A date with her.

Venue; usual place.

6:50 pm

Don’t come along with the shiny black flute with which you play Tatiana Manois’ I want it to be you for her under the shade of the street lamp that never comes on in your rendezvous. You won’t be playing today.

Recently, although she doesn’t say it with her mouth, she regards you with eyes that says you look nothing but childish with your stupid flute. You know you don’t look stupid with your flute anyway. Your little expertise with it is the result of two months practice and N3000 you gladly paid to a final year student from the department of Music. The flute is a thing to you simply because the boy wins the girl over with it in the first movie the two of you watch together. The fantasy there is one you want to live out.

Don’t let your eyes mist up with the thought of these things. You are not about to agree with her on the childishness thing are you? Come along with the flute anyway so you could clutch tightly at it if she refuses to hold your hands.


Pass through Brotherly Stores on your way to the school gates. The evening crowd is gradually gathering. In a few minutes this place will be buzzing with so much life. It’s a Champions League night too and the large screen in front of the shop is already showing highlights. Some ardent disciples are already sitting on the few spaces on the bench and are trying to arrange and rearrange the phone chargers in the limited sockets.

Stop for a second to look. Messi dribbles through an avalanche of white shirts and lobs a goal through the top left corner. The camera shows his sweaty glorious face up-close; his two hands rising to the heavens. Sergio Ramos’ face, powerful and angry, comes up next. Awed mutterings of ‘Messi’ filter through from the watchers all around. The match between Barcelona and Chelsea will be starting in a few minutes. Walk away without regrets.

Near the gate, a little crowd surrounds the woman roasting corn by the roadside. By this time, when the rains have not set in here, roasted corn is a delicacy. Stop by to buy some. The middle aged woman who owns the corn stand, with her set mouth and look of busyness, has the airs of a visa official whose signature holds destinies.

The big one na N120. No dey rub am upandan like that if you no dey buy.

Don’t get angry at her sauciness. Or at the fact that your little effort may not even be appreciated this time. Buy two and continue through the gate.

Usually, you call her on the phone four to five minutes to your rendezvous behind Marlima. Today, in order not to be the one to provide an excuse for why the evening should go sour, secure one of the iron benches first. This won’t be any trouble because most reasonable boyfriends are probably watching the Champions’ League clash this evening. Two benches are free out of the six in the open field that some refer to as the University Love Garden. Choose the one near the pavement under the street lamp that never comes on. For some wonderful reason, this particular bench is always available. It holds a lot of memories. Call her.

Don’t wonder, as the MTN ring back tone continues almost to eternity, if she’s probably holding her phone and frowning at the disturbance you seem to have become. Whisper a tepid hello when she finally picks up. Clear your throat when your voice doesn’t come out and say hello again.

I’m at the spot. Say apologetically. Silence.

Uhm… I was just going to take my bath.

Don’t cringe.

I told you I was going to be here by … it’s ok, I’ll wait.


Uhm … alright, I’m waiting.

Hang up after waiting for the ‘ok, let me hurry up’ or the ‘I’ll be there soon’ that she doesn’t say. 

Go to the PDF drive on your phone and look for the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn you were reading. Sometime last semester, your American Literature lecturer was kind enough to tell the very appreciative class that for a student in the English Department, there should be no personable timetable; you simply read round the clock. This is simply because there is just so much to read.

Read everywhere, he says. If the police arrest you, grab a novel for the stay-over. Read while you are in the toilet, on the bus, while eating, in-between classes.

Smile to yourself and add; Ya, while waiting for a lover. 7:45 pm

8:10 pm

The evening is wearing on smoothly into a dark moonless night. Moonlit nights always are more romantic. You could stare into her round eyes that seem to flap at you when she blinks. You could stare back and try to match the intensity of the want you always find there. But dark nights like this are nights you get adventurous. They are the nights you kiss her for long minutes and slip your quivering fingers into her bra to cup her breasts without fear of nosy passersby. You like to get in from below because her nipples always stand facing up like a proud head that would never condescend to look down. They were nights she held you so close after long minutes of exploring your bodies and sighs contentedly.

Bad child, she would croon. Who taught you all these?

Me, bad child? I’m still learning to be bad.

What! Still learning to be bad?

Yes, since bad is all the good things I do to you. 

Nights like this though. Wonder at the discrepancy, at how it started and came to this. To nights that made you suddenly realise how cold it could get on a dark Nsukka night. Hug yourself and pray that she will at least call if she is not coming out again. Turn again towards Eyo-Ita, her hostel.

