Pleasure and Pain (Episode 1)

Love! Perhaps the most misused word of the twenty-first century. And why not? Everybody is searching for it,  either consciously or not. But ironically, most people don't accept that fact when in reality they are the ones that need love the most. I fall into this category of people. Yeah, me. It's funny that I'm telling my story; and what a story it is! My friends would be shocked; I hardly let my secrets out. But things have changed. More correctly, I've changed.

I'm that type of guy that you can call a sceptic, the I-find-it-hard-to-believe-most-things type of guy. Would you blame me? I mean look at the world, everything you see is in one way a fake, a lie, something cooked up to control the weak and the gullible. And of course, love is the greatest of such lies, such superstitions. Or so I thought until my third year in the university.

My name is Ben. I always believed nothing could faze me. But you know as they say: pride goes before a fall. And boy what a fall it was. Into the cauldron of love; that puzzling and mind-twisting emotion. Well, let me cut to the chase. I saw her one Tuesday afternoon in front of the school library. I'll never forget how she was looking. Like she had no care in the world. She tied her jet black hair into a ponytail and was wearing a red blouse with a tight blue jean skirt. The most remarkable thing was her laughter; it sent ripples of pleasure and warmth through me as I heard it. As she walked, I couldn't help but stare at her. By Jove! I was smitten. Shackled by just a sight at the perfect example of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

She was in the midst of three of her friends but they were like three extra shadows. She outshone them. To me (and I bet to most guys that came in contact with her clique) they barely existed in her world. I was struggling with myself on what to do. Should I approach her? Or should I just observe her? Another thought: just forget her. She isn't the only beautiful girl in the world. But I knew I couldn't forget her neither could I just sit by and observe. She had a gravity that was pulling me and just like a black hole, she pulled me in. I rushed to her, tapped her on the shoulder. Then she turned. Have you ever been fixed with the most mesmerizing eyes ever? Or has your mouth ever been completely dry? If you've been in such a position, then you'd understand better.  Seriously I felt like I was called to present a speech I didn't prepare for at the United Nations Meeting. I completely forget what to say. She had to snap her fingers at me before I could return from my sojourn.

“H-e-e-llo,” I stuttered.

“Yes?” she replied.

“Are you a student of this school?” What am I asking please? For goodness sake Ben say something reasonable.

“Obviously, yes I am. Any problem?”

“No, not really. I was looking for registration unit for the Library ID card.” At least this one didn't come out wrong. Hopefully.

“Oh! That's what I'm here for. Maybe we'll look for the unit together."

“Ye-es. Yes, of course.” I couldn't believe it. She asked that we go together. Terrific. But, I kept asking myself: why was I acting like a twelve-year-old having a first crush? I mean that wasn't the first time I've had a crush on a girl. This– I didn't even know what to call it– is different, confusing and utterly exciting.

Off we went towards the main library door. As we walked, I learnt that her name was Anita. She was a second-year student of Mass Communication. She loved talking especially about herself and the things she liked. As for me, I was in the clouds; listening to her alone was enough. Her voice had a melodic ring that fills the senses.

When we reached the registration unit after asking for directions, we were asked to pay two hundred naira each. Wanting to make as many good impressions on her as I can, I opted to pay for her and her friends too. They thanked me but I only focused on Anita's profuse thanks. She told me she owed me one. Boom! That was the sound that went off in my head. She later collected my phone number and I also took hers. I promised to give her a ring later in the day.

Going back home was very tough. Her friends became parrots. They took over from her and were spilling out words like they were water. They kept on talking about their likes, shopping days and all what not. All of which I'm surprised I can still remember. I sincerely thought I'd forgotten about what they were chattering about. To make matters worse, Anita joined them. She became ecstatic at the mention of shopping, telling us (it was obvious that she was giving me the signal to flee for my dear life but like the proverbial fly, I refused to heed the warning signs) what and what she wanted to buy for her upcoming birthday in a fortnight. I took all the chatter in. Anything for my goddess.

As we were about to board a commercial bus, one of her friends passed me a note. The move was so clandestine that if not for the feel of the note in the pocket of my trouser, I would have dismissed it entirely. At the junction to where I was living, I came down, and once again paid for them. I knew I wouldn't eat for the night having used up all the money I had on me. But I did it for someone worthwhile. Hunger can be subdued. But what I was feeling for Anita was strong. It can hold me till morning.

Inside my room, I opened the note her friend Chidimma gave me and it read thus:

“Ben, I've seen the way you look at Anita and I understand what you feel because I feel that way about you. You might not recognise me but we met during last year's freshers night party. I fell for you then and I've found out all about you. You're a third year student of Industrial Chemistry, top of your class and very popular in your department. I even know where you stay. This is not in any way stalking you but to show you how much I can go for what I love. I want you. Anita is not right for you. I am. Please I'm waiting for your reply.”

Jeez! How do you go about this? I felt like the American CIA has just given me all they had on me and I sincerely didn't know whether to be angry or not. I finally chose to ignore her. But on a second thought, I dialled the number on her note. After the third ring, she picked up.
“Hello, it's me Ben.”

“Oh! Hi Ben. Thanks for calling.”she sounded so happy that I was torn between refusing her offer and hurting her and simply just flowing with her. I chose the former.

“Yeah, it's OK. I actually called to tell you that I've seen your note and frankly thanks but no thanks. I think any feelings or designs I might have on Anita is my business alone. I also take great exception to your stalking me. It's not funny.”Her reply was completely unexpected and strange.

“Is that what you said?”, she asked coldly. “We shall see.”

I didn't care to reply for at that moment, my roommate, Ebuka came in and I decided to end the call. My next call would be Anita. Later in the day.

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