THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR
[..continued from WELD-LOCK (2)]
It was a very sunny Tuesday afternoon. I retrieved the letter from the post office. It was like having my heart in hand. I couldn’t even summon enough courage to open up the envelope. Seeing the address to confirm it as mine sufficed. I hurriedly tucked the letter into my pocket and walked briskly to my hostel, my heart pounding ferociously. I got to the hostel to head straight to the gents. I needed to relieve the nagging bulky matter in my bowels. It was an integral part of the bugging stress and tension process within me. I chose to open up the letter to read in there, while relieving my burden. It was one favorite habit of mine, -reading through a thrilling evacuation session. Oh, what a release.
When I did open the letter to see the opening salutation- ‘Dear…’ I was gone. I lived, slept and dreamt in that aura for several days on. Her letter itself was short, simple and straightforward. Quite very friendly though. For her it was much of a pleasant surprise, that the erstwhile popular jingo back in high school, who seemed to care less about anything so much as her, would write her. That was incredible. But she was very much appreciative, and sought to know more about life for me in the university. I archived the letter immediately, it was gold. That started our pen-friendship. We exchanged letters every other month or thereabouts. I personally ensured caution in treading and remaining within the bounds of talking school, career, the good old days and some other harmless matter.
For almost six years in school for me, we both never saw, not for once. For one, school wouldn’t indulge me with long or frequent holidays so much as to be home. And then, we seemed just cool hiding behind pen and paper, doing stuffs from there. Over time, we were becoming pretty close. I watched the lines blur, and her guard relaxed. Our letters were getting wider in scope. There were topics she was bringing up for discourse, I wouldn’t have believed she would author, not in my wildest imagination, at least not with me.
Bringing up matters on relationship with her for example, was one area I trod with utmost caution with her, but then she was all free about it. At one point asking after my girlfriend. Of course I didn’t have a girlfriend, and told her same. But then, that coming from Funke?. Well, since she did open that up herself, I was cool with it. Getting well along with her was one precious fragile egg I couldn’t afford to crack in any way. One could never tell what would turn her off. I simply just played carefully along, letting her call the shots.
It was 4th year in school already. I was moving steadily. Funke and I must have exchanged well over a dozen letters by then. And it was just so amazing to imagine how close two strangers had become with time. It was always a wonder to me, day to day. If it were to be a dream, that I would be that close to my crush, I would never had wanted to be woken for anything.
It was really a point in my life I would give up anything to get the more intimate with Funke. The feeling was just so intense, burning subtly but steaming hot. It was about this time I wrote her a letter slightly different from the previous ones. I had poured out my heart this time, in what was a largely modified version of my love letter back in high school. By then, I was a more mature and skillful writer. My intention was clear – a relationship with her. I felt time was ripe to play the man and damn the consequence.
The reply never came, not ever, for the several months of the several trips to the post office. Now I knew I was done. I mean, I had fried myself up in some assorted mess. That I wasn’t even worthy of a reply was most torturing. I sincerely would have preferred an insult-ridden letter to the awkward silence . To me I had messed up big time. I knew it! I was stretching my luck too far, and ended up betraying her trust. I had fooled myself into thinking she could take my junk and just swallow.
It was coincidentally at this time I was beginning to get committed in church-related activities. There were these friends of mine who wouldn’t just let me be. They were always on my neck to ‘consecrate’, to be a worker in Fellowship and all. They wouldn’t have me to be myself as an ‘ordinary member’. And really that was what I was set to be till grad. But then Funke happened. There looked to be nothing more to chase. I took that as a sign, and resigned to surrender.
Spiritual fervency, also known as being ‘Spirikoko’ was big deal in my days on campus, especially when you belonged to the radical “S.U” clan, which wasn’t peculiar to just one fellowship. I was a member of the Baptist students’ fellowship (BSF). And in BSF, we had the “S.U” wing, and the “S” without the “U” of spiritual unionism and militancy. These were more liberal. I belonged to the latter.
My “S.U” brothers were typical. You can’t miss their dress code.They were always in oversized shirts, tucked into baggy trousers, with colors that hardly matched but riot. A pair of slippers, or rarely sandals would complete the package. “Holiness gap” of significant distance was religiously maintained in conversations with ladies. And of course, you don’t extend handshakes to them.
No matter your inclination however, either to the liberal or the radical, there were ground rules and principles. These were codes of conduct, strictly adhered to. Issues regarding illicit or amorous relationships for example, were expected to be dealt with accordingly, on a personal level. It was scandalous to be found out. In fact, several sermons from the pulpit, coming like cannon balls do incessantly address this.
Well, for me, thanks to Funke, I gladly swore an oath to celibacy. I was for once ‘free’. Free for the first time as an adolescent. And yes! ‘Funke-free’. My heart was mine, wholly mine. It was me, my books and church, plus a few other extracurricular engagements.
Trouble found me out about a year later. I was in my 5th year, a couple of months away from final year. I was with Pastor Victor – my fellowship president and mentor in his room. And we were demounting a bowl of Eba, with a ridiculous concoction of condiments we called soup. It was a blessed afternoon.
Midway into the exercise, he asked that I had better get started in praying to know my future wife. I gave him an astonished look. I needed to ascertain for sure Baba was talking under the intoxicating influence, of the rapidly disappearing Eba before us. Nonetheless, I took to his advice, at least for the fun of it.
A couple of weeks later, my misery began… (to be continued).