8:22 pm

Steady your racing heart when you turn for the hundred and fifty-sixth time and see her around the bend from her hostel. But your heart has a mind of its own. Leave it alone and concentrate on putting on a frown. Turns out even your face is beyond your control. There’s a wide smile there. Manage to erase it and put on a frown. From the burning sensation in your ears, be sure you have only managed to pull off a pout. Change your mind when she’s about two metres away because she looks way more sullen than your face could probably ever manage.

Stand up to get a hug, no, give her a hug because like a dissenting bride met with her unwanted husband, she doesn’t let her hands encircle your back. Don’t think too much of it. Think about it anyway. Remember how in an age that seems to be slowly slipping away, she would hurry the last few steps and hug the winds out of you. She would then drag you to the nearest space to start your dreamy evening. Dreamy because the two hours you spent together before the hostel closes at nine always slides by in a daze of insufficiency.

Don’t say anything at the moment. Let the awkwardness from the hug wash over you then pass away or linger nearby. Bend down to clean the part of the bench towards the edge so she would sit closer to you or she would probably sit at the middle or even the other end. She sits at the other end nevertheless. Sit at the middle and gradually edge your way towards her.

You good?  Thread carefully.

Hope that she apologises for keeping you waiting in the cold so you could quickly wave it off and tell her you don’t mind in the least. Sigh in your heart when she doesn’t.

I brought roasted corn. Make a show of peering into the nylon to give her time to decide.

Her eyes seem to light up, then as suddenly as they appear, the lights drain away and leave the grey dullness.

Thanks, but I’m having pains in my teeth.

Oh, sorry. Hope it’s not too bad.

Once last year, she refuses to talk to you because you forget to buy corn and whines until you both walk to the students Union Building to buy some. You would come back to find your seat has been taken by another lucky couple and she would punish you by giving you only one out of the five pears you buy along with the corn. Don’t think too much about it, don’t let the silence linger either. Not finding what to say has never been an issue with the two of you.

Som, did you notice how this tree has grown over the iron bar leaning on it? Looks as though it was done by magic.

The gmelina tree is immediately to your right. You could see both ends of the iron bar but the tree has somehow taken a part of the middle into its trunk. You both stare at it as you try to weigh the lameness of your conversational tactics on a scale of 0 – 10.

It’s probably done by all the witches in this school, she says.

Witches! Laugh a little bit too loud then check yourself. Witches, ha! You are thinking of what next to say but she continues.

You think all these girls you see in this school are ordinary. You’d be surprised how much more there is to people than you even imagine.

Don’t tell me even you believe in those, and why only girls?

Well, if you heard half of the stories I hear in the hostel.

Recollect stories you’ve heard yourself; stories of people who die in their places but still return to continue schooling; the story of the lecturer who goes to sleep in his house and wakes up on his bed in the middle of the hockey pitch with no idea how he gets there. In the village too, these otherworldly stories are popular. Your mama says if you go to a market place and bend down to look at the milling crowd between your legs, you would see people walking upside down. These are ghosts walking among the living. You listen to these stories because you love stories and these ones sound like legends. Now though, you want to hear them because hearing Som do an ordinary thing as telling you a story made you suddenly realise how the world is still very much a normal place. Prod her on.

What stories? Look into her eyes and get contact for the first time. Feel her loosening the carefully woven coldness as she begins to recount stories. Inch forward and carefully put her right hand in yours. Feel her recoil inside like a snail prodded with a stick. No, not a snail; think of a flower; the mimosa. Feel the coldness coming back like Iron Man’s skin armour after an invasion alert.

Years, maybe months, maybe a lifetime ago, you are sitting on this same spot with Som; a different Som. Eyes lit and flapping, she is saying things you are not listening to because you are looking into the two eyes that hold moons of their own and blazed through the dark night. She is lying on her back and you are holding every part of her you could hold at the same time. You hold each other like this on nights when you feel lost after travelling the lengths of your restraints.

What is your first lecture tomorrow? She would flap at you.                                                      

9 am. You would kiss into her ears. Yours?

10 am. We are going to Hilltop together.

You would grab your phone and text Armani; your roommate: Coming home with Som, Sorry I no plan am. You would wait for a confirmation reply from him which would come in a single word: Idiaat. You would hold hands and take the shortcut through the hill.

