Over time, the affections I had for Sewa developed greatly and I grew so fond of her that I always wanted to be beside her almost every time. Trust Toheeb! He never ceased to tease me about it.
There was this day in class; we were all seated, waiting for the lecturer to arrive. As usual, I was sitting beside her. She asked for my phone and I gave it to her. Not quite long after that, she tapped me on my shoulders and showed me a picture on my phone, with the words “April ‘borns’ are the best!” I shrugged questioningly.
“Are you an April born?” She asked, with the faintest trace of a smile on her lips.
“Yes?” I replied, wondering why she asked me the question.
“Wow!” She exclaimed, “I am an April born too.”
A thousand bells rang in my head at once.
“Seriously?” I asked, starting to smile.
“Yeap”, She replied, “April 3rd. What of you?” She asked.
“April 18th.” I blurted.
“Wow! That’s great! That’s my elder sister’s birthday too.” She said, her face transforming into the likeness of the sun as the smile crept rapidly all over it.
“A double Wow!” I exclaimed, bursting into a good-natured laughter.
A thought popped into my mind at that moment.
“Wait…” I said suddenly, “Which state are you from?” I asked, gambling in my heart.
“Why are you asking?” She asked, screwing up her face in a funny manner.
“Just tell me”, I said expectantly.
“I’m from Osun…”She replied.
I felt like standing up to dance at that moment. The development just did not seem like a mere coincidence to me. I was practically convinced that it was the hand of fate.
“Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow…” I exclaimed repeatedly.
“Why the ‘Wows’?” She asked, looking suspiciously at me.
I smiled affectionately at her before I answered.
“I am from Osun too…”I said.
“Eh?” She exclaimed. Her eyes lit up in wonder.
“Yes”, I replied, still smiling.
“Like seriously…” She said simply, turning her attention back to my phone.
That revelation took my “boundless” imaginations and daydreams to another level entirely.
I finally Realized…
The following day was a Saturday. Two classmates of ours, Oluwatuyi ‘Kiitan and Okunade Oluwapemi, marked their birthdays and they invited the whole class to a joint birthday party at Heritage Park. Of course! I went there, but not without my Olympus camera.
The birthday party was fun-filled. Trust Excellers to elaborate things beyond imaginations. Towards the end of the party, I started to take the pictures of everyone around. After wining and dining with the celebrants, everyone started to disperse. I sat, exhausted, on one of the cement seats in the park, watching Sewa discuss playfully with three other ladies. They were not more than four yards from where I was sitting.
Instinctively, I raised my camera and tried to focus the lenses on her. She was laughing to a statement that one of the ladies had made when I pressed the shutter release button. The result was a superb, life-filled picture of Sewa laughing indiscriminately. The laughter in the picture was somewhat infectious and I could not help myself as I smiled at the camera.
“You are in love”, the thought popped into my mind as if someone behind me said it.
I looked up at Sewa. She was still laughing with the other ladies.
“Yeah”, I agreed, thinking aloud, “That’s true. I am in love with her.”
To Tell or not to Tell…
That night, I encountered Toheeb at Zik cafeteria. We both ordered for food and we discussed the progress of Primus Media, my photographic business, over our meals. By then, Toheeb was already a major and active partner in the business, alongside A.Y., a departmental colleague in 300-level.
After we finished our meals, we started to walk back to our hall of residence, Independence hall.
“I love her”, I said to Toheeb, as soon as we stepped out of the cafeteria into the star-filled night.
“Who?” He asked, looking up sharply at me, before he realised who I was talking about.
“Oh!” He exclaimed mildly, “Sewa abi?” He asked again.
“Of course! Who else would it be?” I queried.
He smiled in his knowing manner and was silent for some seconds before he spoke again.
“I knew from the start, that your association with her would eventually end up here – Love.” He said quietly.
“I just realised it today.” I said.
He laughed softly.
“You just realised it today, but you’ve always been in love with her subconsciously ever since you laid your eyes on her.” He said.
He paused for some seconds again before he spoke.
“She is a good Christian.” He said simply, but I knew what he meant.
“Does it matter?” I asked rhetorically, “It does not change a thing about my feelings for her. I really do love her.”
“I know it changes nothing”, He insisted, “But that’s to you…what of her?” He asked.
I sighed heavily again, the gravity of the meaning of his words dawning on me. I said nothing.
“What are you going to do about it?” He asked, after another brief pause.
“I don’t know…I really don’t.” I replied, looking up at the glittering night sky.
“Tell her!” He said, almost instantly.
