Could life get any stranger? I marvelled. Well, it turns out, it can or rather it just did.
Dorcas spoke as she chewed her gum loudly, making her words slightly incomprehensible, “how come you’re the only girl in this village who does not know that Peter loves you?”
“Maybe that’s because he doesn’t.”
Linda cleared her throat, “Nnenna, have you seen the way he looks at you?”
I had noticed but for some reason, I refused to acknowledge it, “No”
Dorcas gently dropped her calabash on the ground and faced Nnenna, “What exactly is your problem? Why are you behaving like a child?”
Dismayed, Nnenna raised her eyebrows then replied as calmly as she could manage, “You had better pick up your calabash and lets get going. The last thing I want is mum shouting at me because I got home late.”
Peter had talked to her politely on some occassions and not once had he inferred that he liked her more than a friend and why should he? Word on the street was that the Catholic Parish Priest had been making arrangements to send him to the seminary. Dorcas and Linda knew about this, infact they had told her.
Linda replied in a singsong voice, “peradventure, there’s something in your heart you’d rather keep hidden.”
“You both have to stop pestering me. I’m only fourteen years old, leave me to grow. Yes, I can’t take my bath outside anymore or build sand castles but I’ve still got time to run around without shame of being stared at with lust. I only became a teenager. I choose to enjoy this stage while it lasts.”
Linda walked on like one in a dreamlike state while Dorcas threw her nose in the air, “Okay, I’ll keep my lips sealed. Do whatever you want, I can only hope that you do not regret your decision later.”
I quickened my steps, “Mum, I’m home”
Mummy shook her head, “What happened? did the river move to a farther place?
I dropped the calabash in the kitchen, “No mum”
“Okay, go to the market and buy me water yam.”
As I bargained with mummy twins, the yam seller, I felt someone tap me. I turned to see Peter, “Please, permit me to pay for the yam?” Indeed, Peter was tall, handsome and of good conduct. Maybe thats why the girls in the village always talked about him.
I shook my head, “Thank you but my mum would not like that.”
Mummy twins, the village chief gossip was already smiling smugly. I paid her then left with Peter who insisted on walking me home.
We walked together in silence for a while before Peter coughed, “I don’t know why I find it difficult talking with you.”
Surprised, I stopped momentarily in my tracks, “Really?”
He nodded then collected my yam, “I’ll help you carry this.”
“Thank you. So is it true that you’re going to become a parish priest.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Nnenna, I like you.”
“Is that why you won’t be a priest anymore.”
He smiled. “If you’ll be my girlfriend, I won’t go to the seminary”
I sighed. “I won’t Peter.”
He laughed without humour. “So blunt. Everyother girl in this village will be honoured to be my girlfriend.”
“I know but I’m not them”
“Yes” he gave me my yam back and bade me goodbye.
In truth, I didn’t fully understand the roles of a girlfriend. I decided to ask dad the next time I went to the prison. I couldn’t ask mom, I had a feeling she’d blow up the roof. But from my little understanding, being a girlfriend meant taking care of someone called a boyfriend and right now, what I desired the most was to care for my parents.
Yes, the strange incident that happened to me at the age of fourteen was Dorcas’ pregnancy by Peter. Dorcas’ parents took the issue to Peter’s church. he cried and said that she had seduced him. I asked my teacher, Mrs. Nwosu, what it meant for a girl to seduce a boy but instead of answering, she sent me out of the class.
The story that followed was that she constantly visited Peter in his father’s farm even though he warned her against it. When he told her of my rejection, she decided to make him feel better. My immediate reaction was to call her a goat but Linda told me to be sensitive so I said nothing more.
The parish priest was sad. He loved Peter like a son. I was a bit sad too that his ‘like’ for me was never deep.
When I told my mum of Dorcas and Peter’s predicament, she replied, “the same Peter who wanted you to be his girlfriend?”
I bit my lips, did dad and mum have to be so close. “yes mummy but I refused.”
“I know baby but I bet you’re sad.”
“Just a little mum, I’m Nnenna and I’m a super strong woman.”
Mum laughed, “that you are my dear. Your friends will be okay though, I’ve seen people with more messed up lives receive salvation the minute they turned to Jesus.”
Long after mum had slept, I sat, waiting for a miracle that would stop this five minutes of pleasure from destroying the lives of Dorcas and Peter for mummy twins was certain it would.
To be continued…
By Kehinde Anita
Kehinde Anita is the author of a christian romance novel, “Why Won’t She Have Sex?” Its available on okadabooks app for N700 only.