I can’t believe it is 25 years already. A quarter of a century! Indeed, how time flies.
It was February 12, 1992. I was a youth corper serving at the Ministry of Justice in Jos, Plateau State. I was young, beautiful and helplessly in love with a guy called Dayo Adebayo. The only sad twist to this was that he was in far away Lagos and yours sincerely often got breathless and almost miserable longing to see him and to just bask in the love and contentment his presence radiates. Remember there were no mobile phones then, laptops were not common place and even if they were wifi, data and Facebook were not yet in our lexicon and vocabularies.
Valentine’s Day was around the corner and just as I was about to conclude it will be one without any frills and thrills, I got news that a dear friend and learned colleague, Bukky Fasanya, also a youth Corper will be flying to Lagos on the 13th of February. That information was music to my ears…..I immediately flew into a frenzy and immediately conscripted my dear dear departed friend, Ronke Aborishade Oyeleke (may her soul rest in peace). I decided that even though I couldn’t make it to Lagos. My Knight in shinning armour must feel the warm embrace of my love. We got to work immediately. We baked a cake, I rushed to the supermarket to get a whole packet of eclairs sweets, rushed to the Jos Main market to get a beautiful pair of nice Hausa slippers, I mean the type worn by the rich, dark and handsome Hausa aristocrats (lol) and of course, I included a bunch of the lovely bananas that had not ceased to remind me of Dayo my college sweetheart (who by the way loves bananas) since I set foot on the Jos soil. I gave no thought to the fact that I had spent practically a whole month of my monthly allowance. I cared less. It was Valentine’s Day and the full force of my love must be unleashed on the only one that is the object of all my affection. I got a card to accompany my package and then sat down to write a long love letter, all the while smiling, laughing and blushing with excitement. My dear departed friend later told me she was quietly wondering if I was high on something, but out of loyalty to a dear friend, she played along. She was however convinced something was seriously wrong somewhere. She had never seen me so excited before.
Well, finally we were done. The agreement with our Lagos bound mutual friend was that she would drop by on her way to the airport to pick my things and will deliver to my lover boy in Lagos who incidentally was also a childhood friend of hers. And then the waiting game began….Bukky was nowhere to be found. Reluctantly, fearing for the worst, we went to use my friend’s guardian’s land line to make a call. The worst that could have happened to a love smitten and giddy headed girl had happened….Bukky was running late for her flight and was not able to drop by. She was already in Lagos and was sincerely apologetic.
It was as if my world came crashing down. I immediately dissolved into tears. Ronke was shocked. She later confessed she had a simple solution in her mind. We eat the cake, bananas and eclairs sweets and we keep the pair of slippers and hand them over to Dayo when next we see. O! How I thank God till this day that she did not voice out her solution then. I don’t know what I would have done. How can anyone other than Dayo dream of eating such a cake? It was baked with too much love and would have constipated any other eater. Anyway, I went on sobbing and my friend was alarmed at the intensity of my tears. She offered some lame words of comfort….lame because she wasn’t really in a relationship then and she later confessed she could not have imagined the intensity of the emotions that love was capable of stirring.
Then, all of a sudden, an idea hit me! It struck me like a bolt of lightning. I got up suddenly, dried my tears and got all excited, smiling and happy! Ronke told me she concluded I had probably lost it and I am sure she must have started praying under her breath. She asked me what was going on and I told her I just got a solution! I had made my mind up to travel down to Lagos by myself on February 14, to deliver my Valentine package to my guy. She thought I was crazy! She knew I couldn’t afford to travel by air and Lagos by road was a 14 hour ride in the uncomfortable long “Salusi Brothers” buses that plied the route then. I told her I had counted the cost and was willing to make the sacrifice. She made no attempt to discourage me, the fire in me and the love in my eyes made her realise it would have been a futile effort.
I called my boss, requested for time off and the next morning, I boarded the bus and went on a bumpy, long, uncomfortable and stressful ride to Lagos, bearing with me my Love Offerings. The anticipation of setting eyes on my beloved Dayo made the stress of the journey to pale in comparison. All I felt was joy and excitement. Dayo on the other hand had received a call from me on the 12th that Bukky will be arriving Lagos on the 13th and he should drop by at her parent’s place to pick a letter. He wasn’t able to go on the 13th but went on the 14th instead and was told of Bukky’s inability to pick his parcel. Expectedly, he was disappointed but guess what? He got home and met a pleasant surprise. As childish and unnecessary as this valentine adventure might sound now, it was for us one of the defining moments of our relationship. It made me realise the depths of my love for Dayo. He realised I would do all that was within my ability to make him a happy husband and I believe he made a vow not to take my love for granted. I got my surprise dose on my return trip to Jos. Even though he was a youth corper like me, he emptied his account to give me a surprise. Rather than take me to the motor park to board my usual Salusi Brothers’ rickety bus, he took me to the airport. He had purchased a flight ticket and in one hour, I was back to dear old Jos.
I woke up this morning and went down memory lane. I realise we have over the years matured into a daily exhibition of love, kindness and respect. I realise that there had not been a need to pull all the stops lately to show the depths of our love. In spite of the fact that we are no longer convinced of the necessity of the hullabaloo that accompanies February 14, I decided to celebrate our love and how far downwards the roots have grown and have been anchored, how tall and upwards it continues to grow…so I did not just reminisce, I got out my pair of canvas, got into my trainers and joined him for his morning walk. I slowed him down a bit, but we caught up on some good old neighbourhood gossip and guess what? I am taking him out for breakfast or brunch I should say. I actually asked him out and I look forward to telling him that 25 years down the line, that sacrificial trip from Jos to Lagos was worth it and it has paid off so handsomely….
I urge the wives out there to take the lead this Valentine’s Day. Do something that will communicate your love for your guy and while you are at it, feel free to share your valentine tales with us here…..So long!