Good evening, fam!
I just want to drop a quick announcement before you read. I will be withdrawing TM David-West’s Take Me As I Am for now, to resume it next year. I noticed there aren’t much responses to the series and I’m not too pleased about it, considering it’s such a wonderful read (you’ll be sorry you missed it).
I do blame myself for the poor response, though, because I feel like I’m loading the blog with two many posts in a week. I’ll like you to follow each story and if it seems like there’s too much here for you to read, then I’ll wait until Unfulfilled Promises is over so you can concentrate on Take Me As I Am. The reason I introduce other writers here is so that you can enjoy their works and encourage them, but in the case where you neither enjoy them nor they don’t get that feedback, then it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. I can’t be getting all the comments nau. You people better play nice to my guests o.
My apologies to those following the story. It will resume after this.
Enjoy today’s post and anticipate His Little Black Book!
Oleng found herself attending lectures from her aunt’s place. She was tired of being a burden to her aunt so she volunteered to live alone, closer to the school but Aunt Vien pleaded with her not to go because she would be alone in the house again and would miss her company terribly. She even offered to pay her transport fare to and from school every day as bribe but Oleng refused. Since her mum was only good at stuffing her account with money, she should continue doing so.
She still wore the best clothes and jewelries courtesy of her mum. She wore them without passion because she had no choice. If she wanted to buy her own clothes, it would still be with the woman’s money so there was no need cutting off her nose to spite her face. Her new friends Debbie and Jennifer always admired her.
“How I wish God had given me a mum like yours.” Jenny told her one day as they walked to their lecture hall.
“Me too o! “Debbie put in, “Throughout the year, I no go wear the same cloth.”
Oleng smiled sadly, “Be careful what you wish for girls.”
After classes, they went to a restaurant to get some drinks and snacks.
“God! Look at Collins! O God! If only this guy would just smile at me, I swear, I’d just die.” she wailed with wondrous eyes making Oleng and Debbie burst into laughter.
“God! He‘s so handsome. God must have spent a month making him.” she looked lustfully at the tall, dark and handsome guy in their class.
Oleng wondered what Jenny would say if she got a glimpse of Eric. She would probably say God spent a year making him. She quickly pushed the thought of him from her mind.
“Why don’t you go over and say hello since you like him that much? Abi you dey fear say e no go answer you?” The almost albino-looking Debbie advised.
“I can’t do that. It will make me look cheap.” She looked stricken at the thought.
“Then stop drooling over him and wait for him to make the first move,” Oleng put in. “I’m going to get myself a bottle of water. Do you girls want anything?”
“No.” Debbie said.
“Yes. Collins.” Jenny replied and they laughed again.
Oleng walked slowly to the counter. She became shy because she knew a lot of guys were looking at her. She ignored them and managed to get to the counter without falling flat on her face with so many eyes on her. She ordered for water.
“Hi.” A deep voice said beside her.
She turned slowly and was surprised to see Collins, the guy Jenny was head over heels for.
“Hi.” she said and turned back to face the counter.
“My name is Collins. What’s yours?” he drawled.
Oleng had to smile at that. His handsomeness didn’t get to her, after all Eric had been more handsome.
“Oleng.” she replied after a while. She wasn’t into the game of hard to get because she didn’t want to be gotten.
“Nice name. You’re from here, right?”
“Thanks. Yes, northern Cross River.”
“I am from Delta state.” he informed her.
Oleng smiled. Jenny was from there also while Debbie from Akwa Ibom.
“I’ve been seeing you around our department and…” Collins rattled on but she drifted off, lost in thought.
There were quite a number of people there so it took time before her order was given to her. She remembered asking her friends what they wanted and Jenny saying she wanted Collins. So she decided to give her friend her request.
“Would you like to come over to say hello to my friends?” she asked smiling sweetly.
“Eh…” The handsome Collins was flustered for a second. “Sure.” he replied, grinning brightly.
He was indeed handsome but she wasn’t moved. No guy had moved her since she lost the two Erics. Even in her second year in the University, she still told guys who approached her that she wasn’t interested in a relationship. Her beauty made it hard for her to be the ghost she wanted to be. Guys flooded her all the time.
“God! She’s bringing him over. I can’t believe this.” Jenny looked as if she was about to faint
“Abeg calm down jare.” Debbie chided.
“Hey girls. Meet Collins. Collins, these are my friends. Jennifer Nwabilo but we call her Jenny. Deborah Okon but we call her Debbie.”
