MY GOMBE EXPERIENCES: from the east with love

We were standing under the receding sun, waiting for the RSM to commence the parade for the day. It was while we waited that I heard this sultry voice rapping in Hausa, something about that voice made me want to know who the owner was. The way she spoke Hausa was like music to my ears, it fell off her mouth like nectar from a rose. Damn, it was so singsong, I was immediately captivated.
I leaned back and caught sight of her and I remember thinking: ‘Cute Hausa girl.’
That was the first day I saw her.

Second time I saw her was in the hall, one warm saturday morning. We were all assembled to fill in our personal data in some forms which were provided by the NYSC officials. Me not being one to stay in front, slunk to the back and alas there she was on a table scribbling diligently on her own forms.
Without much ado, I took up a place at the table.
‘How are you?’ I asked.
‘Fine.’ She said and continued to scribble. Her handwriting was like she was, neat and bold. I remember thinking, my handwriting can never look this cool.
I just watched her write and to my surprise, she was Igbo; not Hausa like I thought and what more we attended the same school. Something else caught my attention about her. Her name; Angel. That was her name, officially. Not those things most girls answered to, it really was Angel. I drilled her about it and she said it is just the way it is.
I was fascinated about this girl and really wanted to know everything about her, so I pumped for answers and clues, which she quietly divulged. I think it was while writing and answering me that she made a mistake and needed to get another card, instead I gave her mine which she reluctantly took and I went to fetch another for myself; which should have gotten me into trouble, luckily I escaped. Phew!!
She rented a space in my heart after that incident, believe me it was just fascination, not lust, not love. Just pure morbid curiosity.

It was camp and given the security challenges in that part of the country at that time, majority of the Igbo corp members sort for redeployment. I didn’t want to redeploy, I grew up in the North, moreover I didn’t have a doctor’s report so therefore I didn’t have a premise for redeployment. So I simply didn’t give redeployment a thought at all, but I collected the form when they gave it out, just so I’ll have it.

You must know that when I came to Mallam Sidi, I was smittened by a Gombe indigene; Fatima. Kai!! What more can I say about Fatima? She spoke with an accent that was slightly Hindu and her English was fluent and articulated not ‘cut and join’ as was common with many Northerners. She had this cute face like Twitty the bird from the Looney Tunes cartoon and this bum that the compulsory NYSC shorts moulded to perfection. She was Muslim and a people person and I loved that about her.
Deep down I knew Fatima would not work, there was this imaginary line drawn between the Muslims and Christians in the camp and we all did well to respect it. But I was fond of Fatima. I really was.

But nowadays it was this mysterious Igbo girl that I would myself thinking about, it was she I looked for in the crowd, no longer Fatima; with her dimpled smile. It was her voice I longed to hear. It was the mysterious Igbo girl from Nawfia that held me spellbound.

Another parade rehearsal and I was craning my head searching for her and I spotted her, standing with some friends talking. I approached. As I reached her someone brought up the topic of redeployment forms and she stated she hadn’t gotten hers, I informed her that the admin was out of redeployment forms and without another thought, I reached into my waist pouch and gave her mine. Second time that I would willingly give something of mine to her.
After that we became talking friends, I don’t even remember how we exchanged numbers, but I had her number and she had mine.

I think the incidence that finally locked us together had to be when her phone was stolen.
I searched for her; frantically I might add after I heard and when I found her, said sorry about the phone and to my surprise, she didn’t sound like she’d lost anything. She went on with ‘that voice’ that it wasn’t the phone she missed but it’s contents. I felt really bad as I knew how important that phone was to her, she had lots of important files on it, files with which she did her studies and research. Did I mention she was a doctor? Yeah, she was.
We hung together or may I say I hung on to her through the day, I don’t remember much of that day, but I was fun to just be near her. Maybe it was her essence but I was drawn to her.

I would come to a crowd and scan it for her, I would seat in the lecture hall and look till my eyes found her. Then I’ll be happy, just setting my eyes on her was enough to make my day. I hated it when I couldn’t find her in a crowd.
We would hang together during parades, during football or volley ball matches. It was hard to not want to be around her.
Apart from her voice, she had this throaty laugh that seemed to shake her to her roots, every time they escaped her mouth and she had such pink thin lips, a sharp contrast to her dark features. She was fun to be with.

One of the best times we had together, for me had to be the last night in camp. We had found each other after dinner and proceeded to taking a walk together. We talked about everything, I don’t even remember much of it, but I remember her stories about her secondary school antics. I didn’t even know she had a mischievous bone in her, for someone so often reserved and quiet, I was intrigued by her secondary school experience.
Our walk ended in front of the girls’ hostel, where we picked a spot sat down and continued talking. I must confess while she talked all I thought about was kissing her pink lips, but I was too scared to, for fear that I maybe misreading her signals or scaring her away. I didn’t want either. I was content having her by myself, but deep down I feared that tonight might be the last I’d be this close to her. I should just kiss her and get it over with. The consequences be damned.
I was still having that fight with myself when the soldier charged with policing us, sounded the beagle and chased us to our various hostels.
I found myself thinking how those pink lips would feel and taste like. Damn!!!! I should have kissed her.


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