She didn’t expect a proposal on Valentine’s Day but fortunately, she got one. It all rang back to our days in secondary school. I used to live in Ogun state. I was in SS1 science class. We just resumed a new session. Our first-class was physics and we were treating Fundamental and Derived Quantities. The principal walked in with a father and a daughter. He said the girl would be joining us till we write WAEC. When I saw her face I was swept off my feet. The principal and her father left. So my physics teacher said we should all introduce ourselves starting from the girl. “My name is Ewatomi”, she said. The girl next to her also said, “my name is Tolani”. It got to my turn, I stood up and said “My name is Caleb”.
The class went on as expected but not for me because my eyes were fixed on her. She had a seat in the front row, while I sat at the back. During break time I went to the toilet to regain my awareness because I couldn’t concentrate anymore. I was so confused because I had never had such feelings before. I decided I won’t be distracted because I missed a lot in the classes we had that morning.
After the break, we had Biology class. Whenever the teacher asked questions, I made sure to answer most of the questions. Everyone was amazed because it was our first Biology class. Well, it was normal form because I had already read the topic in the library due to my love and curiosity of science. I answered the teacher’s questions also to get Ewatomi’s attention because she kept looking at me while I answered the questions. This was a drive for me to study more to answer more questions and maintain Ewatomi’s attention.
Things continued like that for some days and she made friends quickly. I overheard her having a conversation with Tolani. “Who is the best in the class?” She asked. “Caleb is the best student”, Tolani replied, pointing towards my direction. “Wow, okay”, she replied.
On this faithful day during break time, Ewatomi and her friend came to my table. I was reading my Biology textbook when I heard a voice. “Hey, Caleb, what’s up?” Tolani asked. “I dey”, I replied, still reading. Ewatomi showed up then. “Hi Caleb”, she greeted, a smile on her face. My heart skipped a beat. I could feel my pulse moving faster. I couldn’t help but smile back. “What’s up Ewatomi?” I replied. “I’m fine,” she said. “I could see you’re reading, what are you reading about ?”. She asked. I told her I was reading about classifications of living things. I asked if she’d like to join me. She agreed, so we read it together during break. We had Biology class the next day. Thankfully we were both active in class. “This is wonderful”, I said to myself. So I decided that during break time I’d spend some minutes in the library in preparation for the next class. I felt I could get closer to her through this. Though I hadn’t known much about her. We got more acquainted with ourselves academically. It was nothing beyond studies but I wished it was more than that.
There was this particular break she suggested we should go get something to eat instead of going to the library. I tried to turn her down cause I felt so bad, I didn’t have any money on me. I rarely visited the school canteen. I came from an indigent home. My parents were illiterate but wanted something good for me so they sent me to a private school with their hard-earned money. My father was a farmer who cultivated plantain and vegetables on the farm. My mother was a trader who sold some of the farm produce in the market. I was the only child of my parents. Whenever I came back from school I’d join my mum in the market and help with the selling of the farm produce till 7:00 pm, then we retire to the house.
“Please let’s get something to eat,” Ewatomi asked, “okay”, I replied reluctantly. We walked to the Mini Mart. She asked what I wanted, “I’m okay”, I said. “Come on, I can’t eat alone, it’s not nice “. “Fine, I’ll have Fanta and a sausage”, I replied. “So how much is everything”, I asked. “Don’t worry, I’ll pay, I brought you here”, she replied. We walked to a relaxation spot meters away from the canteen. “So tell me about yourself”, she asked while eating. I wasn’t sure what to say, I felt she wouldn’t talk to me if I let her know I’m from an indigent home and I wasn’t good at lying. Fortunately, the bell was rung so we returned to class.
