Monday, June 14, 2010

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 29)

Fatima was the last to share her testimony and she did with much joy. It had been a successful meeting and she was grateful to God for it. She rounded up the meeting telling the folks gathered that it was going to continue the next day, asking them to bring their friends along. She then told them that those who needed someone to talk with; who needed to let out some burdens, should wait behind.
She was impressed at the number of students who waited behind. Just about three students left immediately after. One of them was the fair girl that had sat beside Uche during the meeting. Fatima knew the presence of God had disarmed her. She only hoped that the seeds sown in the girl’s heart would germinate and bring forth much fruit.
She had about three students wanting to talk with her. Others also had students waiting their turns to talk with them. It was a beautiful sight. They hurried through with the counseling because it was getting late and they didn’t want to attract unnecessary attention from the organizers of the conference.
She soon signaled the end of the counseling session and the invitees began to leave, most with smiles, and some still in tears. She hadn’t expected anything less. When God met a man, that man could never remain the same again. That was what had happened when she met Jesus, and that was what was happening to the students that filed out of the dining hall. They had had an encounter with Christ, and their lives would be changed forever.
She smiled, content.
They gathered together to say a final prayer and Shade was asked to pray. After she was done praying, as if planned, the other six took turns in hugging her. She had shared her almost-rape experience when she told her story but she hadn’t gone in-depth but it was still news to the others. They whispered different words of encouragement into her ears as they embraced her.
Fatima noticed that about five girls had waited to talk with Shade after the meeting. She was sure they had had rape experiences too. Only God knew the burdens and secrets many more still bore; there was still a lot of work to be done.
They all exited the hall, relishing the success of the first meeting.
Uche was walking ahead of her and he seemed to be slowing his pace. Fatima understood what was happening. She smiled. He was waiting for her to catch up, wanting to get his reply. She couldn’t blame him; it was high time he did.
“Uche”, she called when she got closer to him.
He turned and looked at her trying hard to act normal. She wasn’t fooled but decided to play along. If he was acting like he wasn’t waiting for her answer, she would tag along that line. It would definite make it more interesting.
She smiled, now walking with him. “Hope you had fun today?” she asked, casually.
“Yeah, I sure did. You were great”, he said, smiling at her.
“And so were you”, she said, then paused. “God was da bom, right?”
“Yep.” Uche nodded. “Was my first time having such an experience; I actually spoke in tongues today”, he said. His voice echoed his excitement.
“I’m so glad for you. Hope you’ll not stop praying in tongues?”
“I wouldn’t dare. I felt new when I did.”
They walked in silence a while.
Still not wanting to go to the crux of the issue yet, Fatima decided to stall Uche’s response a little more. “Did you see our friend tonight?” She asked, wearing a mischievous grin.
Uche smiled, not because he understood what she was talking about but because it was always fun being around Fatima. “Which friend?” he asked.
“Your friend that likes you”
He was still wide-eyed and yet smiling.
She stopped, and Uche took the cue. She faced him, and did an akimbo stance. “That girl”, she said and saw the understanding in his eyes. She giggled and poked him. “Seems she likes you”
He shook his head. “I sincerely hope not. The moment I saw her walk towards us, I was scared and it became worse when she felt sitting beside me was her best option”
“Don’t you know girls would want to sit near you? You’re a fine boy” Fatima said, and saw Uche was taken aback by her statement. He seemed dumbfounded for a moment. She wondered what was going through his mind.
“You really think so?” he asked, looking rather serious.
Fatima knew right then than Uche’s self-esteem still had a long way to go. The moment was getting too serious; too emotion-laden. She needed to say something to lighten the mood. “At least you’re finer than the CD” she said, and burst into laughter.
Uche couldn’t help laughing. That was a good one. The comments that students had made about the Conference Director’s looks were enough to fill a 40-leaves exercise book. The man was not too favoured in looks; to say it nicely.
They had momentarily forgotten about their discussion of the girl, and Fatima knew it would be anti-climax to go back there. It was time to talk about what both of them had been waiting for. It had been pending for the past twenty-four hours. If she waited any moment longer, she was sure she wouldn’t have the courage to tell him again.
“Thank you for the letter”, she said, suddenly.
Uche was surprised at the quick change in topic but seemed relieved at the same time that they had finally gotten to that point.
“You’re the first person ever to write me such a letter” She saw he doubted her. “Seriously. I wouldn’t lie. And for that, I’m grateful. It’s a letter I’ll cherish for a long time.”
Looking at his face, she could tell he was as nervous as she was. She was going to say it as it came to her lips.
“I was happy when I read it. Every line appealed to me.” She paused. It was time to end the suspense. “I would have loved to say a yes but I can’t”, she said and could immediately see the change in expression on his face. She had expected it but it was still hard all the same. She needed to continue. The sooner she got over with it, the better.
“Starting a relationship with you will spoil everything we share and enjoy as friends. You might think it would foster our closeness.” She shook her head. “It would rather make it go down the drain. We aren’t mature enough to handle a relationship.”
She didn’t like the look on his face but she couldn’t help it. “If we were about seven years older, all I would have done was to pray about it; a yes would have been sure but there is so much we don’t know about life. Secondary school relationships don’t last because emotions get involved. And even if the couple is lucky enough to escape having sex with each other they would have hurt themselves so bad emotionally. Some even live with the emotional or physical scars for the rest of their lives.”
She paused. “I made this decision for our good.” She reached out to touch his shoulder. “Hope you understand”, she said.
He didn’t respond. He just stared at his feet. She could understand his pain. She liked him very much but she knew that was where it ended; it couldn’t be more than that. The best they could offer themselves at their age was true godly friendship; that was what they needed and that was she could offer him. She desperately hoped he would eventually understand.
“Uche, are you okay?” she asked.
He nodded without a word. After a minute of silence, he spoke up for the first time since she had told him her answer. “Good night, Fatima”
“Good night Uche” she said as she watched him turn and walk towards his hostel. Her heart went after him. She wanted to run, catch him, turn him around and scream a yes for all to hear but she knew it would be the worst decision of her life. He had everything that she knew was okay; he was a Christian, a caring boy and a very fine boy, to top it up but there was one barrier; one she knew very well. The time constraint.
It was wrong timing. Now was the time for them to focus on God, their academics and developing their talents; not a time to expend energy on emotions. It was this mistake many boys and girls made that made them have many regrets in the future. She preferred to endure the pain now and wait patiently to enjoy a wonderful marriage and career in the future than enjoy a fleeting relationship now and bite her fingers for the rest of her life.
