By Abayomi Ogunwale Zuma
Most people I have met over the years assume that I
chose to become an obstetrician in order to hang
around women. That assertion is wrong to begin with,
but the premise cannot be totally discountenanced.
My students however believe that I must have been
very good in the subject while I was in the medical
school. You will kindly show a little understanding
if I say nothing to dispel the myths surrounding me,
This confession was inspired by a recent incident in
my office. I will quickly tell you about that
incident and then get this confession over with.
I was just rounding off my Wednesday infertility
clinic, when the nurse walked into my office and
informed me that I had a referral I must attend to.
I tried maneuvering my way out of seeing the
patient, but as the nurse refused to oblige, I asked
her to show the patient in. This she did with some
relish, and the middle aged woman settled into the
chair in front of me, while I psyched myself up for
one last round of consultation. After reading
through her referral letter, I realized there was a
need to see her husband as well and therefore asked
that he be called in. As the man entered, our eyes
did not make immediate contact as I was trying to
disconnect my laptop from the socket. On sighting
him however, the narrative below came back to me
vividly like the memory of an illicit affair; clear
and embarrassing. I do not think he entertained the
possibility immediately, but as we conversed and I
set about trying to narrow my differentials,
something about the way I spoke alerted him to the
possibility of a past encounter and it did not take
too long before I saw a light in his eyes and knew
he had found me out. We managed to keep a semblance
of mutual ignorance as I ordered the required tests
and gave them an appointment for next week. Later,
as I tidied up my desk and sorted out the case notes
I had used in the clinic, I saw a note tucked in
below his wife’s case file. I opened it and saw a
diagram and two sentences written in the
characteristic scrawl I have tried to forget in the
last twenty years without success: ‘Tesla was here’
and ‘where is the manual?’ I smiled, folded the note
and shook my head.
This is a tale that I have
never shared in the past. Here I go:
I was not always a
brilliant student. That is a sentence most of my
medical colleagues might not readily believe, but it
is true. Back in my secondary school days I was a
bad student. I was not outrightly dull but I had
little or no time for books. I had cultivated the
friendship of two older boys, Ijala and Tesla; both
of whom were terrible in their own individual and
special ways. Ijala was the undisputed bully of the
set. Short and stocky, in a way only a prior life on
the farm could have produced, he had coarse features
and a gruff voice to match the package. He was also
an emeritus dullard; even by my own low standards,
he was simply pathetic.
Tesla on the other hand was
every girl’s delight. Slim, tall and handsome. His
face bore traces of his mixed heritage. His American
grandfather after whom he was named was the pioneer
principal of the school and this conferred some
special privileges on him. Whether he performed well
at school or not, he could not be expelled for any
reason. He was not dull, but he had no patience for
school work. Therefore in such inglorious company,
the academic tasks fell naturally to me, as I
possessed neither looks nor brawn. We all got by on
my meager intellect. This arrangement suited every
party concerned and we had no automatic leader, each
member of the gang just assumed leadership as
dictated by the challenges we faced.
Tesla had established a
reputation with the ladies and myths had been
created around his perceived sexual prowess due to a
combination of exaggerations and boredom. The whole
school believed the rumors making the rounds, though
none of us could mention one girl Tesla had actually
slept with. Anyway, he basked in the glory of his
alleged abilities and we reaped the dividends of
being the ‘men’, around the ‘man’.
One Saturday evening,
after regaling us with one of his escapades
with a senior girl, unnamed as usual, Kome (one of
the boys in the hostel), asked Tesla if he had ever
considered writing a manual for aspiring studs like
us and for the inexperienced junior who might need
some guidance in future. We all laughed over the
suggestion, but then we began to debate the book's
possible contents, design and arrangement. A lot of
things were said that are not worth repeating, but,
before we went to bed that night we agreed that such
a book, if ever it was written, should be known
simply as the ‘manual’. The simpler, the better; we
We all forgot the discussion or so I assumed, until
the following evening during prep when I noticed
Tesla busy scribbling away in a small red notebook.
The usually loquacious Tesla was very quiet that
night and soon everybody in class began to wonder
just what he was writing. Some said he must have
turned a corner academically, while the more cynical
of us said he must be writing a very long love
letter, or better still a compendium of love
letters. I was mandated by the boys to spy on Tesla
but I could get nothing out of him. This scenario
repeated itself for three straight nights and my
friend Tesla was quite reserved during this period.