Next morning, as you clamber for the third time down forbidden heights with her, you would listen as she lays claim to you.

Don’t ever leave me Muna, please, ever.

I won’t, my love.  You could have sworn if she wanted you to.

You would try to raise up and ease yourself out but she would grip your back and hold you down into herself.

Stay, she would croon. She would seal your conviction with lips wet from her tears of pleasure. Later, you would watch her sleep and remember the line about the girl who plucked peace from behind the sleepy eyes of an enchanted god and made it hers. In her sleep, she was peace. You would step out feeling like a newly crowned god yourself.

These things are no lifetime ago; three weeks maybe. But life is a snail when it is not pleasant, dribbling every piece of its pain into your chest like acidic saliva.  This pain is worse because it has no origin, nothing to claw blames or a remedy into. It seems to come suddenly, but when you see it you realise it has been there since, building up. You couldn’t tell when these things were building up so you can guess you probably didn’t figure in the grand scheme that triggers them.

Twice in the last three weeks you sit out two hours in the rendezvous and she doesn’t turn up. You walk home wondering if the moon on a night patched with spineless clouds always looked that bleak and you never noticed. Like something only good for arousing werewolves and spoiling an existing order. You feel like you now know the feeling of losing a mind. You haven’t found yet what to be angry with so you are angry with everything and feeling stupid because of how this seems about nothing; because of how you don’t understand.

And Armani would tell you, after listening to all the things you had to say, that you mustn’t understand.

What you have to understand, he says, is that shit happens.

You don’t understand him. You don’t want to even though you know he is the only one who knows that when a person is talking too much and you start unconsciously tapping your left forefinger on your nose, what you actually mean was for the person to shut the fuck up. He was the one who knows that you hate admitting wrong, that you never let your voice out when it had hurt in it, that you have a thing for big boobs and that the only time you ever cheat on Som is with a maserati who follows you home from the Faculty Burnfire night just before the Easter break.

You don’t want to believe him because he is the one too, who annoys you with his claims of knowing all about love; or rather, about the negative sides of love. His childhood sweetheart all the way from secondary school is unapologetic about answering to the first rings of a nuptial bell from a much older man with a handful of money. Now, he scoffs whenever you tell him that you and Som are different; scoffs at the very idea.  He is exacting his revenge by scoffing; scoffing and smoking and fucking every girl who as much as smiles at him.

He scoffs now like a bad father who knows all along that a son is going to fail and you loathe him as the son would because you hate that it should come to this.

This is totally routine my friend, not different, he says. Do you know the funny thing? You can’t explain it, even the girl can’t. Let me tell you, with your eyes all set like that, stop spreading your sadness around like stray spunk. If you are planning to go all Romeo on me, just know she’s no Juliet. No girl ever is, ever was. Not Rose, who was comfortable to cry atop a floating board while Jack froze in the water. Not Helen who drives a stupid king to cross a badass ocean with thousands of innocent men to destroy a beautiful city. None.

This would be the first time you truly quarrel with him and would say things to hurt him.

You don’t know anything about love, probably why your girl left your lame ass. And because he is a poet, you would add: you think you are some poet? You are a wrecked piece of shit. Going on about Rose and Helen like that. You think this is some fantastic book or movie.

And who even told him it was love that made the proud Greeks chase after their queen?

That night, the beginning of a silence, he would text you on Whatsapp: You don’t know me, except you know the ways into the wilted passageways of broken dreams. I am a battalion of dead soldiers.

And you would grit out a ‘whatever’ between your teeth to hide your pain because you understand. You know that somehow, Armani’s bleak attitude towards life, his countless poems on suicide, his fascination about what he calls the aesthetics of death, his lifestyle – the nearly obvious fact that he let himself drift away, all connect to a blow that love had borrowed the hands of rejection to deal him few years ago.   

Don’t care to know him now. Don’t believe him either. Not even this dark night when you are trying to hold her hands that have gone cold from your touch on a night when you usually do more than just hold hands.

8: 31 pm

Stare up at her face that is partly covered by hands she stealthily withdraws from your hold and eyes that seem to suddenly find her fingers an object of interest. She must have been talking for a while. You don’t notice because you’ve been lost in your thoughts and in observing her slow withdrawal and her temperature. You realize now because the silence suddenly becomes palpable and rings ominously in your head.


There is nothing to talk about, she says to her fingers.