“God, please let Uche understand”, she prayed as she turned to go to her hostel.
Christiana smiled. She couldn’t have asked for more. She had been restless after leaving the dining hall and had been unable to return to her hostel. She chose to hang around the dining for no reason in particular. After over thirty minutes she saw people walk out of the dining hall. She assumed the counseling session was over.
She had waited a few more minutes before the Igbo chap walked out. He had been alone till his short Hausa friend joined him. They and their friends had been simply enchanters. It was like they had bewitched everyone that came for their meeting. She wondered how they had so much power.
She watched in resentment as the two friends seemed to be chatting and laughing. She noticed however that the mood suddenly became sober. She was very excited about that. The boy, her target seemed to be unhappy about what the girl was saying. The conversation seemed to end on a soar note, the two parting rather sadly.
They were sad. But she was happy. There was no better time to catch a guy that in his moment of despair. She had always heard people tell the story of Samson and Delilah. She remembered them saying one of the reasons Delilah was able to get Samson that day was because he was exhausted; he had been tired.
Now, her Igbo friend looked tired; emotionally exhausted. He would definitely be looking for a distraction come tomorrow; something to make him happy.
Christiana grinned. She would be there for him. She would be there to make him happy. And afterwards, he would be sorry for the rest of his life. The day had not turned out too badly afterwards. Christiana stood from the stone she had been sitting on and headed for her hostel.
She would use all known seduction skills to get the Igbo boy to fall.
Faith was practically running. “George!” she called.
He turned.
She reached him, panting. Since she had seen what she saw during the meeting, she had not been able to take her mind off it. She had to talk to him. She only hoped he would be humble and sincere enough to open up to her.
“Can I talk with you a while?” She could see the impatience in his gestures.
“I have to hurry to the hostel.”
“Please, I won’t take your time.”
He frowned. “I have to use the toilet. Please let’s make it tomorrow.” George said, turned and started jogging towards his hostel, without waiting for any response from her.
She knew he had just lied to lie. It was written all over his face. As she watched him go, she knew exactly why he was in a hurry to go to the hostel. The vile thing she had seen had taken possession of his mind and was pushing him to do what he really didn’t want to do but had no power to stop. At present, he was at best a controlled-dummy.
George shook his head as he approached the hostel entrance. It was already dark but the lights in front of the hostel lit up the area. He had wanted so bad to stop and listen to what Faith wanted to say. He had been surprised at first that she wanted to talk with him, that only confirmed to him that it had to be something important.
But something told him that if he waited to talk with her, he wouldn’t be able to do what he still wanted to do that night. He had whet his appetite so much with his thoughts and imaginations he couldn’t imagine backing out. Anything she wanted to say would have to wait till the next day.
He was going to look at that magazine again; and he was sure other things would follow. Things he hated to do, but knew he had given himself to. There was no turning point. At least, so he thought.
They had been standing there a few minutes, talking. Utibe had told Shade how much he had enjoyed the meeting. He had also told her how proud he was of her that she had in a short while being able to talk about what she had gone through. It was time to go and he had to quickly tell her other things he had planned to tell her.
“I gave my life to Christ today” he said, smiling.
“But there was no altar call” she said, surprised, yet excited.
“With today’s meeting” he said, “I didn’t need an altar call to do what I had to do. Right there on my knees in worship, I gave my heart to Christ. Different things I had heard at different times about the love of Jesus just came flooding my heart. I couldn’t hold back. It was the moment and I felt it with every bone in my body. I’m so glad I came”
“I’m glad you came too.” Shade said.
There was a very short silence. “Are you going to report him?” Utibe asked.
Shade knew who he was referring to. She had thought of it at different times through the day and she had come to a conclusion. “I’ll let him be.”
Utibe was surprised at her decision. “Don’t you think you’ll be exposing other girls to the risk of being raped too?”
“I thought so too but I concluded Stanley would be a complete fool if he tried it again. I’m sure he won’t.”
“I hope you’re right”
Shade smiled. They both knew the conversation was over and they needed to leave but both of them just stood there staring at each other. Shade diverted her eyes first and turned to leave.
“Thanks for still having me as a friend” Utibe said. “It means the world to me”
Shade turned, heart soaring in gratitude to God for making things turn out fine eventually. “Thank you too for being my knight in my night of distress.”
“Nice rhyme.” Utibe said with a smile.
“Thanks”, Shade said returning his smile. “Good night, Utibe”
“Good night, Shade.” He said, and watched her walk towards her hostel. When she was out of sight, he turned and headed for his own hostel. With a smile on his face.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 30)


Stanley sat on his bed, breathing heavily. He flashed his torch at his wrist watch. It was a few minutes to five. He had dreamt that he had been sent away from the conference. He never knew anything could scare him so much. He never knew he could feel so much fear. He knew what Utibe, who broke his nose, could do. He could only hope for the best.
He had been able to breathe a sigh of relief the previous night when he hadn’t been summoned throughout the day. He had made it through one day. It was the dream that had re-awakened his fears.
He shook his head in disgust at himself. “I should just have left that girl alone. Now, I can’t even seem to find the confidence to have any other girl before I leave this conference.” He talked to himself. “Stanley you be big fool o!”
He wondered how he hadn’t walked into either Utibe or Shade the previous day but he was glad he hadn’t. His real self was beginning to surface. He looked very hard and daring on the outside but deep within him, He knew he was a brat; a very scared one at that.
But as he played thoughts over in his mind, an idea came to him. ‘If I go to Utibe and Shade and apologise for what I did, it could get them to think I’ve come to my sense. They would forgive me and take their eyes off me. With that, I might be free to still get a few willing girls this time.’ He thought to himself.
He smiled. ‘Stanley, you’re smart!’ he praised himself. His only regret now was that with the way things seemed, it was impossible for him to have Tunbosun again. He was so sure that desire was insatiable. “You’re very lucky Tunbosun”, he said to himself as he stood up from his bed.
The room was still dark; lights had not been put on yet. Uche could tell the whistle would soon sound. He sincerely didn’t know whether or not to be happy that the whistle would go soon. He hadn’t been able to sleep well through the night; that part of him wanted the day to start.
But he didn’t look forward to going into the day either; that part of him resented the idea. He turned on his side and stared into the blackness around him. He hadn’t imagined things would turn out like this. If anyone had prophesied this outcome, he would have laughed the fellow to scorn. He had been so sure.