On the third day, when we could no longer bear it,
Ijala and I summoned a meeting of the gang behind
the incinerator to find out precisely what Tesla was
up to. As soon as we got there, we threatened to
dissociate ourselves from him if he did not deal us
into whatever mischief he was planning. He smiled in
his characteristic way, looked around for any sign
of another student. Satisfied that we were alone, he
spilt the secret he had been hoarding all week.
“Boys, I am working on The Manual.”
“Which manual?” Ijala asked.
“Have you guys forgotten so quickly?” He asked,
turning to me. “The one we spoke about last
On hearing this, we quickly forgot about his
misdemeanors in the last three days and pressed him
to read some portions out for us. It took a while to
break down his resistance, but after a while, he
drew us further from public view and reluctantly
pulled the red notebook out of his pocket.
“Promise me you will not tell anybody about this”
We promised and in return, our esteemed author read
some portions of the masterpiece-in-progress out to
us. There were chapters with exotic captions such as
‘Toasting in Style’, 'What a Girl Wants in a Man’
the ‘Geometry of Sex’. Of course each title elicited
exclamations from the two of us. We would probably
have spent the entire day behind that incinerator if
the bell had not gone for the end of lunch break .We
hurried back to class, barely concealing the gleam
in our eyes and the rest of the day passed in a
Over the next few days we
spent more time together behind the school
incinerator. We could have been found out, but
Ijala’s reputation as the strongest junior boy in
the school kept every peer at a safe distance.
Finally the day we had been waiting for came, when
Tesla came panting into the hostel looking for Ijala
and I. On sighting us in the quadrangle, washing our
uniforms, he signaled us to meet him behind the
hostel, on the long road leading to the Teachers’
Quarters. The road we called ‘Jamaica’ for an
inexplicable reason. We quickly rinsed our uniforms
and hung them on the line to dry. Then we walked
briskly out of the junior hostel and broke into a
run once we were clear.
By the time we got to the rendezvous point, Tesla
was already waiting; a wide grin plastered on his
are you guys late?" He asked in feigned anger.
We did not bother responding to him. Our attention
was firmly fixed on the red notebook he was
clutching in his right hand. Ijala had to be
restrained from grabbing the manual and running off
to read it alone. We walked some distance into the
bush and settled under a cashew tree, huddled close,
spread the red manual on the ground and began to
read with testosterone-driven urgency.
Thirty minutes later, we walked back to the hostel
with peculiar gaits invented to conceal the awkward
bulges in our brown shorts and hearts brimming with
mischievous possibilities. Later that night, after
prep, we went over the manual again and suggested
ways of improving it. A major omission which left
Ijala and I somewhat very disappointed was the
absence of a pictorial representation of the female
genitals. For all his achievements, Tesla failed to
provide the ultimate gift each junior boy secretly
sought in his private fantasy. He promised to
correct this oversight, and true to his word there
was a picture the very next day.
Now, before you begin to judge us unfairly, you must
understand that we were hormone-driven teenagers who
needed some ways of relieving our pent-up sexual
tensions and satisfy our often discouraged
curiousity about the sacred subject.
When Tesla handed over the picture to me the next
day in class, I called Ijala out of the class and we
walked straight to the toilets where we could have
sufficient time to feast our eyes on an image we had
only heard of spoken in whispers. We returned to
class wiser in our own eyes and began to look on
Tesla with some new found respect. He had finally
earned his stripes. He laid his claim to our eternal
gratitude and admiration however, later in the
hostel, when he pointed to a specific point on the
picture and said "That’s where you will put it, you
What?" Ijala blurted out, looking confused.
We looked at him in anger and waited for the answer
to click into place in his thick skull. When the
answer finally dawned on him, he opened his eyes
wide in surprise, whistled and laughed aloud as if
he was onto some private joke.
course I know what you will put there; I was just
testing you boys."
