Janice, she was a fine, tall, slim looking girl with voluptuous breasts that argued her age. A fair sister to my dark skinned friend Japhet who was the only play mate I had back then in the neighbourhood. We lived in the same compound back then and that meant that I will have to wake up each day and see one of them on either errands or coincidence, wait! No! We attended the same school back then. I was in pre-primary and Janice was in Primary 3 or so, and Japhet, well, he played alot even though he was older than me, I hardly cared about his class. I just loved rough play.
I remember one evening when I and Japhet went on one of our games around the neighbourhood and ended up bursting the football belonging to a bully, Ibrahim after I and Japhet shot it against a wall moulded with broken bottles on the top that served as a protection against those who would like to jump the fence.
As tall as Japhet looked back then he was still bullied by Ibrahim who was short and had marks like my uncle’s local guitar (the molo), he looked strong and had a clique of other weak boys who rallied around him.
“What are we going to do, Japhet?” I asked and you know him, he turned smiling to me and said “we do not have 25 Naira to replace it, I suggest we run home”.
I ran home too scared to realise I ended up in Japhet’s house while I think he may have ended on the mango tree behind the house. Janice called me to hide in her room like she knew what had happened and stood outside pretending to be all by herself.
When the bully arrived with his gang, I heard alot of grumbling and noise and for a few seconds I prayed.
Janice walked back to the room and sat with me, and she asked what happened, I told her everything and she wasn’t happy with me, I sensed it in her voice “You’re such an intelligent boy, I don’t expect you to go around looking for trouble, or even playing with Japhet, you’re much wiser than he is”.
Few weeks later, my play mate became Janice, I found her attractive even though I was only 7 years old, I felt somethings move in my belly and my heart beat faster when I think of her. Janice was like a morning flower that showed her beauty with the first ray of the sun. “I’m going to tell her I love her”, I kept saying that for weeks until one Saturday I took ill and had to be in the hospital for a week. Janice never came to see me, “maybe I should have told her sooner, she would have come” I thought to myself.
After I was dismissed from the hospital, on arriving home, I casually asked about our neighbours when I was told they moved out.
21 years have passed and Janice has always lingered in my thoughts, she was swinging on them or still holding the end of it.
Today I saw Janice by the primary school we used to attend, she was as radiant as I could remember, I dropped from the bus and walked up to her “Janice, it’s me, I never ever got the chance to tell you how much I loved you, in fact I still do, everyday I think of you, it staggers my heart that I had promised myself I will marry you”.
The shock on her face was like that of the young Janice I kissed some years ago in her room, when suddenly a girl broke the silence between us with a kid on her back and one holding her hands saying “Madam! Rudolph no gree chop him lunch today oh” and she gave her the kids and left.