Emeka Okafor is not your ordinary guy and everyone seemed to know. There was something about him that he tries to fathom but to no avail. That same thing draws him to people and vice versa. Even when he tried to stay at the fringes of life, that ‘something’ thrusts him from the background to the fore of life; to the centre stage where he belongs but he loathes remaining there. And such is life, for we often act out roles in the larger scenes of life even when we least are prepared for them.
One thing Emeka recognized about himself from childhood was his attraction to women; they just liked him for no plausible reason. He has heard his elder sister’s girlfriends call him ‘fine boy’; his big brothers called him a ‘ladies’ man’ long before he knew what it was to be called a woman. He had thought that his kid sister, Nene was a boy like him, as she was his only playmate. His three senior siblings, Uche, Okey and Chioma belonged to a different generation and were miles of ages apart. They were also eons of moral apart! They were all sent to boarding school to keep them away from known vices as their parents had thought. And when they entered the universities, they took a deep plunge into the world of hedonism. While at home on holidays they attended disco parties and spent little or no time with Emeka and Nene. So it was natural for Emeka and Nene to bond like two inseparable twins and delighted their parents a great deal unlike their wayward seniors.
Emeka and Nene lived in innocence and were far-removed from anything that corrupted their minds. They only watched kid-friendly programs on TV and their parents censored whatever they read or watched, and wouldn’t allow kids in the neighbourhood visit them except those they saw as good influences. They had different versions of ‘My Book of Bible Stories” and attended morning mass with their parents before they dropped them off at school. But things changed one long vacation when Emeka’s parents travelled out of the country on a pilgrimage to
That holiday just changed Emeka and Nene noticeably and they gradually began to admire and take interest in the lifestyles of their seniors. One night they secretly watched a porn movie that their brothers had forgotten in the VCD player in living room. As preteens removed from sexually-explicit movies unlike their seniors, they felt uncomfortable but noticed how their bodies responded to the acts and scenes. They needed no one to tell them that the movie had crossed the moral boundaries their parents had set, but they just couldn’t resist the pull to watch the films when Okey, Uche and Chioma were away. There was something about the movie that made them giggle and chuckle. They felt hot flushes go through their body in response to the graphic images that sipped into their minds. For reasons they couldn’t figure out, these images were replayed on their minds regularly.
With time Emeka and Nene began to long for the thrilling experience the actors and actresses seem to have enjoyed in the movies. Their senior siblings have neither been good mentors nor role models to both youngsters. So when they were left alone one night, they attempted to imitate what they had seen in the movies. But they stopped on their track when they both remembered what the priests had taught them before their First Holy Communion: That their bodies are the temples of the Living God; that they should flee from sexual sin like Joseph fled from Portiphar’s wife; that fornicators would be damned in hell forever; that God would destroy anyone who defiled His temple (their bodies) through illicit sex. This caution didn’t make much sense to them but for some reason they couldn’t lay their hands on, Emeka and Nene just believed the priest’s words. And they were scared too that Nene could just get pregnant.!
Emeka had teenage friends at school that had bloomed earlier than him, and they regaled him with stories of their escapades with girls. They mocked him as a ‘pepper less guy’ who didn’t know how to ‘toast’ the numerous girls that liked him. He was shy before girls except his dear sister, Nene and his peers poked and teased him to scorn for being a church boy. He was made to feel less than a man, but he kept his cool as much as he could in spite of the pressures from his friends. Each time Emeka made efforts to cross his boundaries with girls, he always felt as though an unseen hand restrained his will from going all the way. Though he felt frustrated and confined, he assumed the unseen forces would unleash him from their grips once he leaves home for the university; the place of freedom. He looked forwards to the freedom and fun of the university, where the prying eyes of his parents would not easily reach.
His freedom came with ease as Emeka made one of the best JAMB results during his time and had a smooth ride into the
But one did get close enough and he just helplessly watched it happen; Amina, the beautiful girl from a Fulani background just broke his defences. She loved him deeply and he just couldn’t be himself whenever she comes near him.Though she was the toast of every guy in the 200Level class, no one could get beyond the palpable shield around her, let alone ask her out. She usually dressed in full length Mediterranean flowery gowns that covered her entire frame, but the little outline left of her face was the tip of the iceberg that sent the guys ablaze. Many jostled to win her heart but to no avail. Yet she gravitated towards Emeka as though some cosmic forces had decreed that long before met. Emeka the prudish and laid-back guy had unwittingly won the heart of the dashingly beautiful but seemingly unapproachable Amina. The class watched shockingly but jealously as Amina became a regular visitor to Emeka and his room mate, Segun in the male hostel and he put her through difficult assignments in anatomy, biochemistry or physiology.
Her premedical books were not the low-priced editions that most Nigerian students had. Hers were directly ordered from publishers in
gaments, nerves and blood vessels on the body of the cadaver for the viva exams. Surprisingly Amina passed the exams beyond her widest dreams, and was grateful for the impact Emeka had made in her life beyond her academic life.
