Poem: ISIOMA AND MY SENSES by Stanley Mbakpuo


Written by Stanley Mbakpuo

Okay, I walked up to my seat and she was sitting right behind it. I shivered. My bones stiffened and my jaws went numb. For a moment , I found words elude my mouth and expression evade my face. Could it be true? Was Isioma getting the vibes I was getting? I was lost!

***

Isioma was the newest addition to our class. She held my admiration from the very first day Mr. Shasha introduced her to our class. She was elegant beautiful and innocent. Her eyes hid themselves securely within the fortress of solid sockets. Their whiteness was a sure mocker of snow; her skin was silky brown, overlain with a gloss that could only come from a generous dose of vaseline. Her hair? My mirage! I always believed 'oyinbo' girls alone had the key to long
locks, but Isioma's hair realigned my mindset. Long dark, thick, full and everything natural. Talk of her shoulder blade. They were elegant à la Beyoncé. Isioma simply blew me away and I was a helplessly immature minor in Primary five.

I had tried, more times than I had read my books, to strike up a discussion with her. My heart always failed. "Please, do you have cleaner?," was the best I had done in the last two weeks of being in the same class with her. We were having a fine art class. Wry smiles grabbed the extremes of her mouth as she handed me the eraser that day. I felt victorious...

***

... So I walked up to my seat and sat down, still hoping I could say a word to her. My mind was conjuring what discussion to strike up. Suddenly, sobs broke the line of my thoughts. I turned to see Isioma's forehead resting on her forearm, already soaked. She was crying.

"Isi. Isii? what's the problem? Why are you crying?" I asked rather caringly.

It was Mr. Shasha. He flogged her because she couldnt pay up for the excursion we were soon to embark upon. I was enraged, but helpless. What could a 10 year old do to an adult who wielded koboko? I felt pity. I knew what to do, and I did it.

"Here, Isii, take this." I stretched my hand revealing the gift. "What is this? Why?" She asked rather confused, but I insisted: " Take it. Just take it."

I forced the notes into her hand and she took it. That was my own payment for the excursion. I knew what that meant- serial lashing from Mr. shasha. I didnt mind. Anything for Isioma!

You can guess that the rest of the week was hell. My buttocks saw the bitter side of pain and to console myself, I would recite: " Anything for Isioma!"

That was in primary five!

I stumbled into Isioma last week, and you don't want to know how it went. Isioma is now a big girl and she showed me I wasn't in her 'class' anymore. She's at Covenant University, but I still patronise JAMB tutorial centres, hoping for a breakthrough. She is taller and slimmer. I am not short, but not her mate in height. The sight of Isioma intimidated me. The worse was even to come - time to exchange phone numbers.

I brought out my Nokia asha 201, Isioma brandished
a Blackberry Z10 before my secretely crying
eyes. Tragic. Debasing.

She shook my hand and mouthed a tasteless
"take care of yourself."

I walked home, confused, laid on my bed, remembered primary five and cursed the day I let go of my excursion money and my senses. Yes, my senses went away with Isioma.