I could not believe I was seeing him live, but I was.
The MC’s deep voice bringing him upstage had just faded out amid the frenzied roar of his audience. I looked back at the peopled tiers of seats behind, from around the front seats that I was.
I looked back and, boy, I could only see a sea of hands in the air! I was so lucky I made it to the front seats.
I returned my gaze to the stage.
Lights of different colors flashed and flickered frivolously onstage. They crossed and re-crossed over and again in a frenetic race, producing starry sparkles in the hazy air.
He had just mounted the stage, with such glamour, such elegant strides, and such charisma that were his emblems.
And with a deft, elegant sweep of a hand, he lifted his acoustic guitar and passed the belt over and across his neck. His dreadlocks swayed sideways in a graceful sweep in that moment.
He struck a powerful chord on his guitar and the big speakers reverberated with the powerful sound.
The entire Afrika Amphitheater on OAU Campus went up in an ecstatic frenzy again.
I yelled his name; yelled it on top of my voice. Gosh, I really wished he picked my voice in the midst of a thousand indistinct chants of his name.
I paused for one sweet moment; I paused and took a long gaze at him.
“Gosh, he is gorgeous! I love, love, love this dude!” I muttered, pressing my hands against my breasts warmly.
I wished I could tell him I’ve always been his number one fan.
That I’ve been his passionate fan from my teens, in fact.
I didn’t miss any of his music releases. But I didn’t know I’d be watching him live. A few meters away from me.
Here on the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University campus.
My mind raced back, for one moment; raced back to younger years. The memory was not too far-flung into the quaint past.
And it flipped through my head like pictures as clear as some not-so-far yesterday’s.
It flipped through my head like pages of an album of good memories.
Memories you want to live in again for at least some sweet moments of reminiscence.
I closed my eyes lightly and I could see them. Those girlish days in high school in Lagos. Wow, lovely.
I could see them. Yes, how we girls used to do some petty bet on who knew his lyrics best.
Ha-ha! I always won the bet.
Yes, yes—how we sang his romantic tracks in our dormitories at night, hugging our teddy bears.
I remembered this one—ha-ha, funny days! Remembered how we girls once sneaked out of the hostel, to go watch him play in the city.
We had some crazy girlish plans to get into the event hall without us having to pay the gate fee. ’Cause we didn’t have any.
Silly us—it didn’t work, ha-ha!
That would’ve been the first time I would’ve watched him live.
I also remembered how I had so much believed in my early teens that I would eventually marry him.
That one, ha-ha!
Oh, I didn’t know I’d chuckled aloud.
The girl beside me darted a kind of girl-you’re-crazy look at me and chuckled.
I gave her one what’s-wrong hard look and gestured. I followed it immediately with a mind-your-business stare.
She hissed slightly and turned away.
I muttered, “Whatever!”
The cheer was subsiding now as he began his first performance, my idol.
He held the microphone head with a masculine grab and bent its stand slightly sideways to him.
And the amphitheater reverberated with his rough, deep, enchanting voice.
“Love me gently, love me hard” were the words he said.
“Wow!!!” I cried among a thousand other shouts.
That was my favorite among his hits. That is why I just love him, I said to myself.
He was simply good. And his selections were a blast.
It was a slow R&B. His excited audience couldn’t help joining in singing the lyrics as he performed with his band.
Who wouldn’t know how to sing the hit track of his latest album? Whoever did not know the lyrics must pretend they knew.
I was lost in the music. It reached to the soul, tugged at your feelings. And you were left thinking about romance.
I sang along. Of course, I knew the lyrics. I was head over heels in love with music.
I steadied my gaze on him while we all rocked to the song. I steadied my gaze on him to catch his eye.
Ah, I wished so hard I could just get his attention. Just one moment.
I readjusted my breasts and made sure they sat just well enough to attract him.
I tried to look at the girl beside me if she wasn’t looking with the corner of her eye.