She enjoyed listening to him talk about philosophy; scientific inventions, world politics, medieval history etc and she felt he was more of a genius who knew much about just any subject under the sun. To his credit, he read wider than most of his medical peers who seem to know little or nothing outside the field of medicine. In addition, he treated her with much courtesy and respect which made her feel like a woman whenever she’s around him. He treated her with the same regard he had for Nene which made him not do any silly thing with her after they watched the porn movies. He would listen patiently to Amina talk about her pains, fears and doubts without complaining. They were secrets she couldn’t share with anyone else, and this made them bond beyond mere friendship.
Soon after the euphoria of success at the 2ndMB exams had died down, most of the preclinical students began to desert their hostels for their respective homes for the two weeks break. They would report to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for their clinical postings once the break was over. Emeka had looked forward to seeing his family especially his lovely sister, Nene and had told Amina about his travel plans to Owerri. Amina had come around to bid him farewell the night before his trip, and they talked late into wee hours of the morning. It was also a time to ‘wash’ and celebrate their recent success in the MB exams .Since his room mate, Segun had already left for
Their hands were clasped together and they faced each other, looking deep into each other’s eyes. Amina had brought along a CD selection of romantic music that wisped through the air from Emeka’s CD player. It was a perfect romantic evening for the two lovebirds and it was a night Amina had looked forward to since they became close friends. The environment was secure for their love for each other to be consummated and there was no going back. Amina longed for deep intimacy with Emeka, and he wanted desperately to prove his love to her, and the very night had come with the right ambience and romantic cue anyone could ever think of. They hugged each other like two earthworms in copulation and caressed passionately as they professed their love for each other. As Emeka began to strip her of her dress, his heart began to palpitate and Amina could feel the thud with each beat. After what seemed like an eternity together, he hissed deeply and sighed. He quickly loosened Amina from his firm grips without a word.
Shocked. Annoyed. Confused. Amina was as flustered as the look on Emeka’s face and she asked, ‘Emeka, what’s the matter with you? Did I annoy you just now.why are you trying to spoil this nice time we’re having for the first time?’
He looked like someone who had just been stung by a bee. In haste, he sat up from his bed with Amina snuggled beside him wondering what could have elicited the sudden change in his behaviour. His voice quivered as he spoke and she could feel the deep remorse when he said ‘Amina am truly sorry for going this far with you physically. I never meant to do this and I feel terribly sorry for all this..’
‘ Shup up Emeka! I just don’t understand this at all’ she retorted with anger almost brewing past what she could control. ‘I left my hostel to spend an unforgettable night with you for the first time and here you’re, acting funny and sermonising. Do you know what it took me to leave my hostel without caring who was watching me enter your room or not? We have loved each other deeply for almost two years and you know this is the best time to express this love we have for each other’ Amina was distraught and her tear sack burst.
“Amina please, it’s not your fault. You’ve never in anyway wronged me. I shouldn’t have gone this far with you in the first place. I had taken a vow of celibacy as a teenager and had asked God to help me keep away from sleeping with any woman until I marry. I also promised that I won’t take advantage of any woman that is close to me.and here I am, stripping you naked and startting what I vowed not to do until I marry. Please forgive me Amina..’
Disappointment was written all over Amina’s face as she watched Emeka alight from his bed and walk across the room to sit on his room mate’s bed which was vacant. He pulled out his Bible and flipped to the verse that he had read the night he had taken the vow before God. He had heard of priests and ordained presbyters taking vows of celibacy or chastity but not a layman like him who was not planning to be ordained a priest in the church. It was one he discovered while he tried to read the book of Revelation which he tried hard to understand. It was Revelation 14:4 and what struck him were the words; “These were the ones who were not defiled with women, for they were virgins.”
He sunk to his feet, with eyes glistened with tears he buried his face on, Segun’s pillow and released a wailing cry; a lamentation of sorts! Amina could hear him cry out loudly; “Dear God, I have sinned against you and almost broken the vow I made before you. Did you not say that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed fornication in his heart with her? Please forgive me.”
Amina pulled herself together, then rose up and walked away without bidding Emeka goodnight. She wondered what kind of a man would so love a woman yet rebuff her offer of love. Would she hate him for life, or come to admire him as a disciplined gentleman. Emeka heard her bang the door and there was nothing he could do to bring her back. Unknown to them, Segun had been tapped by an unseen hand that woke him up that night. He was sure he had seen Emeka in a dream where he was in dire straits. His heart was heavy and he prayed all through the wee hours of the morning, crying and pleading before God to deliver his beloved friend and room mate from imminent danger. Neither Emeka nor Amina saw the angel that waltzed into the room. He had never seen this angel, but somehow he always felt that restraining but unseen hand tug at his heart when thoughts of breaking his vow become strong.