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Shipboard Romance

- Ayodeji Ajagbe


Oluwapelumi sat beside the Biochemistry laboratory window, daydreaming, while the lecturer painted the whiteboard with his fainted blackboard marker and worked out the complexity of a chemical formula. She could tolerate science better now than before she met Timmy. Most times, she was surprised to find herself enjoying the Biochemistry class and she kept herself awake through the dull parts by pretending it was Timmy's voice she was hearing, which wasn't so hard since he sounded faintly lecturing when he helped her with her presentation.

She was thinking about him a lot these days, more than she had thought about any other guy. She wondered why. Timmy wasn't the sexiest guy she knew, not the most handsome or sophisticated. He wasn't in a competition with anyone and didn't seem in a hurry to catch up with her; he didn't have money to join her in the excursions she took with friends, sailing on the school dam, mountain hiking, going to parties or nightclubs, driving around the campus looking for things to do. He hadn't been able to get away from work to go with her the two weekends she'd travelled to Ogun State and had wanted him to come to meet her parents. He was so damned serious about everything! 

That was the worst of all, she thought. Her hand was moving swiftly over the notebook, copying the formula and its solution, but her thoughts were with Timmy. The truth was, he may not have been the sexiest or the most sophisticated or the most handsome or anything else, but he was the most consuming man she had ever known. When they were together she was entirely with him, never drifting off into daydreams or fantasies the way she did with other people, and when they were apart the memories of him filled her thoughts and wrapped around her just the way he did when they lay in his bed.

But then, there was his intensity, his drive to do everything he set out to do, even if it was just an evening walk through the streets or a part-time job on campus, or the book he was planning to finish. Always, deeply a part of him, there was that seriousness and control, that concentration that even she couldn't break. 

She couldn't understand it or share it and yet, she couldn't get it out of her mind. How could she feel this way about someone she couldn't understand? It was beginning to make her nervous. She was getting restive too. They were together so much now, studying together, eating together, spending the night together whenever his roommate was away. It seemed like marriage. 

She hadn't met a new man for four months, and she was spending less time with her female friends. It didn't seem to bother Timmy that he wasn't meeting any new female. Though he still saw his friends, Oluwapelumi came first. He seemed settled for life. The thought made her quiver with alarm.
I'm too young for this, she thought. I'm not supposed to get involved with anybody for years.
But I'm not really involved with him; not at all. It's like a shipboard romance; it'll end when we leave here. Probably before.

The professor ended the lecture, and Oluwapelumi looked at the notebook. It was covered in slightly erratic writings with numbers, diagrams, notes, even the title of an handout article they were to read before the next class. It seemed she'd written the contents of a one hour class without hearing a word of it. From his mouth to my hand, she thought with a laugh. She wonder if Timmy will think that's an achievement or a distinct flaw in her character.

Damn it, she thought, the first thing she think about is telling Timmy. She's always doing that lately. She left the building, pausing in the walkway to let her eyes adjust to the bright November's sun. Every time something happen that's funny, surprising or plain interesting happens, she can't wait to tell him. Well, this time I'll skip this. There's absolutely no reason to tell Timmy about everything that happens to me; I have my own life and I refuse to open all of it to anybody. 

"So I wrote for the whole hour," Oluwapelumi said at dinner that night in his hostel. "Took wonderful notes and never heard a word of his lecture. I was thinking of other things." 

Timmy chuckled. "You should think about going into school politics as well. If you can think one thing and write another or better say another, you're just the perfect candidate for the position of the faculty's vice president." 

"I wouldn't like that. I'd rather do my faking in my personal life; it is more honest."

They laughed and Timmy poured their wine and then cut the cake Oluwapelumi had brought from the bakery at Sanrab. She watched him, the look of his hands: smooth, tanned, long big fingers. She remembered the feel of his fingers inside her and began to want him again. She never seemed to get enough of him in bed. I thought about that day in class today, she recalled.

She also decided not to tell him she took notes without hearing the lecturer. She was so sure she wasn't going to tell him. She picked up her fork and toyed with her slice of cake. Somehow, it didn't seem important now. She felt so warm and good, being there - in the moment, watching him move about the kitchen, thinking about going to bed with him and discovering again his tenderness and forcefulness that always seemed new to her, she couldn't recall her perfectly good arguments against getting too involved with him.

There seemed to be a big difference between what she thought when they were apart and what she did when they were together. I'll have to sort that out one of these days, she thought. But there's no rush; after all, it's all going to end when we leave Ilorin, so why do anything now, when I'm having such a wonderful time and he's so much fun to tell things to? Although that's just the problem. He's becoming an habit that might be awfully hard to break.

Shipboard Romance
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