I battled with low self-esteem when I got admission into All Saints' College, a private school where I spent the remaining three years of my secondary school education.
The late Boluwatife Ejiofoh and her daughter
A high school friend with a heart of gold named Jamiu decided to open a WhatsApp group to connect all the old students of All Saints' College (ASCOL) Jericho reservation, Ibadan - precisely 2004 set with each other.
I almost cried when I was added to the group. I loathe WhatsApp group chats and I always have difficulties leaving the ones I have been added to prevent making the wrong impression. Jamiu is a unifier and I will forever respect him for his humble and peaceful nature. He loves to stay in touch with the high school family. He endured the embarrassment of talking several supercilious folks into being members of the group. Trust my judgement, ASCOL had a lot of cocky guys who have achieved more than Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg in their imaginations. But that's not my focal point today.
In barely two months of the creation of the group, the death of one of us was announced on the platform. I rushed to check who it was and I was enveloped by shock when I discovered it was my secondary school crush, Boluwatife Ejiofoh. It was unbelievable and I apparently felt a blackout!
It was as if I instantly teleported back to the year 2001 at the SS 1 class when I first set my eyes on the wonderful soul.
I battled with low self-esteem when I got admission into All Saints' College, a private school where I spent the remaining three years of my secondary school education. You wouldn't blame me. I was coming from a public school - Government College, Apata, Ibadan (popularly called GCI till date) where vernacular was like the official language in the school. Most of my colleagues were generally from poor homes so we all felt comfortable with ourselves. All Saints' College was different, the students were divided into two major economic classes. The supposed children of the rich and that of the struggling. I belonged to the latter. While the pupils of the upper-class talked about designer wears, cars, houses, foreign music, exotic meals, computers, internet, new video game technologies, holidays and other good things of life, my gist couldn't meet up with theirs. They were even more fluent in the English language than me. For the first time in my life, I felt lost. I was difficult to deal with the feeling of looking like an outsider. Envy started to creep into my heart and I started wishing I was born into their class of families. During my days at GCI - an all-male school, I seemed popular among the girls at the extra moral classes I attended. I couldn't continue the feat at ASCOL. I thought I was a lion but I was just a mere cat, the one that makes funny noises around your windows at night.
I maintained a low profile relating with the people of my class. When I moved from the science class to the art class due to my challenges with my sums, Boluwatife was one of the upper-class girls that loved my style. She was interested in my story and my jokes. She was an open-minded beautiful, dark-skinned, busty and tall girl who appeared to have experienced life at the upper and lower strata. I think the massive size of her boobs made her easily noticeable among the female folks. She was a product of an intercultural marriage between Yoruba and Igbo individuals or so. We would sit down for long hours and talk about the Yoruba movies most people were ashamed of discussing. She particularly loved the characters of Baba Suwe, Moladun Kenkelewu and others in that circle. She loved laughing. She would laugh to the extent of shedding tears and at times might end up sitting on the bare floor. She was really crazy!
She will comfortably share my snacks with me and drink from the same bottle with me. She was to an extent careless with her body but not in an indecent way. She could hug you tightly despite being the opposite sex. She could sit on your laps while you guys talked. On some occasions, she would rest her soft bosom on my back while we discussed. I loved that feeling, I swear to God! Many started feeling erroneously that we were dating. As teenagers then we were excited about dating each other as we were just attaining puberty. I'm sure they wondered how an amateur and ill-equipped hunter like me would drag an elephant home from the forest.
My closeness to her helped me gain confidence and comfortability in my own skin. To my amazement, she easily looked down on the so-called upper-class guys which didn't go down well with them.
Most of them must have started feeling there was something special about me. Some of them would accost me on the road to make inquiries about Boluwatife. They wanted to know if we were dating. The feeling was so enjoyable even though there was nothing like that between us.
Gradually, I started proving my mettle academically as one of the top students in the school. I gathered strength that I was able to walk boldly around and tell my own stories from the world I belong to with the number of listeners increasing. Through me, Bolu became friends with other guys who later loved her personality. I liked Bolu but I didn't want to lose the friendship we shared so I killed the feelings. One thing my association with Bolu taught me was to be proud of who I am as well as my background. Till date, I confidently tell people my parents were civil servants and my first school fees at All Saints College was paid from a loan my father obtained from the bank for the purpose of giving me a better future.
In 2004, I passed my SSCE in flying colours and proceeded to the Obafemi Awolowo University while she went to Bowen University and we never spoke again. Then social media was absent. I joined Facebook in 2008 during my third year in school and I couldn't find her. Connecting with most of my old schoolmates was discouraging as many had moved on. They were very hostile and snobbish on Facebook. I moved on too and put the memories behind me.
I was devastated when I heard about Bolu's demise. She had already married with a lovely daughter. She stayed in the same city, Lagos with me and our paths never crossed. I wished I made extra efforts to connect with Bolu on Instagram while she was alive. I was told she died in the hospital on Wednesday night - 20th of March, 2019 after battling with an undisclosed ailment.
Even in the picture of hers that was used to announced her eternal exit, I could see the traces of pure laughter on her face. She was indeed a happy and free-spirited person. I have been staring at her picture for days now with guilt. I wish I reached out to her to express appreciation for the sense of belonging she gave me as a lonely and insecure young boy. I feel she might have lived if I prayed for her. I can't remember losing any close friend to the cold hands of death and I appreciate God for that grace. Since I heard the bad news, I have been feeling the grace could have been extended to Bolu if kept in touch as good friends again.
Death is inevitable but it comes with immense pains whenever it happens too early. Bolu died too young, she would have been 31 this year I think.
May God forgive her sins and grant her a special place in heaven. May He grant her family the fortitude to bear the loss. No amount of lamentations or tears will bring her back.
I want to use this medium to advise anybody reading this to cultivate the habit of checking on those special people who made positive impacts in their lives at different levels. We don't know what tomorrow holds. I wish I said a final goodbye to Bolu. I wish I could watch her laugh and roll on the floor as I share my regular childish gist. Sadly, dead bodies don't laugh.
Please, forgive me for not checking on you while that ailment squeezed your precious life out of you. You might be gone but you will always live in my heart. You are never over Boluwatife Ejiofoh.
Written by Osayimwen Osahon George; B.sc, M.sc, PhD in view.