Written by Oluwatosin Fatade
The friendship between Joseph and I could be likened to that described in the Bible of David and Jonathan. Right from the tender age of five when we became seatmates in primary school, we have been practically inseparable. One boy’s decision always had massive impacts on the other. Asides the few inches that told us apart in height, we could easily pass for identical twins; we were ready proof for the theory that God created humans in doubles. Joseph was a sweet soul, he loved me more than he loved himself. I miss that about him, I really do. I could easily have married him had he come as a girl. I remember a certain day in school when the whole class was punished and each student was to be served 6 strokes of the angry class teacher’s rod. He stepped forward to take my dose having taken his much earlier. How he couldn’t feel any pain or anything at all with his skin was a sharp contrast to how emotional he gets at the slightest chance. He once cried at the school garden while we both watched a butterfly emerge for the first time from its cocoon.
Our parents became regulars at each other’s houses as either had to pick, more like snatch, their ward from the company of the other every now and then. Joseph’s parents must have been scared we would become truants in secondary school, because we found no other plausible explanation to their doggedness at seeing Joseph enrolled in a different school from mine. We were more prepared than they were, as they eventually realised. We both planned to fail every separate entrance examination on purpose throughout the holidays; Joseph’s parents threw in the towel after they guessed the plot and we ended up passing the only examination we sat for together at the government college.
Our friendship waxed stronger through the years and we became more alike as Joseph did catch up on the few inches that told us apart much earlier. We engaged in the same activities and studied together. I knew of every crush he had as he did mine. Gladly, for our own sakes, we never crushed on the same damsel. In our first year in senior secondary, Joseph had a new crush. I noticed this one was more intense than all the others I had known, he couldn’t stop talking about her. His emotional side seemed to blow up all of a sudden, I had never seen him like that! Asides being emotional, Joseph was very meticulous and was always bothered about the finest details. He informed me what he was feeling seemed more than just a crush, but he couldn’t tell if it was love. It was then I knew he needed help! All the years we had been crushing on damsels, not once did any of us say a word to them, we only admired from a distance and fantasized in our minds. Joseph was going to talk to this one, and he wanted it to be special.
We had little information about this damsel, we did know however that she was the leader of the school cultural group. That was it! That marked the end of our membership in the school press club. We picked up forms for the cultural group two weeks later after having several sessions of dance lessons on our own at home after school hours everyday for two weeks. The auditions went well, we were fully prepared and focused on the target. Joseph wasn’t taking any chances or wasting any time at all as he intentionally forgot a notebook in the group leader’s hands after we auditioned. He initiated a friendly conversation later on when he returned to retrieve his forgotten notebook.
A year later when we were in the second year of our senior secondary, Joseph wanted her as his girlfriend, being just friends was no longer enough for him. We went over various plans of how he could go about it, we finally settled for getting her a gift on Valentine’s Day which was just three weeks away. We saved up together so he could buy her a presentable gift and express his undying love, we rehearsed the presentation severally. February the 14th that year was a Monday, Joseph and I arrived the school assembly that morning to the cruel news of the death of ‘Toni. She had died instantly in a motor bike accident on her way to school that morning. Why did death choose to take her away on the day we had been planning to sweep her off her feet? Joseph was never the same again.
Every year after then, while others celebrated love on that day, Joseph refuses to exist. It is the only day every year we do not talk, till date. As far as we are concerned, that day does not exist, it must not be spoken of. Joseph strikes the day off his calendar every year.
I spoke to Joseph yesterday, “see you tomorrow” he said. I know that means tomorrow, for today does not exist.