He had had no doubts that Fatima was going to give him a resounding yes. But she hadn’t, and his little world was beginning to crumble. He wondered why her refusal was bringing him so much unease. It was then he realized that he had put his mind so much a getting a positive answer and he had tied his happiness hence to being with Fatima.
With that thrown out of the door now, he was left with little or nothing to look forward to for the remaining six days of the conference. He thought about the meeting that would be holding that night. He managed a smile; it would sure be another great time, but he doubted he would be able to attend it. He suddenly felt depressed. Fatima had brought life into his dull life in the few days they had met, and now, she had just sent him back to the hole where he had crawled out from.
He tried to replay the reasons she gave for saying no. he desperately wanted to see reason with her and accept it amicably but it seemed too much a task for his hurting heart to do. He would have prayed about it, as Fatima was sure to have suggested, had he been worried about another girl, but he wondered if God wouldn’t take sides with Fatima; His devout and faithful daughter.
The whistle sounded. He tossed once again. In this state he was most vulnerable. He knew it so well. And as if confirming his fears, a picture came into his mind. He wondered what on earth made him think in that direction but he didn’t push the thought away. It was a welcome distraction.
As the lights came on in his room, the image he had on his mind was that of a beautiful girl. If Fatima had rejected him, at least there was actually someone that wanted him. Hadn’t Fatima herself said that the girl liked him?
Uche sat up on his bed. And he was then able to smile for the first time in eight hours. He was going to make friends with the girl that had been stalking him since; he was sure she would look for him again, and when she did this time, he would be waiting and available.
The morning seemed the most beautiful she had seen in a long time. It was her first time in a long while waking up with a broad smile on her face. Christiana was indeed giddy with excitement. She couldn’t wait to hear the whistle. She had just heard it and she was already up. She hurried to the bathroom. She didn’t have one minute to lose.
She was going to be the first person that Igbo chap would see. She knew if she waited a moment longer, he might come to his senses quickly especially if the first person he saw was that his Hausa friend. They might be able to talk things out. She wasn’t going to let that happen.
She had wondered how she would get the stubborn boy who had refused to give her a second look but here was her chance, and she wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. She would even spice herself up for him. Opportunities like this only came once and if she knew anything about herself, she knew she never missed opportunities that came her way.
Fatima had grown to conquer fear but this fear seemed insurmountable. She was afraid Uche wasn’t spiritually mature enough to handle what she had told him the night before. She fretted that he would do something stupid; react in a wrong way.
Uncomfortable with her worries, she eased herself unto her knees and talked to God about the whole issue. She also thanked Him for the success of the meeting and asked that He did greater with each meeting.
When she was done praying, she opened her eyes and picked her bible. She was already feeling at ease. ‘There is so much power in talking to God and casting my cares on Him’, she thought to herself. She didn’t know how things would work out, especially with her friend Uche, but she knew God was still in control of all things. And that was enough comfort for her.
Faith was beginning to have more revelations about different people and she prayed for them as God revealed things to her. Her dreams had been full of them too; she saw the pains and struggles many were going through, she also saw the joys and successes of others. It was a rare gift and she was grateful for it. Her prayer was that she wouldn’t fail God, the giver of the gift. She longed to use it properly for His glory, and nothing less.
Out of all the revelations she had, the one that still bothered her most was George’s. The last revelation she had of him was scary. He had been walking down a steep road, with his eyes open; but they were not actually seeing; he was like he had been hypnotized. She was still wondering what the whole thing was about when she looked ahead and saw a very deep gully ahead. If George walked into it, he was never going to make it out again.
She had prayed for him immediately but knew beyond doubts that she needed to talk with him. She hoped he wouldn’t push her away as he did the previous night.
As she exited the bathroom, on her way back to the room, Tara heard someone greet her. She turned and waved back.
“Thank you for yesterday”, the girl said.
“You’re welcome”, she replied. “Hope we’ll see you today?”
“Yes”, the girl said with a smile.
Tara smiled back and kept walking. The girl was one of the girls that had waited behind to talk with her after the meeting yester night. Tara had been so thrilled to know that her story had set some girls free; girls that had also been carrying the guilt of having abortions.
This particular girl that greeted her had surprised Tara when she started sharing her experiences. Mere looking at her, Tara would have concluded that she was the child of a pastor and even a pastor herself. She looked so holy.
Tara smiled. It’s never about the looks. By the time the girl concluded her story, both counselor and counselee had been crying. She had had to call Faith to join them, knowing Faith had a similar past and they both prayed for the girl. Tara knew the girl still had a long way to go in healing because of the many things she had gotten involved in, but she was happy the girl was getting back up.
She was pleased she was being used of God to bring joy to lives. She only hoped and prayed that she would not mess up in the process.
“Oh boy, it almost seems like ages since we last saw.” Utibe was telling Okpara who walked into his room to say hi.
“I know. I needed some time to get my life together, after walking away from Stanley”
“I feel you. I needed same.” Utibe paused. He wondered whether or not to tell Okpara what Stanley had tried to do to Shade. He decided not to. It was uncalled for.
“Have you seen the wounds on Stanley’s face?” Okpara asked.
“I haven’t seen him since day before yesterday”, Utibe said, avoiding answering the question yet ensuring he didn’t lie.
“You should see him” Okpara said, trying to suppress a smile. “He is a sore sight.”
Utibe hadn’t seen the extent of the damage he had done to Stanley’s face two nights back. It had been dark and he had hit the guy blindly at force full. He didn’t look forward to seeing the guy either; he was sure he wouldn’t be proud of what he had done. He decided he needed to change the topic.
“You want to know what I have been doing since I cut off from Stanley?” Utibe asked Okpara.
“Hanging around your chic, of course”, Okpara teased.
“Be serious for once”. Utibe smiled. “Apart from hanging around my friend, not my c-h-i-c” Utibe emphasized, “I have found a new set of friends that are superb. They had a meeting yesterday and I tell you, it was da bomb.” Utibe ensured he didn’t mention it was a Christian gathering; he didn’t want Okpara to know just yet. If he knew, Okpara would most likely decline.
“You should come today; we’ll be meeting immediately after dinner”
“Hope they are interesting guys?” Okpara asked, doubtful.
“Yes they are. Deal?”
“Let’s go for the briefing.” Utibe said and walked with his friend out of the room. He hoped Okpara would find Jesus as he had. His friend sure needed God.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 31)

Not one person was in the lecture hall yet, she had only seen one girl at the entrance on her way in, probably waiting for her friend. Tunbosun wouldn’t have been there that early either if she hadn’t fixed a meeting with George during the rally the day before. They had agreed to meet five minutes to seven, to deliberate on decisions they would need to make to move their group forward. They had guessed group meetings would continue today, they would wait to see if that happened.
