I HAD GONE THERE FOR THE FOURTH TIME and succeeded in proving that my last visit was the exception that proves the rule. I had always wondered why I kept going, even when all my knowledge on human behaviour seems to suggest that my visits were not near appreciated. If a counselor, I know I would have grown impatient and concluded as a useless case that of a patient who would not heed advice to stop further visits.
It is not as though four days are so much, or even enough, to make a conclusion on a person’s disposition towards you. But whatever I have with Amaka, at this stage, could be defined; being that, apart from four visits at home, I have instances of visiting her in various other places—office, club and so on—but the response is just the same everywhere. Now, after having made space for so many ‘second’ impressions of her, and at these so many ‘third’ impressions, I think I can draw my conclusion on her. And this is my proposed conclusion: that Amaka does not consider me a friend not to talk of loving me. Or else, how come she never cared to know where I stay (for she had never asked)?
The first impression I got of her was that of a snub; for I overheard her strictly telling a male just standing some inches above her not to come calling at her door, because she is not avid in receiving male visitors—this, despite the guy being a former acquaintance.
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I could remember the first day I saw Amaka. I picked her beauty at the first instance (however, I later realized that what beauty I thought I perceived was highly understated by my senses). The first impression I got of her was that of a snub; for I overheard her strictly telling a male just standing some inches above her not to come calling at her door, because she is not avid in receiving male visitors—this, despite the guy being a former acquaintance. At this, I reined myself; and making sure all earlier intuition to get to know her was stifled.
However, it wasn’t so long when my unexpected opportunity came and I astutely decided to use it. It was that I, unknowingly, caused a minor offence by giving out some appreciation gifts to some friends for what they did for me. It happened to be that one of these friends of mine doubled also as Amaka’s friend. Amaka saw this gift, and thinking it was meant for all members of the club, went complaining at not being given any (I and Amaka belong to the same club). When I learnt of her protestation, for the first time, I paid her a visit to clarify issues. On this visit, I concluded on two things. One, that Amaka was indeed beautiful; two, that Amaka was not exactly a snub who avoided males, but rather her coyness—I imagined—was a strategy to keep the wrong people away.
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Immediately upon my first visit, the initial longing to get to know Amaka more—which never completely died—revived. As things turned out, I came calling some other times and even could get her call one or two times at an agreed rendezvous. Though, I must admit, that those few times Amaka called she had things bothering her insomuch that I cannot say for sure that her visits were based on genuine interest; or if they were instigated by the need to have her problems solved.
Unlike the previous times we were together, she was free, not waiting for me to prompt her into discussions; and her disposition got the best of my usual self out. It was in the play of that visit that I made up my mind to tell Amaka how I felt for her.
I could recall a day I was thrown into a bad mood because of Amaka, so much that I vowed never to see her again. We were to spend the evening together and I had taken time to get ready. However, two hours after the scheduled time, Amaka was no where near our agreed rendezvous. In my characteristic manner, I excused her, and believing something beyond her control must have happened, decided to check on her. Still dressed for the evening—hoping we could still make it out together—I went to Amaka’s house. My disappointment could not be disguised when I discovered from her that she just didn’t feel like going out that evening and that was why she did not show up as agreed. Just like that, not even with a word of apology!
Be that as it may, the last time I went to Amaka’s house, she was quite receptive, so much, that it got me thinking that her attitude towards me has changed; or at the least, was changing. Unlike the previous times we were together, she was free, not waiting for me to prompt her into discussions; and her disposition got the best of my usual self out. It was in the play of that visit that I made up my mind to tell Amaka how I felt for her. I had thought it wise to get to know how one is thought of before making such knowledge known. But it is looking like there is yet much about Amaka I am yet to know.
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Today being that day, I was already dressed one hour to the time. Having ironed my clothes two hours to the time, taken my bath three hours to the time, and had my lunch four hours to the time.
That my last visit to Amaka spurred me into making a quick appointment to see her again. In fact, she was the one that asked if I would call again; and in order not to sound unduly avid, I promised I would call if my day’s schedule permits me. However, I knew that the only schedule worth calling a schedule for that day was my appointed visit to Amaka’s house.
Today being that day, I was already dressed one hour to the time. Having ironed my clothes two hours to the time, taken my bath three hours to the time, and had my lunch four hours to the time. Had anyone been near, my excitement would have made the fellow appear a damn bore! I left my house at just a time that would permit me arrival at Amaka’s place few minutes before the agreed time.
Unfortunately, the mood of the meeting was a relapse into what it used to be and the climax of the vapidity of the meeting was when Amaka suggested she saw me off. I hadn’t mentioned I wanted to be going! This has never happened before!!! I was so exasperated within that I could have taken an oath anywhere never to see her again—if only to have my peace.
Now, I do not know if Amaka’s behaviour is based on a capricious mood. I do not know if I have not shown much care and understanding. I do not know, for sure, what Amaka thinks of me. I seem not to know anything about this friendship with Amaka. I do not know if my decision never to see her again was hasty. Now, I do not know if I should pay her, yet once, a visit.
© Aik ‘Lord Elnik’ Eluigwe
Presenting a diverse and dazzling collection from all over the continent, from Morocco to Zimbabwe, Uganda to Kenya. Helon Habila focuses on younger, newer writers – contrasted with some of their older, more established peers – to give a fascinating picture of a new and more liberated Africa.
These writers are characterized by their engagement with the wider world and the opportunities offered by the end of apartheid, the end of civil wars and dictatorships, and the possibilities of free movement. Their work is inspired by travel and exile. They are liberated, global and expansive. As Dambudzo Marechera wrote: ‘If you’re a writer for a specific nation or specific race, then f*** you.” These are the stories of a new Africa, punchy, self-confident and defiant.
Includes stories by: Fatou Diome; Aminatta Forna; Manuel Rui; Patrice Nganang; Leila Aboulela; Zoë Wicomb; Alaa Al Aswany; Doreen Baingana; E.C. Osondu.
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