They all exchanged pleasantries. Collins grabbed a chair that was vacated from a nearby table and sat astride it facing the beautiful girls.
“Jenny, you and Collins have something in common. He’s from Delta state.” Oleng commented with a smile.
“Really?” she was flushed. “Where exactly in Delta state?”
“Ibuzor.” he replied looking at her and smiling.
“I’m from Asaba.”
“Nice.” he replied.
“Please, you’ll have to excuse Debbie and I. We have to see someone.” Oleng informed them, standing up.
“We do?” Debbie was puzzled
“Yes. Remember Mrs…emm…Mrs. Asuquo.” she replied making eyes at her.
“Okay. That Mrs. Asuquo.” She caught on and got up also.
“I’ll walk you down there.” Collins offered, standing up also.
“Don’t bother. We’ll be back in a jiffy,” she sweetly smiled. “Just sit and chat with Jenny.” Oleng said and walked away with the smiling Debbie.
“Who be Mrs. Asuquo?” Debbie whispered as they walked away.
“I have no idea.” Oleng replied and they both giggled.
They all met for lectures the following day. When they asked Jenny how her impromptu date went with her prince charming, she just shrugged and said,
“It was okay except for the fact that he somehow steered the conversation to questions about Oleng.” She smiled. “We talked about Delta state, this school, this and that, and then all of a sudden he kept asking questions about you. I told him as much as I could but he thought I was hiding things from him. Why didn’t you tell me you knew him all the while I was drooling over him?”
“I don’t know him. Well, until we talked yesterday. He was the one who approached me when I was waiting for my order and as you ordered before I left, I brought him to you.”
Jenny laughed. “So you set me up? I knew there was no Mrs. Asuquo. Well, he walked me to my room when you didn’t show up. He’s a nice guy but now that I’ve seen him up close and personal, he’s not so much of an enigma to me anymore.”
“Really?” Oleng asked bewildered.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” Debbie sang.
Jenny hit Debbie playfully.
“I guess he’s okay but he has his eyes on you, Oleng.”
“Well, he’s going to have an eye problem because his eyes on me doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“Give him a chance, Oleng.” Jenny said.
Oleng was flabbergasted. “I can’t believe this. Less than twenty-four hours ago, you were drooling over the guy. Now you are shoving him at me? Are you alright?”
“Yes, though I think you’re the one not alright to throw away such an opportunity. Granted, I was tripping for the guy but talking to him yesterday just made me realize I was only tripping for his beauty. Up close and personal, he’s not so gorgeous. He likes you like every guy who has approached you and you have shunned.”
“I’m not into guys.” Oleng protested.
Her friends stared at her in shock before she realized what she had said.
“Na the reason why we be your friends? Abeg make we know o!” Debbie asked.
“Stop it! I’m not a lesbian. I was hurt by a boy in the past. So I don’t want to have anything to do with guys for now. Until I start working before I can even manage to look at a guy because I know I’ll have to get married someday.”
“You’re joking!” Jenny said amazed.
“No, I’m not.”
“But that’s like three to four years from now.” Debbie was equally surprised.
“So?” she shrugged nonchalantly.
“How will you survive it? How will you stay without a guy? Without a man in your life?”
“If you’re talking about sex, I have done without it before and I will continue to do without it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a virgin but sex caused a lot of disasters in my life and I’m not about to embark on it anytime soon. Been there, done that but not going back.” she said with pain in her eyes and walked out of the almost empty classroom leaving her friends to look at each other. Each guessed that Oleng had probably gotten pregnant and had had to have an abortion. They both felt sorry for her.
Oleng continued to evade guys and men alike. She stuck to the only advise her mother had ever given her. She kept men at bay. Even in her third year when her friends Jenny and Debbie had boyfriends, she still refused to have anything to do with guys.
Her beauty made her an easy prey for guys yet she refused to give in. She earned herself the nick names of ‘cast iron virgin’ and ‘miss iron pants’. She didn’t mind because she knew she was not a virgin. If only they knew her life history, they would leave her alone but as it was, they didn’t know. She didn’t even tell her friends about her ordeal. She just kept everything to herself and concentrated on her studies. She was grateful to God that she didn’t fall into the hands of cultists.
She still lived in her aunt’s place much to the latter’s joy because she kept her company when she came back from school. Aunt Vien gave her her space and freedom which she liked. She hadn’t seen her mum since the day she had come to warn her about going back to school. She didn’t care though as long as the woman kept her bank account stuffed with money which she did. She still didn’t fail to send clothes and jewelry also.
