“Please mummy I love this girl.” “Daddy how can I make you understand that without this girl, life means nothing to me.” “Times have changed, the world is now one.” Ekene is desperate for his parents to see his point.
It was the end of the National Youth Service, and the Passing-Out Parade (POP) was on. As Ekene matched beside Jasmine, occasionally hitting her hands as their arms swung back and forth, and their feet stamping proudly to the tune of the army band reminding them of the pride in serving their nation, Jasmine would let out a chuckle each time Ekene’s touch sent strong waves through her, that she feared the parade officer would notice and punish her for indiscipline on the parade ground. However that was the least of her worries as all she could see was a future so bright and hopeful, filled with great expectations, and ultimately filled with love as she had finally met the love of her life.
A young fair and tall lady was waiting to be assigned to her platoon unit at the National Youth Service camp, and while she waited, she thought of what life lies in wait for her in this far away part of western Nigeria. “Please, is this seat taken?” a deep voice had interrupted her thoughts. How would she cope around here, and to make matters worse, she had no family, no friends to rely on. These thoughts weighed heavily on her mind that she barely looked at her intruder’s face but with a whisper she answered “No.” Smiling and unassumingly, he slumped into the space beside her. “I wonder what kind of people would be in my platoon?” he asked with no reference to anyone. “Hello I am Ekene!” She turned around, and her gaze fell on the most pleasant face she had seen since her arrival at the camp. “Hi”, he beamed again at her. “I’m Ekene.” Jasmine shyly murmured her name and shook his stretched out hands. He held her hand longer than she expected. A joy she didn’t know resided within her erupted. Ekene and Jasmine hit it off instantly, chatting about everything and anything. The camp commandant appeared armed with the list of platoon allocations, and read out the names. Jasmine and Ekene screamed upon discovering they were in the same platoon. So it was sealed – a new friendship is born.
As the days went by, Ekene and ‘Jazz’ as he soon began to call her, bonded so much; they hardly spent a second apart from each other. Their friendship blossomed, and grew so deep that it was inevitable they fell in love. They began to think beyond camp, and started planning a life committed to each other, sealed by marriage. On the eve of the Passing-Out Parade, Ekene proposed to Jasmine, and Jasmine with tears of joy accepted. She knew life would mean less without Ekene.
Just as the service year was ending, Ekene wrote to his parents telling them all about the service year and the beautiful lady he had met. The letter was greeted with excitement and thanksgiving from his parents who had always prayed that Ekene would settle down as quickly as possible especially being an only child, and the need to expand the family was of utmost importance to his father. In the letter, Ekene had mentioned he would visit home after the parade. On this account, his parents pleaded with him to come home with their new daughter in-law so that they will meet her and begin the wedding preparations in earnest.
As Ekene matched on beside his Jazz, he could already hear the teasing and admiration from his parents. His parents, so close to him that they shared jokes and teases in love. These thoughts gladdened his heart, and a broad smile was spread across his handsome face. Just at that moment Jasmine wondered how her late mum would react to this news of love. She then thought of how her life would be different, and how she would cope with everything. Is love really enough? She caught Ekene looking at her with his usual charm, and she knew the answers to her questions. With a smile, Jasmine whispered, “I love you.”
As the last screams died down, and with the parade over, Ekene and Jasmine set out hand in hand, chatting and laughing, relieving the memories of the camp experience and working and living in the small town. They went to their favorite joint to have drinks, and made plans about their journey to Enugu to meet Ekene’s parents. They finished their drinks and said their goodbyes, then went back to their rooms to have an early night, as they set out early the next day.
Boarding the bus to Enugu was quick, and the driver soon began the journey. After several hours of chatting, and seeing the thick forests beside the highways, Jasmine stretched her body and dropped her head on Ekene’s shoulder and slept. Ekene joyfully itched his body closer to create a more comfortable cushion for his sweet Jazzy to dream of him. She slept for a long time, and was woken up by Ekene who shook her gently, telling her they had reached their destination.
Just as they alighted from the bus, Ekene could hear his name being called, so he looked up to see his mum running towards him. He ran towards her, flying into his mother’s arms and momentarily shutting out the world, even his Jazz. A second later, his father was tapping him on the shoulder, and the two men gave each other a firm handshake. Jasmine had walked up to them, and quickly Ekene took her hand and said, “Daddy, Mummy this is Jasmine, the girl I told you about.” His mother quickly took Jasmine into a warm embrace and said “Nwa mi noh”. Jasmine quickly looked at Ekene to help interpret the words. His mother notices, and with a frown let’s go of Jasmine.
Join me next week by God’s grace when I conclude this tale.
Till I write again, I love you for reading.