Tonye stood in the middle of the corridor, searching for someone to bail him out of an awkward situation.
“Tee what are you saying now? Let me stop by your place later… We could work on Dr Shaka’s assignment together ”
Jennifer was saying something but Tonye’s mind was far from their discussion; his eyes were searching franticly for a familiar face from the crowd of students pouring out of the lecture hall.
“Tonye! You’re not listening!…Are you mad at me? Everyday I literally have to chase you down just to have a conversation.”
He turned to give her a polite rebuff only to find that she now stood a few inches from him. Her enormous breasts were pressing against his chest, and her red blouse had a few buttons undone, giving him full view of her cleavage. In an effort to distract himself he looked up at her face and caught her pouting her over-glossed lips. Now he was getting really uncomfortable. He turned away from her and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw a few faces he recognised and seized the opportunity.
“Jennifer, I’ll talk to you later, yeah”
He called out while pushing past the throng of students trying to exit the narrow passage. He picked up his pace and fell into step with his friends. As he approached them he noticed, they were smiling at him and making hushed remarks. No doubt they had seen him and Jennifer.
Mofe, a tall boy with clean cut features and an athlete’s body spoke first
“Lover boy, you no wan give these girls break o”
Tonye laughed and tried to brush the subject aside but he knew that this would be the subject of many future discussions. Henry, who was one level ahead of them, was visibly fuming and giving Tonye the evil eye.
“Wettin dey worry you, Ehn Tonye?! How you go just leave Jennifer like that? See me see trouble o, na wettin the babe do you na? You just fall my hand…come, this your fine boy forming don dey too much sef”
His lips parted to say more but he only let out a loud high pitched hiss with one lanky arm fixed on his hips.
Tonye and Mofe turned to each other at once and burst out in a guffaw loud enough to attract the stares of passing students.
“Henry! konji no go kill you,” Mofe said, and continued in-between fits of laughter.
“If you like her, go chyke her na…abi, you no get liver?”
One look from Henry and Mofe tactically changed the subject and soon they were bantering over the match between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Three of them crossed the brown rusty gate that was the sole demarcation between the Faculty of Engineering and the rest of Choba campus. Tonye watched most of his course mates littered around the canteen, some seated under umbrella’s with chairs nd tables beneath and others clustered around different stalls hawking drinksdand snacks. He sighted students with zobo, some with bottles of mineral in hand and others munching hungrily on eggrolls, meat pies and other snacks. A few groups sat together while others sat alone absorbed by their phones. His trio of friends were discussing controversial topics and light hearted subjects as well. He either smiled or nodded as he locked eyes with some people he knew. Chika, one of his close friends smiled backed at him, and her dimples were even more evident. With that he felt a sharp stab of pain. So far anything that reminded him of Preye, his ex-girlfriend caused his heart to ache. But, with much effort he pushed the sad memory away.
Tonye and his family moved from Abuja to Rivers State albeit reluctantly. His father Chief Amakiri retired early and decided it was time to fulfil the many dreams and aspirations he put on hold while making money. Part of it was relocating to his home town, getting his family acquainted with the people and environment that influenced and moulded him to the man he became.
Everyone disagreed at first, throwing fits and tantrums but after his mother joined him. Any further resistance was futile. Tonye was excited, he had never been outside the borders of Abuja and the explorer in him longed to discover other parts of the country but his enthusiasm died down when he thought of Preye. He wasn’t sure what love was or what it felt like but he really, really liked her. He seemed to find himself in a tight spot.
It was only natural that Tonye talked to his father about his worries and Chief Amakiri assured him that everything would be fine.
“There are very beautiful girls in Port-Harcourt…take a look at your mother! When you get there you won’t even remember who Preye is. Son, I know you think you’re in love and all, but you’re just sixteen, You have your whole life ahead of you.”
On and on his father went reassuring and promising, chasing away all doubts that befuddled his decision. He followed his father’s advice and left Abuja without a proper goodbye-without any goodbye. If only he knew how wrong his father was, leaving Preye only made him realise how much he cared for her; absence really did make the heart grow fonder. Some days he craved her presence and contemplated running away to Abuja but the disadvantages outweighed the merits so he decided against it.
Tonye, Mofe, and Henry strolled lackadaisically the way towards the far end of Choba campus. They manuevered through the short cut to the gaming station. This was their Friday routine, they would ay and bet on games before going to their hostel. They hurried along to avoid Mr. Dike catching up and scolding them, with one of his many demons ending with them becoming meat sellers or bus conductors. He was an assistant lecturer by day and a pastor after school hours. The boys really didn’t care much for his stories, his comical gesticulations always gave them a good laugh but once Mr Dike began his hour long epistles, they had to be finished no matter how long it took. Mr Dike was a sour name amongst most students.
A sudden silence echoed around the boys, followed by the repeated koi-koi sound of heels slapping against the tarred road. A petit form emerged, wearing a black dress flared at the end; she seemed to sashay towards them. Some boys had already begun moistening their lips in an attempt to wolf-whistle or holler as she walked passed. Tonye was glued to the spot, reminiscing of his soul mate who looked more and more like the lady approaching them. There was something about this strange woman that caused the hairs on his body to rise while a wave of current swept through him. His heart skipped a beat and his pulse quickened as reality hit him hard.
“Preye! You! Jeez, Preye!”
Without thinking he ran to the approaching frame and lifted her up in a bear hug.
Her hazel eyes twinkled and she bared that charming, dimpled smile he loved so much. Tonye felt faint and weak from the shock but she caught him and he rested his head on her shoulders. What felt like a few seconds passed and he mustered up enough strength to stand by himself. He looked at her squarely and the air around them seemed to sizzle. Three years had passed yet she had not . . . when his eyes roamed further he saw a woman, Preye had matured from the skinny, giggly school girl he knew into a very glamorous lady.
However she was still his Preye, sweet beautiful Preye. He laughed out of joy and she hugged him tightly. Her body was soft and feminine against him and he felt a rush of pleasure through his body which was already charged and heated. He surprised her-and probably himself- when he released her hold on him, gently lifted her chin and kissed her full on the mouth. She tasted like heaven, but he could feel her pulling back way too soon. He cupped her face and held her in place, pouring all his unsaid words and pent-up emotions into the kiss, deepening it, until he felt all her resistance dissolve. He would have stood there at the side of the road holding her in his arms and kissing her forever but his wishes were interrupted by a shrill voice from behind the small gathering of students.
“Chineke nna me, Tonye what am I seeing?!” Mr. Dike barked