I looked across to Tesla and he shrugged his
shoulders in resignation. It was no time for us to
quarrel, so we let Ijala off the hook lightly and
began to strategize on how best to present the book
to the other boys in the hostel. We resolved to make
some profit from the manual and after some
arguments, agreed on the sum of Fifty kobo as a fair
amount to be paid by anybody hoping to read it. I
was to be in charge of publicity; Ijala naturally
was assigned the role of fee collector. Tesla had
done so much work already, so we assigned no duties
We went straight to work on
our little scheme and as projected, the response was
great. Although the marketing was done discretely
and in the boys hostel alone, we still managed to
recruit about 34 prospective readers; and when the
reading list seemed like it was stretching too long
to manage with only one copy of the manual, we
arranged a private reading for a select population
of interested readers. Thus, the next Saturday, when
the other students had gone to the assembly hall for
the compulsory ‘Boogie’ night, we gathered in one of
the junior classrooms and Tesla took his place in
front of the class to read for us. Throughout the
forty minutes it took him to read through his
masterpiece you could have heard a dog fart. As his
voice rose and fell through the air, our minds
wandered off in different directions, after
individual desires; different only in location and
degree of depravity. Such was the intensity of our
private dreams that when he was done reading, there
was silence for another two, three minutes, before
normal conversations began again. Thereafter, we
passed the book round so that everybody could catch
a glimpse of the picture Tesla had created. That
obscene drawing created its own wave of appreciative
murmurs and suppressed arguments as some wanted to
hold on to it longer than we were willing to allow.
After the reading, as we all walked back to the
hostel, busy working on individual strategies to
implement the brilliant suggestions in the book, one
of the boys suggested casually that we try out the
recommendations written in the manual on one girl
first, so as to correct whatever deficiencies might
be inherent in it, before releasing the book and its
nuggets of sexual wisdom to the other junior boys.
That suggestion pleased everyone present, and after
drawing lots for whom to use, I was chosen as the
man to confirm the practical efficacy of the manual.
The dark skinned plump girl, Shadia, Ijala’s seat
mate in class was to be the subject. For one, she
appeared gullible, simple. She also had a crush on
me, having asked Ijala to arrange a meeting between
us on more than two occasions. Rumours also had it
that she was sexually experienced. For, as we
reasoned, how else could her breasts have grown so
rapidly - from the small mound of hard flesh that it
was in the first year at school, to its present
almost melon-like proportions if someone had not
been working on them? I accepted the responsibility
with mixed feelings. In a way, all my dreams were
finally going to come true, and with the fresh
information gained from The Manual, I was in the
most sexually enlightened form of my life. Although
the choice of subject left much to be desired.
Personally I would have preferred Nene; the fair
skinned angel in my class, but with her generous
ventral endowments, Shadia was not a bad compromise
at all. Besides, I could also easily dump her after
The next day, I began
wooing Shadia in earnest. She was initially shocked
and wary because even at her conceited best, she
knew she was in the lower shelf when it came to
beauty. But with the help of the lyrics written in
The Manual, the wooing of Shadia went ahead of
schedule such that, by the end of the third day, I
already had her eating out of the palms of my hands.
Our blossoming romance did not go unnoticed too. The
other girls in the class who barely used to talk to
me suddenly found my jokes funnier than usual. Nene
even went as far as volunteering to help write my
notes whenever I needed assistance. Shadia’s
carriage changed, her confidence soared and suddenly
she really began to look attractive. That
transformation gnawed at my confidence and doubts
assailed me as I began to wonder why I had agreed to
such a cruel task. She obviously really liked me
even more because nobody had given her so much
attention in the past. I would have backed out right
then, but the thought of facing the boys in the
hostel to report my failure was too much to bear,
so, I was condemned to choosing between wrecking
Shadia’s life and self-destruction. Someone once
said that in the fight for self preservation, the
truth is usually the first casualty. I cannot agree
As the decision was completely out of my court, I
stopped feeling sorry for her and concentrated on
the task before me. As things stood, my fate and
Shadia’s had become inexorably knitted and our
destinies had a Siamese look to them. Therefore, I
kept up the deception. To be honest too, Tesla must
have been a genius, because, his social recipes
worked as he said they would. He really understood
the female psyche, and had made provision for all
the conceivable nuances of the teenage female mind.
