I met Mike at the cinema. We went together with John my twin brother to see one of the latest movies in town. We had almost entered the cinema hall when a handsome looking young man intercepted.
“Hello gentleman and lady, am sorry for the intrusion. I am Mike and I’m new here, could this be Ozone Cinemas?”
John and I unanimously gave a response that sounded like a chorus, “yes”.
He smiled with an aura of self-confidence, thanked us and strutted to take a seat in front of us. He had a sonorous voice blended with a foreign accent. He had come to hang out with a friend he met on social media while he was in Europe. They had hatched plans to go on a date whenever he returned to Nigeria. He sat down while awaiting the arrival of his friend with his left leg crossed over his right thigh and started making a call to inform her of his arrival.
My heart throbbed at the sight of this prepossessing young man. I had never crushed on a man at first sight in all my life. My culture never believed a woman’s heart could be as vulnerable as not to be able to filter the flow of blood mixed with some impure emotional imprints.
Because of this, we were culturally bound to play dumb or stay naive on matters of the heart. It would be a lesser evil for an Ideal African lady to sulk and die in silence than to downplay on the supposedly pristine and unimpeachable rich cultural values of our people to open up to a man she was crushing on. Such a lady was not worthy to be called a well cultured African woman. She would be termed a cheap or loose woman.
My father often said, “a typical Ukelle woman should be too proud to declare her intention to a man, otherwise she would be too shy and frustrated if she loses. If she declares her intention to a man and the man disapproves it, She would have dealt a fatal blow to her fragile ego and it might take her eternity to recuperate from this wound she inflicts on herself. The dignity of a woman lies in being wooed”. I often wondered why our culture overemphasized the rules that gave women dignity and prestige at the detriment of the rules that gave them personal happiness and fulfillment. Our culture restricted women’s freedom to the extent that they hardly go for what they want. They were expected to wait and receive what was presented to them whether they liked it or not. They were often times groomed to please the culture and displease themselves. Because of this, I tried to shield my heart to be immune to infatuation. My heart wanted what it wanted but often times lacked the courage to go for what it wanted because of some cultural strings.
Throughout the time we spent at the cinema, my mind eyes were fixed on Mike as I buried my head on the ground, trying to assuage this emotional hangover. I had never seen a man so gentle, polite and soft spoken in all my life as this! His soft voice could pierce the impenetrable heart of a woman in a split second. John tapped me, “Suzy, are you okay?” “I’m fine”, I answered.
Mike walked up to me with a smile that seemed like the whole heaven had smiled on me. “You are beautiful,” he said. I smiled with an uncontrollable excitement mixed with an air of feminine shyness and said, “thank you”. He drew close to me and whispered the sweetest words to my ears, “I love you”. I lifted up my head from where it had lain on the chair all the while. Behold, it was only a fantasy!
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