heaven-on-earth smiles
Immediately she left, somebody from one row behind me said,
“wow…that was so fast…how come you’ve never done that for me?”
I turned to see who said that to me. It was Tolu.
Panic. Cold sweat. Systolic arrhythmia. Cardiac arrest. What do I say? WHAT do I say! I have to say something cool and look cool when I say it!
She didn’t make it easy for me at all. She was smiling…wide…those white teeth gleaming like…oh never mind!
And then I blurted
“well, you’re not HER”
My class laughed out loud at that one. Obviously they thought I was saying she wasn’t beautiful enough or something! What blasphemy!
Stumped, She chuckled dryly and turned away. And probably forgot the entire incident (except she reads this, she’ll NEVER remember that). I got the creepy feeling someone was watching me, so I turned. I saw Hecareth sitting on Seun Adebola’s desk (close to the bulletin board at the back of the class)
He smiled at me. And gave me a proud thumbs-up. attaboy, Peter. Way to go!
For Today, I will be linking you to a popular song by The Monkees. Well, I like the Eddie Murphy Version better. Get it Here
In Part 4, We visit the boys hostel. Hold Tight, Guys!!