FAJUYI HALL, OAU, ILE-IFE (THURSDAY 26TH APRIL, 2007)
On the bed at the corner of the room lay two figures cuddled up. Roommates had excused their pal for his usual. The guy looked at the girl lying next to him, and whispered in her ears. “Thanks sweet, you were great. You make me happy every time we do this. I can’t live one day without holding you; I’ll die!”
“I’m flattered. I would do anything for you, Bayo”
“That’s my girl. Would you want something to eat?”
“How won’t I? I’m exhausted”
He smiled “No going to Spices today o!”
“Why?” she said smiling back, facing him.
“Because Bayo wants to cook for you himself.” He said, rising from the bed and walking towards the back door, leading to the kitchenette. He put on the lights.
She squinted, allowing her eyes get use to the light. “What’s for dinner?”
“My cupboard is stocked up; just make your request and I’ll cook it”
“You can’t make what I want.”
“Oh Amaka, you belittle me. Name it!” He said, standing at the back door with hands crossed.
“Pounded yam!” she said and smiled at him. He looked at her, not moving, looking thoughtful.
“You see; I told you.”
He smiled, relishing the moment. “Pounded yam? Then, it’s pounded yam we’ll have.” He walked back to the kitchenette and brought out a tuber of yam, a portable, student-size mortal and pestle and set to work.
When Amaka heard the sound of something quite heavy hitting the ground, she went to see. “You’re impossible Bayo!” she said as she saw him place the pestle in the mortar and bend to start cutting the yam.
“Would you be able to get us some vegetable from Aluta market?”
She was still stunned. “I was only joking, Bayo.”
“That’s too late now”
“Okay then” she smiled. “How much vegetable should I buy?”
“You are the female here; do the calculation and buy a kilo of chicken and anything else we’ll need also.”
“I hope they’ll still be there.” She looked up at the wall clock. “It’s 7:30”
“You had better hurry. My purse is under the pillow.”
She was soon out and Bayo continued with his cooking. Amaka was the first girl he was dating in the eleven-day old semester, and the third girl in the session, his first year in school. He preferred her to the previous two because she was a ‘good girl’, naïve, didn’t party or drink, and was faithful to him. He could see that she was madly in love with him and that gave him power over her. She was 18 years old, a year older than him, but she didn’t mind. Neither did he as far as he got all he wanted whenever he wanted. He knew he would break her heart eventually but was going to be satisfied with her before he let go of her. Apart from her age, she was just as beautiful and naïve as his first high school chic, Moni Williams.
He had written Moni a letter two weeks back. He wondered if she had gotten the letter. If she had, he hoped his words were already doing the magic they were supposed to be doing. If she hadn’t gotten the letter, then he would do the work in person when he saw her in three days time.
Every time he made out with his girl friends, he always remembered that he hadn’t had the guts to ask Moni for sex then when he was much younger and it annoyed him. She was a fertile ground that the great player hadn’t cultivated yet. ‘Moni dear, I’m coming for you. I must be the first to have you. I had your heart first; I must also have your body first. Anybody else can plow after me’, he thought and smiled.
LAGOS (THURSDAY 26TH APRIL, 2007)
‘I’m sure Bayo is thinking of me now wherever he is, rehearsing how he’s going to beg me, ask for my forgiveness on his knees, and promise to love me with every breath he breathes. I’ll front for him small but quickly accept before he changes his mind’. Moni was lost in thought after reading for only about 45 minutes in Prep. She had spent about half hour thinking about her re-union with Bayo. She knew that Pearl would soon come to call her for their quiz preparation. They had agreed to sacrifice one hour out of their night prep for their preparation and promised to catch up on reading for WAEC immediately after.
It did not take long before Pearl came and they both went to the chapel and started revising their previous jottings.
“Do you need to learn new things or we’re okay with what we have?” Moni asked.
“If we want to do better than we did last year, we had better learn new things and memorize new scriptures” Pearl said.
“That was the strength of La Ville Academy last year; memorized scriptures.”
“Yeah. Bayo and his partner …”
“Sunbo” Moni said with disgust.
“Yes. They just seemed to know every verse they were asked to quote.” Looking at her friend’s face, she frowned. “Why that look?” She remembered. “Oh, she was the one rumour had was dating Bayo at that time, right?”
“Yes. I didn’t even talk to Bayo throughout that day or even look at him; I was so preoccupied with my hatred for the girl. And I kept asking myself what it was she had that I didn’t that made Bayo ditch me for her.”
