Blast From my Past

The first time I ever fell in love with a person was with Jenna. I was the new girl in the hostel, lost and clueless but Jenna helped me get a soft landing.

You see, my family was entirely new to Benin on my father’s transfer. My parents had agreed to leave me to finish my exams and move at the beginning of a new session so I came to the school after everybody else had settled in, I was the newest girl and all eyes were on me.

My first day in the hostel was a disaster; the skills I had acquired from my former school did little to nothing to help me. I had packed many things and had an overload of bags. My hostel was on the 3rd floor and I had four bags, two boxes and 2 duffle bags, the back and forth had me worn out then someone reached for one of the bags from behind, “let me help you with this” that sent a huge relief straight to my heart, then she continued like she didn’t just save me from passing out, “are you new?”. That was when I turned my stiff neck to get a good look at the “Good Samaritan” who just saved me from falling under my loads.

“Yes, I just resumed today,” I said in between heavy panting. “I thought as much,” she said.

“What class are you in? Because if you are going to the third floor you are either in JSS3 or SS1” she said while panting from the heavy duffle bag she was helping me with. “I am in SS1” I replied to her. “Me too,” she said and I turned again to catch her smiling-tired face.

We finally got to our floor and realised we were just a bunk away from each other, she helped me unpack and showed me around and we bonded immediately.

Jenna is a free-spirited, jovial girl who made jokes about everyone and everything and I spent the next days laughing at her unending jokes inspired by literary anything in sight. She also got away with lots of things especially from the seniors because her elder sister is one of the prefects and her immediate older one is a star athlete in school, which got us covered in lots of situations.

Jenna was my ticket into the school’s Bourgeois circle and soon I became one of the untouchables in school.

We did literary everything together but not without her constant reminder that she is one year older than me, my ears could blow from just that.


I started to feel a special kind of attachment to Jenna that I would not function well in her absence; she teased me a lot about it for laughs but it’s true. I would serve punishments for not completing a school task because I was waiting to do them with her because I knew she would help me.


But things changed for us at the beginning of the second term when a new girl joined our class. Beautiful, smart, clean and obviously from a rich home, you’d know from the qualities of her school items, they were mostly designers. I don’t know how but she caught Jenna’s attention and she would rather be with the new girl than me and I was pained. For several days after Uche arrived, I tried to get Jenna’s attention but couldn’t then, even though I didn’t know what it was at the time but I became depressed. She was my only friend and now she is ghosting me for no reason and they are both rubbing it in my face. Many people came to me for answers but I had no explanations as to why we were no longer friends.


I missed her so much that I began to recline from everything, even classes. I would feign sick so I could just stay in my bed and not go to class to watch my best friend being cosy with someone else that isn’t me but I could not keep up for long. The next visiting day I cried so hard to my mom that I didn’t want to be in the school anymore but she insisted I stay till the end of the session as I can’t change schools in the middle of one so I gave myself the target to stay sane till the end.


But things changed for me before my deadline, I began to mingle with other students that aren’t Jenna. The school became somewhat fun again and by the end of the term, I changed my mind about leaving. Soon enough I started to participate in sports and debates (I didn’t think I was good at any of them before now), before I knew it I started travelling for competitions and making a name for myself which I did as I became a star student and athlete

I started to live on my terms and for the first time in my life I learnt to be independent and I grew into someone I really like. Jenna and I did not go back to being friends again, in fact, we grew more apart for the remainder of our time in school.


I got admission immediately after Secondary school and combined school and athletics. After resuming my second year, I went to the faculty office to sign in for the year one morning and someone called out my name, I turned and standing before me was Jenna. I almost jumped on her. We hadn’t seen her since we left secondary school and I thought she got admission somewhere else or just didn’t even bother about her. But I was happy to see someone from my past even though I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to see her again.

She was having difficulties with her registrations so I got some of my friends to help her get them done and settle in but that was not the only issue, she also didn’t have accommodation yet and since I lived off-campus alone I had no problem inviting her to come stay a couple of days a week, she couldn’t hide her joy, the relieve of coming to lectures from somewhere not so far away I guess.


I was now a full-time athlete, competing at national and International levels which made life in school quite comfortable for me. I was paying my bills in school and helping my mom out with my siblings since my father passed.

Jenna’s first day at my house was awkward as we didn’t know how to talk about or avoid talking about what had happened to our friendship in the past, but during dinner, on the second night I braved up to it.

Me: “How far your best friend in School then? Are you both still friends?”

She giggled a bit, stopping to avoid choking on her food and giving me the look that kind of says “You really want to talk about this” but she responded while looking sad and jumpy.