Oleng got home one day and met her aunt crying. Fear gripped her. She quickly dropped her hand bag.
“Aunty, what is it?” she fearfully enquired.
Her aunt shook her head and continued crying. Oleng consoled her for a while before she the middle-aged lady could talk.
“Are you not in your third year in the university?” she asked, sniffing.
“Emem has still not gained admission into the university because she has not made her papers.”
“Oh! Aunty, is that why you’re crying? Don’t worry. She’ll make them na! Is it not only Maths she’s looking for? She will get it. Please stop crying. We just need to encourage her. Please stop crying.” she comforted.
“That’s not why I’m crying. Instead of her to be thinking of the fact that she’s not yet in the university, she went and got herself pregnant.”
“What?” Oleng was shocked. The worldly wise Emem, pregnant? Unbelievabl!
“Her dad sent her to me today. Her sisters caught her trying to arrange for an abortion. They are all disappointed in her…I’ve always known that that stupid girl will be the death of me. She nearly killed me when she was coming to this world but she only succeeded in rendering me incapable of having more children. I’ve always known that she’s a hopeless child. I feel like killing her so that I can finally have peace.” she wailed.
“Aunty, please don’t talk like that,” she comforted, putting her hands around her dear aunt. She hated seeing such a nice lady crying over a worthless daughter.
“Aunty, don’t worry. Everything will be alright. Remember I was once in such a situation even at a younger age. After everything, she’ll realize her mistake and become a better person. Just stand by her and pray for her because that is all she needs right now.”
“Thank you so much for understanding, my dear, even after all she did to you.” she sniffed, smiling a little.
“It’s okay. After all, we all make mistakes.”
Oleng went in then to talk to her pregnant cousin. The latter who was on the bed saw her and sighed.
“I suppose you’re here to gloat.” she threw at her. “Oya, dey laf!”
“No.” Oleng replied and sat on a chair facing her. “You’re causing your mum a lot of distress.”
“So? It’s not as if I got pregnant intentionally. Na mistake.”
“Oh! So you think I actually got pregnant on purpose. For what? To spite my mum? Mine was out of sheer ignorance but you didn’t want to listen to me then. You called me a fool and all sort of names. Well, I’m not about to tell you all you told me. All I can say is remember the bible says judge not so that ye might not be judged. It was said not only for you to be judged in heaven but also for you not to find yourself in the same situation you were judging someone. I feel sorry for your mum because she’s the one who will bear the brunt of everything.”
“It was a mistake! A mistake!” she yelled.
“Damn that particular condom! God punish that girl wey go tell my sisters about the abortion. God punish Udeme too. Where’s he now? He’s in school probably with another girl. E no go better for am.” she wept bitterly.
Oleng felt sorry for her. Despite the fact that she had been a pain in the neck to her, she couldn’t help getting up to go and hold her age mate who was weeping bitterly. She comforted her.
Oleng and Emem became good friends there and then. Oleng explained the different changes that she was undergoing in her body. Emem felt bad at having treated her badly in the past and apologized profusely but Oleng shrugged it off saying they were all humans; liable to mistakes.
Oleng was the one who enabled her elder sisters to make peace with her because they had been very angry and disappointed in her. Aunt Vien finally came to terms with her daughter’s pregnancy and hired a private doctor for her. Emem finally gave birth to a baby boy much to her mother’s joy. Her dad also had to accept her and her pregnancy. He was happy at the male child his two wives had been unable to give him.
Emem finally gained admission into the University of Uyo and of course, left the child with her mother who took care of the baby with the help of Oleng. The baby reminded Oleng of her own loss but she always pushed the sad thoughts aside whenever she carried the baby.
Oleng was now in her final year at the university. She and her friends, Jenny and Debbie and their boyfriends went to a new joint- Flavour, close to their school one afternoon after lectures.
“Oleng, look at how those guys are staring at you.” Francis, Jenny’s new boyfriend observed and the others at the table turned around to look at the guys who were actually staring at her.
Oleng didn’t even bother looking. “Let them stare. After all, they’re the owners of their eyes.”
“See Oleng, I must confess that you baffle me. A correct babe like you is still without a boyfriend at this age and time. At first I thought you were into sugar daddies but that’s not correct, then I thought maybe runs girl because of your expensive clothes and jewelries but that is not true either. Lesbian? No. You’re just a normal girl with no interest in men just because you’ve been hurt once. Na wa for you o!” Mark, Debbie’s boyfriend said, staring at her in wonder.
