I remember my first crush. I was a late bloomer and so experienced this in secondary school. Unlike my contemporaries that felt the first fluttering of puppy love earlier, I didn’t have time for all that. Boys were more of a nuisance, to be tolerated and ignored, depending on the circumstances. That period was for competing with them and generally getting on each other’s nerves and the one-upmanship that went with this stage.
My head was filled with fantasies of tall, dark, handsome tycoons, exotic places, exquisite women and other romantic tales as spun by M&B’s. I started reading these pretty early and consumed them daily. So with images of being swept off my feet and seized with an all consuming passion, the boys in my primary school class were certainly no match for the hunks that fell for me (the reverse is also the case) with each new book.
Secondary school was that period where physical and emotional development was greatly accelerated. The dreaded teen years brought the awkwardness and hormonal imbalance associated with it. The love-hate relationship and ambiguous feelings towards males was also more aggravated than ever before! Matters were further compounded by the proximity that being a boarder in a mixed school entailed.
Anyone that has been a boarder will understand the above scenario. You not only had to compete with members of the opposite sex in terms of academics, but you also had to learn how to survive them socially! I’ll admit that in retrospect the training afforded through these interactions have put me in good stead over the years and thus irrevocably become an essential part of who I’ve become.
I discovered that I liked this particular boy and every time I saw him…my world shifted. This happened often, especially during the week. Weekends were much better, although some pining took place since I couldn’t get my daily fix. Thankfully my sorry condition was not noticed (if it was suspected nobody said and the rumour mill was always a reliable source for things like this) and the fact that we weren’t in the same class helped immensely. Furthermore, I played it close to my chest and didn’t breathe a word to anyone.
My secret was absolutely safe. In the throes of my passion I decided to go out on a limb and tell him. On Val’s day I bought a humongous, sentimentally classic card, signed it (not my real name of course!) and had it delivered. For the delivery a close friend (in another form) was co-opted to assist. Naturally she was sworn to secrecy about my identity.
From a safe distance I watched (close enough to see everything but not enough to raise any suspicion) her hand him the card. Of course his curiosity had him ask about the sender, but thankfully Tayo masterfully, held up her end of the bargain. Ifeanyi thanked her and watched her leave the class. Since it was break-time, there was no hurry to return to class and I watched him open the envelope and see some of his friends peer over his shoulders.
The initials I used were absolutely fictitious and so I was totally safe. The messenger was also never coerced to reveal the identity of the mystery valentine. I preferred to keep my rose-coloured glasses firmly perched on my nose. My romantic notions about him gradually faded and I eventually got to know him better and discovered he was a nice chap in reality, not just my imagination. That has been one of my more intriguing romantic adventures. Twenty-one years later and I finally share…