Winie says … ‘Hook ups’ and their ‘mess ups’

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Babe dat your friend na correct catch oh, abeg na, hook me up’

I absolutely love Mercy, but in the middle of stirring a happy pot of Nsala soup on a beautiful Saturday afternoon like this one, her constant whining about my other friend, Daniel was irritating me to tatters.

Painstakingly, I gathered the last shreds of my patience. “I take God beg you,” I pleaded, “leave me alone!”

Her face changed and she stormed out of the kitchen, stomping my fragile wooden floor like a pissed off hippopotamus. This routine had been going on for the past three months, and I have absolutely no objection to her either dating or getting to know Daniel better. But as their mutual friend, I choose not to get involved; in fact, I shall not be found a thousand kilometers near the reason they choose to be together.

Who does that?! Right? Who in their right mind would pass up on the opportunity to ‘hook up’ two good people who might be meant for each other? I mean there are all sorts of perks to it: the sparkly toast they’ll make to you at the wedding reception; you get first shot at godmother to future offsprings, and don’t forget bragging rights – “I hooked them up ;)” It’s a juicy package, so why not? Well, don’t search too far; the answer is ‘Winifred’. Yes, me. E duro! Sit back and let me tell you a story.

It was a couple of years ago, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, much like this Saturday only without Nsala soup; I dey my side jeje when my good friend knocked on my door and would not stop ranting about my other friend and colleague. “Winie abeg, put in a good word for me,” were his words, “I really like her”. I interrogated him, and part-time psychoanalyst that I am, I determined that he was serious and had good intentions. So I obliged him and two months later, they were in a relationship.

Let’s just say that a few weeks down the line, some major kata kata burst and it was the messiest pre-marital divorce I had ever witnessed. Since I was the relationship initiator, I was the grass when the two elephants fought. Comments like, ‘how could you let them date?’, ‘Winie, you are wicked shaa’, ‘what made you think those two would ever work out?’, ‘how dare you let this happen?’ etc. were thrown at me. By-standers, other friends, acquaintances and gossips all had words of rebuke and advice for me. Everybody became self-acclaimed relationship experts.

All the while this nightmare was going on, my greatest fear was losing either of my friends to it. But I seemed to be the only thing they unwillingly had in common and even though I felt intense pressure to pick a side, I couldn’t. My friends’ pain tore me apart and no one was having a swell time. These two people couldn’t have been more wrong for each other, but somehow it hadn’t been as glaring initially. I struggled to find meaning, peace or even a way to move forward. What’s the right thing to say? Or do? I blamed myself for ever getting involved in the first place and would have done anything to undo it. But as it turned out, the only (sane) way to ride out the storm was to wait and see.

Eventually, waves of anger subsided and I picked up the bits and pieces of what was left of my friendship with both parties. Till date, these friendships still have some sore points; I still struggle with what to say or do whenever that experience comes up.

Back to my Saturday now, I watched Mercy as I set the table for lunch. She was sulking and staring at the TV. I reminded her again that she was too valuable for me to play ‘hook up’ games with. “If you like someone, go talk to him or wait and hope he notices you. But for the sake of our friendship which I hope to preserve, keep me out of it.” I gave her a big side hug and proceeded to tickle the frown off her. The explosive laughter that followed was a relief;  the only way to eat Nsala soup is in peace.

I know some very beautiful relationships have come out of ‘hook ups’, I also know about their ‘mess ups’ and how terrible they can be. I know that intense feeling of wanting to help a friend out and being unable to. If you ever find yourself being boxed into such a corner by a friend, here are a few things I have learned that just might help:

