Continued from the last part…
Jamila continued to show her disapproval for my relationship with Ray. She hounded me for every mistake she made. She blamed me for everything wrong in her life. Afterwards, she calmed down when in a good mood and would resume her whining afterward.
Jamila drinks more than her head could ever take. She parties away all her time and changes boys like the skin of a chameleon. Waywardness couldn’t describe Jamila because she was way ahead of that definition.
I failed to understand how I was the cause of her trouble. However, I pitied her ineptitude and inability to organize her life. I recommended books she could read, but she wasn’t given to reading. I asked friends to talk to her and she summed it that I gossip with her name. You see, that is where I
resolved strongly more than ever, never to discuss my friends again.
I wanted what was best for her, but for her, it wasn’t my intention. My intention according to her was to tell my other friends that she is dragging my boyfriend. I would cry sometimes when I remember that my pink Cinderella had grown up to become my nemesis. I have always been happy for her when she succeeds and finds love. But for the only time, I found true love outside of my family, it made her sad.
After a while, she claimed to be perfectly OK with my decision to bring Ray into my life. Duke had officially asked her out and she refused to let him into her life as a boyfriend. In her words according to Duke, she preferred a “friends with benefit” approach; whatever that meant. Duke soon moved on with his life and guess who got blamed?
I had told her timelessly that it was about time she began taking responsibility for her life. In one of her fits of rage, she told me that “because I felt I had a perfect life, I assumed that I was the standard.”
For all I cared, my life was nowhere near where I wanted it. I had made a conscious decision to improve my life as much as I could.
Jamila would not change her ways and the more she grappled with identity issues, the deeper she sunk into a murderous darkness. We were still observing our service year and though we were near done, she was nothing like a corps member. She had unanswered query letters from our local and zonal inspectors. She either didn’t care or knew nothing about the consequences. You think this book is about morality because I have philosophized so much about my moral beliefs, I am not the standard at all. And though I believe that I have my life where I want it through my decisions to follow through set goals, it was never always going to be about how I planned it.
Sometimes, you make your plans and there are factors capable of disrupting them. We know all these factors and it is why I tell people that “I have it all figured out is not a guarantee for success.” You can figure out
all you want, but there are unforeseeable factors that can disrupt the smooth sail of events.
When these factors come into play, all you wish is that they do not damage the work you have done. That wasn’t the case for Jamila though because while she had the whole time to determine how she wanted her life to be, she followed through on compulsive instincts.
Don’t worry, I will not dwell on the theory of compulsive impulsion. You can buy my previous book to read up on that. A few days to Duke’s next birthday, I think it was his twenty-eight birthday, Duke told me expressly that I had no valid reason to miss out. Ray had begun to make me come out of isolation more and integrate with his friends. I came to know quite a lot about them. Some went ahead to call me “Mrs. Raymond,” an alias I wasn’t very comfortable with.
I wanted to travel on the exact day Duke had fixed for his birthday party. Ray felt it would send a wrong message since it wasn’t an essential trip. Duke would never forgive me if I did travel. Jamila was in her good times and she had planned how she was going to get me drunk. She told me a about his plan and somehow, since it was a Friday, I felt I could get myself wasted for once; one of the things I never got to do till then.
Duke’s plan was to rendezvous at Juno’s club at Central Area and then finish the after party with a few friends at his place. Ray was on leave and had all the time in the world to do whatever he wanted. Before now, I had never been out late till past eleven. Father and mother never keep late nights. Even when they tried to drag father into politics, he was always back before midnight. Before Ray and I got serious, he could stay out till whenever he wanted but when he realized I wasn’t comfortable when we spoke in the night and he was still out late, he changed his timetable.
Duke’s birthday was a worthy exception. The lot of us were going to be together. We were using one car for the day, Ray’s. Duke had invited some of his own friends too for the after party. Jamila bragged about what a great time we will have.
I had never been to a club all my life. There is a first time for everything. But whatever you may say to me after that experience, I would not go again. Perversion was on an industrial scale. I never saw such a vast number of birds of the same feather before. No! My initial reaction was convulsive. I wanted to retract so much like an earthworm that received a dose of sodium chloride.
Ray had encouraged me to stay. “We can just sit and talk if you want.”
Talking with Ray is always a good idea. He knows the right words for every situation. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t a fun night. I didn’t know I could dance so well. I guess I was the odd one. Every lady in that room was almost naked. I had a moderate dinner gown and a heeled shoe mother had bought me from Paris.
That shoe reminds me so much of my first experience in Paris. Mother and I had gone to Paris. I had gone with my average Nigerian mentality. In a cab, mother told the cabman in English to take us to any good restaurant he knew. Mother had pronounced it as “Res-toh-rant.” This nice French man wasn’t going to have us pronounce a French word wrongly. He took more than three minutes to instruct us on the correct
“Rees-too-run,” he had said. This is the correct pronunciation he insisted in a very deep French accent. He had gone ahead in the next few minutes to instruct us on the correct pronunciation of the word “Paris.” I had grown up pronouncing it as “Pah-rees.” This driver insisted that it is correctly pronounced as “Pah-rhee.” Mother was good at patronizing people. With an encouraging smile on her face, she thanked the driver, “Merci beaucoup.” Mother said.
