The first day my eyes fell on him, the brightness of the earth went blurred for few seconds. He was a piece of art adorned with every bit of perfection. I have heard tales about his charms but they were nothing compared to the kaleidoscopic rays of amazingness that stood before me that fateful day. I had just walked halfway into the Poets’ Corner hall at the Jos Museum and was greeted by the blessedness of the new guy. My absence at the previous meeting denied me the opportunity to catch his name and other details about him. However, the fact that he has a soft spot for poetry is undeniable.
I caught myself a few times saying wow! beneath my breath. I just couldn’t voice my admiration neither were my legs confident enough to walk up to him with a broad smile on my face and chant ‘hey, my name is Peace and I think you look cute’. As soon as the anchor for the day appeared, we pulled ourselves together into the usual cluster and joyfully recited the club’s anthem. As our chaotic voices climaxed in defying pitches, I allowed my mind to wander a bit. Obviously, my thoughts and eyes went rogue. My retina focused on his neatly ironed safari and nicely polished almost new shoes. Everything about his looks felt perfect. The fact that he was standing within a close range afforded me the opportunity to throw glances at him and also to pretend that all was well with my racing soul.
The universe played a double layered trick of my racing soul that day. To tame my properly groomed mind from the jaws of unfamiliar hormones sending thick blood to my forehead, I threw my face to the ground as I positioned myself on the long table.
‘Leopold Senghor’s Naett is the poem for today’, the host announced.
At that point, my heart was cruising at a normal rate. ‘Deji, please start’, a voice said. Then I heard the unbelievable sound of pleasant symphony. My mind garbed itself with fear, because what I heard was surreal and it exceeded perfection.
I will pronounce your name, Naett, I will declaim you, Naett!
Naett, your name is mild like cinnamon, it is the fragrance in which the lemon groove sleeps, he read in his thick, deeply pitched, husky voice. His lips opened lazily to allow each word escape. The rear of his eyes sparkled in conformity with his cheeks and chin to create a near perfect smile befitting a celebrated poet. And yes, those were the last words I heard before my soul transitioned into an indeterminate state.
My heart started racing all over again. Each stress placement or change in pitch saw my valves stretching and yearning for the unbelievable. My eyes kept alternating between his thick fleshy lips and his obvious Adam’s apples that formed an hour-glass shape that made rhythmic movements around his throat. That I survived that day without embarrassing my prim and proper disposition is still a mystery.
On my bed that night, I replayed his voice and dreamt of a world with just the two of us. He overshadowed my thoughts and clouded my sanity until I started seeing him in every male around me in the subsequent months. Each meeting became a building block – adding to the layers of my image of his awesomeness in my mind.
What was bizarre was the fact that he was way above my league. The class difference was huge but that didn’t slow my mind from crushing and fantasising every minute of the day. The silver spoon with which he was born with was glaring. It was obvious in his baritone, gait, charisma, and lissom skin pigmentation. I was always awe-struck with traces of intimidation anytime we shared a space. On such occasions, I felt like a frump, but I was determined to push and drag my low self esteem up the ladder- hoping something would happen eventually. I worked so hard, paid more attention to my appearance and so on. Twelve months went by and no relationship or even a spark of warm blood was in sight between us. It was still his cold/ straight face and a baritone buried in a body- to- die- for against my timid humid mind.
The day he invited the entire club to his housewarming party, I was excited for days. Only three of us indicated interest…. To me, it was an answered prayer. On the said day, I went all out for it. I borrowed Nora’s Vera Wang dress and Ann’s Louis Vuitton’s lace shoe and purse. They were hesitant at the onset, but my emotional blackmail did the magic eventually. I rehearsed for days, before the mirror, how I would sweep him off his feet
I walked into his mansion head up, shoulder high and with an aura of pride ready to snatch his cute heart into my bosom.
‘I’m from the Poets’ Corner’, I announced to the greeter at the door. ‘Oh! You are welcome, we have been expecting you, ma’am, he replied. That recognition pushed my head to the skies. Everything felt normal and real. I giggled and straightened up almost immediately so as not to lose my artificial rich- girl- poise.
I was led to a room filled with few folks smiling for no reason. The room reeked money and every other good thing of life. I fell for it and was willing to blend in. I walked towards him briskly: wagging my hips in a seductive way hoping to catch his attention.
‘Hello Deji’, I said in a friendly and warm tone. ‘Hi,’ he replied in a rather cold way with is eyes piercing into mine as though looking for my name tag on my forehead. To further amplify the awkwardness, he asked the unbelievable question: ‘have we me before?
‘Yes, sure, errhmm, Poets’ Corner’, I stammered. The whole room became dead silent to my utter embarrassment. ‘I didn’t get your name’ he added in a tone determined to save the day.
‘Peace’, my shaky voice replied. ‘Thanks for showing up, he said partly distracted as he made his way to welcome a finer lady who just walked into the room.
I rained curses on the stupid make- up artist who glued those artificial lashes to my eyes and converted me into a version of a glorified desperate ‘desperado’ as I made my way home in my borrowed outfit.
Peace Habila, a resident of Jos, Plateau state is passionate about creative writing. She wrote in via email@example.com