There were suggestions on how, where and when to
hold a girl’s hand, how to apologize, how to present
a gift and even how to react to rejection. Each day,
my admiration for Tesla grew in bounds as Shadia’s
love for me took on a life of its own like a
malignant tumor. By the end of two weeks, Shadia was
ripe for harvesting. She was ready to go anywhere
and try anything to prove her love for me and my
occasionally wandering hand was never reprimanded. I
went places. By that time, all the junior boys in my
hostel knew something was afoot, but only the
initiated really understood my bearings.
One day as I sat beside
Shadia in class waiting for the next boring class to
begin, I caught her looking intently at me as if she
was trying to read my expressions.
"What?" I asked her.
"Nothing." She replied.
why were you looking at me like that? Am I so
handsome that you had to stare so hard? You could
simply have asked and I would have posed for you,
for free, you know?" I said.
your dreams" she whispered, smiled briefly and
promptly resumed the staring exercise.
For a moment, I thought she had seen through my
deception. I looked back at her, hoping for a sign,
some hint, but she kept staring at my face. Her eyes
slowly bore through me, and then beyond, into space.
As I met her gaze, she turned her face away and
you done it before?" She asked in a very low voice,
fiddling with her keyholder as she spoke.
I feigned ignorance. "What?"
She looked at me, pursed her lips, hissed and rolled
"Oh that? Of course I have!" I lied.
was it? I mean, was it painful? Was it painful for
you?" She asked with a concerned expression.
I was amazed, and wild thoughts flooded my mind.
Could we have misjudged this girl? Was it possible
that Shadia was a virgin as well?
My eyes must have betrayed my emotions because she
shook her head in denial.
have also done it before. So don’t give me that
look. Please, stop looking at me like that."
She giggled and playfully turned my face away from
On hearing that, I heaved a sigh of relief. Our
little scheme had gone too far to contemplate
replacing Shadia at that time and so far everything
had worked according to plan. Before I could answer
her question however, the Math teacher entered the
class and I had to vacate Ijala’s seat. You see, the
Math teacher had a penchant for calling Ijala to
attempt every question. So, Ijala’s seat was not
exactly the right place to be for a Math class.
On Friday evening, I received a note from Shadia
asking me to meet her behind the sports pavilion
after dinner the next day. When Ijala delivered the
note I could barely contain my joy. It seemed my day
in the sun was coming earlier than expected and I
danced in gratitude to God, the angels and whoever
was orchestrating my life-events up there in heaven
and made a vow to give double offerings on Sunday if
Shadia allowed me into her honey-pot come Saturday
Preparations began in earnest for the great night
and we divided the tasks as usual. Tesla went round
the hostel trying to discretely get a condom for me
to use in what proved to be the hardest part of the
whole project till He found a way to steal one from
his school father. Ijala went over the proposed site
of the rendezvous on Saturday afternoon and tried
removing stones, bottles and other dangerous objects
around the place. Thereafter, he looked for a spot
where he, Tesla and an independent observer could
hide to witness the act. While they were busy
working out the logistics, I went over the last
chapter of The Manual again as if my life depended
on it. Little did I know that in reality, it did!
But, I get ahead of myself, please, forgive me.
That night, I could barely sleep for an hour at a
stretch without waking up with the sensation of a
weight on my chest. I played over all the possible
scenarios in my head and my heart raced in
excitement as I reviewed possible angles of approach
and positions in my head. Sadly, the book did not
say if we had to do the act standing or lying on the
floor. That should not pose too much of a challenge,
I reasoned. My dad used to say that you do not have
to teach a baby how to eat; something within us all
directs the satisfaction of our most basic drives.
"When it matters, your instincts would kick in", he
would say, when talking with his friends at the pool
house. So, I assumed things would just work
The next morning, I noticed that Tesla was also
behaving funny and concluded that I was not alone;
the tension was getting to him too. Ijala was the
most excited man amongst us. It was as if it was him
that was in line for the ‘lay of a lifetime’.
Throughout the day, he kept on asking if I was
alright; if I needed anything to drink, sniff, and
so on. When it got to the point when we could no
longer bear his doting ways, Tesla and I snapped at
him to shut up. He looked at us, his feelings hurt.
I could not help but apologize.
Ijala, go to the kitchen and get a little kolanut
from the security man." I urged him, seeing how
restless he was.