“That’s in the past now, Moni. If we start the Bayo thingy now, we won’t do anything again today. Let’s learn some scriptures.”
“Which should we start with?” Moni asked reluctantly.
“So quick? You already had it in mind, why?”
“Because the chaplain quotes it often in his sermons and I’ve grown to love it ‘cos God wrote that verse in the bible for me.”
“How’s that, Pearl?”
“Let me quote it for you. ‘A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation’” Pearl’s eyes filled and she looked down.
Moni reached out and put her arm around her. “You never told me your dad was late. In fact, you haven’t ever told me much about your family.”
“I hardly ever want to talk about it. My dad is not dead physically but he is as good as dead.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He walked away from my mother when I was five and my brother, three and we haven’t seen him since then.” The tears started trickling down.
“We were too small to know and mummy has never talked about it.”
“I’m so sorry. That’s so sad.”
“Don’t be sorry yet. A year after, when mummy could not cope with the financial burden alone, she remarried.” Pearl wiped at her tears. “She married a rich alcoholic; he had, and still has, money but no brains; drinks all his brains away”
Moni looked bemused. “Pearl, you’re abusing the man!”
“He deserves worse. He sexually abuses me. Started immediately he noticed my adolescent developments in JS3. It’s been four years running now and I have never been able to tell anyone, not even my mother. She would believe me but it would only hurt her more, ‘cos she doesn’t have a choice about him – he’s our bread winner. This fact as alienated me from my mother, ‘cos I fear that if I get very close to her, as it should be, I would spill out all the beans.”
Moni was speechless now, she only held Pearl tighter.
“The two fathers I have ever known have hurt me in despicable ways. You see why I don’t even give guys a second look though they are so many disturbing me?”
Moni nodded, unable to speak past the lump in her throat.
“That’s why you’ll notice I never use my Igbo name, Ada. I always want to be called Pearl. My life is far from being a gem or a precious stone and rather shameful but I desperately want to see good in myself. The more people call me Pearl, the more hope of a beautiful life is stirred up in me.” She hugged Moni a little tighter. “Thanks for being the only true friend I have ever heard”.
Now, it was Moni’s turn to let out the tears as they cried together for a few precious moments. Pearl tapped Moni and the disentangled. Pearl straightened up. “I feel much lighter now with this load off my chest.” She said, sniffing.
“I’m glad I was here. Thanks for sharing these with me” Moni replied, wiping her face.
“One more thing” Pearl said. “The Chaplain’s message two Sundays back got at me, like I told you. I want to get serious with God. I feel He can make me a pearl indeed if I allow Him. I have played church too long; I need to get a life – a real life”
“I’m happy for you dear.”
“What about you Moni?”
“I’m born-again, what more?”
“We both know that’s not what I’m talking about. If Jesus comes now, we would definitely be left behind. We know the bible, yes. We’ve gone for altar calls before, I’m in the choir and we’ve both been representing the school in bible competitions but our lives are messed up. We honour God will our mouths but our hearts are far from Him.”
“I’m not sure about that.” Moni said.
“I’m sure and I know you are too. But it’s a decision you have to make for yourself.”
“Aight. I’ll think about it.”
“Please do. On that basis, I’ll be joining the ‘Maranatha girls’” Pearl said, beaming.
Moni was shocked. “You can’t be serious! We’ve always laughed at them and criticized their speaking in tongues thingy”
“That’s exactly why I’m so excited myself. I would first apologize to them, ask them to lead me in the sinner’s prayer and I’ll join them. They meet on Wednesdays and Sundays.”
“How did you know that?”
“I found out. Today’s meeting is at 9:30pm immediately after prep, here in the chapel. They’ll be here any minute from now,” Pearl said looking at her wristwatch.
“We’d better round this up. What was that scripture again?” Moni asked.
“Aight. I’ll memorize it when I get to the hostel and I’ll try to learn some more” She said as she packed up her notes.
“Don’t miss me” Pearl teased, eyes sunken from the tears she’d shed.
“I will but I can manage”. Glancing briefly at two girls walking into the Chapel with their bibles, she added. “I hope they don’t bore you”
“I don’t think they will.” Taking another look at her best friend, she asked, “I hope you’ll recognize me when I’m back in the room?”
“Why?” Moni asked, smiling at the absurd question.
“Because I would have become a new creature.” Pearl winked.
“Yeah right!” Moni smirked and walked out of the Chapel.