The room was filled with lots of laughter in the spirit of merriment, joy, and celebration. I was seated where I was, looking at my friend, smiling at him, and was overwhelmed as I wondered to myself how fast time flies.
“Look at him, all grown up and about to become a husband to his longtime girlfriend.” I thought out loud to myself as I traveled down memory lane some 20 years ago, back to the time when we first met. Back to when we were just 7-year olds.
As I thought to myself, all I could do was smile as I kept my gaze on him, watching as he smiled and laughed heartily with the rest of the guys (at this time I couldn’t even hear the music and loud laughter anymore, the room seemed inaudible as I was lost in memories).
We became best friends and grew very much fond of each other quickly. It was a good thing our parents knew each other, that helped us to see each other more frequently. I remember spending many weekends at his place, and he at mine. We attended the same school; we were in the same class and were the brightest students in our class (a record we kept unbroken).
20 years later, I’m here seated at the bachelor’s eve of my childhood friend. Lost in my own thoughts, cruising down memory lane, and appreciating the friendship we’ve both shared and enjoyed. We might be all grown up now, but we are still at large, all loud and noisy as we’ve always been since we were at 7. We’ve had our own share of adversities, but even those times made the true colors of our friendship shine.
Like I said, nothing changed much in some regard. For example, we still argue, but this time, it’s not about who would take the role of Spiderman or Superman, neither was it about who finished his homework first. Now it’s about whose football club is doing better, who would buy a car first, and who would get married first (in which case he won).
The race of who would do what or get what first didn’t also change. For some reason, he always wins in the matters that concern women. For example, he said he was going to get a girlfriend before me, and he did. About a year ago, he said he was going to get married first, and it is going to be a done deal in a matter of hours.
I also had my own wins. We both graduated with honors from the same school, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. I got into the NYSC program and finished service before him, but he got a job before me. I got my job nine months later. But that didn’t matter because I bought a car before him (a feat he said I wouldn’t beat him at).
Slowly I returned from my trip down memory lane, and without thinking, I stood up with my glass of “33” Export Lager Beer in one hand, and waved with the other to get the attention of the house, and I think I also had tears rolling down my cheek. And maybe that’s what gave me the full attention of every person in the room as everyone quieted and gave me their gaze. Even the DJ reduced the music volume to the barest minimum.
Then I began my unprepared speech, I believe it began like so: “For a moment I was lost in memories, and I realized how far we’ve come with our friendship.” My short little talk lasted for about a minute (with my gaze on him all the while), and it was heartfelt. I could tell from the reaction I got that everyone loved it. It was great even though it wasn’t planned.
Chinedu rushed up with tears rolling down his own cheeks, threw his arms around me, and whispered to my ears; “Sam, you are my best friend and my best man. You could have saved these emotions for your speech tomorrow at the wedding. But anyways, I love and appreciate you, man. I appreciate our friendship.”
“And may it last till eternity,” I replied.
“And may we always have “33” Export Lager Beer to celebrate,” Chinedu said with a smile on his face as he let go of his grip on me. He reached out to his favorite drink, the same “33” Export Lager Beer I had in my glass. And we all with the rest of the boys made a toast to Friendship. It was an evening I won’t forget in a hurry. And my friendship with Chinedu is one that I will treasure forever.
We’ve had our fights. Yes. I remember one that almost broke our friendship. Besides that one, I remember two others. That’s three fights in all. So in 20 long years, I can only tell of three occurrences of sharp misunderstanding or fight with my friend. They are so few that I remember all the details involved. But I won’t get into that now.
But guess what I can’t keep count of. I can’t keep count of how many times I’ve been the Messiah of my friend; saving him from one situation or another. And there’s also no telling of how many times he has gone the extra mile to save the day for me; he has always been there for me without fail. It is at those times that I see the true colors of friendship shine its brightest.
Chinedu’s wedding went on to be a success. He’s been happily married for 6 months now. Since his wedding, many of the boys have gotten engaged. Don’t ask me why. But guess whose wedding is coming up in 4 months’ time; mine.
This story was submitted as an entry for the Pen Down For Friendship Contest; organized by 33 Export Lager Beer to mark the 2018 World Friendship Day.