For what?" Tesla asked, obviously irritated.
you know that it helps? It actually helps the man to
declared in an authoritative tone.
Tesla looked in my direction for an opinion and I
shrugged. The farther away from the room Ijala was
Go for the kolanut, and please come back in time for
the final rehearsals." Tesla waved him away,
thankful at least for the calm he left behind.
By eight in the evening when I set out for my date
with destiny alone, I was very nervous and to be
honest, scared. But, I had gone too far to turn
back. Tesla, Ijala and the third boy, Ugo, had gone
ahead of me. The plan was for them to walk in an
anticlockwise direction around the school so as to
arrive at the pavilion some minutes after Shadia and
I had barely arrived the designated point when I
spotted Shadia walking towards the sports field. Her
yellow checked pinafore moving through the grass
brought out the kind of feeling I usually have when
the script for a test in which I had performed badly
is being distributed. I wished I could freeze time,
call rain forth or...I must have been so lost in
thought that I did not notice her arrival until her
voice startled me back to consciousness.
up? What were you looking at?" she asked waving her
hand in front of my face.
babe!" I stuttered and looked her over.
are looking beautiful this evening." I responded,
scratching my head in embarrassment. She had
certainly outdone herself and was looking
unbelievably gorgeous. I was damned!
you." She smiled and walked around where I stood
drowning me in a mixture of fragrances. Soap.
Talcum. Perfume. Womanhood.
Then we ran out of words.
In the corner of my eye, I saw some movements in the
grass where the boys were supposed to be hiding, and
I knew we were already being observed. I slowly
guided Shadia to the mound of grass specially made
by Ijala in the afternoon. She hardly resisted. Both
of us were aware of what was about to happen, there
was little or nothing else to discuss, I reasoned.
This even feels like a bed." Shadia murmured as she
sat on the grassy platform. I thought I could detect
some apprehension in her voice.
My hands grew cold and clammy as I helped her onto
the platform and then gently placed one palm on her
right thigh to test her resistance. I waited awhile
for her to push it away or make an attempt to, but
she ignored it. Once we were seated and I was sure
there was an implied consent, I brought my lips
closer to hers for my first ever kiss and she
acquiesced, opening her mouth as mine approached.
That initial contact stays in the mind forever, you
know? Mine was brief, tentative and unsure, but it
remains the best taste I ever experienced and though
I have tried several times to recreate it, I have
never succeeded. That night, we drew back
reflexively after that brief kiss, shared an
embarrassing moment and then came together again. By
that time, my member had started behaving like it
possessed a life of its own. Suddenly without any
fore warning, it began to throb and then with an
embarrassing and astoundingly forceful urgency, also
started to grow- one energetic inch after the other
- almost in synch with my racing pulse. It was as if
I had a trapped animal – some dangerous reptile - in
my pants which was wriggling and fighting for space
and air. My dad was right, because something really
took over events. Soon Shadia and I were rolling on
the grass. The Manual and the boys were just events
from another life. At that moment if you had asked
me to tell you the colour of The Manual I would
probably have said ‘twenty’. My hands grew in length
and number, they went everywhere. Then my mouth
became a brush, painting Shadia with all shades of
appellations. We formed shapes that do not exist on
this part of heaven yet and then her fingers began
to tug at my shorts. My
belt was dislodged from position and I soon lost all
inhibitions, pulled up her pinafore and dragged her
panties down. At this stage, not even my pastor
could have called me back, I was too far gone. Soon,
we got tired of touching one another; our bodies
divined that there was a pleasure we had not yet
experienced and we went after that, naturally.
When we were both sufficiently exposed to proceed
without any encumbrance, I tried to wear the condom
and I kept on getting it wrong. So I dropped it
before she could change her mind. I ran my hand over
her, received the greatest shock of my young life.
The anatomy did not tally with the image I had
imagined. There was something wrong there, but I
couldn’t put a finger on it. I drew Shadia to one
side till I could see with the light coming from the
road and checked again. To my surprise, I saw
something like a fleshy gate which was not in
Tesla’s drawing. I assumed that this led into the
honey pot, but I was wrong. On probing further, I
discovered two depressions - obviously marking two
different cavities, whereas, Tesla’s drawing had
only one large hole. Shadia obviously had two! A
small hole flanked by two dimples and a larger one
inferiorly, closer in fact to her anus. In my
confusion, I hesitated and Shadia felt my
is it?" she whispered.
