Looking at Jumoke now, you’d never know that she was once called a tomboy. But clutching the meeting point of your pants while ‘goat-walking’, wearing a little bit of baggy with a face that screams, ‘No make-up allowed here!’ and even a very slight deep voice are some of the things that can rub off on you, especially if you have a Wale as a best friend.
From being next-door neighbours in Oshodi Lagos, they’ve grown to become best of friends through their primary school days, their secondary school times in Surulere till they got their admissions together at UNILAG.
But Jumoke couldn’t forever be tommed. Her seemingly square shaped body had slowly curved to reveal an entity any man would be proud to call a lady. Blessed with lush curves, beautiful legs, and face that could confuse any man, Jumoke didn’t lack admirers. Olusola was just the perfect guy. He had moves that could make any female unbeliever speak in tongues, and Jumoke had indeed spoken in strange tongues of love to him. It was as though they were a match made in heaven.
After contesting and winning Mr. UNILAG, Wale was not without a congregation of female admirers singing melodious hymns of his fineness to every ear that cared to listen. He finally dated Ifeoma, an Igbo girl that had turned his heart left, right and center at first. Maybe love at first sight truly existed.
When Olusola decided to make a different girl speak in strange tongues, Jumoke had only Wale’s shoulders to cry on. Because only Wale could understand. Wale, unlike Olusola didn’t make fun of the way she always ate her meat first with her hand before touching her food anytime they went out for lunch. Nobody called her ‘Ifemi’ or even ‘guy’ like Wale, and she missed spending time with him. Wale wouldn’t have accused her of cheating on him with Olusola the way Olusola felt insecure whenever he heard the name Wale.
But they were ‘just friends’. Nothing more.
When Ifeoma made it a habit of reading all his messages because she didn’t want to lose him, Wale thought maybe, that’s the way relationships are run. Of course that meant spending less time with his best friend, Jumoke because, “you are with me now, not her.” But he missed the way he teased Jumoke about her ‘oversized bra’ and the way her hair was so long you could tie firewood with it. Ifeoma couldn’t be teased, at least not like Jumoke.
He missed those days when they would lie down under the watchful eyes of the moon, and gossip about the different boys and girls they secretly admired in their class at St. John’s Secondary School, Surulere.
But they were ‘just friends’. Nothing more.
So when I heard her say, “we can’t be anything more than friends”, and when I heard him say, “you mean Jane? Noooo! Jane is just my best friend, nothing more.”
I just wonder, who else would you rather want to spend the rest of your life with?
I know your past, we are in your present together, and we’ve shared visions of our future. I know the dirty little secrets you are afraid to tell anyone, but that are perfectly safe with me. I know you snore in your sleep and I still think the sound is beautiful. I eat with fork and knife when I go on a date with someone else, but when I’m with you, the best cutlery is my bare hands because I know you won’t feel disgusted at me. I know your strengths and I understand your weaknesses because they blend perfectly to form you.
You may be my best friend, but I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be my wife.
Personally, I feel the concept of the ‘friend zone’ is a mental cage and a brutal court where you try and place an eternal judgement of ‘No Relationship’ on someone that might have possibly been your better half. You might say, “we are just friends. I don’t feel anything for him,” but that’s where I think you started getting it wrong. Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice. It’s a decision. A decision to spend the rest of your life with that one person that you are absolutely compatible with. That one person that challenges you, and makes you want to be a better you. Feelings come and go. Friendship remains.
Don’t lock anyone there. Be open minded. As for the emotions, they can always be developed whenever two hearts begin to connect. That can only happen when you’ve opened up your mind.
As for Jumoke and Wale, Olusola and Ifeoma opened their eyes to what was meant to be. Wale realized that sometimes, it takes being in a bad relationship to know the real taste of a good one while Jumoke found out that at times, you don’t know the value of what you have till you lose it.
They latter dated each other, got married, and forever remained grateful to Olusola and Ifeoma for being the eye-opener they needed.