Monday, December 15, 2008

Novella: Choices (Chapter 11)

“Amaka, I’ve been begging you to revoke that curse you placed on Bayo. Please!”
“Not after what he did to me. I was fortunate I didn’t get pregnant for that… See I don’t want to talk about that guy.”
“But you know the semester is about to end” Zainab was saying, not relenting.
“So?” Amaka said, knowing fully well what Zainab was talking about. She had gone to an herbalist four months back, after that night in his room when he’d called her another girl’s name. She had explained her plight to the man.
The herbalist had told her that the charm he was going to give her could only work if she was sure that it was Bayo that deflowered her. She affirmed that, and he told her the things to bring. Most important of the items was a bottle-cap-full of her menstrual flow. She had been nauseated at the thought of getting that and bringing it to the man but he had said that was the most potent part of her that she had to offer. She had obliged, and she stated her terms. She wanted his life to go down the drain slowly and steadily, and then suddenly, just when he thought he would finish the semester, she wanted him dead.
The man had smiled and she had jumped. His teeth were the most ugly she’d ever seen. She paid him quickly and was assured that the work was done. She didn’t need any confirmations. In the past four months, she had seen the curse work. Bayo’s grades had dropped; lecturers had started picking on him. It wasn’t hard to know all these. Bayo had been getting popular before her curse, so rumors about him spread fast.
A lecturer had already promised to fail him. Rumor had it that Bayo had slept with the man’s ward, who he’d been intending to date. Shortly after that, she had heard that Bayo had gotten into Indian hemp, and she knew that would eventually ruin him. His life was turning out just how she’d hoped. It was even getting better. She was enjoying the show.
“He’ll soon die if you do nothing about it”, Zainab said, bringing Amaka back to the present.
“I won’t do anything, girlfriend. That guy deserves to die.”
Zainab was pleading. “Can’t you see it in his eyes that he’s already suffering?”
“I’ve not seen his eyes in a long time.”
“Don’t be silly. Look how thin and haggard the former fine boy looks now; he’s suffered enough.”
“I don’t think so” Amaka smiled. “I overheard from a doctor friend at the Health Center that Bayo contracted some STI. Maybe that’s why he’s losing weight.”
“But, I thought you said the guy never had sex without protection?” Zainab asked, rather curious.
“At least with me, yes. But with the helm he’s taking now, that might be out of his control. Moreover, this protection thing is not safe at all.” She smiled again. “I hope he has packed AIDS, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and all of them together.”
“You’re cruel” Zainab slapped Amaka on the back. “We’re in the last week of exams. If that man was right…”
“And he’s been so far” Amaka interjected.
“Bayo has just a few days left to live”
“Exactly” Amaka said, winking at the friend.
“How could you be so heartless?”
“Oh! I’m just giving the cold-hearted Bayo a taste of his own medicine” Amaka said and enjoyed the thought of seeing Bayo’s obituary on the notice boards during the weekend. ‘How delightful’ she thought and smiled.
The Student Union Building had been closed down for several months now but students still hung around there for different reasons. Prime on the list, where drug addicts who went there at night for their usual shots and trade. It was a season of longer nights-shorter days. It was a few minutes to seven and the sky was as black as if it were 9pm already.
Bayo sat at the stair behind the building, with a stick in one hand and a bottle in the other. He had had one apiece already and was on the second. His friend who had introduced him into it was standing against a pillar opposite him, gaping at him.
“Bahyor, how far with you now?”
“Wetin happen?” Bayo asked.
“Na me start you up. Now you dey smoke more then me. Take am easy o!”
“Macho, I know wetin I dey do.”
David, known as Macho by his buddies, was worried for Bayo. He’d taken to hemp so fast and was sure to graduate in no time. “I’ve been on this thing sine 200 level, and now I have one more paper and I’d be out of this school. The way you’re going, you might not get past 200 level”
“Na swear?” Bayo barked back.
“No be swear. I was able to control myself. The fact is, I really wanted to stop, still want to, but I haven’t been able to.”
“You knew that, and you still hooked me up” Bayo stared with red eyes.
“I didn’t want to. It was like something was just pushing me to pull you in. I guess I was just jealous that you were enjoying the girls and had nothing holding you back. I was, and still am, a slave to this; I wanted you in my shoes too; I guess that was my undoing.” He looked sadly at Bayo and the stick in his mouth. “I’m sorry, pal!’