"Nothing" I snapped.
go in now. What are you waiting for?"
Where? Up or down?"
Then it dawned on her that it was my first time.
I would not let that stop me so I decided to try
dilating each hole in turns, first with my index
finger. The first hole was very narrow, barely
admitting the tip of my little finger. As I was
trying to force it in, I felt a sharp in-draw of
breath as if she was consciously trying to conceal
the discomfort, so I stopped. That could not be it.
why don’t you show me the hole your first boyfriend
used?" I asked her impatiently in a whisper.
When it was obvious that I could get no help from
her, I tried the second hole. This admitted my index
finger to an extent, but she still cried out just
the same, as if, I was hurting her.
By now, I could feel life draining out of my member,
like a generator switched off in mid-service.
She had obviously never had sex too.
Then she began to sob. My frustration gave way first
to fear, then to raging anger as the truth came out
of the dark night and settled on me. The signs were
always there, we just didn’t pick them. Tesla had
conned us all! He had never slept with a girl
before. Everything he wrote in that Manual, he must
have picked from the discussions between his school
father and the friends. He obviously knew nothing
more about sex than the rest of us. I looked in the
direction where the boys were meant to be hiding and
I could faintly hear them whispering, trying hard to
keep their voices low to no avail.
Shadia must have heard them too, as she suddenly
stiffened. She turned to me.
you hear that?" She asked looking flustered.
thought I heard voices."
There can be nobody here at this time. Come on, let
us finish this."
I could have been talking to a dead horse. She did
not listen to my pleas, sprang up from the grass,
looked around for her clothes and then with amazing
ease got dressed in a hurry. I tried to stop her,
but by the time I was through groping on the ground
trying to locate my belt, she was already on the way
back to the female hostel, leaving me to run after
I finally caught up with her on the main road, and
as I fell in step with her I heard a sniff. She must
have been crying. There was nothing to say.
I tried holding her hand, but she snatched it away
from my grasp and kept on walking like someone under
a spell; her tear-rimmed eyes fixed at a distance
beyond the present - were dark and inconsolable.
We walked together slowly towards the female hostel.
Each immersed in separate and very individual
agonies and finally parted at the gate leading into
the female hostel without exchanging any word. The
silence we shared on the way that memorable night
contained more words than every conversation we
shared thereafter, at least till we graduated three
As I walked slowly to the hostel along the dusty
road leading to the male hostel, a lot of thoughts
courted me. On one hand, I was thrilled by my own
performance that night; on the other, I was annoyed
by Tesla’s insincerity. My hands had actually been
to places I had only dreamt about. I stopped near
the bore hole in the front of the hostel to rinse my
hands and on second thoughts I decided against doing
that just yet. I raised my index finger and admired
it. Then my eyes ran over the rest of the palm and
the lines that allegedly define destinies. I wished
I could see into the future; wished I could predict
our ultimate destinations. However I knew some
things for certain although I could not imagine
exactly how they would come to be.
Tesla and I would cease being friends from that
night. Ijala could go to hell as well. The red
Manual would go to the incinerator and I was going
to apologize to Shadia.
If my palms could speak a language that my ears
could distill from the other sounds coming from
within me, I reason now, even if only in retrospect,
perhaps, they would have told me that night how far
the obsession to right the wrongs of that night
would ultimately take me. Even at their best, I
doubt if my palms could have succeeded in describing
just how beautiful and brilliant Shadia ultimately
turned out to be; neither could they have described
the wonderful life we now live, the children we have
raised and more.
That night, my right index finger showed the way to
a better life, my palms and the lines they bear only
followed that lead. I have been fortunate enough to
trace my destiny along one of the paths marked by
one of those holes and even now, thirty years later,
I have no regrets.
As I walked along that road, I knew none of these of
course but I did not care, my fingers had done
something worth celebrating with respectful silence
and exotic fantasies and I was not going to be
denied that luxury. Never! I swore to myself
as I swaggered towards my hostel like a man who knew
his place in the world.
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