  1. Take a mirror, look in it and repeat these words ‘I AM NOT GOD’. It helps calm you down when you think you have the power to control or influence people’s lives and choices especially in relationship matters.
  2. The fact that someone is a good friend to you doesn’t mean that they’ll be a good romantic partner to you or someone else. As a matter of fact, the emotions that are specifically for romantic relationships, complicate things way more than you’ll ever anticipate. I say this to mean, your matchmaking MIGHT be a wrong fit. You never really know how a person will behave in a relationship regardless of how long you’ve known them as a friend.
  3. Let people choose for themselves. I mean the WHOLE process of making a choice. Let them convince the other person that they are good enough, without your own ‘few good words’. So that peradventure things don’t sail smoothly, no one will look at you and say ‘but you told me …’
  4. When your friends are dating, DRAW THE LINE. There should be that place where your friendship stops and their intimate private lives continue, especially when you know the two people involved. This is because, once you share that intimate space with them, it becomes CROWDED and heads start bumping. Take it from me; you’ll be the grass under two elephants.
  5. Finally, if and in the event kata kata burst, always remember your FRIENDSHIP is way more important than picking sides. So practice yoga if you have to, but you must straddle the thin line. After all is said and done, the people you meet and get to know are the summary of your existence. Every valuable friendship is worth keeping and maintaining.

That’s all I have to say. Your comments on COBIL were very enlightening, so let’s have more of that sunshine here. Have you had any experiences similar to mine? Do you have battle scars from meddling in ‘hook ups’ that we all can learn from? The Comments section is just a short scroll away, so hit it and share with us.

While you’re at that,

Winnie says … Have a Winning-Day.

For past editions of this column, click HERE

WAW

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What If

pensive African woman

I was 18 when we broke up; 18 years, 11 months and 29 days old to be precise. He attacked my weight again, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time he did it, I can’t remember what we were talking about but arthritis came up and he said I should watch my weight or something like that. Basically, “you are getting fat”. That was the beginning of the end because come on, he knew how sensitive I was on the matter.

Well this time, I decided, would be the last. If all his love did was make me feel wretched, then it was pointless loving him. So I called it off. I knew he would come back, and come back he did. Suddenly, my weight was not an issue anymore.

Anyway this story is not about him. This story is about another ‘him’; the kind of ‘him’ that marks himself.  You know…right up there. He is like that scar you alone know of, the one you often find yourself fondly rubbing your hands over. The kind of scar that makes you smile. This story is about him.

I was 18 when I met him; 18 years, 11 months old to be precise. Funny how ‘met’ as a word is now very subjective, what with social media and its array of networks. I remember it like it was yesterday. I commented on something, he replied, I replied his reply, he replied mine…and we got talking. You know how you meet a guy and unconsciously compare him with your father, and oh the joy it brings when he checks every box. If you have your dad as a benchmark – Daddy’s girl club – you’d know exactly how I felt. Because this dude checked every box and moved on to circles.

We did not date, it was not practical considering the distance. But oh my, the chemistry, it sizzled hot and fierce on both sides. I had hit jackpot and boy, did I have plans! I would graduate at 22 and go on to Lagos Law School so we can officially be together. Then NYSC, settle in Lagos and live happily ever after with four kids; three boys and a girl in a big house with…well, we could work out the other details later.

Then I turned 20. They say when you get older you have more answers. If that is true, something must be wrong with my growth. My birthday that year came with a lot of ‘what ifs’ – “what if I only get into Law School in Abuja?”, “what if I am drafted for NYSC in Sokoto?”, “what if his genes are allergic to mine?”, and “wait oh…what if he does not feel the same way?” And in all of these ‘what ifs’, there were no answers.

I have always wanted to be mature, to really live in the 21st century as a 21st century woman. Gender Equality! If you like him, tell him, et cetera. Anyway, I told him how I felt. And in response, he officially asked me out. Not the answer I was expecting but an answer nonetheless. It felt nice at first. I finally could call him “baby”…aloud – oh yes, I used to say it in my head – and I could end the calls with” I love you”. But distance, the witch that she is, refused to let it be.