“See, leave that one! I’m enjoying this thing. I should be thanking you.”
“Yes, but it’s short-lived. A time will come when you would want out like me, but it would be too late.”
“Let’s wait till then” Bayo said, dismissing the thought. “How about that babe we want to pick up in Babcock tomorrow?”
“I have a paper 8am, I won’t be able to make it. When is your paper?”
“I think it’s 4pm.”
“Then, call the girl and tell her we’ll pick her up on Sunday.”
“No way” Bayo said, crushing with his shoe the stud he’d just dropped. “Can’t wait one more day for that babe. Would dash to and fro her school, go for my paper and enjoy the night”
“It’s too risky. You could miss your paper.”
Bayo laughed. “You underestimate me, man! That golf my father bought me is a wizard. Wait till tomorrow; I’ll tell you in how many hours I made the trip.”
“Have you read?”
“Yes I have.” He smiled again, “and there’s backup”
“Bahyor! Na wa o! Just don’t be caught.” On a second thought, he added, “How far with your health?”
“I’m better. Those things can’t stop my performance men! That girl… what’s her name again?”
“Yes! She’ll see me in action. It’s been one week that the thing has kept me away; I’m bouncing back in full force.”
“Take it easy with the babe o!”
“Leave that one. I beg you get another stick there?” Bayo said, extending his hand for another roll of Indian Hemp.
The joy in the air was palpable. It was the penultimate UJCM household prayer meeting. Fellowship activities had been suspended at the start of the examinations. Shola missed the ECU mid week services but was happy Sunday services still held. Thomas always went ahead for his pre-meeting. She had grown to enjoy the lonely walk to All-Soul’s chapel through the bush path from Sports Complex. She was enjoying God there.
Swaying to the music by the UJCM praise team, she smiled, jubilant. Thomas was beside her, dancing too. Shola couldn’t contain the joy; God had been indeed good to her. She looked sideways and saw Thomas’ tempo had waned, and she bumped him with her shoulder. “Dance jo!” and she continued hers.
It had been four long months but God had been very good to her. The praise team soon ushered the congregation into worship and Shola went down on her knees. And surprisingly, a song that was usually sang fast was sung slow in worship, a song that always melted Shola’s heart. A song that the leader would ask ‘Do you know why - do you know why?’ and the answer, which Shola cherished, was; ‘I don’t know why He loves me – I don’t know why’.
That was the only worship song that night, repeated over and again. Shola knelt there, tears of joy ad gratitude flowing down her face. All she could sing with whispers of gratitude were the words, I don’t know why He loves me – I don’t know why.
God had rescued her that night when he sent Thomas to her. Life had been heaven on earth after. Professor Toriola had threatened her but through Thomas and her follow-up teacher at Evangelical Christian Union, her faith had been strengthened in God’s ability to pull her through.
Just as the mid-semester tests were coming up and she feared that failure was around the corner, she heard that Prof had been called on to represent the country in a three-year research abroad. She couldn’t believe her ears. ‘Why did it have to be so exact? In three years, I would have graduated from the university.’ She had thought. “Jesus is too much!” were her words to Thomas when she told him.
The tests had been beautiful; she read hard and did all the tests herself. She had had fun; it was good using her head for a change. Now, she had finished her exams the day before, Thursday and all her papers had been lovely. Thomas still had one the day after, that’s why she hadn’t left for home yet. In the past months, her relationship with her family had been restored. They had accepted her back and forgiven her for all her wrongs. “What more could I possibly ask for? Thank You Jesus” she mouthed as she yet worshipped.
After the service, Shola tapped Thomas. “Service was so great”
“Yeah” it was. Shola noticed that Thomas was quite pensive, but before she could ask what the matter was, he brightened up some, and asked. “Can we go to Chicken Plaza?”
Shola was shocked. “You, Thomas!”
“When did you start believing in spending hard earned money on frivolities?” she asked, mimicking him.
He laughed, thinking of what to say. “Don’t we deserve an end-of-session celebration?” he said finally. ‘Good boy, Thomas’, he thought to himself.
“Sure we do.”
‘Lord, I’m scared. Are you sure this is okay – what would she say?’ he asked God, silently as they rose to leave.

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