‘I apologize for being away.
I hope I’m back for good.’
Nnamdi was not the guy you wanted to be friends with; trust me. He was so skinny and had a funny skin colour. Everyone thought he was weird-I was no exception (close your eyes and imagine me thinking someone was weird).
We had just begun our Junior WAEC Examinations. Nnamdi’s househelp brought him to school everyday. I knew because Mr. Adetayo always made me sit in front (not like I was cheating or anything; maybe he just liked seeing my face). Anyways, Nnamdi looked skinnier than usual. His legs appeared longer and his face had lost it’s baby fat. I told Tope one time that his stinginess was beginning to tell on him. Nnamdi was too stingy abeg! At least, that was what I told everyone that cared to listen (everyone did actually).
People never believed that Nnamdi and I attended the same Primary school. He was Obinna’s neighbour. Nnamdi loved going home with Obinna despite the fact that he always made Nnamdi chase after him after school everyday. It was almost a norm to hear a voice that sounded a whole lot like someone was choking screaming “Obinna! wait for me”. For some in-explainable reasons, Nnamdi reminded me of Steve in Family Matters.
Allow me to break his weirdness down.
- Nnamdi was the guy who used 60 leaves exercise notebook for one session-not one term o! One entire session. He would make his handwriting so tiny just to ‘manage’ his exercise book.
- Due to the above fact, he never borrowed anyone his note. What do you want to even see? Every word was ‘just together’- it was pretty frustrating. It frustrated me every single time. Like, it literally made me tired; as in, physical tiredness.
- Nnamdi is the only person that I have ever met in my entire life that never exhausted Tikky 20 eraser. He had one Tikky 20 that never finished. It never got missing (which the norm for all Tikky 20) neither did it reduce. He used it but it remained the same-the size I mean.
- He never spent money on himself. He was the only one who sat in class during break time. Whenever I asked him why he was that way, he would yell ‘what’s your concern?” #sigh
Days before we were done with our Junior WAEC, Nnmadi became different. He spent money during break time, he laughed often, he teased me none stop and even hugged me one time. Nnamdi’s handwriting became bigger all of sudden but, I never ignored the fact that he looked thinner. His laughter became weaker every single time he tried to laugh. We heard he was sick; we just never knew how bad it was.
I won’t forget the last time we spoke. It was the simplest yet, most sincere conversation I have ever had with anyone in my entire lifetime.
We had just concluded our Junior WAEC. I had laughed a lot and wanted to take some ‘me time’. Besides, I wanted to personally ask God not to fall my hand in that paper. So, while I separated myself from everyone, I watched Nnamdi open a bottle of wine. He looked so happy- so happy, it made me smile. He served every
one around him and poured some on Topman’s (yes! that’s a human being’s name) head. Nnamdi hugged people and cracked a few people (who cared to listen) up. He was happy; very happy.
Then he came over to where I was sitting and took a sit. He smiled and said “Esther, are you my friend?” I smiled. I didn’t know what he aimed at achieving from that conversation; but, he seemed serious. I looked at him and saw his bones. Nnamdi was getting skinnier and I know it didnt seem like anything to others, but it nearly made me worried.
Sword Fights & Picking Pins
Perhaps, Nnamdi had fed himself with the idea that since the day Uncle Bob asked us to ‘pick pin’ together in the staff room, we were destined to be best friends. I didn’t see any form or reason for friendship. You won’t see any friendship ‘anything’ as soon as I tell you what happened.
I wasn’t exactly the most quiet person. I have said that a lot here. Nnamdi, on the other hand, was quiet. Sometimes, he was invisible. His nature made me enjoy teasing him. I would mimic his voice and open his notebook for the entire class to see his ‘marshmallow‘ handwriting.Sometimes, he laughed. sometimes, he didn’t. On one of those days when he wasn’t in the mood, I teased him about being stingy. He never liked that word, so he got up, pulled out his T-square and challenged me to a ‘sword fight’. Ahn!!! Me that can’t fight to save myself. Everyone in the class loved the idea so they started chanting ‘fight! fight!” Next thing I knew, I started laughing and went ahead to pull out my own T-square. Nnamdi and I fooled ourselved with our T-squares for what seemed like 10 minutes when Uncle Bob stepped into our class. We were unaware as we continued fooling our old ages claiming we were ‘sword fighting’- and we were serious o!
The entire class was quiet. we thought our ‘fight’ was beginning to inspire everyone until we heard “The two of you should follow me to the staff room now”. If you see the way Nnamdi threw his T-square away ehn. I didn’t know when I landed on my seat. It was too late of course. Mr. Bob grabbed the two of us by our shirts to the staff room. He asked us to ‘pick pin‘. You know Picking pin is never a big deal until you’ve been at it for almost an hour. When you start to feel like you eye balls will pop out of their sockets and your finger will break in One Million pieces, that is when you will understand the consequences and importance of picking pin . In no time, Nnamdi and I started sweating. We were shaking so bad we started colliding into each other. Despite the common pain, we would get up and smack the other person’s head when one of us collided into the other. It was epic!
Friendship & Memories
So, sitting with me in class that day was a shadow of Nnamdi. He smiled while fondling the wine’s cork. He looked at me and asked again “Esther, are you my friend?” I shook my head. I laughed out loud and said “Sure! I am literally your only friend in this class”. He nodded his head and said “You are my only friend. Don’t forget me”. Then he got up, picked his bag and went with his househelp.
That was the last time I saw Nnamdi or heard his voice.
His househelp came to school some days later asking for “Esther, Nnamdi’s friend.” She walked up to me and said “Nnamdi is dead.” She had tears in her eyes and edible pains.
Nnamdi was the only child of his mother. She died few days after his death.
#to be continued