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Valentine Blues

February 11, 2022

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I remember my first real valentine’s
day like yesterday, I remember it
because it was the last valentine’s
day I ever celebrated in my life.
That day in 1996 was a day
of suffering and tears for me.
I was in the boarding house
at this period of my life.
I didn’t know what pushed me
to ask one lady to be
my girlfriend towards the Christmas break
of the previous term. She agreed.

I had a friend and roommate
called Gbengele, he also asked a
lady out and she said yes.
We both felt like big boys.
When we got to the hostel
we told our friends that we
“toasted” babes and the babes said
“Yes”

Wow!

It was quite a feat those days.
What we didn’t put into consideration
was the responsibility that goes with
keeping a relationship. We were both
from average families, our school fees
and boarding fees got paid on
time and we got some beverages
and some pocket money but there
was nowhere in our parent’s budgets
for any luxury. After the Christmas
and New Year break, school resumed.

Our seniors had made deliberate plans
for their babes on campus.
They resumed with gifts of all shades
and colors: Jewelry, boxes, assorted
biscuits, wines, juices, waist bags,
Alice bands, earrings, necklaces,
bracelets, customized t-shirts, wristwatches,
and so on were on
display in the male hostel.
The seniors called them valentine gifts.
They started telling tales of how
some ladies embarrassed their guys who
couldn’t measure up to the previous year
and how ladies spend time comparing
gifts they received in the girls’
hostel and how they laugh at
guys who couldn’t measure up behind
their backs. I started feeling the
chills of embarrassment from that
moment. I didn’t know that my
friend was also feeling the same
way. How do we get valentine
gifts for our babes so that
we wouldn’t become laughing stocks?
We brainstormed for many days,
at long last, we decided to
approach a mechanized farmer who comes
to our school premises to
help out on the school farm.
We couldn’t tell him the truth,
so we lied that we needed
something to do that could earn
us one thousand Naira each.

The man said he could get
us something but we must find
our way to his farm and
we must be prepared to work.
Valentine’s day fell on a Saturday,
so we sneaked out of school
on Friday morning (We mixed up
with the day students and left
the school entirely).
We started with a marathon three-hour
walk to this man’s farm.
As soon as we got there
he told us he would only
pay us 500 Naira because half
of the day was gone.
We said OK. We quickly got to
work harvesting cassava.

Ladies and gentlemen, farm work is
hard work. We harvested cassava for
six hours without a break, by the time
we were done, we had only
been able to clear half the
plot allocated to us. We got
paid and we found our way
back to school. (We took a taxi
of 25 Naira each). We dare not
tell our friends and roommates
what we were up to.
The next morning, we returned to
the farm and completed our plots.
Again this hard labor took us
about 6 hours. We got to the
farm by 9 am and left at about
3:30 pm. We got paid another
500 naira each.This time we
had to rush to a supermarket
to buy our gifts.

Hmm!

That would be the first 1000 naira
I ever worked for, it was
the toughest I ever earned.
By this time the money had
reduced to 900 Naira each.
We bought Danish cookies, wine,
a valentine card, and a light makeup set
comprising of powders, combs, etc.
We spent 800 Naira each on gifts,
took a taxi back to school so
that we can shower, and dress
up for the evening, valentines treat.

We had both told our babes
to meet us at the school area
by 6 pm. When it was 6 pm,
I carried my school bag as if
I was going to study so that
the other guys wouldn’t know
what I was up to.

My friend also did the same
We got to our “reading spot”
Our “reading partners” showed up
a few minutes later. We did
a little bit of chit-chat.
My friend and his partner went
to the next classroom. All we
do those days is talk and study
together. I presented my valentines
gift with joy in my heart, my babe
smiled and said something I
cannot remember…
I was expecting a gift in return.
Hmmm!
Nothing!
She just thanked me and said
she had to go to the hostel
before 7 pm. Just like that,
she was gone.

Wawuuu!
Not even a stick of toothpick.
Nothing.
I sat in that class for hours.
My hand was all blistered and
my joints were stiff, the weight
of the manual labor, I did
washed over me like Port Harcourt
sooty atmosphere.
I couldn’t even pretend I was not
disappointed.
My friend showed up
a few minutes later. He said his
babe had left too.
He asked, “What did you get?”
I shook my head. He looked
at me and my friend began
to cry like a baby. He said
“Even if it is a handkerchief,
I would have cherished it.
She only said thank you and left”
Hmmm!

That night, when we got to
our room we heard tales of
what this person got and what
that person got. We slinked to
our beds and slept our disappointment off.
The next day, as soon as
we got to the chapel, my friend
saw his babe. She sent him
a note “I noticed that your hands
were swollen and blistered yesterday.
I hope you didn’t steal what
you gave me as valentine’s gift.
If they call your name on
the assembly, please don’t mention
my name. I didn’t ask anyone
to buy me anything”

My friend showed me the note immediately.
He was very disappointed.
I started plotting in my head.
As soon as we concluded the
chapel service. I approached his babe
and told her I needed to
share something with her. I told
her we were desperate to buy
our ladies something for Valentine
and we had no money, so we
went to town and stole some things.
I told her we got caught and
the matter had been reported to the principal.
I promised her we wouldn’t mention her name
or the name
of my babe unless the beating
got too much because I was
very sure we would get flogged
during the morning assembly the next day.
The lady nodded several times,
then she told me to wait.

When she was gone, my friend
asked me what I said. I said he
should wait a bit. About ten minutes
later, this lady appeared, not only
with the gift my friend bought her
but also with the one
I bought my babe
Wow!

When we got to the hostel,
we told everybody our babes
bought us Valentine’s gifts and
gave them to us at the chapel.
We settled down and ate our
biscuits with delight.
The next morning, the babes waited
and waited during the assembly for
the crime to be called and
the perpetrators to be publicly
disgraced.
It didn’t happen.

When we got to class, the two
ladies came to meet me.
I couldn’t help it, I laughed on
and on and on. That was
the end of that “friendship”
and since that time I had
kept Valentine blues far away
from my consciousness.

Please don’t put yourself under any
pressure to buy gifts you cannot
afford for anybody this season.

Valentine’s day will come and go
Take yourself for a treat.
If you have an understanding partner,
a stroll with lots of laughter
is more than a gift.
Remember only the living and
the free will enjoy many more
Valentines.
If you kill yourself,
he or she will move on.

I love you

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