Tunbosun looked at her wristwatch again. It was already seven. If it had been someone else, she wouldn’t have cared but George had never been late to any appointment they had fixed prior to this time. He had even said once that one of his strengths was organization. She had no doubt about that; George Ahmadu was very organized. She was certain something very important must have delayed him.
She turned again to check if he was coming, and this time, he was. He was looking as neat as ever. Tunbosun could even smell his cologne as he drew closer. She noticed however that his gait was different. It lacked the usual aura of confidence it exuded. He seemed rather tired; she wondered if he was okay.
When he was five steps away, she greeted him with a smile. “Good morning, George.”
“Good morning” he replied as he walked round her to the seat next to hers.
“You were late” she said.
“Yeah. I’m sorry. I had to sort some things out.”
Tunbosun kept staring at him in the silence. There was something wrong.
“Why are you staring Tunbosun?”
“What’s wrong with you?” she replied his question with a question.
George sighed. “I had a long night. Nothing too special; just took a lot from me; that’s all”
“What were you doing that took so much energy?”
“I was trying to come up with ideas for our group” he lied, but noticed Tunbosun couldn’t tell. He was actually tired of himself; frustrated that he couldn’t stop himself any longer. He had just masturbated before leaving the hostel. He wanted to bite at his flesh; do whatever would wake him up. He felt helpless – he knew he was drowning.
“Can we start now?” He asked, to avoid any further questions been asked.
Tunbosun nodded and George was relieved. That was the end of it at least for now. He knew Faith would soon come looking for him. He was ready for her today. If she wanted to psyche him into opening up, she had already failed. He couldn’t and wouldn’t open up to anybody about anything. He couldn’t bare the shame.
Christiana smiled at herself. She had looked at herself over and again in the mirror as she left her room and she knew she was looking the finest she had looked in a long while. She had taken her tightest school uniform shirt, and the tightest skirt, which was fortunately the shortest too. She could perceive her own perfume. “You smell good girl”, she told herself.
She had been in front of the lecture hall for about fifteen minutes. She had been the first to reach there. She wasn’t missing her words when she had said she would be the first person that Igbo boy would see.
She had seen a girl walk into the hall, one of the girls that had told her story at the meeting the previous night. Shortly after that a tall Hausa guy, one of them too walked in. She guessed they had a meeting of some sort. The tall guy had looked at her a little longer than she would have expected of him.
She couldn’t blame him. She knew her body was screaming only one word. Look! Any male who saw her would have to respond to that call.
She was almost getting impatient; about a dozen people had passed by. She looked down the path and saw the image she had been waiting for. He seemed to be walking with his head down, but she had so memorized what he looked like, she was sure he was the one. As he got closer, she re-adjusted. She didn’t want to seem too obvious. She sat on a bench there, close to the entrance and crossed her legs, acting distracted.
When he was up the brief flight of steps to the entrance door, she turned to look at him. “Hi!” she said in her most feminine voice. She was impressed at herself.
He looked at her. She saw he recognized her. He looked rather surprised than appalled. That was a good start. The look in that short moment became one of admiration. “Hi” he responded.
‘Now we’re talking’ she thought to herself.
She stood up and took a few steps towards him. “I’ve wanted to meet you”, she said and was satisfied with his knowing smile. “My name is Christiana”. She extended her hand for a shake.
“I’m Uche”, he said.
“Nice meeting you at last” she said, with a smile.
“Same here”.
“Would you mind if I sat with you during the briefing?” she asked. His answer was going to determine what happened next.
If he said yes, then she knew after just one sitting with her during the briefing, he would never want to sit elsewhere again. At least, until she had done what she wanted to do with him. Afterwards, he won’t have a choice because she would have deserted him. He was still in control now. If he gave in now, the tide would definitely turn.
“That would be nice”, he said and Christiana smiled. The deed was done. They walked together and Uche led the way to where they would sit. He took them to the fifth row.
Christiana smiled. Uche obviously was a good boy. Another boy would have taken her to the back where he would be freer to talk with her and maybe do more, but not this boy. She knew it would be short-lived.
‘By the time I’m through with you Uche, you would be a bad boy. A real bad boy’, she thought to herself. When they were seated, she adjusted herself. She slouched a little, inched her legs towards him and made sure substantial parts of her legs were exposed. She would make sure she didn’t fail.
Fatima hurried to the lecture hall. She was almost late. Making programmes on time was one of her weaknesses; she was not too organized. It was one of the things she was working on. She was already making progress but she knew she could do better. She entered the hall, hoping to see Uche but she didn’t see him immediately.
The briefing had not started yet, so she afforded herself the luxury of walking down the aisle in search of him. She had almost gotten to the front when she saw him but he was facing the other way. She was about calling him when she saw who he was talking to. He was talking to that same girl that had practically told him she was available.
They were so fixed on whatever they were saying that none of them saw her. She was happy they didn’t see her because she couldn’t have afforded them seeing the reaction on her face. She wanted to cry. She turned and walked to the far back, dejected. When she was seated, she buried her head in her hands.
‘Uche, don’t do this to yourself’, she said to herself afraid for her friend. She looked up in their direction and her heart dropped some more. ‘Fatima, who are you more afraid for? Uche or yourself? Are you scared of losing him to her?’ she asked herself and was unable to answer.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 32)

Tara sat on her bunk waiting for the whistle to go for dinner. It had been a very long day; she had known it would be during the briefing when she heard the line up of activities for the day.
They had had two leadership seminars immediately after breakfast. The seminars stretched till lunch time. Tara had enjoyed the seminars but sitting on one spot for hours didn’t sit down well with her. She had been relieved when the whistle went for lunch. Her stomach was already hurting when it was just past noon.
After lunch, they had their group meetings; the community-project group meetings lasted two hours and so did their networking meetings. It was now past seven and Tara just wanted to sleep. She wished she could but two things still had to be done. She still had to pay homage to her stomach, and she had to attend the meeting that would hold immediately after dinner. Those two were extremely important. Sleep could wait.
She hadn’t seen her friends through the day; they were in different groups. It was one of the reasons she looked forward to hearing the whistle. Having godly friends was a rare gift and Tara was glad she was one of the few that had that blessing. The story of her life would never be complete without the friends she had met during the conference. That, she was very sure of. She only wished she too could be more of a blessing to them as they had been to her. She felt very indebted to them, especially George.
