Once upon a time, in a strange land, the youths organized a ball. All the young men and maidens in the land were awfully excited to attend the ball. Okay, it was really a high school, Jaba Senior High, Port Harcourt and it was just some stupid party. But hey, a little theatrics never hurt any story.
Now, I attended a single sex secondary school in Lagos and I never really liked high school parties so I never went. After my SSCE exams, however, I visited Port Harcourt to spend the holidays with my cousins. That was when IT happened.
When Somto, my cousin, told me about the party, I thought, well new city, new rules, I might as well let my hair down while I was there. So I went.
On the day of the party, I dressed in simple clothing, curious as to how these “party” things work. So off we were to Jaba Senior High for their highly anticipated party.
It started out a bit slow. A lot of people were late and the hall was sparingly distributed with clumsy male teenagers. Where were the girls, I thought? About thirty minutes later, there they were, sashaying in in their rather tight dresses and elaborate make up. The party officially took off. Gradually, the tension in the room lessened after a few illegal alcoholic drinks had been passed around. It turned into a mad house. Boys and girls going in for the slaughter. Ass in the air, hands on the ground. The air in the room thickened with sweat and body odours. More people trooped in. The room was packed to its very brim. I backed into a corner to get a better view and also to avoid being stomped over. I’d turned down a few offers to dance earlier. The boys hadn’t even seemed fazed - on to the next one they were, as if they hadn’t even spoken to me. Just as well really. It gave me more time to enjoy the performance before me.
I’d never seen such vigorous dancing in my life. All their faces were tightened as if they were in pain. The entire room was in a mad frenzy. I’d never seen such a mess of bodies in my life. The stench became stronger. I could barely breathe. I searched out my cousin and found her in the heart of the madness, slammed against a wall by a skinny teenage boy. I felt myself gag. I made my way out of the hall, struggling not to react to the groping and fondling going on around me. Just when I was close to the exit, perhaps unwilling to end my suffering so quickly, I took one last look at the hall. It was so fascinating. I couldn’t tell where the boys ended and where the girls began. All their bodies seemed to merge together in a slow sloppy motion.
A thick pap-like gel landed on my face and snapped me out of whatever kind of insane reverie I was having. Someone had thrown their sweat on me. I decided I had had enough and ran out of the hall. As soon as the cold air hit me, my knees gave way and I struggled not to fall.
I thanked God for the air that day. I thanked God for wind. I thanked God for breeze. I thanked God for my nose and the ability to take in cold clean air. You know what they say, you never know what you have until you lose it.
It all really just makes you think of Alice Walker and her infamous quote: "Hard times require furious dancing." She must never have thought how furious "furious" could get.