She wasn’t; that was fine. She was carried away with the music.
I glanced at him again, my idol. But he wasn’t looking my way. And my breath racing already.
Gosh, what am I thinking? I really must be crazy! Come to think of it; do I think he would have that time to notice me?
Oh, wait a minute; I thought I saw him looking this way about now. Casually, though. He’s looking another way again, aw.
I tried to get myself together, my breath pace, my composure. I tried to look more alluring. The way I swayed my body, dancing.
The other girl was beginning to look at me now.
I didn’t care.
Wow! He’s looking here right now! He’s looking this way. I only hope it’s down right here he’s gazing at. I really hope so!
I danced the best I could, my body gliding gorgeously and sexily. I let my tongue do the sexy thing. And then he looked toward another side.
I guessed it was me he saw. I guessed he saw me.
I hoped; I really hoped he saw me!
The song ended with a loud cheer. And dusts rose and spread in the air like a haze, and with sparkles of colorful lights piercing through.
We sat as he talked and then performed another piece, a solo.
And then, he stepped down from the stage elegantly. And there he was, standing in front of me. A few steps away from me on the apron.
But he was not looking; he was not looking at me.
He said he was going to give his microphone to any girl to sing. It was any of his recent tracks he wanted.
A sea of hands went up. And diverse feminine chants of his name. And several “Oh me, please! Oh here, please!” swallowing up my little voice.
He picked my hand; I thought I was dreaming. I must have been.
I glanced swiftly around to see if I could find a pen. It was a marker I saw; it was a permanent marker.
But it was with the same girl beside me. And her eyes—I almost couldn’t stand on my feet at the jealousy in them!
I darted my hand in her lap and took the marker.
“Kindly lend me, please,” I said.
Before she could storm “What the heck…!” I was off. Yeah, to my idol’s stage, my long-held dream!
I couldn’t imagine it. All I knew was I sang his track and he said that was real good.
I gave him the marker and asked for his autograph.
“Where you wanna have it?” he said in his deep, hoarse voice.
I flushed and unbuttoned the top part of my blouse. I whispered, “Here!”
The entire amphitheater screamed with a wild frenzy of excitement.
And yes, he did sign—with a permanent marker—on my breasts.
I turned about to go and he said, “Hey babe, what’s yer name?”
I turned round and could have blushed scarlet if I were White. “Chrissie,” I said.
“That’s sure a pretty name,” he said.
“You wanna see me any time after ma show? Here,” he said, handing me a small card. “You show this to ma boys and they gonna bring you right in to me—you get that, right?”
I bit down my lower lip and flushed in stark embarrassment.
The audience shouted and guys teased really hard.
I felt the ground under me should just cave in and I should simply sink out of sight.
I walked the longest distance in my life back to my seat.
I could feel his eyes boring into my back. And everybody was staring, too.
As soon as I was getting to my seat, I remembered the terror waiting for me from the jealous girl sitting by me.
I returned her marker at once, and with many thanks.
But the look in her eyes and the words she hauled at me were really so killing her boyfriend sitting by her had to signal her to stop.
I had to leave there. And leave the amphitheater itself.
And then, I’d be waiting till the time I’d see my idol.
This second time was not like the first. This second time was really different.
It was his offstage person that I saw. It was the man.
The first time when he came to my campus and gave me a pass to see him. The first time—that I would have this great star in bed that night, it was like a dream.
I thought I had to hide my church things; that I shouldn’t let him know that I was a member of the church choir on campus and at home.
I thought it would discourage his interest in me, if he knew I was also pretty churchy.
I didn’t remember how the talk went but he came to know. But he seemed to like me more for it.
And after the night’s fun he did ask me to see him again, when he would be having a show in town a month from then.
Yes, this second time was different. This second time I was meeting him in his suite at the executive Boudoirs Hotels in town. When he came to town to perform.
