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The First Time I Fell In Love ~ Amara

The first time I ever gave my love out, I was ten and two, with a beautiful heart that belonged to no one else but me, alone.
It was in the beautiful heart of Awka, in a small village where my mother came from. A village where masquerades walked the streets, making beautiful ugly noises that reminded everyone that celebration was in the air.
Beautiful for children would abandon their chores to go after the masquerades, barefooted, shouting and chattering in high voices, and ugly for my grandmother(R.I.P) never liked masquerades because she was a woman,
"Amara Owerre, nwanyi adirokwa eso mmanwu- Amara, a woman doesn't go after masquerades," she would say, to me and to my other cousin sisters. My grandmother called me KanyiraluChukwu, Amara Obere(Amara small) or Amara Owerre, because I have an older cousin sister, Amara.
My cousins and I had ignored her warnings one afternoon when we heard the beautiful ugly noises and that was where I met him, the heart mine first loved. He was behind and was removing his sandals so as to run faster to meet up with the other children. He was not taller but fatter than I was. His skins were either brown or dark, I couldn't tell because hairs stood on them. I watched him walk tirelessly towards the direction the other children were following the masquerades in. I watched until his eyes caught mine and just then, my intestines began to blame me, the worms in my stomach engaged in a fight and made rumbling noises, goose bumps grew on my skin and my legs grew weak. Maybe I would have fallen, maybe he would have asked why I was starring or, maybe he would have walked away caring less about my stares, I didn't know which, maybe I wouldn't have known if he hadn't visited our compound the next afternoon.
I was lying quietly in my grandmother's room when I heard a strange voice, one very different from my cousins' and I peeped through the opening in the door, my heart skipped its beat. I ran back to the bed only to hear my grandmother warning that nobody enters her room. Walking out of the room to the corridor where my cousins sat, my smiles collided with my confidence to elude from me. And all I began to hear were my heart beats and voices I couldn't decipher the words they said until I raised my bowed head to stare only to notice that he hadn't walked away the previous day caring less about my stares.
Minutes later, I heard my cousins discussing with him in low voices and out of all, I was only able to hear the one question that came thrice, or more, which was, "Are you liking her," in Igbo.
Maybe, I didn't start writing almost two years ago like I think I did because I remember that after he left my compound, I grabbed my pen and paper and wrote down words. Now, I do not remember the combinations of words that filled the many lines of the sheet of paper but I remember that there was no mention of the word 'Love', because then, I didn't know what I was feeling. I didn't even know what Love was.
I gave him the letter when the beautiful ugly noises came again three days later and he thought me strange for never even smiling back whenever he came around which was the reason he once asked my cousin brother if I was doing 'shakara' because I was in Junior Secondary three(J.S.S 3) at twelve.
A reply came, a friendship followed and then we both held hands, and allowed our hearts fall into the ocean of music...
The first time I ever gave my love out, I was ten and two years old, it was to a boy and to music.  

Mbagwu Amarachi Chilaka

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