BUT HE IS A PERFECT GENTLEMAN
My name is Loundah. Don’t bother to ask me what my surname is because I am not telling. Don’t regard that as been brash or something, but I love the ring of my name just been Loundah.
Well, life could be fun sometimes, and could sometimes deal one a devastating blow that if he does not have a strong will; he may never be able to come off the concussion.
Now please, do not ask me why I am sounding this way tonight, but I have a story to tell and I want to put you on the same page with me so that you will not be left drifting as I saunter along.
I am a daughter of a single parent; my mother. Now, do not get me wrong. She was not the type you think were sold on the idea of women lib. or all the stuff about freedom. That probably came up later, but not initially. She was not promiscuous or out of character woman. To this extent, I can stand for my mother.
From the stories, she told me, and other details I was able to piece together, she was forced into an early childhood marriage to a man, my father- who already has two other wives. Things could not work out very well between them and she walked out on him. Unfortunately, she was already pregnant. The child she born happened to be me.
I don’t want you to follow this line of the story. I am not going to talk about my mother. I am telling you about myself: Loundah.
My mother struggled with her teaching job to make sure that I have a good education. I attended a private primary school in Port Harcourt.
In reminiscence, I could feel the joy of childhood with a loving and caring mother. I did not miss the care of a father. Though, probably there were things I would have benefited from him. But then, I was more than satisfied with my mother to think about him.
I attended Nyomoni Grammar School (NGS) Abonnema. This is a riverine community in Rivers State. Life in the Secondary school was also full of fun, and I had some lovely friends- girlfriends. Why do you pause? Well, they were nice friends and there were no dull moments at school.
Oh! I didn’t tell you what year this was? Well, it was 1984, and the democratically elected government has just been overthrown by a military junta. And just when we thought that school was fun, things started falling apart. There was a total dislocation of activities and plans. The school system also changed. The boarding system in school was abrogated, and added to my woes, my mother also lost her teaching job.
For one brief life’s moment, I thought I was on top of the world and the next moment, everything came tumbling down. My life began to lose some joints, and the future became cloudy, bleak and dreary. I felt a hollow inside my heart. There was this forlorn feeling spreading over my soul all of sudden.
I have got some wild ambition of becoming a lawyer and intended to read that noble profession in higher institution. I could not help feeling the crushing of my dream.
In the midst of this dilemma, two of my friends, Evelyn, and Veronica, came to my rescue. They have got an accommodation in town and decided to take me in.
Sitting under the mango tree in front of the school compound with my suitcase and handbags scattered beside me, I watched as other students moving out of the hotel with their luggage. I was lost in thoughts of what I was going to do.
How could I get these loads to the waterfront and get a boat to take me to Port Harcourt? How could I explain to my mother, and what could she do?
I was lost in those questions that I did not hear Veronica calling to me until she walked up to me and touched my shoulder. I jumped up, looked around; and there she was, tall and slender, wearing the school’s blue checked house gown, regarding me with concern.
“Loundah,” she said, her voice high pitched. “I had a talk with my sister Evelyn. We were thinking that if you don’t mind, you could hold up with us. Our dad has sent somebody to pay a room for us. We are moving our things there now.”
“Oh, Vera!” I reached out and held her hand. “You are truly a friend in need. I could feel tears swelling up in my eyes.
“Stop that Loundah,” she held me to herself. “What are friends for? Please, let’s get your things over to the house with ours.”
As I turned to look behind me, I saw Evelyn with two junior students coming toward us. I felt my heart lurked. I savored the feeling I had that day till now. All of sudden, I have got a new family and friends on Evelyn and Veronica.
Two years down the lane, we had lived together, sharing almost everything - yes I said almost everything. We were now in senior secondary school, just a year and a half to completing our secondary school education. We have also become big girls in school and have made other friends- other friends of the opposite sex.
1986. I came back from the Xmas break and met Veronica sitting in front of the room reading a novel.
“Ah girl!” she threw down the book to hug me. “You are back from Garden City,”
“Babe, you look cool. What’s the story?” I looked searchingly into her eyes, and I thought I caught a glint of color contrasting sharply with her fair skin. Her smile was infectious, the dimples cutting deeply across her cheek.
“Come on Vera,” I stumbled with her into the room. “Do you have something you are keeping from me?” I prodded
I have not seen her in this lighter mood for a couple of months. She had broken with her boyfriend. That had cast her into a pensive state, and we have had to deliberately push her on life so that she will not snap. My coming back to school to see her in this sunny state has uplifted my spirit.
“Hello Loundah,” Evelyn stood up from the bed to hug me. “Vera got herself swept off her feet by this dude who came into town lately.”
I glanced at Veronica. There was no denying that she has fallen in love. That feeling that moves one soul to lighten the burden of the body was all over her.
“Vera, I m so happy for you,” I said to her.
I looked at the two sisters. Though Evelyn was the elder, going into 20, by April of 86, there was no physical resemblance between them. She is dark and just under five feet, with broad shoulders and hip.
Veronica, on the other hand, was fair, about five feet six and slim. She has a nearly fixed smile on her face that one hardly knows when she was upset, which was not often. She just marked her 18th birthday last November. I have always argued to be her elder sister as I am two months older than her.
“Can you tell me about him, Vera?” I said sitting on the bed beside Evelyn holding my cheek with my two hands, and looking at her.
“Come on Loundah, there is nothing to tell,” she said, sitting on one of the only two chairs in the room. “Just pack your things. Timi will be coming in the evening; you can ask him by yourself.”
We all burst into laughing as I stood up to arrange my thing into the wardrobe standing against the wall by the bed.
When Evelyn had said that her sister got herself swept off her feet by a dude, she was not telling half of the story.
I was washing outside the room when I heard footsteps on the concrete part leading to our room. I looked up and held my breath. A man, wearing some kind of uniform-I think it might be Custom’s Uniform- about six feet was walking up to our room.
Timi? This would be Timi, my heart was saying the words, the clothes held tightly in my hand, and like someone poleaxed, I stood to stare till his voice brought me to myself.
“Hello! You must be Loundah. He said walking up to me. It does not sound like a questioned, so I said the only thing that came to my mouth.
“Hi! And you must be Timi? Ah my hands,” I looked down at foamy hands. “My hands are all foamy I’m sorry I can’t shake you."
"It’s okay. I am Timi,” He nodded his head toward the room, “how about your friends?”
Before I could answer him, Veronica came out from the room, her eyes sparkling like a diamond. She walked up to him, entangled her arms around his.
“That’s Loundah, my friend, I was telling you about. Loundah, meet Timi," She said. I could feel her absorbing into him.
“We’ve already acquainted,” he said looking at me, then at Veronica. “The two of you could pass for sisters. You are so much alike, and you are beautiful Loundah," he added smiling.
“Thank you. I surrender Vera to you, sir,” I said smiling, and returned to my washing, while an arm in arm, they went into the room.
I was seeing his smile inside the foam from the cloth I was washing. I could hear his deep and soothing voice echoing in my ears, tearing deep into my soul.
Girl, hold yourself together. He is Vera’s, I heard my thoughts rebuking me.