I couldn’t kiss him or hold his hands; we couldn’t touch each other or “touch” each other. No dates whatsoever – forget all that Skype. There were no eye to eye declarations of love or playful tickling that ends in bed with panting and sweating and no clothes on. Yes, we connected intellectually. Yes, relationships go beyond physical needs but…I don’t know, it just was not enough for me, for us. And so we broke up.

Looking back now, I think we just missed being friends that we did not work to actually be a couple. We became just friends again and yes it was awkward – going back from “hi baby” and “I love you” to “hey buddy” and “guy, pack well”. But we got over it. We were die-hard friends!

I told you the first one came back, right? Not my ‘jackpot’ now, I mean the first ‘him’ with the weight issue. Yes, he came back and became a good boy, always on his best behavior. He was safe and secure – no sizzles, no hot and fierce whirlwind of emotions. It was not the same as with my ‘jackpot’ but it was something good. I was not lonely, needy or desperate. So I settled.

Sometimes, I imagine what my life would have been with my ‘jackpot’. “What if I had waited and kept my mouth shut?”, “what if I had met him at another time, under different circumstances?”, “what if we had held on to each other just a little longer?” Even at 32, I still ‘what if’; like I said earlier, something is wrong with the way I grow.

Now I look across the table at my ‘best behavior’, and I look at the little one we conceived on one of those rainy nights when holiness flees and everything is possible. And I smile. Yes, I lost my ‘jackpot’ and I settled with my ‘best behavior’ but this right here…this little man in the high chair, gurgling cute nothings and trailing cereal all over his cherubic face, this is my pot of gold.

By Ezinma Ukairo.

Ezinma enjoys good music, food, books and movies. She is currently in her third year at the university where she is studying law so that she can promote the beauty of womanhood, and end child marriage and world hunger. Ezinma is afraid of ever having to just ‘settle’ in a relationship, but she keeps a closed mind to all the ‘unwanted stuff’ and continues to believe in love.

MAYBE LOVE HEALS ALL THINGS

I was sitting brooding, over the Nyanya bombing and the kidnap of the girls all in one day, and it was such a drowning feeling of profound sadness. Over the years since our graduation from university, my former course-mates and I have built up a very filial friendship which has kept us together. So, naturally, I took my grouse to our family meeting chat room, perhaps a tad too abrasively.

So there I was bemoaning the status quo and hoping to stir up some equally abrasive reactions when somehow, the story changed, the carpet swept out from under me. They (or rather, Jedi, one of us) started sharing stories of Jane’s (she was our course rep back in the day) wedding which had held early this month; I hadn’t been able to attend.

Eventually I got over being peeved, no in fact, I was dragged out of my pissed mood by the enticing tale and the art with which Jedi spun it. It was a tale of bobo-baby campus love that matured despite societal and stereotypical odds into, in the words of the bride herself, “a match made in heaven and celebrated by men on earth”.

Truth be told, the story soothed my pain.

Often we hear that love heals all things – hold on, I do not intend to force that message down your throat. At least, not just yet. You, my reader, perhaps would be more amenable, at the moment, to these words of Iris Murdoch,

“Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real”

It didn’t make much meaning to me at first either, but when it eventually did in the light of recent mishaps, it brought me some peace. Love is sacrifice, it is facing up to reality coated as it is with dust and mire,it is determining to face all the travails down with courage…and love!

While we pray and do our individual little bests to save this cranky shambled country of ours, I daresay that those of us who still live must learn to appreciate the love and peace that exists in every other second life affords us.

And I hope that this story brings you, like it did me, some healing, peace, love and – yes, I am stretching it here – joy.

 

Oya enough mushy mushy. Presenting to you, in scraggly rants (thank you, Jedi), the marriage ceremony of university sweethearts,

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Engr. Egart, Faithful and Engr. Mrs. Egart, Nnebuogo Jane Faithful (nee Ejezie).

 

THE VOWS

‘…as the vows were read, Jane eye no comot for Faithful face, one can only imagine what she was thinking then oh.

