The first time Adeola felt the feeling called love she was 19.
Sagamu was a town of about a couple thousand people, austere and mostly pastoral. Her mom supported the family by selling fufu which she processed by herself with the help of Adeola and her brother Shola.
Adeola had by this time graduated from high school and was waiting for her dad’s decision on higher education. Meanwhile, she hawked fufu for her mom.
She missed secondary school, her friends most of whom lived in the neighborhood have either gone on to the university or were out of Sagamu, in Lagos or Ibadan. One night she overheard her dad telling her mom that Adeola may have to go to Ibadan. Who was in Ibadan? There was a university there. Was that where she was going?
It was 5pm and Adeola was getting ready to go hawking. She stood in front of the mirror, she was trying to get her skirt to come up to her waist but her hips were in the way. She pulled as the skirt threatened to give at the seams.
“You and your hips.”
Adeola turned around to see her mother standing at the door.
“Mama, the skirt is too tight.”
“You know, your grandmother had wide hips like yours.” Her mom came over and they both pulled the skirt up.
“Mama it won’t go,” Adeola said with some frustration.
“Wear another one then.”
“The other ones are tight too.” She complained.
Her mother took off her wrapper. “Take, tie this one. You will buy another skirt tomorrow.”
Adeola was already accustomed to the Stares she got from boys and men. Except for the one Taiwo gave her. Taiwo lived just one street after theirs. He was a lanky, medium height boy. He was the only boy who bought from her because he really wanted to buy. And he was the only boy she knew, other than her own brother Shola, who stared at her with genuine interest. So when that evening in March of 98 the boy Taiwo asked if he could see her later at 8pm, Adeola said yes.
It was mostly out of curiosity that Adeola sneaked out the backyard door that night. It would be nice to know what it felt like to meet with a boy in the dark. But Taiwo didn’t want to meet in the dark. Adeola was further piqued.
“Come, I want to show you something.” The boy took her hands. They went through several more backyards until they were out in the boys street.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Ehn! I don’t want to go to your house!” Adeola let go of his hand.
They were standing by the road. It was a street Adeola knew quite well. She had plenty of customers here but it also seemed like this boy was well known too. People walked past without as much as a question asked. She relaxed.
“See, I like you. But I want us to hide.” He said.
“Am I your girlfriend now?”
“Yes.” Said Taiwo and he took her hand again.
Adeola laughed and filled him to his place.
His family was waiting when they arrived. It was as though they have been waiting for her. That night, when the folks in Taiwo’s house had welcomed her, Taiwo took her out to the bank of a nearby river and by the lights of town reflecting off the water, Adeola got her first real kiss.
It was deep. It was warm. Adeola felt something she had never felt before. She felt calm in the rightness of Taiwo’s hold, even as her heart raced from the rush of the emotions. They held each other for many minutes.
“I love you,” Taiwo said.
That night as Adeola curled up in bed she put her nose in her arms, trying to catch the masculine smell that still clung to her. It was still there. She inhaled it deeply, closing her eyes, she imagined him right there next to her. As she fell asleep, she called up an image of Taiwo’s face and she smiled.
She whispered into the darkness, “I love you.”
There were other boys, of course. There was Joseph, from the choir, who now intensified his renewed interest in Adeola. The more he tried, the often she blew him off. Then there was Shola’s friend Bamidele, an extremely good looking guy.
At first, he came to their house under the pretext of visiting Shola her elder brother. But it didn’t take long before it became obvious what he really wanted —a piece of Adeola’s hips. He was head over heels in love with Adeola. He would kill his mother if Adeola asked him too.
Soon Adeola began attending extra classes to help with her university entrance examination. It was the same classes Bamidele went to. He would come home to put her through in mathematics. On some evenings Adeola skipped such meetings to be with Taiwo. Soon enough, Bamidele could not bear his jealousy.
“Are you sleeping with him?” he asked.
What do you mean?”
Bamidele roared with laughter, “You are missing.”
“Wait you mean you have never done it before?”
“Are you talking about s*x? No, I haven’t.”
“I can’t believe it.”
While sitting with Taiwo at their usual spot near the water later in the evening, Adeola said, “I want to have s*x.”