As the thought of George flashed through her mind, she smiled. She didn’t know how he’d managed to do it, but he had done a good job on not getting her attached to him. She had been sincerely scared to open up to him initially; afraid she might lose her head in the process but she was glad that hadn’t happened.
She hadn’t spoken much with him lately and she wondered why. ‘I hope we get to talk this evening’, she said, still waiting for the whistle.
Fatima knelt by her bedside and prayed; that was all she could do. She had many things to pray about. Top on the list was the meeting they were going to have after dinner. She was sure more students would turn out. She craved for direction; she sincerely pleaded for God’s help. She wanted to do it only as God would have it.
Next on her mind were her beloved friends; George and Uche. She had been worried about George’s withdrawal. She could see it without being told that something was wrong; she just didn’t know what the matter was and she wondered why he hadn’t opened up about it. Fatima knew she would eventually have to ask him but knew she had to pray about it first.
When she prayed for Uche; she did with mixed feelings; a part of her accused her for what was happening, while another part encouraged her. She hadn’t spoken with Uche throughout the day.
When she had returned from the hospital, she had joined groups that didn’t have any of her close friends in them, but now she wished she hadn’t done that; at least, she would have had an opportunity to talk with Uche had she being in his group. She knew that the only opportunity to talk with him would be after the meeting; she hoped he would be willing to talk.
As she yet prayed, the whistle went. She wished she had more time to settle things with God, but that was not to be; she trusted however that God heard both her said and unsaid prayers. With that, she rose to her feet and trusted God to take care of the events of the night.
Uche had mixed feelings as he exited his room. It had been a while anybody made him feel so special and cared for. Christiana had stabbed her two group meetings during the day and followed him to his groups. She made him feel wanted, needed, and loved. That was exactly what he needed. Fatima had just rejected him. This was a welcome compensation.
The only sour taste in his mouth was the uneasiness that refused to leave him. He couldn’t tell exactly what it was, but he just knew what he had shared with Christiana in the last few hours was nothing compared to what he shared and enjoyed with Fatima and the other guys. His budding relationship with Christiana just felt off. He had no reason to think that way as she hadn’t said or done anything outside the ordinary, but he still felt that way.
She had told him stories of her life; telling him secrets he was surprised a fine girl like her would reveal to guy she had just met; it was one of the things that made him feel there was a future for their new friendship. ‘She trusts me’, Uche thought to himself. He had to console her on one occasion when she mentioned that her father was late. She looked so vulnerable and he felt a need to protect her. The fear he had initially that she was a bad girl had been dispelled. Maybe she was just accustomed to wearing tight and revealing dresses.
Uche had willed himself on many occasions in the course of the day not to look at her chest or legs; she was just so careless when it came to that. ‘She doesn’t know better’, Uche said to himself, convincing himself she wasn’t aware of the effect it had on guys. Listening to her confessions had made him come to the conclusion that she was a good girl who had been a victim of unfortunate circumstances in her past. She had sounded naïve and teachable.
‘I’ll talk to her about her dressing’, Uche thought as he approached the dining hall. He wondered how he would balance his friendship with Christiana with his friendship with his other buddies. He knew she didn’t fit into their circles. He was in a dilemma; who would he sacrifice for whom. Would he sacrifice Christiana for Fatima and the others or the other way?
Still confused, he walked into the dining hall, and as if she knew what was on his mind, the first person he saw, smiling straight at him from the table closest to the door was Christiana. She was smiling like someone who had missed a dear friend and was so happy to see him again.
Without thinking hard, Uche knew what his choice was. He was going to stick with his new friend. His others friend would have to wait their turn.
Christiana could feel her heart hit hard against her chest. She had made good progress with Uche during the day, and seeing him walk towards her only heightened her excitement. She longed to quickly do what she had to do and dump him. ‘See the fool smiling. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into’, she thought as he reached the table.
“Hey Uche!”
“You took some time’
“Yes. I had to take a shower”
“Oh!” she smiled, and waited for him to sit. She then faced him and looked straight into his eyes. “I missed you”
Uche just stared; a lump in his throat.
Christiana could feel the effect her stare and words had on the chap. She couldn’t blame him; she was irresistible. “Did you miss me?” she asked, wanting to pull him in a little more.
“I…did” he managed to say, sounding nervous.
“I like your outfit”, she said, taking a brief look at what he wore, her eyes settling on his shoes. “Nice shoes”
“Thanks he said.”
She knew what she was doing, and she couldn’t help feeling good with herself. She was making him have to look at her – at what she was wearing because it would be impolite of him not to return the compliment. She could see he was struggling not to look at her but he had to if he was going to pass a comment.
She had deliberately chosen the dress she wore. They had been told the evening program was going to be a comedy show; they had been told to come casual. She was doing just that.
She wore a tight purple spaghetti top and a short jeans skirt. She had no apologies to anyone for what she wore; she had a mission and she wasn’t going to fail. She was going to do whatever it took.
She looked at Uche. “Don’t you like what I’m wearing she said”, still prodding him to look. With that, he looked at her and as quickly, took his eyes off. She wanted to laugh but suppressed it.
“You like it?” she said, trying to save him the stress of saying it.
Uche nodded. “Can we get our food now?” he said, obviously trying to save himself from the awkward situation.
“Sure” Christiana said and rose. She knew she was making him uncomfortable, and she was indeed pleased. That was exactly how she wanted him to feel – uncomfortable.
He could tell that dinner had been served and folks were already eating. George strolled into the dining hall and looked round. He noticed a hand waving at him from a distance. It was Fatima. His heart dropped.
It had been a while since he talked with his friend and he actually wondered when that would be. His heart was getting hardened; he could feel it. It bothered him but he felt helpless to stop it. He was now looking at the pictures and going to the bathroom often to do the obvious. He didn’t even bother asking God to forgive him anymore because he knew in a few hours he would do exactly the same thing he had done.
When he was outside the hostel, he was feeding his eyes on girls who wore tight or transparent clothing. When back in the hostel, he reached for the porn magazine he had hid away. He was still surprised that his bunkmate hadn’t asked him or other room mates if they had seen the magazine. He guessed the boy was too ashamed to ask people for it.
That was George’s undoing as he had unlimited access to it whenever he needed it. He was beginning to fear that if in the right environment with a willing girl, he might do something he would greatly regret. He hoped that opportunity would not pose itself until he had found his way back to God- free from this disease of lust.