I find it difficult to comprehend how these languages were configured; English and French. They are made up of words that spelled something else and pronounced as something else. But given that I am not an English woman and not related to the queen, I would rest this matter too.
Duke was excited as though he hit a gold mine on his twenty-eight birthday. By midnight, I was the only one who was in control of their reflexes.
Common sense recommended that I do the driving to Duke’s. By providence, there was no law enforcement to run into. Either by grace, luck or by design, they were off the road.
When we hit Duke’s there was a redo of all that had transpired at Juno’s.
I woke up around midday on Saturday. My fantastic memory couldn’t recollect all that happened. I knew I drove us home and I knew when we sang the “happy birthday” song over again. I had zero recollection of any other event whatsoever.
When I came around, everyone else was up. Maybe because it was my first time being drunk. My head spun like a dart board. It was as though I was receiving a murderous blow from a sledgehammer by a serial killer.
“Hey baby, you are awake,” Ray said, with an air of concern. I do not know why we ask a lot of rhetorical questions in this part of the world. You see someone who is clearly awake, you however, choose to ask them if they are awake.
“You guys planned to murder me last night?” I asked in a serious but sarcastic manner.
“Come off it baby, you see why you need to do this more often, very soon your body will get used to it.”
“Raymond, I would never do this again. Get it into your head. Do not make me do this again, it is wicked,” I thundered out, feigning anger.
OK. Smart one, calm down. If you are not doing it again, then we won’t do it again.” Ray had come to respect my opinions as much as he respected our relationship.
“Did you kiss me last night?” Ray asked.
“I don’t go about kissing drunk men, that is gross.”
Ray laughed at my response and wouldn’t tell me why he asked the question.
Few weeks passed after the party and things moved on quite normally. We had two months to pass out from service.
I was in a company meeting. I had been nominated to participate alongside two other colleagues in a Risk Management training in Lagos. For me, it was just the perfect gift. To see Mother who had just returned from Kenya after two months away and to see Father who got an appointment as a Director General of a government Economic Recovery Agency.
Ray wanted to come to Lagos with me; an idea I vehemently refused with an idea that he might want to coerce me into meeting my parents. Duke was already in Lagos for a two-week business trip. Jamila was in Lagos too but I never knew. The last she told me about her whereabouts, she was on
a journey to Akure.
It was only after I told her that I was traveling to Lagos that she said she was also in Lagos. It was becoming an unofficial rendezvous and a strong point for Ray to insist he was also coming to Lagos. My company insisted that we must stay in the same hotel and Ray ensured he was very close to my hotel. It would be fair to say that Ray wasn’t keeping an eye on me. It was more of his idea of bonding. Wherever I found myself, he made it a point of duty to be there too.
He spent my spare times with me. It was during one of these times that I kissed him for the first time.
For hours on end, he professed how lucky he was to have me. As young as I was, I had made so much progress and taken grounds people my age was scared of. He has this smoothness about him in moments like this. Staring continuously into my face and eye, I momentarily lost control of my resolutely unbreakable defiance.
I guess it was mist in my eyes, I wasn’t sure it was tears either. Whatever he was saying was hitting my soul. I just stared back at him in a humble admiration of what a beautiful boy stared into my face. I don’t know how it happened, but I felt a warm and cozy touch on my lips, by the time I knew what happened, we were kissing each other.
I had always thought that one had to attend a special training to know how to get intimate. However, it seems these things come by default factory settings. It beats my imagination, how a child born now finds its way to its mother’s mammary gland in minutes. Without requiring a user guide or factory standard operating procedural manual, it begins to suckle on the tits and gulp in the milk therein.
Take a goat for example. The doe drops the kid right now. The kid has no sight, it is completely blind and feeble. But somehow, this kid will navigate its path to the mammary gland to suckle. As you watch it, it begins to push and hit on the udder, to pump faster and better; isn’t nature wonderful !
Who was the first person to initiate kisses? What was in the mind and how did they know it was the right way to express human emotions?
I found myself shutting my eyes as we kissed. I have read that most people shut their eyes when they kiss. Is that also part of the manual or are we ashamed to look at ourselves as we exchange buckets of saliva?
We kissed for so long and when his hand started trailing my backline, I had to stop him there.
“What are you doing?” I asked. I guess he was startled and came to.
“Uhm, I thought you were ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“You know, make love.”
“You think I want to lose my virginity before I get married, why would you think I would do that, like what if I don’t end up getting married to you?”
He must have been bothered by my numerous questions and he had no answers to them. He was quite startled and apologized profusely.
“I am sorry, very sorry dear.” he apologized and made it clear he wasn’t in to hurt me, I insisted not to be left alone with him again. He was terrible and spent the rest of the moment on the bed, eyes closed and barely able to look at me.
Whether it was regret or shame, I wasn’t sure but he was uncomfortable and the more I tried to shake him off it, he wouldn’t bulge.
When his phone rang and he excused himself, I felt I had lost him forever. Maybe I was too hard on him, but I knew I was as assertive as I needed to be. I didn’t get to hear very well whom he said asked to see him but my sixth sense told me he would be back.
- Emmanuella John, the Christmas Princess is the third child of seven children. She is a writer, who writes poems, prose (fiction and non fiction etc) and a little of drama. She also writes articles on different topics.