By Jeremiah Agada
What is friendship? Is it a ‘ship’ of friends that have little in common save ties that do not go beyond filial? Is it what you share with people that have the penchant for unceasingly getting on your nerves? Is friendship about the very few that can go all the way for you but then know that you can be ‘bribed’ out of anger and persuaded, coerced or lured to act against your will with an offer of your favourite “33” Lager Export beer?
For reasons I cannot explain, these are the kinds of friends I attract or how does one describe a friendship where, “idiot,” “mad man,” “mumu” and the likes seem to form the cache of their least offensive endearment vocabulary?
Friendship is this and more. I found out recently that the correct form of the idiom, “blood is thicker than water” is actually “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” This means “water of the womb,” or family relationship, is not as strong as the “blood of the covenant.”
In other words, the blood that is shed by soldiers on the battlefield makes for stronger bonds than those of siblings. Although I cannot fathom how true this is, it rings true when I reflect on the kind of friendship I have shared with Izuchukwu Ebere, Collins Ukachukwu and Emmanuel Obinna since my undergraduate school days. That is not to say we are soldiers or that we engage in a blood covenant.
One hilarious incident easily comes to mind to buttress this. One evening after a particularly hectic day of lectures, we were at a bar, arguing about soccer over bottles of chilled “33” Export Lager beer when the conversation veered sharply to Collins’ approaching birthday and the two bottles of liquor he had bought for the occasion.
When Collins replied to Izuchukwu’s query to the brand of liquor, I interjected in my rather boisterous manner that that brand is not strong enough and that I can finish off a bottle and go home without so much as missing a step.
“Taa! Na lie! You no fit finish am! You think say na beer like “33” Export Lager wey you dey drink anyhow?” Collins queried derisively.
That became a subject of intense argument, one we resolved to settle with a bet come Collins’ birthday. The bet was that I either finish off one of the bottles of liquor and have Collins do a week’s laundry for me, or I do his if I fail in the quest as boasted. So, with the night sky for cover, bottles of “33” Export Lager beer for comfort and our friendship for witness, we placed our stakes and took our bets.
Soon it was Collins’ birthday and we converged at Tweezers, the happening place to relax on campus or hang out on special occasions like birthdays. This particular night being a Friday had many people at Tweezers as the swarm of lecturers and undergraduates were determined to make the best of the weekend.
Soon, plates of Nkwobi, and drinks were served. Collins wasted no time in brandishing the two bottles of liquor.Sporting a wicked grin,he placed one directly in front of me and the other at the centre for anyone who cared to mix his drinks. I began to feel uneasy for the first time since the bet.
I began to resolutely take my liquor in sips and half gulps but soon discovered I will need to mix it with the smooth taste of “33” Export Lager beer to help me accomplish the now arduous task.
Despite warnings from friends to give up and discontinue drinking, I consumed more than one-third of the liquor while on the second bottle of my “33” Export Lager beer. Quite unexpectedly, it hit me…I have crossed the Rubicon! I knew without a doubt that in a matter of seconds I would begin to exhibit my drunkenness. I decided to escape from the table and Tweezers altogether before anyone became wiser.
In the most casual way I could muster and with all the calm I could afford, I made excuses to visit the restroom. I must have cut a figure of calm because no one suspected anything was wrong with me…yet. I made my way into one of the many restrooms at Tweezers and made myself ‘comfortable’. After trying quite unsuccessfully to exhume the contents of my stomach to no avail, I gave up. I sat on the toilet seat and tried to make sense of my drunken state.
Asides the queasy feelings, I was also worried that as the Editor-In-Chief of the campus’ only newspaper, I could end up on the other side of the news. Several unsavoury headlines popped into my head but I drunkenly shook them away.
Soon, my prolonged absence at the table drew attention. It wasn’t hard for my friends to connect the dots. They prematurely brought Collins’ little party to a close to establish my whereabouts amidst protests from other invited friends. Their search for me did not take long before Emma discovered where I was holed up. Pronto, Collins rushed down to a close-by hostel to get a hoodie and dark shades to disguise me. Meanwhile, Izu got a taxi cab on standby for my ‘evacuation’.
Commando style, my friends moved me from Tweezers, carrying me like a soldier wounded in battle. No one outside my circle of friends knew anything about the incident. When I recovered from the consequent hangover, I vowed never to take alcohol again. The decision lasted for about 24 hours till Collins came calling with some cans of “33” Export Lager beer.
My definition of true friendship consists of small acts like sacrifice, understanding and giving me my favourite “33” Export Lager beer when the occasion demands it. If that is not true friendship, then what is?