My Crazy Valentine

Wednesday, February 14, 2018



For the longest time ever, I wondered about the razzmatazz surrounding Valentine's day.

I mean for me, it marked my sibling's Birthday. But that was about it.

I could not comprehend all the happiness in the air; folks seemingly floated on their feet and looking like they had been hit in the head with a shoe. 

By Love.

(I called them ‘the Floaters’)

Nothing prepared me for the pomp and pageantry with which Valentine’s day was observed in secondary school.

Valentine's day in secondary school was brutal.

From seniors risking their education to sneak out of school and purchase gifts for their high-school sweethearts, to the massive expectations placed on the shoulders of public couples as to who would receive the award of “best Valled”.

Whatever that meant.

Valentine's day would determine if you had a boyfriend... or if you had just been dating your imagination.

There were the ones who got gifts so outrageous you knew immediately that their significant other must have robbed their parents’ piggy bank to afford the gifts.

There were the ones who received a single rose. And a piece of candy.

The stories also made rounds of the one whose boyfriend had given her yellow Garri and roasted groundnuts for Valentine’s day.

(The sheer horror!!)

For those of us however who happily relished our tomboy status and its accompanying singleness, V-day came and passed, with no high blood pressure. We had no worries about whether we would receive agricultural produce as presents, or be left hanging without being remembered.

Ours was to make butt-end jokes of people left with sullen hanging faces, and cheer the ones with record-breaking gifts. Life for us was easy, and fun.

All that changed during my undergraduate studies.

(Karma is really the mother of man’s best friend)

One year in the university found me and one broda like that drifting towards each other. It was around that time I realised that certain termites grew and lived in your oesophagus, and could be sent into a frenzy of activities when they heard a certain voice say ‘hi’.

(Lawd!)

Broda could be no more than a year older, we had barely scratched twenty. He had painfully perfect dentition. His smile could raise the dead.

Literally.

I would walk him down to the end of my street. And he would walk me right back to my hostel gate. Gisting for hours about things that I could not remember a word of subsequently. We would go for school shows hand-in-hand, and study together.

A calm friendship blossomed, and without a word being discussed, we became like ying-yang.

Inseparable.

(*Insert crying face*)

Quite suddenly, February appeared from nowhere. All those heart shaped presents at every supermarket and red coloured cards which lit up every store suddenly beckoned to me; like a native doctor and his sacrificial chickens.

Without knowing when or how, I too had been hit in the head with the shoe, and had begun floating around, with a dreamy expression on my face. I too had become a card-carrying member of the Floaters.

(Eeewww!)

By the Valentine’s day Eve, I had swung into full plans to shop for the next day.

I got my long-time friend - who I had cousin-zoned from first year - to accompany me. He was my male eyes.

(Poor boy)

I had the good sense to remember that there was a whole semester left to survive after Valentine’s day. Quite unlike our politicians, my father did not have unhindered access to the national coffers. So I had to pick my presents sensibly.

We eventually settled for a cake, a designer’s t-shirt, a bottle of fruit wine and a card.

On the morning of that 14th February, I barely made it through classes. (Honestly, that day should have just been declared a public holiday).

The Lecturers must have sensed they were speaking to themselves the whole day; the few of us who made it to class that day were obviously very distracted.

(Thankfully, we all graduated)

I skipped back to the hostel immediately after the last class, in happy expectation of the gifts I was bound to receive.

I probably slept off from the exhaustion of not sleeping the night before, due to the giddiness of V-day. I suddenly woke up at 4pm.

Did I sleep too deep, and not hear the knock?

Cell phones were not yet a common thing at the time; you had to walk to the ‘business centre’ at the end of the street to make a call, with Aunty One-Eye’s phone.

She did have just one eye... and a bad mouth. She never hesitated to remind anyone and everyone that she was the only one on the street with a Nokia 3310.

Neither broda nor I had a phone. If it was today, he'd most likely have about seventy-thousand, two hundred and twenty-five missed calls from me... and twice that number in texts.

I came down and asked around, but there had been no visitor for me.

5.30pm: I had begun to feel a little alarmed. By this time, Emeka at the tuck shop downstairs had gotten tired of answering that no one had come looking for me.

I looked left and right outside the gate more than a couple of times, to be sure that my beau had not gotten lost, while pushing a wheelbarrow of gifts with my name littered all over them.

By 6.45pm, I could not sit still. The hostel gates closed at 7pm to 8pm for prayers.

(It was not called Catholic Hostel for nothing)

“I won't die from missing one day of evening prayers”, I thought to myself. So I sat outside by Mama Isi-Azu's ‘shed’ opposite the hostel’s gate, as she fried her yam, akara and sweet‘ petetoe’.

I could not risk beau being forced to go back with my gifts. Because we were praying.

9.30 pm saw me still sitting outside with her, and at 10pm, she asked me to assist her in packing up for the night, since I was just sitting there anyway.

Was this God punishing me, for not partaking in night prayers that day?

