It was about 16 years ago and I still remember her vividly. Blue eyes. Figure eight. Clean. Very well endowed, both in front and at the back. Not too tall, though, but a very good girl from a humble background. She was also not that brilliant, though she uses recommended glasses like the brilliant ones amidst us; I guess the problem was that we tend to associate brilliance with recommended glasses. Like we used to say then, the ones who used glasses were the ones who have read to the extent that they couldn’t see well anymore. But I give her credit for intelligence: she surrounded herself with six other girls who were more brilliant than herself.
We were in final year in then, I remember we were only allowed to use trouser when we got to final year in my secondary school. It was nicker from JSS1 to SS2. The girls too would use pinafore till they got to final year before they changed to shirt and skirt. They looked more beautiful with the change. Like most of the seniour boys, I enjoyed strolling home in the midst of girls after school, instead of taking a bus to my home, which was quite a distance. The incentive was that Amarachi and her six other friends used to be my company, till we all part just before I get to my street.
Our friendship began when on a quiet day like that I walked up to her and told her “Happy Birthday.” She was stunned! What she did not know was that we shared the same birthday, though I am a year older, and I incidentally got to know when we were filling one of our final year forms. We enjoyed a very close rapport to the extent that my other male friends were jealous. You know guys; they began to call us boyfriend and girlfriend… Even I didn’t know why I didn’t woo her, because it was obvious to a James-Hardley-Chase-reading mind like me that she was giving me green lights. Maybe I overplayed hard to get. Or maybe I was not so sure of my wooing muse at that time.
But our relationship suddenly got worse. Beyond sufficient repairs. Till we finished school and now we see no more.
It was a simple incident that we both didn’t allow enough caution on. I was the president of Photo Club. A club I joined solely because of business gains, if not I would have stuck to Jet Club like her. Well, it was not uncommon for guys to take free photographs for their female friends then (even now), but sometimes we adhere to business strictly and take our money even if the girl was the prettiest in school. Worse still, it was the time of analogue photography. You would count the stress of cutting the film in a dark room if you didn’t finish your 36 exposures on time, going to the laboratory to convert to negative, and then you print on photo paper… I took a shot for Amarachi. And she was supposed to pay. She told me she paid. I argued she has not paid. The argument got hot. And in the process… She slapped me!
I didn’t know I had already retaliated with five more slaps until I heard the roars, and screams from our classmates. Boys cheering me. Girls cheering her. My white shirt roughened and dirtied. She, well, her glasses flew away and she could no longer see well. That day, our hitherto quiet science class changed to the extent that the Vice Principal had to punish the two of us for disrupting order in school.
For me, it was a blow on what I preach to my male colleagues who beat their girls, “They are fragile. A man should not beat a woman.” Little wonder, most of them were laughing while cheering during the brawl. I could remember Morgan came to me afterwards to mock, “You see now? Boys shouldn’t beat girls? What if they beat you first? What if you got provoked to the extent that you lose control in split seconds?” And it taught me a lesson; that you preach something does mean you can’t be tempted or fall into doing same. On the other hand, I felt the justification to react the way I did… I was the gentle type in school. And I was prone to being taken for granted at times. Worse still, unlike now that I have grown enough flesh, I was skinny. Even one of Amarachi’s six other friends had once threatened to break my bones while we were watching an intra-school football match. If these girls saw Amarachi slap me without retaliating; I bet the six of them would eventually break my bones, one after the other.
We eventually apologized to each other, though we were not that close anymore. The surprise that we gave each other on that day was too strong for the bond that kept us together. We said it was the devil, but I wonder why we stooped so low to allow the devil to tear the good thing we had apart. Now 16 years, I still remember her. I remembered her when a similar situation was about to happen…