……..On getting there, the party was at its peak; lots of students dancing. I found a good corner and told Sola that I would prefer grabbing a chair for myself. About 10minutes later, I got pretty bored and started searching for Sola. There were many students; tall, short, black, fair but finally I found her talking to a fair-skinned lady like herself but the lady looked much more matured.
Sola was shocked seeing me but quickly grabbed herself back to normality as she introduced the other lady to me as her very good friend, Lade. Lade smiled back at me. She was probably the organizer as she called the students together and addressed them with not many words but encouraged them to party on and meet new people. I just couldn’t blend in to the environment but grabbed myself a drink anyway, sipping it slowly. Sola came up to me with a pep drink for me, she had one already. I felt reluctant but looking at it being something I had never had a taste of, I decided to try it too leaving the one I was sipping at first.
Thereafter, Sola complained of being tired and begged Lade to drive us to her house since the school gate had already been closed. Lade’s place was not bad at all, well I thought so. Her house had a nice parlor and three rooms. She asked me to feel comfortable as Sola said she still wanted to do some things before going to bed. I was feeling really sleepy and not even dizzy, I needed a bed urgently, Lade showed me the room I was going to spend the night in. I was attracted even more to have a wonderful rest on the soft bed and most especially the air conditioner. I closed the windows and turned it on; I was feeling drowsy and slept off.
It was probably 6am I woke up since the day was still dark but it was morning already. I stretched and as I got off the bed, I met the shock of my life: the guy I once saw on Sola’s phone. He was lying on the ground, I thought he was dead and wanted to run away but as I reached for the door, the thought of Sola and Lade being traitors came into my head and probably they wanted to set me up.
I was already in tears with those thoughts running through my head. The thoughts of why I was there instead of my school hostel, why I made the silly promise, why I had to go to the party even though I always told my mum that I wouldn’t go to any at least to keep myself. I had no sense of direction but what I had in mind. I felt like a big traitor to my mum, I was in tears already but tried to swallow it in.
I decided to tap him, maybe he would wake up, I continuously tapped him, I didn’t want to be in trouble even though I felt I already was in one. He woke up to my surprise staring at me like I was a ghost when it was supposed to be the reverse. He dragged himself away to the wall groaning with pain, he sat looking pale and confused; he didn’t look like he could run away. I made the first effort to ask what happened and why he was on the ground. He seemed not being able to utter a word until finally pressing on, he shakily said he hired me to use for a ritual. I couldn’t believe my ears but I wanted to know what interrupted his mission.
As I asked what happened, he couldn’t speak, he only said the words, ‘he stopped me, the voice stopped me’. He was on the ground crying already begging until he finally explained that as he got on the bed a voice commanded him to let me be and when he persisted, he couldn’t feel his legs and that’s how he landed on the floor and fainted.
I was in tears already wondering what I had done to receive such mercy. He asked who spoke; I knew it was God and only God that could have saved me. At that moment, mum called me, I was shocked, and felt reluctant to pick her call but I knew I had done enough wrongs so I picked her call. She said immediately, “M’orenibolowa (where are you), nib o lo lo (where did you go to), M’oresoro (say something)”. I was shaking, I didn’t know what to say, I just stood still saying repeatedly, “errm…” M’ore, dearie, why do you want to be like me, why, you almost made the same mistake I made, what did you do with the gift, did you throw it away?” she was already crying. “M’orego to your hostel, leave wherever you are immediately, call me once you get to your hostel”.
I quickly pocketed my phone, took my shoes in the hand and raced out of the room not even noticing the guy on the floor. Like a thief, i tiptoed out of the house because I was sure I wasn’t safe. Immediately I got out of the house, I started running as fast as my legs could carry me till I got to the main road. I managed to stop a bike, all the way to school, my mind was in a fix of so many “what-ifs”, maybe they were following me or even waiting for me at school, I didn’t know but I had a little faith that they weren’t in school waiting to capture me.
As I got to the hostel, I changed my mind on going to my room, so I went to a friend’s room begging her not to tell anyone, I was in her room. I called my mum to tell her I was already in the hostel; she said she was going to be in Benin within the next 1hour 30minutes.
I waited, trying to rehearse what I was going to tell her but all I could do was continually cry like she was actually in front of me. The time flew by really fast that I didn’t know when mum called to say she was downstairs waiting for me.Dami, my friend had gone off for lectures by this time, so, I brought mum up to the room. I sat up on the bed with my legs crossed, waiting for her to say a word. She beckoned on me to have a sit next to her, I did and she started, “M’ore, I love you and you know I do. I’m not here to accuse you of any wrong but one which I have myself to blame.” I cut in and said “… but mum, it’s my fault”, “no it’s not, just listen to what I have to say”. She placed her palms on her face as if breathing in and out underneath, and then she began. “October 7th 1997, I got my admission into the University of Benin, I was more than excited, because I was going to be a big girl now and everyone in the neighborhood had given me the name “Big girl”, it made me feel like one, I was going to study Banking and Finance. Your grandma had spent months praying for me to get the admission, I felt good about it but I really wanted the admission because my friends were going there too. I was ready to settle for anything to get there.
The week to resumption, your grandma’s friends, her pastor had been coming for really long visits. They’d sit me down and talk for hours about what being in the university meant. I had gotten so much advice from them that I could make a book out of it. Through it all, your grandma just prayed and didn’t call me to give me any advice, maybe she thought the pastor’s was enough, I wouldn’t know and never asked.