Now, looking at Fatima as he drew closer to her, his heart pricked him. She would be so disappointed if she knew what he was doing. He decided he would have to make sure she never knew. He would act as normal as he could. He brightened up and added a smile to the façade.
“Hi Fatima”, he said when he reached the table she was sitting.
“Hi George. I haven’t seen much of you.” She said, looking concerned. “You’ve been aloof for a while.”
He smiled as he joined her. “Was just experiencing some stuff. I’m good now”, he lied.
Fatima seemed relieved. “I’m so glad to know that. I have been worried for you since I noticed your distant look yesterday.” She paused. “It’s so good to see your smile again.”
George nodded, smiling. Deep within, he hated to be lying to her but knew he was too deep in this mess to begin to tell Fatima anything. Confessing to her would hurt her; he didn’t want that to happen. Looking at her, he could see that something was still on her mind; something she hadn’t mentioned yet.
He might be deep in sin, but he still had a heart; he still cared for his friend. “Fatima, what’s up?”
She looked at him. “As in?”
“You look troubled about something”
She smiled, but it was a tired one. “I was worried about you.”
George shook his head. “I know. But there’s still more.”
Fatima nodded, knowing she couldn’t keep it away from her friend.
“I’m listening”, George prodded.
“It’s Uche”
George was confused. “What’s it about Uche?” he asked, then smiled as a memory flashed through his mind. “I saw you concentrating on a letter two nights back during the film show. Did he…?”
He left the question unfinished. He had been friends with Fatima for years. He knew she would fill in the blanks. And in response to his unfinished question, she nodded.
“Don’t tell me!” George said, grinning.
“Shshhh!” Fatima hissed, to calm her excited friend.
“What did you say?” He asked. “Yes, right?”
Fatima shook her head, and noticed George frown.
“Why?” George asked. “You don’t like him?”
“It’s not about that George. It’s not the right time for folks like us to get into relationships. Our emotions are still very unstable and we could easily get carried away and do stuff we aren’t supposed to do.”
George nodded. He respected Fatima so much. He could tell it was a great struggle for her to refuse Uche but she did it because it would please God and because it was for their good, both her and Uche, in the long run. She was a strong girl. George wished he had been that strong when faced with the temptation to look at that magazine that morning. He had fallen. Fatima had stood her ground. He was happy for her.
“But my fear is that he could do something stupid in response.”
“I don’t get” George said, questioning.
“He’s still new in faith and I doubt he understands why I refused him.”
“Uche is smarter than that.”
“I don’t think so” Fatima said, pointing discreetly in a direction. George looked and saw Uche sitting with a fair complexioned girl.
“Who’s she?” George asked, still looking in their direction.
“I don’t know but I know she means no good for him, but if I tell him that, he might throw it back in my face.”
“What can I do?” George asked, looking back at Fatima and wanting to help in anyway possible.
“You could pray for him.”
George nodded, but knew he couldn’t do that. ‘God won’t hear a perverse fellow like me’ he thought. He looked at the plate in front of her. “Sorry I disturbed your eating. Please go on.”
“It’s no problem. Aren’t you eating?”
“No. I don’t like Porridge.”
“Sorry, I forgot.”
“How many people are we expecting for today’s meeting?” George asked.
Fatima sighed. “I really don’t know but I guess we would be at least double of what we were yesterday.” She paused and looked in Uche’s direction.
“What’s wrong again?” George asked, as he saw where she was looking.
“Do you think he will come for the meeting?”
“Why not! I’m sure he will.” George said but saw Fatima wasn’t sure. “Should I make sure?”
“If you don’t mind” she said.
“Okay”, George said and stood.
“Thank you” Fatima mouthed as she watched George walk in Uche’s direction.
They were almost done with their food. Christiana had enjoyed every bit of it because she was in charge; things were going as planned. She and Uche had shared laughs, giggles, she had even poked him in the side and he laughed. In all their fun, she was sure he was getting more accustomed to looking at her as he didn’t avert his eyes anymore. That was progress. But he wasn’t gawking yet; she would ensure he did.
“Uche!” someone called, and they both turned. It was a tall, lanky boy. Christiana could remember his face from the meeting the previous day and she recalled he was the one she saw earlier in the day when she was waiting for Uche. He was one of Uche’s Christian friends. She knew he could undo all the work she had been doing for hours in just few minutes. She wouldn’t allow that.
“How are you?” he said, when he got to them, extending a hand to his friend.
Uche took it. “I’m good.”
The tall boy looked at her and Uche did the introductions. “Please meet Christiana. Christiana meet George”.
“A pleasure meeting you,” the George boy said and returned his gaze to his friend. He was talking to them from across the table. “Uche, are you coming for the meeting tonight?” he asked.
As Christiana heard the question, she knew the moment had come and if she didn’t do something, the battle would be lost. She discreetly moved closer to Uche until her legs were touching his. That was the first step. She then placed a hand on his. That was the second. She then voiced out. “Haba Uche! We’re not through with our gist.” She said, in the most vulnerable voice possible, her hand still resting on his, eyes pleading.
“I’m not sure…” Uche was saying.
“We can join them after I finish telling you what happened to me that day” she said, alluding to something they had started talking about earlier. All she wanted to succeed in doing was getting Uche to leave the hall with her after dinner. She was sure she wouldn’t let him come back. She just needed to convince him to leave with her.
He looked at her then at George. “I would join you guys later.”
As Uche spoke, Christiana noticed the George guy walk over to her side. “Uche, are you sure about this?” he asked.
“Hm-mm” Uche said.
Christiana looked up at George and noticed for the first time that he was looking at her. He was trying to do it as slyly as possible. If she wasn’t a master of the game, she wouldn’t have known what he was doing. ‘No wonder he moved over to this side. He wanted to see more of me’, she thought to herself.
As the two friends talked, she kept seeing George, from the side of her eyes, looking at her chest and her legs. ‘Hypocrite!’ she spat silently.
When he was done, the George guy left. Christiana was sure he had fed his eyes well. She smiled. ‘I planned to have one good Christian boy; seems I’m going to have two. How splendid!’ she thought to herself. ‘Guys are all the same. Puppets that can be easily tossed about by a girl who knows what she possesses.’ Christiana couldn’t have been happier.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 33)

Faith was amazed; the number of people that turned out for the meeting was a miracle. When they had met briefly after dinner, Fatima had told them to expect double of the number the previous night. Now, she was amidst a gathering of almost two times the number they had forecasted.
Fatima had told them they were just going to worship God for most of the time; Tara leading them and Faith would lead in prayers afterwards. No talking was going to be done; God was going to move in His own way.
