Story Title: The Happiness From Love (+19)
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All you have to do is make them laugh. There wasn’t an iota of doubt in his voice as he said those words. They just came; soft and easy. Perhaps that was the way he had it with the ladies; soft and easy. Like the grace of angel. Ife turned to me, his eyes fixed on mine.
“Do you think you don’t like girls?” Ife asked. I thought about the question for a while. I had always asked myself this, but now that it was being asked by someone other than myself, it felt somewhat new. I looked at my wristwatch; it was a few minutes past six.
“I better hurry home. My parents will be worried.” I said. “Why did you avoid the question?” I hated how I was an open book to Ife. How he saw me without even trying. I remembered once in secondary school when the Principal caught me smoking with some other boys. An investigation began, and Ife was called to answer some questions. He stood alert in the principal’s office in his blue and black uniform, fitted to his skin like that of a military officer. The principal shifted in his chair, adjusted his glasses and began,
“I know you must have heard what your friend, Gbolahan was caught doing.” Ife remained unfazed, his dark, large eyes staring down at the principal’s table. I remembered I had never seen Ife that serious. It bugged me, and made me feel like I had put him in a bad position. Ife nodded his head, in reply to the Principal’s question.
“Since you are his closest friend, I have cause to believe you are an accomplice.” The principal’s baritone voice enthralled and threatened anyone that heard it. He was a dark, bald man, in his early fifties. There were rumors that he had been a police officer before he retired. When he hurled those words, naturally, I expected Ife to cringe, show signs of shock at least. But he simply smiled,
“No, sir. I believe he was forced to do it.” “What?” “He called me last night, but I was unable to pick the phone…” “So?” “Gbolahan never calls, sir,” Ife smiled. I thought of where he was going with that. It was true I called the night before “I just knew something was wrong.” It was also true something was wrong. Ife still had his eyes on the table, unwavering.
“So when I heard of the incident this afternoon, I understood immediately sir.” The principal was not impressed. I could see it in the fake smile he mustered, and the way he told Ife to leave the office.
For months, I had been bullied, threatened to be killed if I breathed a word to anyone. The day before saw Sparrow, the gang leader holding me by the collar, telling me I would be initiated the next day by smoking some ′sticks′ with them. Like every other time, me telling anybody would result in my death. Now that I thought of it, I couldn’t understand how death could have scared me that young. I even hated myself for the fact that I couldn’t stand up for myself. I was 12.
But how could I believe that a bunch of 12 and 13-year olds were capable of murder? It was fear that fueled my belief. So when we walked home and I asked Ife how he knew I was in trouble, his reply formed the basis of our friendship for years to come.