Ilane. As the name rolled off her tongue, I remember thinking very distinctly what a truly amazing name it was. It oozed class, beauty and flawlessness (and surprisingly, those are the exact words I would use to describe her). It would be an understatement to say the name merely fit her. In fact, I would probably say the name was made for her.
The name is so creative: Ilane. And for the record, it is pronounced: ‘ee-lan’, not ‘ai-lan’, definitely not ‘ai-lane’ but simply ‘ee-lan’.
Today was the first official practice for the track team. I had found out I made the team by the way. And what made the experience better was the fact that I found out immediately after my conversation with Ilane. That day, I was on a high that nothing, could bring me down from. Not even my mum’s almighty pink rubber slippers (I didn’t get it that day as I managed not to mess up, but I am using it as reference because if I ever got high, it would most definitely clear my eyes).
I walked into the locker room 15 minutes early this time, planning on taking my time in preparing. Preparing, not only for the training but also the talking part. I haven’t really been in a proper social gathering since I got here. And yes, I know it is sad that I am referring to school team training as a social gathering, but I mean, you can now see how terrible my social life has been.
Therefore, when I get to the locker room, as I am changing, I begin to mentally prepare for the interactions for the day. Especially practicing my smiles and facial expressions because I had heard they usually send the wrong signals. There was this time I was having a conversation with a lady who had the most enormous nose ring sticking out of her nose. The nose ring was alright actually, the problem was when I noticed a booger on it. My face contorted in disgust involuntarily and the girl thought I was making fun of her. She started calling me a “Jesus sucking, backwater villager from Nigeria”.
Hold up. Something’s not right. She thought I was judging her for her nose ring. s___. That’s actually kind of funny now.
I tighten my spike boots, making sure my heels are not peeking out whenever I take a step. I take one last look at the mirror, checking for any stains or tears on my outfit that could result in an embarrassing nickname that I might never live down.
When I feel like I’m good, I walk onto the track and of all people to meet there, I see freaking Derek. How the f___ did he get here before me. And still, what type of stupid name is that? Mind you, I have no problem with the dude actually, other than the fact that he may be slightly better than me. The only other thing is his world class dumb name.
He looks at me and does that head nod thing that guys do and I reply in the same manner. Thanking God that he did not try to start small talk.
I do some stretches as more people begin to show up. Then the dude from the tryouts that stood beside the coach shows up and starts to greet everyone. He then walks up to the front while everyone follows him. It was weird because I myself followed him too for some reason.
“Good afternoon, I am Dave and I am the captain of the track team. First of all, I would like to introduce the two new recruits from the tryouts.” He then looks towards me instantly making my stomach drop. “We have Derek and Nedu. Please come forward and introduce yourselves.”
I walk up to the front and have a quick and silent conversation with Derek, who had also come up. However, I felt like it was a one-sided conversation as Derek’s face remained stoic and unmoving.
I then carry my right hand and gesture graciously to the group of people in front of us and in my most polite voice I say, “You go first” with a big bright smile. And at that moment, Derek’s stoic face changed into something that said ‘Wowwww, I’m going to get you back for this’. But it was funny, so who cares.
“My name is Derek; I am a first-year engineering major. Nice to meet you.”
“And my name is Nedu, a first-year law major. Nice meeting you as well.”
At the end of the training, I felt good. I had completed all the drills and the coach said I had potential. I know some of you may think that it was a nice and polite way to say I was s___, But I’m not going to believe that, I was good and f___ anyone who thinks otherwise.
Also, Derek is actually not a bad dude. Apparently, he’s probably just a dunce. His real name is not even Derek, his name is Damilare, and he’s from Nigeria. He only changed his name because he thought people will murder his name, I mean he’s not wrong but how does Damilare go to Derek? It doesn’t even make sense. And so, I decided I’d shorten his name to Dami, it may sound feminine, but I think it is unisex? I’m not sure, I’m not Yoruba. But the good thing is that it is still miles better than Derek.