Faith had noticed Uche’s absence and expected Fatima to say something about it but she hadn’t. She wondered why. She wished she could know everything about everyone but it wasn’t in her power to know. She only got to know those things God chose to reveal to her. One of such was that George was in a terrible mess.
She had been trying to speak with him with little success. Faith purposed to get him after the meeting; she wouldn’t let him be; he needed help and she was going to see to it that he got that help even if it meant stepping on his toes.
Shade stood beside Tunbosun as they worshipped God. Her new friends had been a blessing to her already. God must have known what would happen to her shortly when He brought her to them. This was the second day of the meeting and her heart exploded in worship. She had never felt this kind of joy ever in her life before. She felt like she belonged here
It was a feeling that was hard to put into words. It was like she was in another realm, touching God’s face and simply enjoying His love; nothing more. Her eyes were closed but she could literarily feel the anointing that oozed out of Tara as she led others in worship.
Shade concluded that there was nothing better than a person discovering God’s gift, and then putting it to its best use – in serving God. That’s where many had missed it. Using their voices to honor the devil; singing songs that hurt God. Only those who choose to use their gifts to honor the One who gave them truly enjoy the height of satisfaction derived from that gift.
Even as she thanked God for Tara’s gift, she wondered what her own gift was. She couldn’t place a finger on one yet but she knew God was not a partial God. He had given her at least one gift, it was going to be her responsibility to find it out.
About thirty minutes into worship, Tara asked them all to hold hands and sing a song. It was a song Shade knew so well because she loved it. The song was a song of power and renewal. Tara asked them to sing it collectively, not as individuals; asking them to tap into the power of unity.
Holy Spirit, move us now
Make our lives whole again
Spirit move over us
Spirit move over us.
They sang it at a normal tempo the first few times, but without warning or orchestration, the tempo increased, and before Shade knew what was happening she began to hear sniffing. Trying not to get distracted, she focused and kept singing but soon enough, Tunbosun, on her right collapsed to her knees, weeping as she kept singing.
Without opening her eyes, Shade could feel the cleansing power of God in the hall. No wonder Fatima had said no talking would be done; God was talking directly to the hearts of the students in attendance; no preaching was necessary.
Even though she didn’t want to hear, she was forced to hear what the girl to her left was saying in tears. She was apologizing to God for the several sins she had committed. As she mentioned them in His presence, unashamed, Shade couldn’t help marveling at what the Spirit of God could do when given the opportunity.
Shade had greeted the girl before the meeting started. She couldn’t have guessed that the girl had done the things she was presently confessing, but God knew. God sees what human eyes cannot.
With what was going on around her, Shade released herself to God too, and allowed His love and mercy wash over her. She opened up her heart totally; pleading that He make her heart whole again indeed.
The problem of every human starts with the heart. If the heart could be made whole again, the life was bound to become better. Only God could do that and Shade wasn’t going to leave that hall until He did just that. He was a good God, and she was going to enjoy His goodness this night with reckless abandon.
“There’s a girl here. God says I should tell you that if you only believe He will heal your father…” Faith was saying and Tunbosun knew it was her that message was for. Still on her knees, the tears came more. She had been hoping desperately for healing for her dad. It was too good to be true.
“I believe Lord, I believe!” she muttered as the tears stung her eyes and she began to sob. She still didn’t know God much but the little she was getting to know about him was indeed amazing.
“I believe, Lord”, she yet said. “You’re too good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” She heard Faith mention another case, then another, then another. She was awed at how God cared for everyone. He knew the different wounds and burdens different people were carrying and in His love, He was stooping down to lift every burden for His children. How tripping!
Faith was saying something that caught Tunbosun’s attention for a moment. “There are twenty students here. You hate going home because your home is a living hell. Your parents are always at war with each other and they let out some of the venom on you. God says He’ll pour out His grace on your home if only you would allow Him. He says you should come out.”
Even before Faith finished, Tunbosun could hear the shuffling of feet. Folks were going out. Some were crying, some were just moving forward, sober, yet thankful. The anointing in the atmosphere was palpable. Tunbosun wished it would last all night but she knew they would soon have to round off as the comedy show holding in the conference hall would soon be over.
“Father, thank you for what you’re doing here. I’m grateful you chose to bless me too by promising health to my dad. I’m so grateful God”, was Tunbosun’s prayer to the God that was winning her heart more and more with every passing minute.
The tears were streaming down her face abated. God was doing it again. He was making her feel the love and concern He felt for His children at the meeting. As he spoke to her and she mentioned different cases, her heart responded as God was wiping away tears from many eyes. Many students were being freed from burdens and bondages they had been carrying and suffering for years.
As the folks that came out for a touch for their families returned to their seats, God spoke to Faith. She heard Him clearly. And what she heard Him say brought a fresh stream of tears to her eyes.
She lifted her head and spoke out. “God says there’s a guy here. He says, ‘I know you love me and you want to please me but you are struggling with lust. Pornography and masturbation are getting the better of you; you’re an inch away from ruining your life. Come and I’ll set you free.’”
As she said it, she lowered her head. There was a hush in the hall. Nobody moved for almost a minute. And just then, Faith heard movement. She knew someone was coming forward; she didn’t raise her head. When the fellow reached her and knelt down, she looked up then and looked at him. It was George. His eyes were red; his face tear-stained.
She placed her hands on his shoulders and began praying for him. As she did, he began to sob afresh. “God, I’m so sorry!” he was saying out loud. “Please wash me clean, and restore me”.
There was something Faith was experiencing here for the first time in her life. It was the encounter people were having with God; an encounter that made them transparent before all; nobody was shy or secretive. People confessed their sins openly, wept without restraint before their Saviour and found the help they were seeking.
It reminded her of the moment Jesus said only those who came to Him like children could enter His kingdom. There was no place for pride, fronting or posing in God’s presence. It was indeed beautiful.
When she was done praying for George, she asked him to return to his seat. She smiled through her tears as she squeezed his shoulders. He wiped his face as he rose, but Faith could see clearly that God had touched him. She was so happy. She wished many more who were under the hold of the devil would find solace in Christ as only He could deliver.
There were still many hurting, confused and lost students in the conference; Faith was certain of that. She wished they would all find God. She knew it wasn’t in her power to do that. She would have to trust the One who loved them to do as He pleased. She would trust God.
Seeing him walk back, Fatima smiled through her tears. It had been a very teary meeting. She had been praying, pacing at the back when Faith made the call. Her eyes were opened as she prayed. She had been shocked when she saw George walk forward. She had felt both pain and joy at the same time; pain that George had not told her about what he had been struggling with and joy that he was eventually getting free from it. Sexual addiction was not a pleasant experience; Fatima could tell.