Oleng just shrugged for an answer. “Once bitten, twice shy.”
“This your shyness don pass me o!” he replied laughing.
“We’ve talked our mouths off concerning this topic but she refused to budge. Well, it’s to our favor though. I can’t tell you the amount of money Debbie and I have made from guys who bribe us to talk to her on their behalf.” Jenny put in, laughing with Debbie.
“I’ve warned you girls. By the time they come for their money, I won’t be held responsible. Na una sabi o!” Oleng told them smiling as she took a bite from her burger.
“They no go come for anything. We always tell them that we tried our best but you refused to listen to us. Story don end.” Debbie said and she and Jenny laughed again earning smiles from the others at the table.
“I won’t miss your wedding for anything. Even if I’m in the North Pole, I must come to see and pay homage to the guy who would finally win you.” Francis told her, smiling mischievously.
“I’m not a contest to be won and I’d love to have you at my wedding. Hope Jenny will be your wife then?”
“If she’d have me.” he said looking at his girlfriend with love in his eyes.
“Are you proposing to me?” Jenny asked smiling.
Francis raised his hands up in mock surrender. “No, my sweet. When I do, you won’t be expecting it and you’ll have no option but to say yes.” he said arrogantly.
Jenny laughed and threw the serviette at him.
“I want to order for more drinks.” Mark said, signaling a waitress.
When the waitress came, she gave a huge gasp. Oleng who was staring at her plate looked up and was shocked also.
“Tessy!” she exclaimed.
“You!” Tessy exclaimed eyeing her from top to bottom. She took in the expensive looking clothes and jewelries Oleng had on and how good she looked with bitterness. Oleng in turn couldn’t believe she was looking at Tessy who had always looked good in her mother’s house, looking dark and ugly. It looked as if she had been suffering. Oleng knew she had been bleaching then but she had probably stopped doing that which made her look terrible.
“Tessy. I’m happy to see you.” she got up, smiling but Tessy looked at her coldly.
“How are you?”
“How do I look?” Tessy snapped in anger “How do you think I’ve been? Ever since your mum drove me out of her house, I’ve been going through hell. My parents couldn’t afford my school fees so I had to drop out and fend for myself.
But look at you, you’re looking good. No one who sees you now will know that you were once pregnant.” Not minding the huge gasps at the table, she continued bitterly,
“By the way, what did you do to the pregnancy? Did you abort it or did you drop it in the toilet after giving birth or in a gutter? Knowing your mum, I know she would have forced you to have an abortion. Hope you didn’t lose your womb in the process. Personally, I don’t care because if you hadn’t foolishly gotten pregnant at the young age of fifteen, your mum would never have thrown me out and I wouldn’t be suffering today. But here you are, looking good as if nothing happened. I’ll never forgive you for the misery I’m facing now.” With a sob, she ran away.
If a pin had been dropped at that particular moment in the restaurant, it would have been heard. While talking, Tessy had unconsciously raised her voice and everyone in the restaurant had listened with rapt attention.
For the first time in her life, Oleng knew the true meaning of the words, ‘I wish the ground would open up and swallow me.’ She just stood transfixed as the world stared at her; some pitifully, some jeeringly and her friends with shock and bewilderment.
She got a grip on herself, carefully picked up her hand bag and walked quietly out of the place with all eyes on her. She controlled herself in the taxi on the way home but immediately she got home, she ran past her aunt who opened the door, went to her room, threw her hand bag on the floor, jumped on her bed and burst into uncontrollable tears. Her aunt found her like that on the bed weeping bitterly. Her aunt asked her continuously what the problem was before she finally turned to look at her with tears still dipping profusely down her lovely face.
“Am I the first teenager to get pregnant? Will my past haunt me for the rest of my life?” she cried out.
Aunt Vien was bewildered. Then Oleng told her in between tears what transpired between her and Tessy at the restaurant.
Aunt Vien shook her head profusely. “No, Tessy shouldn’t have done that. The fact that she’s suffering now is entirely not your fault. After all, if she had been the companion she was supposed to be to you, you probably wouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place and she would still be living with your mum. Don’t mind her, my dear.” She consoled her niece.
“Aunty, the most painful aspect is that she had to embarrass me like that in front of my friends. I don’t mind the strangers, after all I don’t know them but before my very own friends that I didn’t tell a word about it is totally unforgivable. How am I going to face them now? How am I going to face the whole school because other students were there? I feel like dying!”
