I was almost tired, when I finally tracked down Udo, my best friend of when I was 10years old. She was half German and half Nigerian. I skipped all my classes including my after school classes which my mum had paid a fortune for me to attend. It was always fun walking the streets with Udo. Besides we never failed a class. I was shocked to find out she was still the same dear friend. I haven’t seen her for almost 15 years now. I was never a writer, so you were sure not to get any letters from me, but that didn’t mean you were never thought of each day. Mum always asked me about you. I know she will be excited to hear about you.
I was almost tired when you told me of pamela, and shobanna, other members of our crew – pamela the only child of a very wealthy man and shobanna our sri lankan friend. How you lost contact with pamela when you had to return to germany after the death of your dad and how you lost shobanna’s addy after many years of contact when she too returned to srilanka. I still remember those days when your mum opened up your garage to turn it into a little shop, and how we ate out all the stuff in the shop, because we were always hungry. Gosh how I’ve missed you and those days. The wildest times of my life. My mum oblivious to the fact that her daughter was skipping school, and my dad not bothered with my results. You see I was never going to be that heart surgeon. I was too rough in the edges to be proper. I guess they would have been happy regardless of whatever I chose to do.
I was tired when you reminisced about the old times, and all those ladies in our class who just hated us. They called us “the light skin” group. Everyone wanted to be our friend, but we thought we were too good for them. “How dare they think they could mix with us. Do we look like their class. Do we look like their family. Do we smell like them”. “Gosh how they stank we would always say”. I remember when the teachers used to cane you, because you refused to be biade‘s friend when her mum came and begged you. How many was it 24 strokes. I never got the strokes. But I did deserve it though. For all the teachers knew my mum, and for some reason thought I was a good girl..lol.. I guess we never took school seriously because we knew we were not going to be around too long.
I was tired when I asked you about Tonyi, the bulky looking girl. I thought I was muscular with all my athletic build, but in Tonyi I saw a new meaning to the word bulky. She used to just sit and stare at us, with a dirty grin. Her stares always made me uncomfortable and I was convinced they were always filled with hate; but I never remembered being frightened of it. I guess maybe it was a disappointing look, maybe it was a jealous look; whatever it was she always convicted my spirit. I don’t remember hating her, only wondered why she would cause me to humble myself whenever she was around. Does she know who I am. Does she know how many boys I can beat down in 2 seconds flat. Does she know what they call me around the school.
I was tired when you told me how she died. She died Udo. Tonyi died. Did I hear you say Tonyi died. The news pierced through my heart. She died shortly after I left. She was staying with her aunt, who used her as her house girl. One night she was very ill, but they still told her to go and fetch water for them. It was very dark and there were no lights, but she still had to go out to the well that had been dug in the premises. As she bent over to pull the rope tied to the well bucket which she had thrown into the well she must have felt faint and fell into the well. The family didn’t even bother to go check why she hadn’t brought the water back, they only looked for her the next day and found her inside the well.
I remember how she had started making an effort to be friendly. She had this beautiful bible decorated with stickers, which she carried as if it were her most prized possession. She was the only smelly peeps I started to smile and say hello to. Whenever I saw her I always felt compelled to go and say hello. She gave me some of her stickers, and promised to get me a bible just like hers. Later she invited me to her church, where she told me I could get a bible just like hers. A baptist church. I started seeing her around outside school. I also found out she only lived 2 roads from me. I started seeing a side of her that I was previously too proud to see. She had a beautiful smile, which brightened her square shaped head, fixed to her body with a seriously stiff neck. She always walked as if she had a limp, most of the time from side to side. I remember when my dad came and told us that the school system wasn’t working for us, and that our trial was over. I remember going to say goodbye to Tonyi. And she sent me on with her blessings.
I’ve been back to Nigeria since many times to look for her, but that house always looked deserted. It all makes sense now. Why she stared at us at the beginning, the foolish girls who knew nothing of the hardship of life and took it for granted. How tears have refused to stop flowing down my cheeks.
I am tired of being tired. I am tired of taking my life for granted. I am tired of taking God for granted. I am tired of making the same mistakes so many years still after the earliest recorded mistakes. Who told me the journey called Life will be an easy one. No one said it will be filled with people. My path has been so far one not many have travelled. Many are the days, months years I have spent all by myself. If it were not going to be the case, then God would not have had to say to me “He will never leave me or forsake me” – for this statement is to encourage many like me, who have had to journey to places on their own.
So yet again, today I intend to live each day like its my last day, for every second I am here is more seconds than I had previously, and be Thankful that I have known the love of family, friends and the LOVE of God.
I am sorry Tonyi for the way I had behaved even at such a young age. I pray that you find rest and peace wherever you are. You have always been in my thoughts, and always remember that even though I never showed it, I truly appreciated you, and you were loved by little old proud me.
Adieu my friend.