The night before I left for school, as I packed my new clothes, folding them gently into place, she came in and handed me a bible, written on the front page was ‘to my darling daughter’, it was filled with short notes that couldn’t be noticed except you kept opening. I wore a smile on my face but somehow deep within I was expecting more from her than a bible. I finished packing up and tucked the bible to the side of my bag.
I felt on top of the world the next day, not even the stress I faced before getting there could stop my excitement. I got off the bike that stopped me in front of my aunt’s house in Benin, still head over heels. Aunty Laura really welcomed me, my cousins made me feel even more welcome by helping me pack my bags. I was so full of joy. At night, Aunty Laura called me to the sitting room, and I took my sit with much expectation to probably hear a sermon. She held my hands and begged me never to forget where I came from and take to heart what I came to do adding that she had heard a lot about what students did when they got into the university, she advised me to always study my bible being a really spiritual person.”
I gave a sigh, anxious to know what happened, cut in and said, ‘mum what happened?’ mum understood how anxious I was and continued, “… a lot happened. Throughout the night I called up my friends just to know if they were in school already, what hostel and how we were going to meet. I soon got a hostel; we were about 4 in a room with an extra 2 squatters. I had a high confidence in myself that I wasn’t going to fail your grandma, the pastor, Aunty Laura and my late Father. I really thought school was easy maybe those that failed didn’t just know why they did but as for me I had a good IQ.
On one faithful day, after my lectures, I decided to just stroll back to the hostel alone without my friends. We had stumbled on a little quarrel due to an outing they all planned without telling me; meanwhile we had been talking about it together for weeks. It was a new bar and they decided to open it with a party for Jambites. The outlook of the bar was so cool and attractive. Temi, my bestie back then had promised to introduce me to her family friend studying Banking and Finance at the party. He had travelled out of the country for the break and since the bar belonged to his close friend, he decided to come earlier for the opening. The party was going to be for the season but it wasn’t much of my concern, I just wanted to see how the place was and meet with Dare, Temi’s family friend- I heard he was close to lecturers and even the VC, I needed connection or I felt it was needed due to all the stories I heard about failure of students in the department. It was quite saddening to me when Temi said she didn’t have the money I asked her to save for me so I could get the ticket and none of my friends could help me but they all had tickets. I saw it as a life time opportunity that was about to waste.
So, as I walked to the hostel thinking about the opportunity I had missed, I saw my old friend, Donald, in a brown SUV, I didn’t know he was in the school but wasn’t quite surprised to see him in the vehicle. He was our neighbor’s son while I and your grandma stayed at Ipaja and from what I knew he was himself rich without his parents. He was so glad to see me; we sat in his car and talked for about an hour: it was an opportunity to explain my ordeal since he asked why I looked moody and he offered to buy me a ticket. I was happy and decided it would be a surprise I would rub in on Temi’s face when I get to the party. I was so excited, I ran into the hostel immediately Donald left.
As I stepped into my room, I met suitcases on the floor and clothes scattered on the bed, Tara and Ay, my roommates had emptied their bags and those of the squatters, they were looking for a large amount of money they claimed was stolen in the room and were waiting for me to get back to search my bag too. I didn’t want to look like a thief so I let them. They just managed to scatter everything in the bag but didn’t find anything as Tara continued her search around my things, Ay saw it under their bunk. Meanwhile I got my things back together and as I did found the bible grandma gave me lying backwards. I picked it up with an intent to close it and keep it back but I was drawn to a verse highlighted by grandma, it read, “And he said unto him, if thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” Exo33:15. I just stared and dropped the bible still, I didn’t seem to understand why I dropped it back but I sat up on my bed after putting everything in place to ponder what it meant. It looked like grandma’s very first message to me, I just pondered on and began questioning myself on if I really wanted to go or not and I came up with the thought that “as far as it would enhance my education, so what?” I felt surer when Donald said he had gotten a ticket for both of us. “If I’m not to go then I wouldn’t get such a favor”, I told myself, I felt justified by the action I was about to make.
I was super ready by 10:00pm, I tried to be simple with a red gown just a bit above my knees, the encouragement I received from Tara and Ay cheered me on. I got there at about 10:48pm; the party was just getting started. I got off the cab and met with Donald who was waiting for me with my ticket. I was gleaming with smiles not until I got into the bar and bumped into Temi. She was so shocked at seeing me, it could have been normal but she was shocked negatively and said, “why didn’t you tell me you were coming, in fact why did you come…” as she was about to continue her speech, her family friend emerged from behind and called out to her, “Temi where have you been? And what a beautiful friend you have, won’t you introduce me to her?” Temi replied saying to me that it was Dare, her family friend. Faster than my shoes, I introduced myself and like it was all planned, he said, “Good job Temi, she’s here, Temi told me a lot about you and I’m sure she did about me, we have a lot to talk about don’t we?” Temi was somehow left out of it and he managed to corner me to a VIP lounge separated from the party. I felt very comfortable, asking questions after questions, when the party was over, Dare took I,Temi and her boyfriend to a hotel; I felt comfortable since she was there, she was the only one who knew I was still a virgin but she didn’t utter a word throughout. I gave her a pinch occasionally at least to say a word but she didn’t utter any.”