I dated her.
She was a stunner and a brainiac. I was a gangly, big-headed dreamer enamoured with knowledge and the exploration of the totality of the feminine.
We were both sixteen. It was the age of conquest, when boys proved themselves by the number of girls they had slept with, and girls proved their worth by the number of boys who wanted to sleep with them.
In those days, most of the girls snuck out of their homes to groove with the boys at house parties. They had to resort to sneaking because their parents were fearsome in protection as they viewed the boys as hyenas looking for prey. And when the girls met the boys, desire fueled by restriction and naivety took over, and the boys who were self- and peer-educated mauled the overly-protected girls.
What their parents feared the most, they actually helped bring to pass.
Her parents were different. They exposed their children to the light.
She was an oracle.
We met and bonded in JAMB class.
It started from a shy glancing away after our eyes locked one hot afternoon, to a passing hello, and then to an enquiry about an assignment, then a comment about the novel she was reading, before it fast-forwarded into long cerebral conversations about anything and everything. In three weeks, we were in a relationship. It was puppy love.
One late afternoon, I went to her house to pick her up for a house party. The plan was to meet her outside at 5.30 pm and get her back at 9 pm. To the boys back then, whenever a girl gave you the green light to pick her up for a party, it was automatically assumed that her parents were either out, travelled or asleep.
So I sat in the car waiting for her and imagining all the steps I would take in engaging her senses, shedding her clothes and exploring her hyper-excited, ravishingly-beautiful anatomy.
This was the party of parties. It was to take place at a friend’s house in Victoria Island. The house had several rooms, a swimming pool and his parents were gone for the weekend.
I sat there in the car fantasizing.
It was 5.15 pm. Music blared in the interior of the car and a knock on my window startled me mildly around. I turned in the direction and the piercing eyes of the maiguard greeted me.
I rolled down the window.
“Oga say make I tell you to come inside.”
Instant panic surged through me.
“Ah! Tell oga say you no see me,” I spluttered.
I engaged the gear and made to step on the gas pedal.
“Make you no run o. Oga go think say yarinya dey follow aboki wey no good. No be better thing be dat. Abeg come inside, e go just talk to you, and when yarinya don ready, she go follow you. Na so oga dey do.”
I stared at his honest face, sighed, changed the gear back to neutral, switched off the ignition and followed him into the imposing house.
The living room was vast, well furnished and homely. Her father was dressed in a white, flowing jalebia and was seated on a couch; he had his legs curled under him and was flipping the channels on the large box TV with a remote control. He was diminutive and cheerful and promptly waved me over as I walked in.
I was afraid. Boys my age never want to meet the parents, let alone father of the girls we had intentions on. It complicated things.
I walked over to him.
“How are you doing, young man?” he enquired.
“I am fine, sir.”
He smiled. It was a warm smile.
“Welcome to my home. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.”
I sat down, and so began a stimulating conversation that lasted over twenty minutes, before the siren waltzed into the living room looking like the definition of beautiful itself.
Her father turned to me with a glint of pride in his eyes and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?”
I could only nod in response.
A chit-chat followed. Then there was a hug between father and daughter. I stood up and respectfully bowed.
“I will bring her back by 7 pm,” I said.
“No. Isn’t it a party you are both going for? 9 pm is okay. That will give you time to get back home before 10 pm.”
I was deeply impressed with him.
He stretched out his hand in a handshake. I took it.
“You are a great young man, and I know you will take good care of my daughter.”
With those words, he handcuffed my hands and put my raging libido and amorous ideas in check.
Then he turned to his daughter and gave her something. I couldn’t see what it was. But they both looked at each other and smiled.
We left the living room and walked hand in hand to the car. The maiguard nodded at me in appreciation. I nodded back to in respect. I opened the door of the front passenger seat for her, and she glanced at me, impressed before she stepped in.
And then she opened her clutch bag and placed what her father gave her into it. I caught the movement with my side eye.
“What are those?”
She looked squarely at me as though surprised that I would have asked before she showed me the new content of her bag. They were three condoms.
I was taken aback for a moment. The shock registered. Then incredulity had set in, before excitement seized control. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Right there and then, I believed with the whole of my heart that her father was the “bestest” man in the entire universe.
I didn’t say anything. Instead, I let my imagination run riot.
We arrived at the party. It was jumping. The rooms were mostly locked as friends busied themselves with their catches. The toilets were moaning and grunting. There were screams coming from different parts of the house. The pool itself was alive as people jumped in sans clothes. It was revelry at its peak.
And in the midst of it all, both of us simply danced.
She was about the only girl that hadn’t sneaked out to be there that evening.
I bided my time. I said what I believed were the right things. I switched between being a gentleman and taking control.
But nothing I did or said made her give me anything more than a kiss. A fleeting kiss that made my lips tingle and my body crave for more.