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Una see im face? She fit don they reason, “Is this real? This fitn’t be happening?” OR “Kai, see as my bobo dey shine, ewooo!” OR “Olowori mi, yekpa!”’

 

THE FUN, THE LAUGHTER

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“…At the reception, I ceased to concentrate on the couple for two reasons: One, we were all hyped up, friends (my Chemical family) from school sitting together gisting and laughing; Two, item 7 was on the entire time. Drinks were flowing across the table, lots and lots of it – juice, wine, soda, name it! Little pieces of wrapped cake too and all those ajebo ‘small chops’ dem. Then, the buffet commenced. Me I no gree form oh! I downed correct veggie soup with eba! Nnaa, see meat! Apparently Jane learnt a few owambe tricks from Yoruba land.

“Then there was this live band, wow! For a moment, I thought they were playing an MP3; they were that good, singing songs of Nigerian artistes almost better than the original singers!

“After the speech of the Chairman, our own Dr. Ibe (one of the few student-likable lecturers from uni days), the occasion continued.

“At some point when it was announced that the couple were both FUTO engineers, a guy (apparently Faithful’s classmate) hailed “Greatest Futoite!” We all responded “Great!” For the first time since after our matric over six years ago, we were proud to be associated with FUTO. People fit don dey envy us that time not knowing the horrible hell wey we been experience for the kain school.

“The height of it was when Ichie (another former course-mate of ours) volunteered as an observer during the cutting of the cake. He was asked to introduce himself and he did so as ‘Ukoha O.O’. Every ever FUTO-linked person in the room burst into laughter…unfortunately for the people wey never reach FUTO, it was one inside joke they could never understand.”

 

THE LOVE, THE ROMANCE

“…Jane no gree hear word oh, see dance! We even thought her bobo was a shy dancer until he showed his own skills. They were just so happy together, just dey laugh like small pikin wey person dey totori.

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“Then there came the part when they had to feed each other…when it got to Jane’s turn to do the feeding, she sat on Faithful’s lap to do it. After that there was some alignment of lips in motion here and there unto say dem dey feel like married grown-up wey fit kiss for public for their Baale and Maale front!

Mscheww! I just dey hol myself make I no just try gather morale from them go kiss my wife for my Momsi front on my wedding day. Na beta igbati I go first chop before I go start to pick-pin near her table.

I can just hear her voice: ‘Jedijedi, if you try stand from there ehn, egosi m gi na oo mu muru gi. See this boy oh! Doing IMMORALITY in my very before!’

For my own wedding oh”

 

THE BEGINNING, THE END – GOD

“…Closing prayer was by Jane’s dad, omo the man turn am to crusade oh! We been think say as im package finish with suit and mkpara as guy-man, say im go don forget say im be Pastor. But for where? See prayer! When I know say we don enter one-chance na when im first start with praise and worship”

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“Summarily: Jane’s wedding was perfect. No crowd of people wey no people know, just family and a good chunk of awesome friends; there were no complaints, just joy and good cheer, oh and plenty, plenty drinks and food; did I mention I had a second round on the veggie soup? It must have been Iya basira-made because I am (oh well, was) watching my weight.

“It was the ideal wedding”

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(Above, a few members of my Chemical family with the couple)

MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, IF WE GAVE IT A CHANCE…LOVE MIGHT HEAL ALL THINGS.

 

P.S: If you tried not to enjoyed this, then feel free to reach me here, or on facebook, twitter and the streets to relay your high-fives. But if you happen to have any grievances, or you dey find head to break, kindly seek out Jedi, na im talk am. I’m just ‘a pencil (abi keyboard) in the hand of the Creator’

 

NOTE:

All rights for messing up the syntax and semantic holies of English language; heartless bastardization of pidgin English and any other indigenous languages; exaggeration; cracking of incomprehensible ‘insider’ jokes; invasion and evasion and erosion of privacy; abuse of alma mater; and out-flat misfiring are hereby reserved.