We don’t talk anymore, you blurt out. These past weeks, I’ve become afraid of talking to you. Nothing sounds right to you again.

 Longer silence.

Are the rumours true then?

What rumours? She nearly flares up but checks herself. See, I don’t want you to go away thinking it was another guy.

Go away? There are needles of ice in every pore of your skin. They pierce you but you don’t bleed because your blood is frozen cold. You feel like your life is a story and you are both the protagonist and the scapegoat. How did people manage to stay on the fringes of this web that has you entangled in its centre? 

And then she starts to talk. You don’t know she could say stupid things, but just now you hear her;

Sometimes, she is saying, things that happen to us happen for the best. Maturity is when we perceive change and we are able to adapt with it. She is going on and on but you are not replying or even listening. Only your subconscious is picking out things from her speech and throwing replies, no, not replies; questions, at her, at you.

What happened?

To everything: to all those hours she spends upbraiding you about how you will soon leave her once you get tired of her and start seeing ‘all these fresh fresh girls’. To all those long rebuttals you proffer not because you know it’s what she wants but because you mean it; of how your heart becomes a scanning machine each time you think you fancy someone and weighs the new girl using her own qualities, especially the ones you love most, as benchmark and how no girl ever managed a pass mark yet.

What about all those dreams? Dreams you keep to yourselves because you know an unbeliever like Armani would think them stupid; dreams of a fairytale wedding, yes, with the horses and the cart and all; the three kids, the ones you would name Kosisochukwu, Chidaalu and Chimsimdi. Dreams about holidaying at Barbadoes; she was so into this one that you became a stalker stalking Barbadoes. You read everything about the place and learn their geography. You know their holidays, their festivals, even follow a page on Instagram with the name.

She is still saying things. She is talking about growing up and thinking realistically like adults, not being naive and stupid like kids. She is saying that everyone has different paces at which they develop mentally and emotionally. You think about this one and you look at yourself and you are seeing a seventeen year old fully grown idiot. And then she says finally:

Let’s just call it quits.

Her voice sounds alien but you recognize it. And somehow, you believe it. You believe it because despite all the clattering in your head, a tiny ray of reasoning manages to shine through all the love that forms the wall of your thickness. You believe it and suddenly, a mixture of feelings; anger, loathing, helplessness etc, wash over you in an overpowering second in which you glimpse your truth. This defining moment will stay on forever and be the active Hypo that you will let drop on every love stain to exorcise it unless you are lucky to encounter the extremely rare kind that will absorb it and spread nevertheless and if not you will join the swelling number of unlucky people who fall in love for just the first and the final time.

8: 52 pm

It’s almost nine. She says.

When you keep staring ahead of you without saying anything, she starts to get up. You get up too. She tries to decline your offer to escort her back to her hostel.

You don’t have to.

Really? You ask.

Because honestly, really? So you walk back to her hostel together.

In front of her hostel, under the flamboyant tree, she lets her arms encircle your back. And though she breaths peacefully upon your neck for the one second that she stays there, it doesn’t smell like old times, maybe like severance.

You know what they always say about first love? She asks. You keep staring at her so she continues. We can never forget.

Ah, don’t be stupid. Nod your agreement anyway. She turns and walks away.

The Champions League match ends as you walk home. Groups of people chatter about it as you walk past the parish house of St. Peter’s Chaplaincy towards Hilltop.

Three goals! Someone on the other side of the road says. But wetin Chelsea dey even expect before, say dem go win Barcelona? And he burst into hearty laughter.

As you walk, your mind wanders ahead; into the night to check the prospects of sleep, into the next day, weeks, months, to check for the prospects of her face, and comes back with reports of wild emptiness.

You will not panic, instead, through the long days that stretch endlessly because of how every painful second drags, you will understand: that people who still love you won’t let you pass through so much pain if they were only joking, that this was happening, has happened. You will learn; that just like falling in love does not always have an explanation, falling out can also be an unsolved puzzle; that they don’t make balms for bleeding hearts; that you are only as strong as you get.

Don’t think too much of the long days that stretch before you like unforgiveness. Think instead of how time flies, heals, how time straightens our reasoning, how distance can increase longing, wanting, think of hope.

Most importantly, think of forgetting.

Ugwuanyi Leo Anezichukwuihe is a student of English in the University of Nigeria and the Prose Editor for Muse 47. He believes that the beautiful ones are here now, and that we’re who we’ve been waiting for.