And she wouldn’t say no. All she did was playfully push me away after my innovative attempts to get her to follow me into one of the rooms, toilets or the car.
My brains were in between my legs. Hers was where it was created to be. She was unmovable.
Frustrated, I finally asked her, “Why did your dad give you the condoms if he didn’t expect you to use it?”
She was silent for a moment as she stared at me. Her eyes had dimmed with disappointment.
I instantly regretted asking the question as it seemed like her eyes were the eyes of her father.
She gently held my right hand in both of her hands and slowly spoke in her sultry voice that was a mixture of singing and whispering. I have never met anyone else with a voice like hers.
She said, “My father gives me condoms not because he expects me to use them, but because he expects that if I make a choice to use them, I will protect myself from unwanted pregnancies and diseases.”
I stared at her meekly as she continued.
“You see, Jude, I know you have said all you can say because you have through experience perfected the talk – a lot of this talk which is not true. Because I know what is true. My father has made sure I am not sexually ignorant. So do not waste your time trying to blindfold me with these words to get what you want. I know you are more than that. That is why I am here with you.”
I felt myself standing there shamefacedly naked.
“But wanting to have sex is not something bad,” I said. “We are adults now.”
“No, we are not. We are not even eighteen.”
“No one here is eighteen.”
“Must we be foolish because everyone else is?”
The question hung in the air and rained down shame on me.
“Jude, we are in school to develop our minds. Let us date to develop our hearts, and if and when we marry, we can develop that part of our bodies that can destroy us if we do not know how to control it.”
“But I know how to control it.”
“Then why are you allowing it control you?”
Again shame rained like confetti on me.
She squeezed my hand in comfort.
“Jude, we cannot control love, but we can control our response to it and the demands it makes. My father has taught me to understand control. He has given me the knowledge, because it is only in knowing something that you can control it. I know my body and understand my sexuality; that is why I can make it fall in line with the goals I have set for myself. I have chosen to remain a virgin until I get married, and my body has to obey.”
“Did you choose or your father chose for you?”
“My parents give me the knowledge of all there is to sex and how it contributes to and affects the choices one makes in life, whether it be relationships or destinies. They left the choice up to me and supported me when I chose to abstain because they knew that even if I chose otherwise and they didn’t approve, there was no way in the world for them to stop me from having sex.”
“You are just saying this to stop me from –”
“I am saying it because it is true. In my family, we talk. Nothing is hidden. My parents are my confidantes. They trust me, and I trust them. And it is that trust which is fed by our love and respect that makes us operate and live in the open, knowing that come what may, we have each other’s backs. So we are in each other’s lives not out of fear but out of love.”
“So it is out of love that your father gave you those condoms. He knows that chances are you will use it. He is a guy, and he was once my age. He knows how these things are,” I argued. “He expects you to use it and replace it out of respect. Every parent knows their kids are having sex, they just don’t ask. Your father is a sharp guy, he has marked those condoms, he knows that since you have to show it to him when you get back, you will not be able to use it.”
“I never return the condoms he gives me to him,” she countered, “neither does he ever ask to see them. He knows I can buy other condoms, use your condoms or have sex without condoms even if I return the condoms he gives me unused.”
Again shame rained on me as my stupidity shone. I quickly fought to recover my dignity. “Stop trying to make your father look cool,” I groused.
“Honestly, the condoms are not for him. They are for me. He said to me that if I ever find myself in a situation in which against or beyond my better judgment, I find myself unable to resist having sex, I must hold on to the power to dictate the terms of the engagement and not give the guy the power to take from me, more than I am willing at that moment to give him.”
I found an opening and gave my thoughts a voice, the earlier shame rapidly evaporated. “Do you love me?”
“You know I do.”
“What are you willing to give me right now?”
“Just your love?”
“It is precious, Jude. And do not make yourself undeserving of it.”
I was silent. She was silent.
“What do you do with all the condoms he gives to you?”
“I go back home and keep them in my condom jar.”
“Yes, like a cookie jar.”
“So that when I get married, I will break it open and count how many times I actually preserved my virginity.”
I looked at her with a mixture of irritation and respect.
“And would your husband have also preserved his virginity too?”
“I am not doing it for him or for my father. I am doing it for me.”
I stood there staring at her with a riotous mind and conflicted emotions as the party raged around us.
I never gave up trying to sleep with her.
We dated until we got into the university, different universities.
We remain good friends.
She never slept with me. And she went into her marriage at the age of twenty-seven as a virgin.
The other day, we spoke over the phone, and I asked her how many condoms she had in her condom jar when she broke it.
She laughed in that her singularly unique voice to the background of the voices of her two kids playing. “Do you ever forget anything, Jude?”
“Come on, tell me.”
Her laughter died and then she sighed.
“Seven hundred and five.”
“And how many involved me?”
She laughed again.
“Jude Idada, go and marry and stop disturbing another man’s wife.”
Written by Jude Idada