I had been told by my close friends to play a prank on him and say I was already pregnant for him.
And that I should watch his reaction and see if he actually wanted to hold onto me.
After he had me that night, I told him I was already pregnant for him.
His reaction was strange. And frightful.
I thought I could scare him a little. I thought I could hold onto him by saying that. I wanted to be his forever. I really wanted to be his.
“You ain’t gonna f**king scare me with that, girl!” he chuckled. “And you ain’t gonna fool me!” he added.
“And come,” he whispered in my face, raising my chin with his index finger, “I’m gonna do the d*mn test myself, and if you lying to me, if you f**king lying to me, then you’re gonna see the devil himself!
“And if you pregnant for real, the baby ain’t staying there—you get that, huh? And you can f**king sue me if you have the money!”
“I was only joking, baby,” I said. “But please,” I added—“please, lemme be your girlfriend, please.”
“Are you sick?” he yelled at me, gesturing with his index and middle fingers raised to his temple.
“Please,” I said a bit tearfully—“I’ve adored you since I was in my teens! Since my early teens, in fact! I love you more than you ever know! More than you can possibly expect! Let me be yours, please! You’re a star; you’re my idol! I’m serious—please, baby, please!”
“A star!” he chuckled and paused for a moment. It was as if he had something running in his mind.
He paused for a while and then chuckled again. “You don’t know me,” he said, and then stood up from the bed and went towards the window.
He raised the curtain and glanced out for a while.
He was silent and just looked out.
I could hear the hooting of moving vehicles downstairs and the noise from the street. They seemed to work to distract him from a heavier thought.
He spoke at last. “You can’t be my girlfriend”, he said in a low voice, “’cause there ain’t a thing as my girlfriend!”
I stood up gently and went to him. I held his hand and said, “But you can make me one, uh? Or at least, give me your mobile number and let me have a significant place in your heart, please.”
He turned around swiftly and shouted in my face. “You can’t be with me; don’t you f**king get it?!”
I ran to the bed and fell on my face against the bed. I took the pillow and sobbed tears into it.
He did not move for a while. But then, after a minute or two, he came to my side and sat on the bed.
He touched my hair, brushed it lightly, and said, “Hey! Are you listening?”
“What?!” I shouted into the pillow.
“Hey, you don’t know me!”
Those words made me sick: “You don’t know me!”
I bounced up from my face-down position, brushed the pillow aside and sat up. “What don’t I know? You’re a star! For goodness’ sake, you’re fulfilled! You have the money! You’re at the height of your carrier! You’re one of the top musicians in this country! For goodness’ sake you’re…”
“I am not,” he interposed in a pained voice; “I am not as fulfilled.”
I took his face in my hands and searched his eyes. “No baby, you are!” I whispered, bewildered.
He just looked away.
It didn’t make sense. What was he talking about? Why was he talking like this? I wanted to encourage him; I knew he must have been depressed somehow.
He buried his head in his hands for quite a while, sitting at the edge of the bed.
It appeared he was in some heavy thought. He began to tremble slightly.
“What is it?” I asked. But he didn’t answer.
He only got up and went to the wardrobe. He opened one of his boxes and took out some ganja.
He came back to the bedside, opened a bottle of Vodka and poured himself a glass.
“You use… erm, drugs?” I said quietly—“That’s it?” I asked.
He did not answer. And I could see his hands tremble.
I was going to help him in this. I held his hands with all the force I could muster. “Please, don’t take it,” I said.
“I don’t wanna!” he said, his voice pained, his hands quivering.
“Yeah, that’s it,” I said encouragingly; “try—don’t take it!”
His hands trembled more and he began to force my hands away.
I didn’t know where I got that strength to hold his hands. Perhaps it was my determination to help him. Or perhaps he was allowing me.
It was now about three minutes I was holding him.
I looked up to his face to encourage him some more; and his eyes glowed red like dull embers.
