A Val’s Day Walk In Calabar!

pooohRed they say is the color of fire and blood, and also of energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. It has even been referred to as an emotionally intense color with a very high visibility. Red is the predominant colour this afternoon as the calitown.com crew drives round Calabar, the Cross River State capital to find out what’s going down this Friday, February 14, 2014, unarguably St. Valentine’s Day.

The crew makes her way to Watt market and witness a buzz that is both compelling and confusing. We ask a lady with two bulging bags why the naked haste to get out of the market and she immediately responds in bold pidgin English, “ na only una no know say today na loving day. I dey hurry to go meet my husband for house so that I go make am good food”. Her streaks of sweat, impatient as we see, run from under her weave-on and make straight for the less than three strands of hair on her chin, then drop reluctantly to the floor, although lost in mid air. We let her hurry into the sea of people and melt inside within seconds as we look around for another person to talk to.

Under the broad umbrella by the side of the Bedwell axis of the market, we encounter two young girls, charging their phones on a large wooden board with multiple sockets and decide to stop and ask them what Val’s Day means to them. “It is a day to show love and also expect to be loved”, the slimmer of the two begin. Her friend, smiles and covers her face with a weak palm then flashes us a dimples-laced smile as she tells us that, “for me-o, Val’s Day is a day for lovers to seriously express themselves”. Whatever she means, she does not say as the putrid scent out of the gutter running the whole length of the street, discourage further contact with passersby.

By the time we hit most offices in the Old and New Secretariats in Calabar, it is clear that Val’s Day may be an unofficial holiday because most offices are either empty or firmly locked. It is no encouragement to hang around for long, but the few people we saw were very concerned about saying nothing, maybe a way of telling us that the civil servant does not just talk, clearance must come from somewhere. So that it doesn’t get boring for the crew, we head for the University of Calabar, knowing that the energy of youth, seldom dulls situations like this and sincerely, we don’t regret making it to Unical.

First, so many people can be seen hurrying to somewhere or nowhere; it is a common spectacle. Today however, it is different and clearly looks like the University authorities have given most female students the nod to wear uniforms to school because as we look, all around us, the colour red dominates and will surely make a Spanish matador green with envy. We ask one well dressed female student why all the red buzz and she just smiles and tells us, “Love is in the air”. Her friend, a hazel-eyed beauty smiles and tells us without being asked that, “my girlfriend pinged me that her boyfriend has ignored her calls since morning and I told her that it is simple, he has taken off for Val”. A roar of laughter follows and we want to find out why a guy who has been around his girlfriend all this while will decide to ignore her calls on a day when he should be giving her some ‘good-good loving’. The female students before us offer a lot of answers, some excuses even though they all point to the fact that the young man is in the arms of another woman, grinding away the Val’s Day. Phew, we may all be wrong.

“Me-o, if my guy does not take my calls today, I can never call him again”. It is a statement coming from behind us, we quickly turn around and come face to face with the female student who just mouthed the words. Her flickering eyelashes hastily reveal a no-nonsense mien, even a mean disposition that boldly tells you not to mess with her. “Why won’t you call him again”, we ask to know and her answer does not let us down. “It goes to show by ignoring my calls today that I have always been his spare tyre”. Laughter is muffled, but those who can’t hold it let out bouts of healthy laughter and a few contents drop to the floor.

We look around again and spot a few male students sitting on some high stools at a few kiosks on the main campus. One, spots a green trouser on an off colour shirt and tells us it is “colour blocking”. He is first to tell us that “even the girls who are accusing their guys of not taking their calls may have probably resorted to calling this particular guys after “all else has failed”. We “take out time to deal with them on days like this”. We look at him and his scorpion tattoo on the back of his left palm tells us he can sting.

It is already 2 p.m and lots of students are leaving campus for one rendezvous or the other because not just is it Val’s Day, it is also a Friday, the start of a weekend that will resonate way beyond anything ordinary.

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