Sunday, May 10, 2009
The Girl Whisperer
as published in
the Sunday Guardian of April 5, 2009
BRIGHT EYES AND OTHER PERSONAL STORIES
The time is 4am and it is dark outside in the Whisperer’s world. The curtains are drawn up to catch draughts of cool air and it is the hour to do some reminiscing, to go back in time and place memories of the past against the facts of the present and the possibilities of the future. A close friend asked me a short while back if I wasn’t worried about disclosing personal details of myself in the newspapers. She said I had courage in writing the way I do. The way it used to be, it appeared as if I never got personal, but the Whisperer has had too many adventures not to share some. I sometimes think my life has been the stuff adventure stories are made of, like pages torn out of a Mark Twain story, and it has been that way since the early years of childhood. In my first form at secondary school, my English teacher gave me a name, “Huckleberry Finn”. I think it had to do with my dusty feet and general outlook on life. I was only ten.
At that age, I became great friends with many great people even though we were all runt-sized at the time- Toyin Zollner, Harry Moradeyo, Akin Olusanya, Kelechi Ejiogu, Obioha Otuokere, Joseph Ikunna, Seyi Eniayewu; and then into the A-Level days where I met Alfred Adebare, Segun Ewuoso, Sola Adebiyi, Gbadebo Olanrewaju and many, many others.
In those years, and into adulthood, I lived life as I thought was right. If these disclosures will stop my fellow citizens from making me the Minister of all matters feminine, so be it. I do not intend to leave the earth like the Roman Emperor Nero did, saying “What a great artist dies with me”. By the time I’m finished whispering, you’ll all be aware of the extent of my ‘artistry’, and gained from it in many ways. Some would be sure not to make the mistakes the Whisperer made; others would have had laughter brought into their lives on grey days.
Maybe this whispering is some kind of penance for the mistakes I have made in times gone past, when I could so easily have made the world a better place for those I was with. It might also be for some reading, to understand there is another side to every story and sometimes the truth has three or more sides, depending on perspective. ‘Walk a mile in my shoes; before you accuse, criticise and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes’ was a song my eldest sister, funmi, loved to sing to me, when I was a child.
A few years back, while I was studying for a master’s degree in law at the University of Lagos, I met a young woman, everyone called Bright Eyes. She was an undergraduate in the same faculty and had come to my attention through another young woman I had a special interest in, and through the friends of that ‘special one’.
The group that made me realise there was a new girl worth noticing, was a year ahead of ‘bright eyes’ in the faculty, made up of very good-looking females in their own right but it seemed as if all their waking moments were filled with thoughts of this new arrival and the ‘threat’ they felt she constituted. She was a ‘fresh’ face in the faculty who apparently had no idea that other queens ruled the turf she had decided to call home. It had been a long time since I’d seen an assortment of young females so engrossed with the life of another and it proved a great source for many interesting scenarios. Their waking moments were filled with ‘Bright Eyes did this’ and ‘Bright Eyes wore that’, so the man-yet-to-be Whisperer looked out for Bright Eyes. When I found her, I understood the reason for the agitation. She was stunningly attractive (I do not use this description lightly), usually wore little or no make-up, her hair was always woven without any extensions (very few people are that self-assured) and she moved with an air of total confidence.
Everyone called her ‘Bright Eyes’. Why? It might have been because she had eyes as clear as a baby’s, but whatever the reason was, ‘Bright Eyes’ had come and she was there to stay. She weathered the storm of b*^@~y females, became immensely popular in the faculty and we became good friends. It always amazed me to see how self-controlled she was. It might have had something to do with being Head Prefect of her school before University but Bright Eyes always gave little room for error.
We learnt to accommodate each other’s whims and caprices, had great fun being friends, time flew, and we parted ways but I never forgot her. Apart from being one of the most gorgeous people I ever knew, she had a beautiful heart and one never quite forgets people like that.
The years flew by, roads leading unto other roads but one day the Whisperer’s vocation carried him to a major Nigerian gas company. And there, walking through the door was ‘Bright Eyes’, unchanged through the years. I had stumbled onto her place of work; she, still as self-possessed and beautiful as before; I...well, I had become the Whisperer. Many things ran through my head as we talked. How time flies when we aren’t looking; how it is important to stay in touch with those that matter to you; why we should tell those we care about that we will always be there for them, whether we see tomorrow, or not for another ten years.
I am glad I met Bright Eyes again. The old adage says ‘twenty children cannot be playmates for twenty years’. Maybe. But we can give it a try; we can give it our best shot, we can determine we will not always surrender to what life tells us.
This is a story of friendship, of finding again all those people that once mattered to us, who have since long gone. May your Bright Eyes walk through the door again very soon. May there always be beautiful reunions in all our lives.