I looked down sharply at him.
“Yes”, He said, “Tell her”, He repeated.
“But”, I started thoughtfully, “…but the possibility that she will consent to going out with me is very slim.” I voiced.
“Yeah…I know, but it doesn’t change a thing”, He said, repeating my words, “Tell her and at least, hear her response.”
I paused for some seconds.
“You are sure about this?” I asked uncertainly.
“Yes Ramon”, He replied, “Tell her. What’s the worst that could happen?” He asked.
“She’ll say ‘No’” I answered, sighing.
“Yes”, He agreed, “But at least, you would have told her your ‘mind’ and you would be free from later regrets.”
I sighed heavily for the last time and said nothing till we parted that night.
Digging Up some Courage
Funny enough, I did not get the chance to tell Sewa of my feelings for her until the first semester of our second year on campus. Throughout the second semester of my first year, I was busy with establishing Primus Media as a known brand on campus. Business took me far away from her. We only met in class and besides, I had not even gathered enough courage to tell her a word about how I felt.
Most times however, when I was lucky enough to accompany her to her hall of residence, Queen Elizabeth Hall II, I would “chat” her up concerning her love life. Through those chats, I got to know that she had no lover. I also discovered that she was someone who believed in being patient about emotional ties. She was cautious about jumping into any romantic relationship. However, she did not for once query me about my incessant questions about her love life. I was quite suspicious about that, but I kept silent about it.
Racing against My Heart
The first semester of our second year on campus was so hectic and eventful. Every member of our class was busy to a fault. So, apart from academic gatherings and lectures, I could not really spend much time with Sewa. Also, over the long holiday that we had before we resumed 200-level, I had critically thought about my feelings for her. The constant conclusion I had was that it would be quite impossible for her to agree to “going-out” with me, considering the fact that she was a devout Christian and that she was one of the students in my class with the highest CGPA. She was one of the few “First-Class” students in my class, while I was still battling to establish myself in the “Second-Class” cadre. Those facts alone intimidated me.
So, using our busy schedule in the first semester as a “cover-up”, I tried to avoid her. I tried to distance myself from her, thinking if she was “out of my sight”, then she would eventually be “out of my mind”.
However, it seemed as if my heart and mind had formed a coalition together against me. I could almost hear Providence laughing at my helplessness then. The unending lectures that we had did not help matters too. The more I tried to run, the more my heart blazed untiringly for her, with my mind giving its assent to this rebellious action. Through it all, Sewa did not let out an inkling of the fact that she knew I was helplessly in love with her, nor did she seem to notice the almost obvious constant struggles I had in my heart anytime I was near her.
First semester came and went, and with it, the unending lectures, the hectic group works and the tasking individual assignments. The examinations period was particularly memorable. There were some cumbersome courses that my classmates and I found just “impossibly difficult”, LIN241 and CLA215 would easily win seats in that category. We all had a hard time preparing for the examinations of these courses. More so, the university authority was “rushing” the examinations, in a bid to meet up the school calendar. So, we got “dumped” into the situation of having to write our examinations in so short a period of time. For approximately six days, non-stop, weekends inclusive, we sat for an examination on each day. By the time we wrote the last paper, everyone was just too glad to be free.
To celebrate the successful end of the semester, a picnic was organised by some guys in the class, at Botanical Garden, to “cool-off” the accumulated examination tensions. Almost everybody attended the picnic, including Sewa. I was there as usual, as the class’ official photographer, to make a concrete memory of the picnic. The picnic was successful and was full of fun as expected, though not without some “hitches”.
The Resolve to Tell
I was running about like a mad man, clicking away at the shutter release button of my camera when Toheeb pulled me aside to one corner.
“Have you told her yet?” He asked me.
I knew who he was talking about instantly.
“No”, I replied.
“Tell her today”, He said.
“Today?” I blurted.
“Of course!” He replied, with an obvious incredulous look on his face, “Today”, He continued, “would be the perfect time to tell her about your feelings for her. We are all through with academics for this semester and no one is preparing for any exam again. The work tension is all gone. Today would be the perfect day.” He concluded.
I nodded, seeing the sense in his words.
“Besides, there is every possibility that she might be going home soon for the short vacation. Why delay something as important as that?” He asked.
“Yeah…it’s true.” I replied, still nodding consentingly.
“So, when the picnic is over, make sure you accompany her to her hall of residence and confess everything to her along the way.” He said.
“Alright…alright…” I replied.
“Okay now”, He said, patting my folded arms before walking back to the picnic.