I was in form three when I fell in love with her. All the other girls I fell in love with in school, I couldn’t tell them I had feelings for them. I was a shy guy. I wasn’t the outgoing type. I wasn’t popular. I was not particularly known for anything. So, it was somewhat difficult to get the girls. I fell in love with almost all the beautiful ones but I couldn’t profess my love for them. I stayed away and loved them from my distance. But Adriana was different. Her love hit me like a thunderbolt. Her love became what kept me awake at night. I stayed on bed all night, planning on what to tell her and how to say it to her.
The next day when I met her on campus, I couldn’t say anything to her. I was scared. She was a form two student – my junior. It was supposed to be easy but the boy in me was scared of shame. What if she said ‘no’ to my proposal? What if she told everyone that she had said ‘no’ to me?” It was such a great embarrassment in those days if a girl said ‘no’ to your proposal. It had a name. It was called ‘bouncing.’ You didn’t want your mates to ridicule you that you had been bounced. It felt like being thrown away by a woman because you were worthless.
I started with a friendship which lasted an entire term. We were on vacation when I proposed to her. I thought the shame would be easier to bear when it happened during vacation but she didn’t bounce me. She said ‘yes’. She told me she had seen it coming. I was seventeen and she was also around the same age. She became my first love and my heart leapt, as in a jump, at the relationship. I gave her everything I had. I’m not exaggerating. I gave her my provisions. I paid for her books. I used my pocket money to buy her gifts. Because of her, I nearly didn’t register for West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), because I spent my registration fee on her. First love brings out the fool in us, I suppose. You want to prove your worth. It’s like an audition for a role in the life
of the one you love. You don’t want to put a foot wrong. You want to be seen as everything that’s right. It reminded me of Bryan Adam’s song: “When you love someone.” Actually, that song became my theme song, my motivation. It became the reason I did all the crazy things I couldn’t explain. I won’t say I was the only one proving my love. Adriana did her best too. She showed in subtle ways that she loved me too. She took the risk for me. We had our first kiss one night after entertainment. It was risky. We could have been caught and expelled from school but she did it with me. Not once and not twice. I was assured of her love.
When I completed school and was about to leave campus, she cried. I hugged her. I assured her that nothing’s gonna change my love for her. That line was also the title of a love song. Being young and in love makes you fall in love with love songs. You listen to them and you feel they say your words for you. I left her in school but I didn’t leave her. Whenever it was visiting hours, I went to campus to see her. I went with my hands full of whatever she told me she needed. I wasn’t working. I was stealing from my parents to make the girl of my dreams happy.
One day I went on a visit and Addo called me on the side: “Your girl, some teacher bin dey choowam ooo. Everyone around here knows it. That’s the math teacher, to be specific!” I laughed. I couldn’t believe Adriana would do that. I trusted her so much that I saw Addo as a distraction. But before I left campus, another girl confirmed what Addo told me. My heart was breaking. I got home and called her: “Adriana, is what I’m hearing true? Are you now with the math teacher?” She denied it. She told me not to listen to gossip. I believed her but from then forward, I was cautious with my faith in her.
I went to visit her again one day and this time around I saw signs. When I sent for her, it took hours to locate her. I went inside the campus and talked to old friends. I saw her coming from the teacher’s bungalow. She didn’t even know I was around. One of the guys who didn’t know I was dating her saw her and said: “This girl and sleeping with teachers.” I didn’t need any evidence again and I couldn’t handle it from that point on. I screamed at her. I created a scene. I made a mess of the whole thing. It didn’t end there. I wrote a note addressed to the math teacher, warning him to stay away from my girlfriend. I mentioned her name in the note. The guy who was supposed to deliver the note secretly also made a mess of it and the thing went viral on campus.
I put her in harm’s way but I didn’t care. I received news from the school that I was wanted by the administration. I got scared that it would affect my final result. Maybe the school would seize it or something. I started drinking. I smoked. I had a friend who did both vices. I looked for him every day so we could hide and do it. By the time I was going to the university, I was a heavy drinker and a smoker. I used these vices to heal my broken heart. I grew lean and haggard. My life was all over the place. Adriana wasn’t in it. So, my ship got lost on the sea for a very long while. I lost confidence in myself because even my roommates didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. I became the guy your parents warned you about. Two years later, I saw Adriana on campus. She didn’t see me but I did. She was looking so fine I was embarrassed to even call her. I was looking miserable, like a shadow on the floor. I tried all I could to avoid her but one day she saw me and said ‘hi’.
I could see in her smile that she felt right for leaving me. She didn’t even want to shake my hand when I extended it. She hesitated and that hurt my pride a lot. I went back and told myself: “I will get back my life. The one responsible for this is living her life as if it didn’t happen. I should, too.”
It was hard but I tried my best. I stopped drinking and stopped smoking. The process was slow and painful but in the end, I got back my life. I added some flesh and started dressing well. I saw her often on campus but I ignored her. It was a new dispensation and she wasn’t welcomed. I started passing my papers. I learned hard and made it out with flying colours.
It’s the reason I’m here today, with a life I call my own–a life I’m proud of. The next woman who said ‘yes’ to me didn’t last. A year later, we were over. I dated quite a few until I met the woman I eventually married. I was no longer young. I’d gone through the emotional mill and had come out well-cooked. I was old enough to know that when you love someone maturely, you don’t do things you can’t explain. Mature love is rational. You do things that benefit both of you, things that nudge you a little closer to “happy ever after”.
I have a family now. I have a wife and two kids. Adriana didn’t turn out badly too. She’s a TV personality now. I watched her interview not too long ago where she said she was not ready to settle down because the right person hasn’t come up. She looks happy. Not having a man hasn’t taken away anything from her. If I didn’t turn my life around and saw her this way, I would have regretted it a lot. Currently, I’m happy for her. We don’t talk. My wife doesn’t even know I once dated her. I’m only happy for what I have now and happy that she’s also living her dreams.
Courtesy Beads Media