She caught his eyes as he reached his seat. She could see sadness there. She knew him; he was apologizing for not telling her. Fatima smiled in return; assuring him that it was okay. She saw the relief in his eyes, as he gave a weak smile. The addiction must have drained a lot of strength from him.
“Thank you Father for saving my friend”, she said to her best friend as she prepared to round off the meeting. It had been a great meeting; she was glad she had been a part of it. As she rejoiced that she was a partaker of God’s blessings that night, her heart went to Uche who had missed it and she was almost getting deflated when she remembered to cast her cares on God.
“God, I don’t know what’s up with Uche right now,” she prayed, “but I ask that you please touch him wherever he is now and please don’t allow him to do anything he would regret. Please keep him Lord, no matter what it costs.” She felt relieved, knowing she had committed Uche to God. “Thank you Father”, she said as she walked forward to take over from Faith.
“Can we go outside?”
“Aren’t you enjoying the show?” Uche asked.
Christiana was miffed but was trying not to let it show. She wasn’t interested in any comedy. All she wanted was to have this boy where she wanted him; in her arms. She wanted to seal his future and here he was asking if she was enjoying the show. She obviously wasn’t.
She had requested that they talk outside the dining hall but he had insisted they go to the lecture hall. She had been upset with that, knowing it reduced her chances of having him that night.
She had done everything she knew to do in the confines of decency, so as not to scare him away. She had made sure her legs were either facing him, or crossed, with ample flash exposed. She had laughed extra hard at the jokes on stage and touched his shoulders or hands while laughing; anything to keep him aware of her body. And he seemed aware alright.
But Christiana wasn’t satisfied; she needed him to want to have her, and she needed to look for an avenue to make that happen. She thought fast.
“I’m feeling cold”, she said. “The AC is too cold for me tonight. I need some natural breeze for a few minutes.”
Uche looked like he really didn’t want to leave the hall, but she didn’t care about what he wanted, she cared only about what she wanted, and she was going to have it at all cost.
“Pleaseeee!” she pleaded with eyes that would soften the hardest of hearts.
“Okay. Just for a few minutes,” he consented.
“Thanks”, she said. “Ready?”
“After you”
Christiana rose and walked out, Uche following her. When, they got out, Christiana walked to the side of the porch that was least lightened. The darkness would work in her favor; she only hoped Uche would follow without asking her to come to the brighter side.
She turned back and saw he was following her. ‘Perfect’, she thought. When she reached a spot she thought was okay, she stopped and waited for him. He just looked at her. She couldn’t decipher the look; there was no telling what was on his mind. She didn’t have time to bother about that. She needed to take the initiative.
“Do you hug girls?” she asked.
Uche looked surprised at the question. She had obviously taken him off guard.
“Yes’, he finally said but she was sure he was lying. She was already making him do things he wouldn’t normally do. She was pleased. It was a sign that it was all going to end maybe even better than she had planned.
“I want a hug.” She said, picking her words carefully.
“Yes”. On another day, Christiana would have laughed her head off but she had to act the role well. Uche was clearly confused. Observing his reactions to her requests, she had come to a conclusion about him. He had an undoing. He was insecure; didn’t think too well of himself. A guy who knew what he was worth would have been harder to manipulate.
“Why?” he asked, obviously still fighting it.
“I’m freezing. I just need you to hold me. One minute. Promise”, she said. One minute was all she needed to send his hormones on assignment.
“Okay”, he said, opening his arms as she moved closer. She went into his arms and he held her tentatively. She inched closer to him and held him tight, willing him to feel everything she wanted him to.
She could feel his heartbeat. It was just as she wanted. Anyone would have mistaken the rate at which his heart beat as a response to fear. Christiana knew better; it wasn’t fear. It was raw lust. It was the strongest weapon she possessed and she knew how to wield it perfectly.
Christiana knew a minute was already past but she knew Uche’s mind wasn’t on the time anymore. It was time to complete what she had started.
She looked up at him now with the most seductive look possible. The moment was intense; there was no need playing games. “I want us to go behind the dining hall”, was all she said. It was all she needed to say; anyone who had been in the conference for the five days so far knew what that statement meant.
He didn’t answer. He didn’t have to; his eyes spoke volumes. She withdrew from him and took his hand. She literarily pulled him along. She had to be fast before his conscience got the better of him. As she led him towards the dining hall, she suppressed a smile.
She had seen mallams drag cows to the slaughter on different occasions. That was what was happening. She was leading her cow to the slaughter. ‘Uche, thanks for making it so easy for me’, she thought to herself as she turned to face him. She smiled at him; keeping him in the mood. Death was just a few steps away.
Fatima was about closing the meeting when she felt a leading to ask everyone to pray for Uche. She didn’t disclose his name but told them that there was a fellow student who needed prayers to be strong and to do what was right. She was sure the other five knew who she was talking about. She believed the prayer of agreement would make a difference for Uche.
As folks began to pray, she both saw and heard the fervency with which they prayed. Deep within her, she knew God wanted to bring His son back home. The only unanswered question was; does Uche even want to come back?
Christiana wished she could walk faster; she was so eager to add one more trophy to her collection. Just as they about reached the dining hall, she heard someone call from behind them.
She wanted to ignore the voice and keep walking.
“I’m talking to you”, the voice said, and she knew she had to stop; sounded like a facilitator. Uche was the first to stop and turn. She turned and faced the man who had called them.
“Where are you going?” he asked, as she noticed Uche withdraw his hand from hers.
“We…” she started to say, but he didn’t let her.
“Go back to the hall, right away.”
She wanted to argue with him but knew it was no use. She looked at Uche and saw he was clearly embarrassed being caught in such a state.
Uche started towards the lecture hall, where the comedy show was still on, and she walked with him, quiet and steaming. Her plan had been so perfect; she already had Uche. ‘Why can’t this old men mind their own business?’ she thought to herself, hating to have to wait another day to woe Uche. That had not been in the plan at all.
She knew they all would be ushered into their hostels immediately after the show. She had to wait one more day. Her patience was growing thin. ‘Uche, you were a lucky cow today. You won’t be so lucky tomorrow’ she thought as she walked with him back to the hall.
Little did she know that it wasn’t luck that saved Uche; it was the prayers of his friends that had sent deliverance to him and covered him. That covering, however, wasn’t going to last too long.

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