My mind was heavy and I could feel it pounding. I raised my hands and hugged myself as a shiver ran through me. Chris was gone but I’d be damned if I forgot him. Chris was so good, so nice, so charming, so caring, so loving for me to ever forget and I just know that nobody, no man ever, would come close to what Chris meant to me. He was the best there ever was and will ever be.
Chris brought me joy and happiness. He made me see life in very brilliant colours. He showed me how to live and love life. He was like a big chunk of the sun for me to keep forever and he brought so much light and warmth and love to my life.
Chris brought and redefined the concept of joy for me. He was like a tap that leaked out joy into every part of my being. But it is one of those ironies and paradoxes of life that the things or people who bring us the greatest joy, almost always causes us the most pain and anguish. That’s the way it was with Chris. His coming into my life turned it into a picnic. But his death has left me awhirl and staggering in deepest gloom. Yet, to be honest, he never did it intentionally. It was fate, and fate, that reached out its claws and snatched away my lover, friend, and brother, all rolled into one big bundle of joy and happiness.
Thinking back now through the years, I still can’t understand why Chris affected me the way he did and had such a profound effect on me.
“It’s because you never had a brother,” Edith, my friend would say.
But I don’t think that was what happened. I’d had other boyfriends before Chris but the affairs had all fizzled out before they took off the ground. But when Chris came in, it was a whole different kettle of fish entirely. He swept me way off my feet and left me wondering where he’d been all my life. With Chris, it was like a gaping and yawning hole in my life had just been filled up. He seemed to know all the right things to do and say and he kept me smiling and laughing from the minute I met him to the very last day he died.
My parents had four of us; girls all round. I am the last and by the time I was growing up, the male cousins who’d lived with us were all gone. So I grew up with my sisters without a boy to relate to. The only males around were my father and our driver. And because I went to an all girls school, I grew up not understanding or knowing the first thing about guys.
They were strange creatures who I had to be scared of and it really affected my relationship with them.
It got really bad when I was in my third year or thereabout in secondary school. That year, something terrible had happened in my family. My immediate elder sister had got pregnant. She didn’t realise it until she was almost three months gone and by the time she summoned up enough courage to tell my old man, she was four months gone. My old man hit the roof and thinking back now, I remember how much the house quaked as we all cowered in fear as my father raged. Abortion, Dad ruled, was out of the question.
Phil had been stupid enough to get pregnant; she had to go the whole way.
But she never had the baby. A miscarriage caused by a freak motor accident put paid to that. But the incident scared and scared me especially since her boyfriend denied responsibility and even threatened to hurt her if she insisted that it was his. The whole thing put me off men and made me really wary.
So, it was with trepidation that I got into relationships. I let the guys hold my hands and I let them kiss me, but once they tried to get beyond that, I’d run like the devil himself was after me.
That’s how it was until after my second year at the university when I met Chris and fell hopelessly and deliriously in love. That was when I shed all my inhibitions, unlocked the doors of my heart, rolled out the red carpets and set the cymbals clanging for my lover to come to me. And it was a love that was made in heaven.
We met at a party. I remember it like it was yesterday. Oh, no. I remember it better than yesterday, more like minutes ago.
My sister’s boyfriend was celebrating a birthday or something and she’d dragged me along but I wasn’t keen on going.
“Your life is so boring,” she drawled and wrinkled her nose at me..
“I like it just the way it is,” “I said, keeping my eyes on the novel I was reading.
“The way you’re going, you’ll die, an old maid, unmarried and unhappy,”
Tina said again, as she held up the blouse she’d just bought for the party.
“No one’s complaining,” I threw at her.
“But I’m complaining. She said with thinly veiled irritation.
“What are you complaining? Phil asked. She’d just come into the room.
“It’s our sweet little sister here. She said she’s not going to the party.
“You’re not?” Phil asked sounding scandalised.
“That’s the news”. I said, getting angry at all the disturbance.
“Why you know it’s Greg’s party.
He won’t like that. Knowing you’re in town and at his party. “Phil reasoned.
“And just think of how boring it will be, staying home all night with just the old ones for company. You better come along.” Tina said.
It had gone on and on and it wasn’t until that evening when Meg our big sister, called with her husband and one year old son did I change my mind.
“You’ve got to go out more, socialise and meet people. You’re a young woman and it’s good for you. Not just socially but psychologically too. Don’t stay home tonight. Go have some fun.”
She’d succeeded in convincing me and I’d gone with my two crazy sisters, Phil and Tina. I’d gone with just one intention, to get them off my back. I didn’t really care that much about how Greg felt. I didn’t like him and couldn’t help wondering what Tina saw in him.
The party was cool. Greg had money and like I heard, he loved showing it. I hadn’t heard wrong as I found out at the party. There was more than enough to swallow and guzzle. The music was something else and everyone was having the fun of his/her life.
Greg was everywhere shaking hands, backslapping, hugging and talking. Tina was sitting somewhere nursing a glass of wine and trying to stop herself from looking bored and upset. I stared at her for a while and when she caught my eye, I waved.
She waved back, then walked over.
“Are you having fun?” she asked as she settled into a seat beside me.
“Yeah, it’s a lively party. “I said.
“That’s Greg for you. She said and sighed.
“You don’t look too happy yourself.
“I said and she’d sighed again then before she could say a word; a guy was standing in front of us.
“Tina, I am begging, please, I want to be introduced to this pretty lady.”
The guy was tall and broad shouldered. He was dark and had this bright sunny-smile-along-with-me-smile.
“Chris, you’ve come again with your wahala,” Tina said smiling.
“This is not wahala o; where I come from they call it love at first sight. If you don’t believe me, ask me. “ He said, the smile still in place.
“See, I don’t have time for your wahala tonight.
This is Anita, my sister. The baby of the family.
“Ah, I love babies. They are so cute and cuddly and they smell of pears baby lotion. Say Anita, do you use Pears?” he asked, settling his bulk into the chair beside me.
That was how it started and all through the night, Chris kept me smiling and laughing. He asked me whether I knew the origin of the word bikini. I said I didn’t, so he told me this story, the first in over a thousand he would tell me in the three beautiful years we spent together.
A girl had got dressed in this scandalous beach wear, when her mother stumbled into her room.
“Where are you wearing that thing to?” the mother asked.
“To the beach!” the girl answered and her scandalized mother had yelled.
That was how the Yoruba language gave us the word bikini.
We danced, joked, laughed and held hands like long lost lovers and by the time the party was over we were swooning over each other like love struck teenagers. We fixed a date for the next evening and when it was time to go, I didn’t feel like leaving.
I talked about nothing else but Chris all day. Phil, whom I shared a room with was beside herself with irritation.
“To think that you didn’t want to go to the party in the first place,” she sneered.
But I didn’t care. I’d found a good thing and nobody was going to spoil my fun. The whole thing was even more exciting because I’d found out that Chris was in his final year at Uniport where I was too. It sounded too good to be true.
“How come we never met?” I asked when he told me.
“You’ve been hiding from me, now,” He said and we’d laughed.
He came that evening, driving the blue Subaru and we’d sat out there on the front port swing talking and laughing until late into the evening. He’d had dinner before leaving.
To be continued…