On a Monday morning after the assembly, the principal came to the class and asked me to see him in his office during the break. That was the first time the principal called me into his office. During the break, I went to the principal’s office. ” You’ve had a very wonderful performance so far in this school”, the principal said, handing a paper to me. “That is your BECE result”, he said. ” Thank you sir”, I replied with a smile on my face. “So what are your plans for the future ?” he asked. “I want to be a medical doctor sir”, I replied. Then he told me to come along with my parents tomorrow. “Do you remember the new girl that joined your class “, he asked. “Yes sir, Ewatomi, I remembered sir”, I replied. “She’s the daughter of my very close friend from secondary school, I want you to be of little assistance to her with studies. I saw you and her at the library some days ago. I want it to be strictly academics, she lost her mother so it has been hard for her to adjust to the new system, that’s why I need your assistance with her”, the principal said. “O-okay sir, I replied a bit reluctant cause I had wished for more than academics.
I left his office and went to the library. I Met Ewatomi there. “What took you so long, this place was boring without you,” she said. “Wow”, I exclaimed with a smile on my face. “Sorry for keeping you waiting, I saw my BECE result”, I replied. “How was it?” She asked. “Well, I got distinctions in all my subjects” I answered. She exclaimed with a very bright smile on her face. I was lost in thought staring at her. She beckoned on me and said, “I want to be like you”. “You can be whatever you want to be if you put your mind to it”, I said. She appreciated it.
The next day I came with my mother to see the principal. After some minutes she left. The bell was rung for everyone to gather for assembly. After taking the usual rites, the principal came up. He greeted us and said, “I would like to use this opportunity to recognize and award a student that has shown academic brilliance and good moral conduct”. Surprisingly, he called my name. I was happy and confused at the same time. I came outside. The principal shook my hands and hugged me. The students still clapping, I looked at Ewatomi. She was smiling, so I smiled back. I was just offered a scholarship to complete my secondary school education. We retired to our classes. I smiled all through the day. I was also happy because Ewatomi was happy. After school, I went to join my mother in the market. She hugged me and congratulated me with tears rolling down her face. She prayed for me. We closed early that day. We got home and informed my father. We were all happy. My mother prepared Amala and vegetable soup. We ate happily together. It was a long time I saw my parents this happy.
Activities went on as expected. During one of our breaks. We were in the library. Luckily we were the only ones in the library. Ewatomi asked me about myself. Now I couldn’t possibly hide my through identity anymore. I felt if we will ever be close, she has to know everything about me. “Okay. Well, you know my name. I’m the only child of my parents. My father is a farmer while my mother is a trader. She sells plantains and vegetables. Well, that’s all” I said. “No, that can’t be all.” She replied. Don’t worry as time goes on you’ll get to know me better. “What about you, tell me about yourself”, I asked.
“My life is a sad one actually, it might not interest you”, she said sadly. Then I looked into her eyes and replied ” no matter how sad or bitter your story might be, the glorious outcome will sweeten its bitter taste. No glory without a story”. “Okay, I’m Ewatomi and I’m also the only child of my parents. My father is a doctor,” she said. “What about your mother?”, I asked. “She died. It has been so hard for me to recover from the shock, I can’t even read my books alone.”, she answered with tears rolling down her face. Her eyes were heavy with tears. It felt like she needed to pour out her tragedic feeling to someone. I was happy she told me but I felt bad because I couldn’t bear to see her cry. So I placed my hand on her back, patted her softly, and comforted her. I held her hand and said, ” I’m truly sorry about your loss, everything will be alright, I promise”. So I cleaned the tears off her eyes. “Thank you so much for all you’ve done,” she said. She hugged me. The feeling was unexplainable because I have never been hugged by a girl before. So I also wrapped my hands around her. The feeling of her hands around me was calming. After the hug, I held her hands and told her “I would do all I can to get you back on track in your academics. And remember, I’m always here if you need anything”.
