“He smiled at me…” I blurted out in front of my friends during break time. My excitement that day cannot be exchanged for a plate of fried chicken after my crush, Tobi, allowed me a glimpse of his white teeth. Believe me, I couldn’t tell what fell over me but I knew I was in love. It was after summer exams when I really noticed him. He’s got a nice gait especially when he carries his school bag and lunch box to school. I didn’t know that I was chasing his attention until that morning when he smiled at me for picking up someone’s pencil that dropped.
The peace I felt that morning was overwhelming as when one who was coming under a scorching sun that is offered garri and chilled water. But one thing I can’t remember now is whether I smiled back or not. However, I received a crisp note from him on the vacation day.
“You’re smart… I like you” was all I needed to survive the holiday without Tobi. Sometimes, I would sleep on it, take it to church and even kiss the words when no one is looking. It was one of those days that Mama saw me with the note, looking cheerfully lost. My heart missed many beats after she demanded what was in there even though I had wrapped into my left pocket after noticing her… “Mama, our teacher told us that staring at papers will make us brighter… I just want to be fair like you.. “ was the lie I managed to conjure… Mama laughed her way to the bedroom after my explanation.
And resumption finally came. Tobi had travelled to Lagos with his dad because he came first in his class, he told me later that Monday. I came first in the Emerald class too and that was how our love blossomed. I was definitely tripping for him, because he was always looking good especially with the new sneakers his father bought him. We were not bold enough to talk for minutes but our words rode on the shoulders of courage to bear our feelings. As days yielded into weeks, our letters grew into yearning paragraphs and blissful pages.
It was almost time to write our entrance examinations into secondary school when Tobi asked me to meet him beside the staff room. I was super excited for it… It was as if we have both been waiting for that moment.
He was eating popcorn with two of his friends under the tree. Seconds had not passed before he noticed me and he said something that made his friends laugh and leave him.
I became jealously angry because I was not the one sharing that moment with him. “Hello… “ he stretched his hands for a handshake, or so I thought until he pulled me closer for a hug…
“Muuu-mmy,” I screamed as he held me tighter. Mama’s warnings came at me like a rushing wind.“You can never hug a boy… they are bad for you… it will make you lose your brain… “ we pulled after I struggled to pushed him off. “You don’t like me?” Tobi asked with tears in his eyes. My heart was beating harder then; I was having some nice servings of sobbs too. I thought our love won’t die; I thought we would be together forever. “Look into my eyes, Mary,” he said, sobbing too. That moment, when I tried holding his hand, mama’s warnings came consuming my boldness and I ran and ran, leaving him with the only statement that my mind was thinking, “my mummy will beat me”.