Reality dawned on me when the bell chimed at 10.15pm, signifying that the gates would be locked in fifteen minutes. As I climbed up the stairs to my room, it gradually hit me:

I had become one of those abandoned maidens in secondary school.

(My chest! Oh... my poor chest!)

I was very sure NEPA had planned this evil with broda; there had been no light the whole day. I was sentenced to a night of sorrow, and intense heat.

In my search for what to use in ‘fanning’ myself, the card I bought fell out from the bag of gifts. The handwriting was on the wall: fate had destined this to be my hand-fan.

As I bent to pick the card, the delicious smell of the cake wafted to my nose, and my stomach grumbled in open protest.

I realised that in the craze of the day, I had not eaten anything, and I was actually very hungry.

So I sat on the floor, brought out the remaining gifts from the gift-bag and began munching the cake; morsel after morsel. Food had never tasted this good!

I did not realise how hungry I had been, until I saw that the cake was almost finished. At least, my headstone would not read:

“Here lies Meg. She died of hunger, while waiting for her Valentine that never was.”

The wine stared loudly at me, in defiant beckoning. Like it dared me to finish my meal, and not open it.

"Wharahell" I thought. "I may as well finish the good work I've started". The gulps of wine ensured I did not choke, as I rushed the remainder of the cake in huge mouthfuls. 


I slept that night with a very satisfied stomach.

If there was one lesson I learnt that day, it was that no other human should have the liberty to determine the state of my stomach. Or, more importantly, my happiness.

I now understand that the one person with the non-negotiable obligation and licence to keep me happy is me. Any other efforts by the people around me is a bonus, to be appreciated.

If I wanted gifts, I should buy myself gifts. After all... the person I was waiting for to buy me gifts did not have two heads.

These days, while I may not be particularly bothered with the drama of V-day, I’m also less judgmental of folks who float around, having been hit in the head by the shoe of love.

After all, Love IS a beautiful thing.

As I matured, I also came to understand that the expression of love need not be restricted to a single day of the year. It could be any day of the year. It could be EVERY day of the year.

And if body peppeh me too much any day, I need not wait for anybody. I’d just walk into the next store and gift myself with Coco Chanel.

(Abi... what is salary for?)

So if your Valentine’s day was like the school-girl me, and you did not receive the gifts you had already unwrapped in your head, relax and shake it off! Then walk right to the store and get you something as awesome as you are.

In the meantime, you could share your Valentine Day war stories below, so that we can all laugh over it, while nibbling (virtual) red velvet cheesecake.

Live. Laugh. Learn.

Love,

Meg.

P.s: Broda had a plausible reason for the disappearance; something about falling over a cliff, or being regurgitated by a snake. Oh well... that t-shirt was already in my wardrobe. 😊


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14 comments

  1. All the flurry about Valentines day! I've had the good, bad and ugly. Then the memorable - an engagement proposal. Perhaps, that has made V-day more significant for me. I hardly remember the ugly stories.
    I'm curious thought, about the termites that live in your throat :)
    You sat beside mama Isi-Azu for hours and didn't buy her sweet petetoe? You were really hit on the head with a shoe o!

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    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  2. Hahahaha... Oh Lawd! This made my mornibg already. I laughed all through my journey to work. Well I got valled surprisingly 😊. No taichi or sengemenge, only that I didn't val my valπŸ˜πŸ˜”.

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    Replies
    1. You did??? Well good for YOU!! πŸ‘πŸ‘ Why did you not Val them right back??

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  3. Lol...i can imagine. Mine should be a movie! You just made my day!πŸ˜™πŸ˜™πŸ˜™πŸ˜™πŸ˜™πŸ˜™

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  4. LOOL. I can remember the first Val I celebrated in secondary school. I had to save up to buy a love card and a small cake for my crush abi girlfriend I don’t even know what we were doing. Still the girl didn’t appreciate it, I felt like entering the ground when she said “Is this all you could get me?” And she went around telling the whole class that I could only afford to get her a card and a small cake. February 14,2002 I can’t forget.

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    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ You remember the exact date?? Ndo!

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  5. Very engaging story by a maverick writer. I agree wholeheartedly that only you but you should determine the state of your mind.

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  6. I literally had my first Valentine with anyone three years ago. There was no gift, nada! So what had I been waiting boyfriendless for all my entire life? To come and not have valentine gift? Never!

    I begged him the following year to buy me a Valentine gift. I needed to feel Valentine. It meant and means a lot to me because everytime other babes had it in school, all I would tell myself was, 'just be patient, your time is coming'

    So time cannot now come and bf will be doing akagum on Valentine. Dais just rubbish

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    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Boyfren that cannor do Val... is that one boyfren? πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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  7. Lovely read. A senior in my sec school was suspended for going over the fence to deliver his well-written love letter on Val's day.

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    1. Thank You!

      Wow... I remember a couple being suspended in my school for being caught sitting in the love triangle and holding hands on Val day.

      Las las... they still won best couple at end of year awards ceremony.

      Don't forget to follow the blog!

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