I just couldn’t wait for the long-due lecture to be over. The sun was burning ferociously in the sky on this faithful Friday and the old, boring barrister deemed it fit to extend his usual credit hour from two to four, all in the name of wanting to cover the syllabus so we could have enough time to revise and do personal studies for the exams. For crying out loud, the semester was just beginning (in fact, we were in its third week) and the silly old man said he had to cover the syllabus of a thirteen-week long term, today. Was he nuts? That had to be the final straw that would break his back. Surely, we would petition for his removal. After all, they taught us to be outspoken. If only the topics he chose to treat would agree to sink into our thick skulls (no, they wouldn’t. Not the quic quid plantator solo solo cedi rule); if only the class wasn’t as jam-packed as sardine…; if only the PHCN didn’t hold power at that moment; if only some block-head didn’t spoil the already stuffy atmosphere with his clumsy, foul mess (or could it be a hers…no, it’s got to be a his. Too powerful. Now, nobody would breathe comfortably); if only the Grand Lords who sat at the back would stop murmuring…; if only Fadekemi was here… My unsettled spirit caused my eyes to rove. All I could see were sad faces, hungry faces, haggard faces, depressed faces, angry faces…especially that of Abayomi Olakunle a.k.a Fa-in boy.
It was almost five and he had plans for the weekend which he would have loved to start setting in motion long ago, but no, the pathetic old man wouldn’t let him leave the class. And then, there was Titilayo Chris-Ogundare a.k.a happening babe. Her usual chubby cheeks (due to the act of chewing gum) looked flattened and depressed. Her pack of Chinese bubble gum had been exhausted, and the monster before her kept pointing every question to her section of the class. She knew it wouldn’t be long before he picked her. And how right she was! The wrinkled, scrawny fingers of the lecturer stretched over the crowd, like Moses’ staff over the red sea, pointing at her.
“Titi, how do we reconcile the equitable doctrine of laches and acquiescence with that of the quic quid plantator solo solo cedi rule?”
We all knew doom was beckoning… for barrister Anazodo Okereke. Titi was bound to flare up. And she did…okay, almost did. I instantly became oblivious of the happenings in class when I noticed that the daughter of Jezebel, Clara Uwaifo had been starring unflinchingly at me. What a beautiful name for a bitchy hippie! Whoever said the devil couldn’t fall in love had a cryptogram here to fix.
Clara, Clara…daughter of the great senator, Fidel Uwaifo; born in Rivers State, had primary education at Ibadan, high school in the U.K and back to Nigeria with a pop star wannabe hair-do to study Law because her dad said so; and says she’s in love with ME! For the love of Billy the goat, a hippie in love with me! I got to know about her obsession with me from rumours spreading round. I had laughed over it with Fadekemi as a silly joke, but when I got a flower from her on February 14, I knew my nightmares were becoming a reality.
And then a card (with some love song from King Solomon); and later a Gucci branded wristwatch, followed by diamond encrusted bracelets. At first, I had thought they were mere friendly gestures, but lo and behold, when I got the keys to a Rolls Royce from her as a ‘token’ from her dad for the love we shared, I knew the water had gone over the bridge. We? How? Love? When? Gently, like a good boy, I returned every pin she ever gave me (to the disapproval of my guys) and told her to stop taking that crap or whatever it was she smoked because it had obviously distorted her reasoning and sense of human understanding. When was there ever a ‘we’ not to talk more of there existing the L-word? Gosh, I thought she was trying to play a fast one, until I saw her break down and literally cry her eyes out, swearing to kill herself (as if I cared) if I didn’t love her in return. I then knew she was actually nuts. Now, she’s giving me that witchy glance from across her seat…
My mind darted to Fadekemi. She was my best, best friend. We grew up together in the same compound, but encountered different life experiences. My best friend has actually seen the devil himself, I mean hell. Her father was a habitual drunk who abandoned her now late mother when she was only two. Her mother, who suffered from severe emotional and physical trauma was diagnosed of cancer three years later. After battling with the dreaded monster disease for eight years (her breasts were cut off, her scalp gradually lost its hair, her pockets drained of money from exorbitant treatment) she finally died in her sleep. At thirteen, Kemi left our yard to stay with her divorced uncle, who was a wolf in sheep clothing. Not only did he subject her to dehumanizing treatments, he also had his way with her. He raped her! Afterwards, her pastor took her in since she had no one to turn to. Not another uncle, or aunt or relative, none. The court case with her uncle fell through for want of substantive corroboration!
“So you have the temerity to tell me you have no idea?!” the angry words of barrister Anazodo broke into my thoughts. He was obviously referring to the carefree Titi who took a decade to stand up only to say she didn’t understand a bit of what the lecturer had been pouring.
Earlier in the week Fadekemi told me she had finally succumbed to the pressure of her man, Chike. Chike is one cool, charming , lovable chap from the department of medicine who had trailed my best friend for over two sessions. Kemi had been sceptical about men (not after her bizarre childhood experiences) but Chike was one fellow who had refused to be put off by her determined resolution. Last semester, she gave him the nod and both started dating. Against my advise, Kemi told me they had tried the bed exercise on Monday night after a couple of drinks and overpowering persuasion by Chike. Two days ago, she complained of having nauseating feelings, and vomited a couple of times, afterwards. Naturally, eyebrows would raise and the P-word would become too heavy to suggest.
Today, she couldn’t be in school because her condition was getting serious. I had suggested she see a doctor, and we agreed to go together when I was back from school. I fear for my friend. She’s had enough of punches from life already and getting heavy now, after just one silly mistake would be too much a punishment. We are in the ultimate class and will be due for Law School soon. How would she cope? How would her adopted clergy parents receive the news? How about her late mother? How would she react in the grave? No, my friend can’t be heavy. Maybe, she’s only got malaria.
“And that will be all for the semester,” the barrister announced. “Good luck in your exams!”
“Shurrup jo!” the Grand Lords whispered from behind.
The announcement was a huge relief to everyone. We just couldn’t wait to hit the road. Just as I got out of my seat to escape encountering the daughter of Jezebel, my phone rang. Kemi. She must be pretty worried.
“Hi,” I placed the phone in my ear and said. “Am on my way. We’re just done with class.”
From the sound of her weak, fragile voice I could surmise all was but well. “We can make it to the clinic before dark,” I said.
“I…I already did – that that,” she whispered back.
My heart skipped a bit. “So? What’s the news? Are you pregnant? Please say no.”
She hesitated, then whimpered, sniffed and said, “Yes, I’m pregnant.”
Jesus! I felt my skin flare before my eyes. That’s terrible. But I tried holding back my emotions so I wouldn’t cry more than the idiomatic bereaved. As I searched for words of encouragement, she dropped the bombshell.
“ And …and…HI V positive too.”
This conclusion shattered my confidence and my bones felt weak at the joint. Two lines of tears trickled down my cheeks and I stood lost for words. And that was the last time I heard from my friend who didn’t return home afterwards. At the moment, I don’t know what to do or what to say if by dumb luck, we stumbled on each other. And that was the last thing I remember of that particular day. I woke up in the hospital after the call. Reason? After the call, I turned around only to be accosted by the daughter of Jezebel who insisted on spending the whole day with me. Of course, I fainted.
PS: This story of mine was published in the 1st edition of Degree 360 Magazine, as far back as 2010. Ignore every grammatical or typographical blunders you noticed. I have come a long way since then. Please.