“She is fine o, we have spoken a couple of times on Instagram chat, she is in the UK now”

I wasn’t surprised, she is a rich kid and travelling abroad should be old talk for her and easy.

“I’m not surprised, her parents get money nah” I said, “Why won’t she help you find a scholarship in her school, as her besty wey you be?” We both laughed but I was being serious.

Jenna then opened up and told me why she had to sacrifice our friendship, Uche had asked her to stop talking to me after they began kissing and making out and according to Uche I looked very immature and might tell on them if I had walked in on them kissing or making out. This we laughed off too because we were kids and didn’t know better.

By her third day, I thought it wise to introduce my girlfriend but that was a huge mistake. I noticed the cold reception from Jenna and by her fourth day my girlfriend told me how she ran into Jenna at the cafeteria and she didn’t acknowledge her greetings. I decided to ask what the issue was when we got home and she opened up to me on how she came to my school because I was there and was hoping to get my attention and how much she misses what we shared in secondary school.

“Do you know how many times I wanted to grab you and kiss you back then? But I couldn’t do it so you don’t misunderstand me and escalate it”

I was shocked and confused at the same time because what has what happened many years ago have to do with you giving my girlfriend a cold attitude?


It got really bad that my girlfriend stopped coming to visit and I didn’t know what to do with her on that except to stand by my relationship so I asked her to focus on getting her accommodation sorted or move to the hostel as a “squatee” and I will get my friends to give her space as I can no longer let her disrespect my girlfriend. My day switched from a regular day to a drastic one in a jiffy. Jenna began to scream at me about how I hated her and is doing all I could to abandon her in revenge for what happened in the past, that I was trying to get back at her for choosing Uche over me back in the day. I was shocked but kept staring without saying a word. Then the drama twisted to her begging.


“I know I wronged you and I have done so much to make up for it. I spent one year at home so I can rewrite JAMB and come here when I heard you got admission here. I have hated myself all these years for avoiding you and I miss the friendship we had. I was only mad because I loved you so much but you never even wanted to hold my hands or even try to make out when we were alone” I stood hands akimbo trying to remember the events she was mentioning and it was all hazy.


“I am not angry at you” I stated, trying to calm her down and ease the tension as my neighbours were already staring at her weirdly. “These things happened in the past when we were kids. I didn’t even know about my sexuality at the time but now I know better. I didn’t have any sexual attachment to the friendship we shared because I didn’t even know anything about sex and kissing or holding hands, I was a child, I am even more grateful to you for how easy you made school for me, you and your siblings” She was now calm and looking a bit relieved so I reached for her hands and led her to the only couch in my room to sit and I sat on the carpet facing her and continued “It is not fair that you blame yourself for something that happened so long ago. I don’t even remember things in the details you do. Please let it go and calm down. I am not angry, if I was I wouldn’t ask you to come and stay here but because of how you are treating the people around me who have been there for me I had to ask that you find your own space and also because I know if I don’t ask you to you might not be prompted to. I love my space and I don’t accommodate visitors for too long because it makes me uncomfortable”.


She became calmer but tears kept streaming down her cheek. I promised her we would always be friends if she is up to that to which she agreed. It was not a school day so I went to my girlfriend’s place to try to calm the storm from that end. I stayed till late in the evening and Jenna was gone by the time I got home, the house looked well-kept. She had cleaned and arranged my room so neatly I smiled as I walked in. She left a note that says she is moving in with a classmate whom she will be splitting accommodations with. I was happy for her and called to wish her the best. With the awkward past out of the way, our friendship became easier and after not too long she became my constant person in school.


By the time I was preparing for my final papers Jenna practically moved in with me so I can focus on writing my final year projects and we had the most amazing time together. I am not sure it was then but love crept in on us and we started dating while I was doing my NYSC and moved in together while she was serving.


I asked her out after I had a bad accident and she was by my bedside while I was recovering. She stood by me no matter what I was undertaking, Jenna was there, holding my hands and cheering me on and for an athlete that meant so much to me. I guess her always being there for me was my first point of attraction.


We had a lot in common as kids and now it’s no different. We still like the same things, people and places. Ours is a love story we really shy away from telling because by the time we both decided to date we had to hide it from our friends till they started to sniff on us but we are happy we waited and went through the dump before circling back to each other.


Jenna and I have been together for 4years and now live together in the US where I am now a Pro in Hurdles, I left first and Jenna joined me three months later. We are both doing well and everything is aligning well for us. Now we are talking kids and building a home together, I don’t know if that would have been possible for us back at home but we are grateful for the life we have and the future ahead of us.

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