Taiwo, shocked, looked at her as if he was seeing her the first time.
“Ok.” He said.
“Is it painful?”
“Yes, if you have not done it before.”
“Have you done it before?”
Taiwo said nothing.
That night Adeola hardly slept. Mental images of her in Taiwos arms flashed her back to wakefulness every time she closed her eyes. She touched herself and felt the wetness in her panties and the torture tripled.
When sleep came, it dragged her into a dream where she felt some hard body on top of her and a harder member poking at her pubic area. She welcomed the sweet feeling that engulfed her.
She smelled the peculiar odour of Taiwo, she held on tighter, wrapping her long legs around him. She called out his name. But when the face nestling in her Bossom turned to kiss her, it was the face of Bamidele. She woke up and sleep did not come again.
Her father held a white slip. A proud smile danced on the tip of his lips. His fifty-something-year-old forehead wrinkles into four line of curious admiration for what he sees on the slip. Her daughter sits beside her expectantly.
“You are going to Ibadan.” He said.
“What is in Ibadan?” Adeola asks him. That was about the third time she will hear about Ibadan in reference to her education.
“Your Uncle is an Oga in the University there.”
She was going to a university. Her mother stood at the door, her wrapper, a loose fit around her waist. A large ladle with patches of fufu in her hand. She smiled at Adeola. “Let me see.”
Adeola brought her result to her.
“I don’t understand it. Where is the score?”
Adeola points at it, “this one.”
Her mother’s mouth formed an O. “268?”
“Yes, Mama. 268. And I m going to the university to study engineering.”
Her mother begins to sing her Oriki:
“Her mother’s daughter
She will carry a dozen babies
Her head will wear the crown of Queens.”
That evening, Adeola held Taiwo by the river as the sun turned from yellow to gold in the black waters. They talked about school. They talked about being apart.
“You will come and visit me.”
“Ah, they don’t let boys into the females place O”
“Don’t worry, I will let you in.”
“Through the window?”
“Yes, through the window.”
“Do you still want to do it?” Taiwo asked her.
Adeola took her head off his shoulder. “No,” she said in an uncompromising tone. “I don’t like it.”
A week before Adeola left Sagamu to go to Ibadan she lost her virginity in a most peculiar way. When Bamidele started ignoring her, even though he didn’t stop coming to see Shola her brother, his presence began arousing her beyond measure. She was sure nevertheless that she was not in love with him. She loved Taiwo deeply.
One evening while she was alone in the house Bamidele came looking for Shola who had just stepped out. Adeola had just come out of the bathroom. Her towel was strung carelessly across her firm breast. She came to the living room where Bamidele sat waiting for Shola and just stood at the door looking at him. The sparkle in her eyes was all the invitation Bamidele needed. He took her right in her room.
“Be gentle.” She whispered.
Lying in her bed that night, her insides ached, her thighs still burnt from where Bamideles belt buckle robbed them. The sour taste in her mouth would not go away even after several washes. She hated lime but she had to take it, as Bamidele said, for protection. But it wasn’t protection alone that Adeola wanted, he wanted his saliva neutralized too. She had never kissed anyone before. Bamidele had wanted to go a second time.
“I just want to be open.” She said to him. Dismayed, he had lumbered out of the house in dissatisfaction.
When she couldn’t sleep she tried to call up Taiwo’s smell but an image of Bamidele riding her came instead. The next evening, sitting beside him by the river Taiwo asked her what was wrong.
“I am just tired.” She said.
Taiwo looked into her eyes but she could not stare back.
Adeola had caught him by surprise. Bamidele could not believe what he was doing, having s*x not just with friends sister but that friends sister was Adeola. Although he had dreamt a thousand times about it, the thought of even touching Adeola was for him, nothing but stuff dreams were made of. And he was content just be around her.
When Adeola came out half clad and looked at him that way, he knew exactly what she wanted. It was either then or never. All he wanted at that moment was to go in and come out, like a bounty hunter. But now he craved her like he had never hungered for a girl before. He didn’t just want her, s*xually, but in other ways he couldn’t name. Perhaps he was in love with her. That had to be it.