I’m supposed to write Valentine’s Day message even though I have never celebrated that in my life. I don’t celebrate anything other people celebrate. I don’t celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter or any other festival. I only celebrate 6th March, Nkrumah’s birthday, my birthday, Mariam’s birthday and a few other people’s birthdays. As a Christian, I only celebrate Communion because that is the only thing Jesus asked us to do in remembrance of him. I am not against the celebration of anything, it is just my philosophy not to do so myself.
Okay, I lied in the first line. I have celebrated Vals twice in my. When I was 11 and when I was 21. At 11, I had this girl with who I didn’t know I was dating or in love with. I realized we were dating years later, when I remember the things we did together.
She was the only girl who visited me and my strict parents allowed. I visited her at home and she told me I was the only guy, apart from her dad, to enter her room. I noticed her room had no window. The only way outside air can get in the room is when the door is opened and her door, she told me, was always closed because of activities of armed robbers in her area.
My house was closed to our school than hers. She had to wait for her dad to pick her after school and all I had to do was cross the road and I’m home. I usually waited with her and her sister till he came for them. Sometimes she had to wait for over two hours and I did with her. I waited for her car’s dad (don’t correct me)
to leave sight before walking home. On days I have to leave her and go home for whatever reason, she came to my house to say bye when her dad comes for her. My stepmom used to sell Ice Cream and she used that as an excuse to get her dad to drive her to my house.
We used to sit together (sometimes I sat right behind her, sometimes she sat right behind me) from Primary 4 to 6. She liked sitting in front and in Class 5, I wanted to sit further back. She reported me to the teacher, saying I wanted to talk in class so I was moving to back of the class. The teacher brought me back to the front to sit by her. Same year, we went to a pool together. It was me, her and two other girls. We had no swim costumes so we all swam naked. It was so fun.
I remember that 14th February like it was yesterday. We were in JSS 1. It was a Friday. We didn’t have class that day, I don’t remember the reason. We were playing around the school all day. I remember she was full of laughter and smiles all day but I don’t remember my mood. She took me to the canteen and bought me toffees. We went behind our class and she gave me Rice and Kontomire Stew from her lunchbox. There were flowering trees behind the class, Hibiscus flower and a few others. She plucked flowers from the trees while I was eating. She kissed them when I was done, gave them to me and asked me to kiss them too. I did. We ran around and danced around till we went home. I faintly remember us pecking each other on the lips at a point.
She didn’t come to school on the following Monday. She called in sick. The Thursday, the class contributed to buy gifts for her. A 4-member delegation was sent to
go and make the presentation on our behalf. They came back with the gifts and teary eyes. She has passed away earlier that day. She died of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM). She had to be buried that same day, without being laid in state. They said the disease is so contagious; one could catch it just by getting in contact with a contaminated air. (This is why I am disgusted we are approving the disease with the seriousness it deserves). All students in the Uaddara Barracks (in Kumasi) were vaccinated against CSM a few days after, like we always do in this country. We wait for a tragedy to happen before we take ‘preventive measures’.
I still mourn my friend every day. I still see her in my dreams. Sometimes I talk to her and hear her talk back in my head. Anytime I hear a love song, I hear her name in the singer’s mouth. Anytime I am keeping people at arm’s length, I am trying to stop myself from getting hurt like I did when she left without saying goodbye. At least, she should have given the chance to get used to her not being in life. I can’t help but remember her every time I hear the word Valentine. This is why I don’t celebrate the day.
As a bonus, let me tell you about the second time I celebrated Valentine…
I became a journalist at the age of 19. I interviewed a couple of celebrities. I developed chemistry with one beauty queen I interviewed. We both loved hip hop (she loved Lil Wayne, Sarkodie and Fat Joe and I love Kanye and Okomfour Kwaadee). Our chat went from an interview to chats on Facebook and phone every night. She gave me her password to check something in
her Facebook one time and I realized she had several “unreplied” messages but she replied mine very quickly. One time we went for an event she was chairing and I was reporting, I tried hitting on a girl there and she started catching feelings. That gave me vim she may like me at least half as much as I like her. I asked her out and we started dating. I knew even though she was my girl, because of her status at the time and who she was meeting on the daily, I was in principle, competing with John Mahama, both Kennedy Agyepongs, Kofi Amoabeng and other such people. I had to put my best foot forward. Be the guy I know no one else can be for her. To win in love, you have to be the guy the girl you want wants.
She had a program on Vals Day and I had lectures (I was schooling and working). I wore a red shirt that day. I forewent my lecture and went to the venue of her program with prepared noodles and two sachets of pure water. We laughed about it while we ate in her car. For the first time, I was living in the mood. I was not thinking about my dead friend on a Valentine’s Day. That is what I believe true love is. True love is when you are with someone who makes you miss no one. When you are with someone and all you are doing in your head is compare him or her to your ex, you are not yet in love. How deep is your love? Does your love make you forget everything going on the world and your economic status? If the answer is yes, then I think you are in love and your love is worth celebrating.
*Nenebi is a poet, spoken word artist and songwriter. He can follow him on twitter and Instagram @HisNeneness. On facebook, he is Ur Nenebi. He has a new single out called “Stay Away From Me”. Here is a download link