I take deep breaths as I bounce nervously on my spike boots. The track as begun to look somewhat daunting and insurmountable in my eyes, but I know it is just my nerves getting the better of me.
“Look man, you seem like a nice dude. But please stay away from my sister.”
But I can’t, no matter how hard I try, I can’t concentrate. That statement has been replaying over and over in my head since Dami said it yesterday before we parted ways in silence.
I thought of texting Ilane immediately I got home to call of our ‘date-ish’ thing. But I couldn’t. Why should I? I have literally spent the better part of the past week trying to get her attention. And now I have just a fraction of it, can I let it go?
Yes, I admit, Dami may have a point, right? But it is somewhat scary though and he also has a right to say that to me. Right?
I know some people’s culture may allow them to disregard the whole ‘She’s my sister’ s___. But we are Nigerians, and it is entirely different. More so, we have to look out for each other. We have to make sure that each of us don’t have a hard time. And is this potential unlikely relationship worth losing a friendship? Is it?
“The first-years’ 100m race is about to get begin. Runners, please start getting ready.”
s___. Nedu freaking focus.
I take deep breaths as I start bouncing on my feet again. I can literally feel my nerves eating at me, and I can feel my mind perusing the different pros and cons of either decision. I can also feel indecision gnawing at my insides. Making my legs feel like spaghetti.
I close my eyes, and try doing what all those guys in the movies do when they are faced with the toughest opponent. The thing where they close their eyes and take deep breaths, filtering out the noise, leaving their mind empty and at ‘peace’. Unfortunately, I am not so lucky, my mind feels like a ‘90s German punk concert right now.
Should I forfeit this potential relationship? Or should I forget about Dami?
Think positive. Think positive.
The only good thing about today was the fact that I did not forget to take my usual 3 bottles of Coca-Cola before the competition. It was a silly superstition I started during my Secondary school inter-house sports. It never helped to be honest, it just served as a placebo to help calm my nerves.
Today’s nerves though, are uncontrollable. I continue to ask myself a lot of questions. Particularly ‘what if’ questions like: ‘What if something actually comes out of this?’, ‘What if the relationship fails?’, ‘What if it doesn’t?’, ‘What if this? What if that?’.
And then I remembered my own sister. She is back in Nigeria but I remember how we were. I remember how I reacted when she told me a boy had tried to kiss her; I was so pissed I went to find the boy and gave him a proper right hook, leaving him with a black eye for 2 weeks. I remember how I always felt when my guys had told me they thought my sister was cute or something. Let me just say, it was annoying, and I made them promise not to try anything with her.
And with that, an understanding washed over me. I started to see things from his perspective. A complete stranger, wants to try and knock uglies with his sister. What’s worse, he now knows the complete stranger. I begin to imagine him trying nonsense with my sister, and I think I now completely understand his fears.
Could I be overthinking this? Nahhh.
My decision has started to become clearer, and as I take a look at Dami doing his stretches, I realize that he’s like me, just a protective older brother.
“The first-year runners, please step on to the track and take your positions.”
I immediately then walk up to Dami, stretch out my hand and say: “Goodluck bro.”
He looked at me, smiled then gave me a very hard shake. “You need it more my gee.”
I smile as I walk back to my track: track 7 on the far right. I take a deep breath, bouncing a little. And as I am about to take my position, I see her. From the corner of my eyes, I catch her neon pink hoodie from the bleachers.
She is here; and she is looking at me. She is smiling and waving and nothing is clearer than her beautiful smile, directed at me. And at that moment…
f___ it. I’m so sorry Derek.
I take my position.
Deep breaths, calm yourself Nedu
You’ve got this
“Nedu! Nedu! Nedu!”
The crowd is chanting my name, as I run past the finish line. I won! I f___ing won! That was the fastest I had ever run in my life. I look at the stop clock, and it says “10.94”.
Oh My Flipping God!
That is freaking unbelievable.
The crowd is still chanting my name. Dami is running up to me. His eyes glittering in pride and happiness. “You did it man. That’s f___ing crazy.”
“Errr… thanks man,” I say, trying to sound as normal as possible. “What did you erm… get?” I say, trying to catch my breath.
“I literally came after you man.” He replies, obviously not noticing the awkwardness I’m oozing. He is looking around smiling, then continues, “Broo, this is crazy, the whole crowd is chanting your name.”
It is then I know look at the crowd, I look up at the big tv, and I see my face there. The whole stadium is shouting my name. And I don’t know how to freaking act.
“Just smile and wave.” Dami whispers into my ears.
And like clockwork, I instantly take his advice, speed walking back into the locker rooms. As soon as I get inside, I crash onto the benches.
I can’t believe it. I actually won.
But more importantly, I need to get out of here. I need to see her now. Seeing Dami happy for me is making me uncomfortable. It is making me feel like a bloody Judas. I feel like I can’t breathe.
“Hey man, are you good?”
I jerk in shock as I stare at Dami’s curious face. He is obviously excited and wants to celebrate. But I don’t think I can right now.
“Yeah… uhh sure. Still can’t believe it.”
“Me too, I’ll be back. Got to say hi to Sarah.”
I want to say hi to your sister.
I know that my sound like a dig at him. But I just don’t know how to act in this situation.
I need to get out of here.
I bring out my phone, and I see messages. A lot. But I go straight to Ilane’s chat and text: “We need to talk.”