It was only about me—us precisely. I had this energy in me, the spirit of adventure, to explore the four corners of the things I had passion for.
Adventure for a teenage girl always had something to do with butterflies that rumbled in the belly. It usually came after we’ve grown mountains and hills on our very used-to-be-flat-chests. I started to think myself mature at just sixteen. I wanted to have a boyfriend, to smudge red lipsticks. So partly because I wasn’t allowed to, I would buy coloured sweets from the small kiosk that Mama Chijioke owned as a substitute lipstick and it really did me well.
I wanted to look beautiful, not for anybody, just myself. Well, it was initially all about myself until I realized that every grown up man and boys of my age liked the way I looked.
One blue-eyed Thursday, Mrs Amaka’s husband promised me beautiful tops, if I came to visit him on Saturday when his wife would be away for clean up in the church. His wife wasn’t doing her job as a wife, I thought, why should your husband want another woman if you’re there?
My mum caught me staring at the mirror one time and said it was demonic for a woman to stare too much at her reflection for it wasn’t real. She was usually reserved, if I asked her delicate questions, she turned me away and chanted that I was “too-forward.” She had her attention engrossed in religious deeds, morning devotions; and since my dad was late, she had two businesses, one was poultry and the other was a mini restaurant. It was the same food we cooked that I snuck to Emelie.
Yes, Emelie caught my heart. He said he loved me. He was the reason behind the butterflies, the dream of every teenage girl. Tall, handsome and sporty.
I usually went out with my female friends to watch football matches at the village field. All because we were extremely passionate about football… ironically.
To be honest, I didn’t know if I had a flair for football, I don’t even think my female friends did. We just liked the idea that it was a male thing; those handsome legs kicking the football. We would droll at the manner in which the boys dribbled the ball. Chuka and Emelie, his eighteen-year-old best friend were the champions. They were both nicknamed “game changers.”
I secretly wished Emelie looked at me the way every other boy looked at me. Before bed every night I fantasized about him.
Someone must have whipped the air with a magic wand, because my secret wish came to reality. He asked me to be his girlfriend after I offered him water on that terrible day he grazed his knees over a small stone during the match. I was very excited, I told my friend Chika and the rest of the girls.
It was then that I decided to prove my love. I recall giving him six of my mother’s chickens from the poultry. His friends said I was a “very-good-girl.” We’d already said we would have five children and he would love all of them, strictly boys.
Since my mother loved religious deeds, she suggested that I attended evening service at a Pentecostal church while she prepared dinner. I took advantage of that opportunity. I went by 4:00pm and returned around 7:00pm . Sometimes in the church, I would be like: “Oh please be done already.” After service we met at a path leading to the stream, so he could whisper sweet things to my eager ears. “You-look-beautiful,” sounded different if it came from him.
One evening at the same path, he held my hands and asked if I wanted to see what he wanted to show me, I said yes and he took me to the bush. He dipped his hands into my top from my shoulder and his naive fingers traveled to the greatest depths. He fondled with the flesh on my chest. I didn’t resist. I didn’t want to because he liked it and I think it made him happy.
The next day we met at the same place and this time he did more; he pulled my underwear and did mock-justice to those delicate areas he said they were his and he had the right to play with them.
Thoughts of that one woman, her well rounded face and short afro hair flickered in my memories. I remembered my mother, and I felt a lump of guilt crawl up from my belly, up to my throat. The doctor I said I wanted to become was lost during the journey of butterflies. Buried and flushed away and should never be spoken of. It was all it took to be a good girl after all.
Emelie said he wouldn’t be coming to the path the next day, that he would be visiting his uncle Achike. I agreed, but then after the church service I found myself trudging along that same path where we usually held our fondling meetings. Squeaky voices came from the bushes. Two teenagers were leaning on a pawpaw tree. The girl had the tree support her back, her legs were apart and the other, definitely a boy was thrusting into her, as she whispered his name. She whispered, “Emelie” and ‘Emmy” at the same time. The leaves and fruits of the pawpaw tree shook in accordance with each re- enforcement. It was Chika, one of the girls I usually went out with to watch football at the local stadium.
Stung by bewilderment and disgust, I quietly left; they hadn’t noticed my presence and I was okay with it. I went home wondering how many “you-are-beautifuls” and “I-love-yous” he had said to every girl in the village.
I returned home feeling sad and foolish. I was glad that we did nothing more than fondlization, he never deserved me. I deserved better than a boy whore.
After a week, I stopped seeing him or hearing from him. A news later came from some lads that he was recruited for a scholarship to study abroad as a talented footballer that he was.
I felt I knew everything.
I guess I was too young to love, to make hasty decisions, to think I had everything in control, to think that all the boys who had squeezed a piece of crumpled paper containing love promises into my school bag really meant what they said.
The butterflies melted away and the only thing my veins felt all over again was the urge to become that medical doctor my late father couldn’t become because he had sacrificed for his siblings as the first child, for my aunts and uncles that never cared.
I seldom gave my ears the treat of a good music. So I decided to listen to one through mummy’s radio, but for the first time I came across Subway by Asa.
“Every day is not a holiday, my life like subway, oh I know this love don’t last
“Look at me tell me what to say, do you believe this love is real, oh I know this love don’t last…”
Chorus: My mama say baby be careful, if anybody come to say oo, I love you…