The first time I set eyes on him, my heart did the jitterbug. I was at the home of my friend Tina, who was my roommate in UI’s Idia hall, during one of those long forced vacations, also known as strikes.
I was nearly eighteen, even stricter with myself than my parents had brought me up to be, thanks to my faithful attendance of the Redeemed church a few streets away from us, and a fellowship with like-minded youth in UI. I guess I must have been quite pretty, looking back, but as unbelievable as it sounds, at that time, a seventeen year old, I truly cared more about inward than outwards appearance. That is sadly not really the case with me anymore, lol.
So anyway, after chasing tons of boys away with a stern look and a steely “is that what your parents sent you here to do, to be chasing girls?”, I set eyes on Edward and knew at once that he was the guy for me. He was a very cool, handsome guy who worked as a DJ on Ray power FM next to his studies in Architecture in UI, every girl's dream-guy, my heart had betrayed my spirit. I was not happy about how I felt, I was not happy about it at all.
We exchanged pleasantries, and he was obviously as intrigued by me as I was by him, although I did not realize it at that time. When he left about 20 minutes later, we said see you around, and I knew that was the end of it. Guys like him did not fall for conservative born-again girls like me. And even if they did, I was not about to be unequally yoked with a dj. What would my friends and fellowship members say? Tina, who at that time was not born-again, smiled mischievously and said, "I have never seen Ed show so much interest in a girl before". Inwardly, my heart did a flip and I would have given anything for her observation to be true. But, I had not been born-again for years for nothing. I knew how to cast down imaginations, and that’s exactly what I did. To Tina, I said, “warrever, don’t such guys go around showing interest in every girl they meet?”. A dj, God forbid bad thing. I was holding out for my “spiri” brother who would guard my virginity even more jealously than even I, not some dj, who probably slept around just for fun.
A few days later, I returned to my home in another city and caught up in my normal affairs, tried to forget this guy. But it was difficult. I, who had before then lived for Don Moen, Ron Kenoly and co, and spurned had contemporary music as “wordly”, started to listen to Edwards programme on Raypower FM !!! My parents had given me a radio cassette player for my 15th (I think) birthday and every Monday and Friday after I met Edward, it was tuned to Raypower during the times when his show was on. I heard songs I had never heard before, by Babyface, Teddy Pendagrass etc. How my mother teased me. I guess deep inside she was grateful that I started to show some signs of normalcy. Every parent is happy to have a responsible and obedient child, but I went off the deep end, so much so that they could not believe I wasn’t hiding stuff from them.
When I stayed too long at fellowship, my father beat me, because he was sure I had been out with some boys. I also remember vividly, when one of the overzealous brothers in the lord decided to visit me at home, since I had not attended a certain new fellowship(I did not attend because there were no adults around and I was sure my parents would not approve). My father slapped me so hard, that I carried the imprint of his fingers on my face around for about three days. Many times I considered going bad, just to justify the constant beatings I got. Now, in retrospect, I wonder why the disbelief of my father was so great. Was he messing around with girls my age or what? Because he was so sure I was messing around.
Anyway, I am digressing from my story. About three months after I met Edward, the ASUU strike was called off and it was back to Ibadan for me. I wondered briefly if I would see him again, but as the stress of sharing a room with 8 others, and attending lectures with 500 people set in, I forgot all about my crush. Until I saw him again, about a month later. I had been visiting a friend at Queen’s Hall, when I saw him talking to this beautiful girl in front of the entrance. Again, my heart beat faster when I saw him, but, then I knew for sure that a guy like him could never be interested in a girl like me. After all, I reasoned, even if an unbeliever liked you, he was only after one thing, and that one thing, I could not give him.
So began my game of hide and seek on UI campus. It was a bizarre game, because he had no idea I was avoiding him. I knew that for the first time in my almost eighteen years, I was in serious danger of being controlled by my feelings for another person, instead of my very rational mind. I remember one night when Folusho, another roommate of mine had begged me into going to Trenchard hall with her. There had been a Lagbaja show in UI that day, and she hope to meet up with a guy she liked afterwards. I went with her, albeit disapprovingly. While she met up with her friend, I took a look around, and whom should I catch a glimpse of, but Ed. He was seeing another girl off to Queens. I quickly turned away, pretended like I did not know him, and scuttled off to a dark corner, under the shadow of the almond trees, where he could not see me. How it makes me laugh to remember.
This avoidance game ended about six months later, when Tina came to visit me in Idia(she had since moved to a flat off campus). She then told me Ed had been wondering why he had not seen me since we met at her place. It turned out he was waiting outside Idia Hall for her to come out with me - guys were not allowed in after 9pm(or was it 11pm? hey you Uites out there please correct me, I don forget lol). I walked outside with her, my heart drumming a beat in my ears. “Where have you been hiding?, he asked”. Nowhere, have just been so busy, you know us MBBS people dwell in another world, I answered jokingly”. As he wrangled a date with me by force, Tina stood by grinning from ear to ear with an I-told-you-so look in her eyes.
He had asked me out to have some chicken and chips with him at SUB on a day that coincided with the day I normally had fellowship. For several days afterwards, I struggled inside myself about missing fellowship or not, in the end, I decided for fellowship. Right now, I marvel at the self-control of my 17-year-old self. I have to sadly admit that my 30-year-old self does not possess such self-control.
So sha, I went to my fellowship, where I spent most of my time banishing thoughts of him from my mind so I could pray. It didn’t work too well is all I can say. I got back to my room to find a note from him. He had been and had waited and gisted with my roommates. Four of them had been in at the time and they had all liked him so much. Mercy, my bubbling roommate scolded me for having bailed out on a date with such a fine guy. “Marin, you and this your fellowship, this guy is a really nice guy, don’t miss such a cool guy because of your born again nonsense o”.
Two days later, when I could no longer stand thoughts of him creeping up at odd moments, like when I was dissecting the thigh of God-only-knows-whose cadaver in anatomy, I decided to take the bull by the horns and pay him a visit in his room at Indy. If he was not there, I could always visit one of the brothers from fellowship or something. I got to his room and found that he was out. Disappointed, I decided to go back to my room, but for some reason, took a totally odd route. Normally when walking from Indy to Idia, it was easier to go via Zik Hall, not the PG Hall route that I had taken. I met him on the way. This was the first occurrence of what we liked to think of as evidence that our hearts communicated with each other. He had been going out with his friends, when all of a sudden he felt like returning to Indy. He seemed very glad to meet me, although he was disappointed that I had stood him up.
I apologized for having missed our appointment due to fellowship, went back to his room with him, we had a nice chat and he introduced me to his roommates. After that day, he visited me quite often, we went for walks, sat in front of the lake at the science lecture hall at sunset, sat talking till late on the seats in the Idia Hall bus stop, watching the cotton club girls being dropped up by their sugar daddies etc, but we officially started dating the following Valentine’s day, when I returned from a February 14th special at fellowship to find two lovely hand made cards, from him. There was a guy who made the loveliest cards in UI at that time. I had admired so many of his cards, because he was in the same faculty with me and I saw his work quite often. This would be the first and last time I got any of those cards. They were really lovely. I still have them now, and anytime I take a trip down memory’s lane and look over all my cards, the same emotions that surged through my breast that February so many years ago still surge over and over again.
That is the magic of first love.