“Don’t talk like that my dear. There’s nothing you can do about it. Call your friends and tell them everything. As for the students, people must surely talk. If you’re in this world and people don’t talk about you, know that there’s something wrong because people even talk about the dead. Don’t mind them. Just put up a bold front. If they laugh at you, ignore them. If they confront you, tell them you are better than them who have committed countless abortions or given their girlfriends money to do so. In everything, ignore them.” she advised.
“That’s so easy to say but not so easy to do.” she told her aunt sadly “Eric, I’ll never forgive you.” she declared and started crying again.
Jenny and Debbie called her continuously but she refused to answer their calls. They both sent text messages telling her they hold no grudge against her whatsoever and their boyfriends had made sure Tessy was sacked. They pleaded with her not to cry. She ignored the messages and continued being moody the whole weekend.
When they didn’t see her in school on Monday, they went to visit her. They were surprised to see her still crying. They comforted her and told her they understood what happened. She told them everything that happened. They felt sorry for her the more.
“Remember I told you to be careful what you wished for when you girls wished to have my mother as yours. My mother is a nightmare to have. I only see her once a year. That’s if she’s chanced to come and spend Christmas here with us. She leaves a day or two after Christmas. So you can see,” she spread out her hands as she explained to them. “I might be the most beautiful and the best dressed in our department as I was awarded but it doesn’t mean I don’t have wounds from yesteryears. When people tell me they envy me because I have beauty, brains, wealth, substance etc., I just smile because they don’t know the burden I carry within me. They don’t know my inner pain” Tears dropped from her eyes again.
Her friends consoled her. They encouraged her to come to school the following day. She refused at first but after much coaxing, she agreed.
When she got to school the following day, she thought people would point and laugh at her but no one took notice of her. Everything was the same. She however saw some people staring at her in an unusual manner and realized that some of them were at the restaurant that particular day. She nearly died of shame. When she got to her department, people greeted her in their normal way but some stared also. She heaved a sigh of relief. She had thought that her department would be worse.
After classes, she went to sit alone in the restaurant sipping a drink, waiting for her friends. She noticed that some people stared at her and she caught a few girls giggling. She took her aunt’s advice and ignored them.
Collins came to sit astride a chair facing her and looked at her in an odd manner. She and Collins had become friends even though it didn’t work out between him and Jenny.
“Hi Collins.” she smiled at him but he just stared at her making her alarmed. Had he heard?
“Is it true?” he finally asked.
“What?” she fearfully asked.
“What happened on Friday afternoon at Flavor? Is it true?” he inquired softly.
Oleng lowered her head and nodded. “Yes, but I guess you heard an adulterated version of the event.”
After a while, Collins said, “Please tell me what actually happened.”
Oleng took a deep breath and told him everything, the story of her life. He was silent for a long time when she was through.
“When my cousin told me the girl I said must be my future wife is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I didn’t believe him.” he informed her as if he was in great pain.
She was shocked at the wife bit.
“Yes. I know I have hidden it well but I’ve been in love with you all this while. Jenny was just a cover up. I used her to get close to you. I was prepared to wait for you. I was prepared to wait for you to get out of your shell,” he went on, “I thought you were pure, innocent…priceless. I kept day-dreaming of our wedding. I made a bet around me that you’d be my wife in future because I was prepared to wait for you.” he lamented bringing tears to her eyes.
“But I guess I’ve lost my bet. You’re indeed a wolf in sheep’s clothing…O God! Are there no more virgins above the age of ten?” he cried to himself and stood up.
He bent so he was at her eye level. “I’m one; that was why I was so happy when I thought you were also. I guessed wrong.”
With that, he walked away leaving her in so much pain.
She had to use all her strength to control her tears. She couldn’t cry in public which would only make matters worse. She pulled herself together and left the restaurant. She knew she had lost a good friend. Collins had helped her in so many ways. He pulled a lot of strings for her in the department and she liked him. She never knew his feelings for her ran so deep. She was sorry she had hurt him but that had all been in her past. Didn’t he realize that? She shrugged and quietly walked into the busy road.
Life was so unfair to her. Would she carry this burden for the rest of her life? She wondered.
Would she get married? She had to admit that the ache was still there and was even greater now that it had been re-opened. Losing both Erics still haunted her. She literally shook herself. She had to pull herself together and get on with life or it would pass her by. With that thought, she pushed the thought of both Erics to the bottomless pit in her heart. She would live her life without him.