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THE PICTURE IN MY HEAD

Ofure and I have been married for three years; it was and still is a marriage of willing bed fellows. I had known Ofure all my life but I really met her four years ago, crazy right? Well we grew up together, played together and even went to the same schools- primary, secondary and tertiary, but then she was just another annoying ugly girl. While we were very little, I remember I used to tease her about how big her head was, and how you could fit in a baby’s head into her mouth.

She would cry so hard and I’d just stand there laughing equally as hard, she was my comic relief. Then we got into secondary school and I discovered she was a bookworm, sometimes an insufferable know-it-all but still very brilliant. She was still ugly, and I still teased her but she was mature now and instead of crying she’d just ignore me and after a while the joke got stale. When we got into the university we became strangers, we weren’t friends anymore nor were we enemies, we just acted like we never knew each other.

I personally didn’t care as I thought she was too nerdy, and being a member of the coolest group on campus I couldn’t be seen with someone like her, she didn’t care either, in her opinion I was quite egoistic and my nonchalancy towards education repulsed her, so we disconnected on mutual grounds. I didn’t tease her about being ugly anymore though she still was, and there was no need for her to ignore me. My name is Oghenero but I shortened it to Nero, I’m not promiscuous. I had my preference for girls; I had a picture in my head. She had to be at least 5’8 feet tall, and had an ebony skin complexion like Genevieve Nnaji.

I disliked fair girls, so I never thought of Ofure romantically. The girl in my head was charismatic; she had a subtle naiveté, elegance and a grace. Her beauty had to be unequalled, like the fairest of them all. She had to be Barbie-like, my Barbie. Ruth was a good match but she was overbearing, pleasing her was an arduous task. I met her during my NYSC programme, in Anambra state. Four months into our relationship and not a day goes by without me doing something for her, she tortured me with sex if I didn’t carry out whatever task she assigned, the day she broke up with me was the happiest day of my life.

Then I met Amaka two months to the end of my NYSC programme, her beauty was enthralling and enchanting but she had a bad attitude, she threatened with a break-up whenever I did a thing consciously or unconsciously wrong. The relationship was on her terms and conditions and these terms and conditions weren’t really favorable so I broke up with her. I decided to focus on my career, I got a job with Access bank and I was doing quite well for myself, a relationship would be detrimental at this point but I fantasized with the picture in my head, I even named her Jane.

She was a lively and homely girl; she would wake me up with kisses and breakfast and welcome me home with hugs and love. It was a perfect world in my head, my very own utopia. Other girls I met had a standard to surpass, and all of them fell below average, I concluded that all the girls I met didn’t have all the qualities the picture in my head had, so I ended whatever relationship with them as soon as they started. It went on for years and my imaginations were getting vivid, I had married Jane and she bore kids for me, we named them Micah, Chloe, and Ezra, it was perfect world in my head but in reality I was a 35 years old man with no girlfriend and a nagging mother who needs a daughter-in-law.

I had to break Jane’s heart and leave my children fatherless. It was on the 1st of February, 2011, a Tuesday at around 5:30pm, I had rounded up for the day and was heading home, walking past the ATM point I saw a familiar face, not as I knew it though but I could never forget that head that I teased for a better part of my childhood, it was Ofure…..

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I sucked it up and I walked, each step I took took me farther away from what I should do and what I shouldn’t, I might regret it, I might not, it didn’t matter . I stopped behind her and tapped her shoulders, I must have waited for an eternity before she finally looked back but when she did, it was worth it. She was looking pretty, her face was angelic and her eyes where deep brown, and then she smiled, it was heaven, and though I surprised myself by asking for her number, she willingly gave it along with a date for me to pick her up for dinner. It was a lovely evening with her, her gown was eclectic and her smile infectious, she smiled often and was a little shy, her shyness was cute. We talked about everything, starting from our childhood days, then our teenage years and our university days; it surprised me how much I didn’t know about her.

Looking at her speak made me realise I didn’t really know her, I didn’t notice she had such cute dimples or how her skin shone bathed in the incandescent light, I didn’t know I didn’t really know her. The evening painfully came to an end and she promised me lunch, we agreed to rendezvous at TFC the next day and I looked forward to it. I walked her to her car (Yes, she had a car now and was doing well for herself too). I proposed to drive her but she politely declined with a cute smile, the moon was shining and the crickets were chirping, the moment lingered and for that awkward moment I didn’t know what to do, then she moved her head towards my face and planted a peck on my cheeks, saying good night in the sweetest possible way. I watched her drive off and everything surprised me, I had butterflies in my stomach watching my childhood comic relief, teenage snub and university stranger, I loved the feeling.

That night I walked to bed with springs in my feet and Ofure’s picture in my head. We had lunch the next day, and dinner two days after, I discovered I was starting to like her, and now the picture in my head didn’t really matter, maybe I had set the bar too high, maybe I wanted too much, maybe my desires blinded me to whom I really liked. Ofure had always been there, but I was into the picture in my head. Jane  (my fantasy) was dead now, and my children were all grown up and married, I had awoken up from my fantasies and reality had dawned on me.

I didn’t compromise, I didn’t settle for less, I only didn’t have a clear picture but now I do, and it is Ofure. I decided to propose to her on our next date, it’s been 4 months and we’ve made our dates a weekly thing, I daresay she’s into me too, it was confirmed when she said Yes. All these was three years back and I haven’t regretted a day. Now the picture in my head still remain, I didn’t compromise, I only have a better view, I didn’t settle for less, I got what I wanted and I learnt one thing along the line too, it was a picture in my head, created by me, I’d be justified if I decide to adjust a feature or two here and there.- PETER OGUDO

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