Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
25 years ago, I fell in love for the first time.
I was a 14 year-old young lady; Uchechukwu Nnamani was a 15 year-old loving young man.
On Monday 2016 May 9, I mulled my childhood lover, wondering where he is now.
Early the next morning, I woke humming the lyrics of When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge.
I was singing the song in my sleep, a restful sleep it must have been, aided by the cool weather of the night rain.
Over the past 17 days, I have reminisced and celebrated the purity of that love affair, one filled with true, sensual and innocent love devoid of carnal gratification.
While we were physically attracted to each other, we made no bodily contact, not even holding hands.
We were two teenagers in love, a case of emotional pleasure.
My siblings and friends were aware of our amorous relationship.
In fact, our love became the signature of childhood sweethearts decades afterwards.
I have since loved again and again, but none has been as thrilling as that between Nkem Nwichi and Lasisi.
On my 40th birthday, I rejoice with all childhood lovers.
Experience the beauty of love at a tender age, for it might well be the standard to measure all other relationships.
The love children have for each other is often just that – affection, care and consideration.
Uche And Nkem
The story of Uche and I is set in Achara Lay-Out in the city of Enugu.
Uchechukwu Nnamani lost his father in a ghastly automobile accident.
That drew my attention to Uche.
Although there was little I could do to comfort him, I shared his pain.
I watched him closely and observed the trauma deep in him.
He manifested truancy.
Each morning, dressed in his green trousers and white shirt, his school uniform, Uche halted in front of my residence.
The block of flats I lived was somewhat the headquarters of the neighbourhood.
My attendance at a boarding school afforded me mid-term breaks and vacations when other youths in the neighbourhood were yet to close for the term.
Looking down at Uche from my room, I mouthed inaudibly: Go to school, you.
I fully appreciated truancy was Uche’s response – more, defiance – at the sudden demise of his dad.
The more I observed Uche, the more I grew to love him.
Chibueze, Facilitator Of Love
One day, I entered the flat of my neighbour and best friend Chibueze just as Uche left.
Realising Chibueze and Lasisi Laputo were close friends, I made a bold step.
I should like to see Uche, I confided in Chibueze Ama.
He agreed to bring back Uche soonest.
Shortly later, I entered Chibueze’s home just in time, as he walked through the front door, with Uche behind him.
Uche, I wish to talk with you, I informed him and stepped outside to wait for him.
To remove my younger siblings and Chibueze’s from interrupting the realisation of my intention, I gave them some money for an errand.
I sent them to buy some biscuits and groundnuts for themselves.
My plan was in motion.
Before Uche met me, the young ones were speedily back; I gave them more money and sent them out again.
Then came Uchechukwu Nnamani, the Lasisi Laputo, in a gentle demeanour.
I invited him over to my side of the balcony.
The little ones returned, saw Uche and I on the verandah and went into Chibueze’s family home.
The scene was clear and perfect, for we had some privacy.
Commencing the discussion, I took the lead.
Uche, there is something I wish to enquire from you.
Do you have a girlfriend?
No. I had one before, but she sleeps with others.
Oh! I am sorry!
It is okay.
Would you like me to be your girlfriend?
Thus began the time of my life in April of the year 1991.
I was an extremely shy young girl; the shyness was not an obstruction to me going for whom I desired.
Thank you, Chibueze, for bringing Uche and I together.
Uche and I have not communicated since that year.
Over the years, he has asked after me.
I really am sorry, Uche for not making an effort to locate you.
I have never forgotten you. How could I forget my first love!
Recently, I did attempt to find you on social media, only to discover a long list of Uchechukwu Nnamanis, all centred in Enugu.
Oh! Great!, I thought, Nnamani is a typical Enugu name!!
Just wonderful! I am learning the geography of Igbo names, while looking for someone.
Uche, wherever you are, I have never stopped loving you.