“Hey wait up Adanna.”
She stopped and turned around to face Harry who was hurrying over to her.
“Girl you have been so scarce or are you avoiding me?”
Adanna laughed lightly. “Why will I be avoiding you ? I have just been busy.”
“I think it is the latter… please come out with me today.”
Adanna’s smile faltered alittle. “Today is our cultural dance presentation.
I am on my way for our final rehearsals.”
“Adanna I think you are avoiding me.”
“I am serious today is our cultural dance presentation. Platoon 7, platoon 3 and platoon 5. Which reminds me. Please mobilise our platoon guys so they can come and cheer us. This is the final dance round. ”
“Not a problem. Adanna, maybe today’s excuse is genuine but other times, ‘sorry I can’t, I have to go for NCCF prayer meeting, sorry I just had my bath and I am about to sleep, shoot! I can’t, because I just washed my white and I don’t have what to wear. Not today, I am having cramps… Adanna your excuses are numerous.”
If Adanna was an ‘oyinbo’, she was certain her face would have been pink from embarrassment.
“Every one of those excuses are valid… Harry”
“Okay what about after the dance today?”
She looked at her wristwatch; she was running late for her rehearsals.
Harry took a wide step and closed the gap between them “Why are you treating your boy like this? You are just using me to play ball o. Baby…”
Adanna’s eyes widened and she took a careful step backwards, putting space between them.
“Please let me see you tonight.”
“Fine. But I am not leaving the multipurpose hall okay?”
“Good..I have to run.”
She left him quickly and rushed for her rehearslas at their platoon officer’s house.
Her dance members were already there and Adanna apologised before she dropped her waist bag and fell into position.
Their hired dance Instructor was on the phone and once he finished, he faced them. “Everyone in place?”
“Yes sir!” The dancers responded and the drumers hit their instruments.
Captain Jude walked into the multipurpose hall that evening, dressed casually. He was wearing a simple blue jeans, black sneakers and black polo shirt.
As the entered into the hall, he was quickly ushered to the judges table and a brief recognition was given.
He recieved alot of cheers and he thought “wow! Okay?”
The evening progressed slowly. There were a lot of presentations, dry jokes shared by struggling comedians, boring rap presentation And someone presented a poetry, which he thought was nice.
Soon, the 1st platoon, platoon 3 was called out and their drummers came up stage first with their musically instruments.
The dancers emerged dressed in the fulani cultural attire and danced in rhythm with the Instrumentation. The beating rose in cresendo, as the tempo of their dance steps increased.
There were some chants and eulogies as well and that really excited the audience.
As the first dancers exited the stage, there were alot of cheers for them. Being the first to present, they had set the performance bar high for the other two groups to present.
More bad jokes were cracked and captain Jude pulled out his phone to check his messages. Other judges drank water from their bottles, waiting for the next platoon.
Soon enough the next platoon, platoon 5 came up stage. The dancers came out first and took a squatting position. Their drummers followed soon after and had a little technicality before starting their beats, which in his own view wasn’t coordinated.
Some dancers missed their steps and when they reached a part where the male dancers were suppose to carry the female, a pair fell in the process.
That was practically the end of their presentation, as the audience broke out in laughs, and negative cheers.
‘Oh well’, Jude thought. ‘That was quite entertaining.’
Two OBS members who were acting as MCs’ came up stage and tried to salavage the situation but only made it worse.
Finally the last platoon was called out platoon 7, for their presentaion.
There were shouts and cheering from the audience as everyone expected them to come up stage but no one did.
The judges whispered among themselves wondering what was happening, while Jude checked his wrist watch repeatedly.
An MC was about to go up stage again, when the lights in the multipurpose hall went off completely and came back on shortly after to reveal the dancers and their drummers on stage, fully endowned in their beautiful African costumes.
Three powerful hits of the drum, followed by a traditional drum roll caused the dancers to rise slowly, revaling their faces and that was when he saw Adanna, right there in the middle looking like an African Goddess.
Adanna was a train wreck before she went on stage. So many terrible possibilities ran through her mind. What if they messed up? What if their drummers got the beats wrong, what if someone fell like the last platoon. She inhaled deeply through her nose and exhaled through her mouth.
“Adanna we are going to win this thing.”
She turned and met her partner eye to eye. “What If I fall?”
“No one will fall.”
“Ebuka, I am so scared.”
“Don’t worry! You are a great dancer I don’t know why you are even worried.”
He was still encouging her when the rest of the dancers and drummers assembled themselves in a circle along side other platoon supporters.
The head of their platoon Emeka entered into the circle and gave a very short pep talk ending it with “We’ve got this. Platoon 7!”
“Platoon 7!!!” He called again and everyone shouted “Perfection”
Their chants got louder and louder as they were called up stage.
Adanna had climbed the stage with shaky legs in the dark. She bumped into other dancers before she got her footing and bent down.
At the sound of the three drum hits, they stood up with the drum roll which looked more dramatic with the ecstatic cheers of the audience.
They had captured their audience and that was exactly what they were going for.
The African drums picked up and they ‘broke’ their waists in accordance to the smacking of the drums.
Adanna soon forgot her fears and just let the melody of the beat guide her through the song. She plastered a broad smile on her face as she swayed along perfectly, to the choreography of her dance members.
Not only were they just dancing to the beats but their dance told a story of pain, poverty and suffering of the people until a goddess, represented by her, came to turn things around.
Soon enough, it was time for her, the goddess to solo. A dance which will take away the pain of the people.
Adanna looked the part, danced the part well, and became the part. As she came to the front, swaying her waist delicately, she looked up and right before her on the judge’s seat was Jude. For a while, she kept her eyes on him, dancing for him. All of a sudden she wanted him to admire her, she wanted him to want her as much as she wanted him. She wanted to be his goddess.
Jude watched from his seat in complete admiration. He had always know Adanna was beautiful, but seeing her in her outfit and make up, with the sensual way she swayed… he was blown away.
It was like seeing her inner goddess. It was like looking at another part of her. The girl that looked shy and sometimes tongue tied in his presence was now owning her role, owning the stage and her audience. She had him under her spell. No! He was under her spell from the first day he spoke to her, now it was something else. Something more passionate.
He felt hot and couldn’t get the image of His body pressed on hers that night under the tree. But his time he didn’t walk away. This time around his mind painted vividly, a passionate kiss shared with her.
This wasn’t right! Jude scolded himself. He couldnt! He couldnt be with Adanna. They were completely different people. She was far from what he considered as his type. Maybe that was exactly why he was so attracted to her.
He took one bold look at her again and felt this blood circlation pull southwards. That was when he realised he could not sit there again.
Jude grabbed his phone which was on the table and quietly excused himself from the hall.
As soon as the fresh air hit him, he felt a little better but not quite. The farther he walked away from the hall, the better he felt physically but emotionally ? He was a ticking time bomb and Adanna was his detonator.
Just before her solo finished, she noticed that Jude had disappeared from his seat and Adanna suddenly felt disappointed.
Their presentation ended beautifully well, but even then her spirit wasn’t lifted. She had put herself out there for him, she had danced for him and all he did was leave In the middle?
Adanna felt cheap and hurt. She had given a piece of herself, though small but a piece nonetheless. His reaction was like throwing it back in her face and that hurt her.
Her spirit was dampened and not even the fact that they won the competition cheered her up.
To be continued …