We were moving closer to the examination period. So we made a timetable on what to read and when to read a particular subject. Our continuous assessment tests have been good. So we read and practiced together in preparation for exams. Finally, the exams were conducted. We all did the exams and then 2 weeks later which was our last day for the term, the results came out. My overall average score was 92%. She was happy for me. She got her result but was scared to open it. She gave it to me. So I opened it and saw the scores. “Oh my God!” I exclaimed. “What happened,” she asked. “I think you failed”, I said sarcastically. “Hmm, I can read your face. You aren’t good at lying” she replied. She collected the paper and checked. It was 83%. She was so excited. “Thank you so much, Caleb,” she said with tears of joy. “You’re welcome. This is just a start, there’s more we’ll achieve together”, I whispered into her ear while she hugged me. She laughed and said, “I know right”. Some minutes later, her dad arrived to pick her up. We approached him. She told him the good news. She introduced me to him. “Oh, so this is the Caleb?”. She has said a lot about you”. He said. I appreciated it. She gave me her number and address on a sheet of paper. I appreciated and excused them.
I noticed her father staring at me and smiling while she was talking to me. Well, I took my eyes off. Later the principal called me to his office to appreciate me. “Thank you Caleb for what you’ve done. Ewatomi’s father was so happy. He said he has not seen her smile in a long time. His daughter’s happiness is very important to him” the principal said. “Well, he said I should give you this token” he added, pointing an envelope to me. “Ah, thank you so much, sir, I appreciate it, sir,” I said. “This is his number, you can call him to appreciate him,” the principal said. I thanked him and left. When I got home I explained my experience in school to my parents and showed them the envelope. They were happy. They called Ewatomi’s Dad to express their gratitude. Later I called her father to show my appreciation. So we discussed it at length. He asked about what I wanted to study. I told him. That’s a nice course to study. I know you can do it. Don’t worry about your university expenses, I’ll take care of them. Just continue to be a good boy” he said. “Ah!! Sir, I’m grateful. May God continue to bless you, sir, I replied.
Now we were on holiday. I sat myself down one day and thought of things that have happened in the past few months. I smiled. I called Ewatomi to hear from her. She said she wanted to see my face. I took permission from my parents to go and see her. She lived in a duplex. She took me around her house. She showed me her mother’s pictures. We played games together. We had fun. Days passed, everyone was doing fine. Spent Christmas with my parents, helping with their businesses. We resumed for the second term which was around January. Everyone looked fine. Ewatomi looked elegant and beautiful. She looked better than in the last term. She got beautiful day by day. We continued our usual activities. One day in the library, she asked “what are your plans for the future?”. “I’ll get an admission to study medicine, after which I’ll go and serve then I’ll marry the most beautiful woman of my dreams”. “Hmm whatever. It’s your life” she replied. I sensed envy so I smiled. Valentine’s day was around the corner. She started feeling lonely because of what I said about my future. But I had other plans in place to ask her out on valentine’s days.
Finally, the day came. On the assembly ground, the principal talked to us about how valentine’s day came to be. Everyone enjoyed the story. “Today will be lecture-free,” the principal said. Everyone moved back to their classes. Ewatomi wasn’t in class. I searched for her. Finally, I saw her in the library. She was the only one in the library sitting in the back seat. I went towards her. As I got towards her she tilted her chair away from my direction. So I knelt and said “Ewatomi, I’m sorry if I’ve ever hurt you. I would never do so purposefully. She turned towards me. I went on, ” ever since I met you, I’ve always had a reason to smile, you brought out a better version of myself which I will never joke with. I never thought I would be the source of joy for others like my parents and you most especially. “I will seize this moment to tell you how much I love you and how I’ve always loved you from the first day you stepped into my class”, I said.
Now tears were dropping from her eyes. You’re the one that has kept me awake all night with thoughts of my future with you. Even though we’re young now, I’d love you to be the mother of my children when the time comes. Please let us take this journey of love together. Will you be my girlfriend?” I asked. “Yes I will” she replied in eagerness. She hugged me.”Caleb thank you for this. You have also kept me awake all night with thoughts of raising your children. I gladly accept your proposal.” She kissed me.
True love stories never have endings but I have to put a halt at this juncture. She didn’t expect a proposal on valentine’s day but thankfully she got one.
About the Writer
Olawuni Caleb Pamilerin is a 300 level medical student at Onabisi Onabanjo University, Sagamu.