The beginning of my understanding of cliques, or a close circle of friendship, began on the streets between Adetola and some other street I do not remember, in Aguda, Surulere.
The year was 1998, I think. We would walk from our school to our common entrance lesson, taught by a Ghanaian man with a penchant for notoriously painful flogging.
“…perhaps, overdone with six years at a single sex school and fascinated by the idea of being friends with boys, I found myself in a small circle in which I was the only female…”
It was with Onyinye and Amara, and I do not think that we even knew we were a clique, I do not know if they thought of us as a clique, even. But we were friends that had a common after school bond and goals to perform greatly and get into Queens College yaba, it happened, mission accomplished.
The next time, was with some other people in secondary school, but this circles didn’t live quite long. Later on, I got sweet seat partners, Ifeoma and Ijeoma.
Again, I do not remember us sitting and swearing oaths of allegiance to be a strong unbreakable three strand cord. Yet, we were friends, in and out, to ourselves and those who were looking, and I loved them both. We went to different universities, but like Onyinye and Amara, we have outlived that circle, not because the love waned, but because of time and place and life. Ifeoma isn’t even in Lagos, lol. Still, we have remained friends.
“Somedays, I feel so terribly misunderstood, enough to rock the foundation on which I thought a certain friendship was built on”
When I got into the University of Lagos, perhaps, overdone with six years at a single sex school and fascinated by the idea of being friends with boys, I found myself in a small circle in which I was the only female. I remember one day, we were studying at the Lagoon front, and I gripped my stomach, doubled over from cramps and nausea, wondering how to answer the question
“What is wrong with you?”
I finally blurted it out, and one of them ran to get me pain killers. The redness from being shy, and the bliss! Shortlived though, by year two, I was alone. Some of them moved to the English department, some left the school.
These are my fondest memories of friendship in a circle.
I have had short bursts here there, of good, the bad -and a mix. I have however been able to watch some other circles, to associate with members of them from the outside, without being a full bonafide member.
I have seen people destroyed by the pressure to be a certain way because of their circle. I have seen people try to keep up with their circle -at the expense of their mental and financial health.
“Sometimes you don’t even understand yourself enough. How then do you want to burden another with this?”
Look, I have seen people walk in dangerous circles. Circles that spell regret in the close future, or are already full of regrets that it is too addictive to step out of. They live with the pain, and yet, the fear of stepping out. I have seen people proverbially dine with their devils.
My constant, is that at certain phases of my life, I find my subconscious pulling me towards or away from spaces and people, and I listen and follow, because I promise you, I do not like the stress of fighting with my Chi.
I have also discovered a new form of a circle. One in which I have drawn the dots myself, and the individuals know or do not know each other. In other words, we are not a clique, they are just all people that appeal to me individually and I have created my own circle of them.
In all that I do -my art, in all that I am child, wife, parent, in there will you find these people, loving me, annoying me, but most importantly -sharing my ideals in these spaces and sometimes, phases.
On holiday recently, my friend corrected my son and I didn’t flinch. She pointed it out, and I said it was all down to ideals. We share enough common ground on parenting that I trust her enough with my children and vice versa.
It is not all perfect.
Somedays, I feel so terribly misunderstood, enough to rock the foundation on which I thought a certain friendship was built upon. But I shake it off, if you know me, you have met my scale.
My scale is one in which I say that I balance certain behaviour against previous ones, with this, I teach myself not to erase 99 good things over one bad thing.
So I give it time, and time does it’s thing, because you see, sometimes you don’t even understand yourself enough. How then do you want to burden another with this?
So my friend, you must learn to pick your circle, to choose your tribe, because far and above all the shenanigans, do not let your ego trick you into loneliness.
Do you hear me? I said don’t be fooled, you should never walk alone.
Achalugo Chioma Ezekobe