His skin, too, began to be covered with goose pimples.
My goodness, he trembled pitifully!
And with a bit more force, he threw the whole bundle of me against the bed.
And he threw the whole substance in his mouth and started chewing hard, his head buried in his palm.
I looked on helplessly, not knowing what to do again. At a point, I just buried my face in the pillow and cried.
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And then, done with the ganja, he reached his hand to the glass of Vodka; and I just moaned, “Please, stop now, baby.”
He did not say anything; he just gulped the whole glass down his throat.
And finally done, he sat on the bed, buried his face in his palms, paused a bit and then shook with tears.
I guess he just let himself feel the sorrow, and let himself shed the tears.
Like they were what he really needed at the time.
Like they were a catharsis.
I crawled on the bed to his side and placed his head on my laps. I ran my hands through his dreadlocks and his whole body trembled with pained long-drawn-out sobs.
He wiped his teary eyes with a hankie and raised his gaze sideways.
“My doc advised me”, he said, “to cut down my drugs and alcohol intake. He let me know I’m presently at some terrible health risks.
“I am dying, yet I can’t stop it. I can’t go without either in three days!
“And this has continued for years I can’t tell you the number now!”
He paused a little.
“Oh heck, I’ve done many bad stuff!” he gasped. “Many dirty deals you don’t wanna know! And I’m still in a lot; a lot of mess I can’t tell you.
“My money is not mine; you don’t have to know those who own it. Maybe my life itself is not mine! Perhaps it belongs to some guys; perhaps, somebody. I actually am not living a life!
“And I just wanna be ordinary for one day! I just wanna be me!”
He bowed his head heavily, and groaned.
“Aargh!” he cried and shook in fits.
A tear trickled down my eye too.
He sat up. “There are a lot I can’t just tell you; that you don’t need,” he said. “But please, Chrissie, I am addicted to drugs and alcohol; I am badly addicted!”
His voice had begun to quiver now.
“I may go crazy sooner or later, or even die if I keep to this miserable habit!” he said. “I’ve tried to be rehabilitated but I fell back into the addiction.”
He stretched a hand to me now, his look forlorn. “Chrissie,” he said, “you’re a church person—” He paused a bit.
“Help me—please, help me!” he moaned.
“I am enslaved to myself; I am enslaved to my desires,” he added ruefully.
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I held him close to me and laid his head in my hands.
Ah, I wished I could just help him. I wished I could help him.
I wished I had some power, some ability to do what was needed to help him.
I wished I was free too. Or pure.
I was a member of the choir on campus and in my home church. But I couldn’t tell him I was also suffering from addiction.
It had been six years then I’d been terribly addicted to sex.
It was unhealthy; it was self-destructive—yet I could not stop.
When the urge came and I didn’t have it almost immediately I would sweat and shiver so badly I could almost die.
When I had it I was very much relieved, only to crave for more again later.
I would crave, I would work, and I would fight to have it again and again!
My first boyfriend knew my problem and he agreed to always satisfy me.
But it was never enough. It would never satisfy.
Until I began to go all out for it, and had sex with just any guy I could find. And still I wanted more!
Argh, such bottomless gulf. Such insatiable urge. Such enslaving desire. God!
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When I started, my faith made me sorry for the acts. But in time, I didn’t feel remorse anymore.
I felt I can give expression to my urges; but now they were those controlling me! And not the other way.
The first time I aborted, too, I cried badly. Gosh, I cried; I felt so sorry. I promised never to again—ever!
But soon, the second time came, and then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and… argh, please God, have mercy!
And now, I gazed at my idol again on my lap. And I wished I could be able to help him.
I wished; but I couldn’t. I was enslaved too. I needed help. Ah, I wished I was free.
I silently prayed to Jesus that I dearly wanted to be free.
That night began my journey to total freedom.
I gazed out towards Heaven and with teary eyes. I cried within me.
Help me—please, help me!
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