Laura was doing her make up in dim light in her room. It was 5 am and she had to be in school at 6am. Her plan was to eat breakfast and then walk to school in that time. She had a discussion group meeting before the 1st lecture at 7am. Of course, power was out as usual. Her rechargeable lamp was the only source of light. She hoped she would not end up looking like a scarecrow.
Satisfied with her efforts, she tucked her books under her arm, picked up her purse and locked her door behind her. Ikenna was her neighbour. He usually walked to school with Uche and her. This morning, Uche was absent as she was not part of the discussion group. She saw him locking his door as she stepped out and smiled.
“I don’t know why a young man like you cannot wake up early! You should have been waiting at my door, not rushing out with your hair uncombed”, she scolded lightly.
He put a hand on his head. “O! I forgot”
“Don’t bother! I have a comb in my bag. You can fix it while we walk to school”
Ikenna heaved a sigh of relief. Rushing to accept the comb, he joined her on the path to school. They lived in an off campus facility that was quite a distance from school. To save money, they trekked to school, then took a commercial motorcycle (bike) back. Flinching from the wet leaves brushing against their legs, they skipped the puddles on the footpath, as they discussed the events of the day before.
“Why did you tell Uche the guy asked you out?”, Ikenna asked.
“Guy, I didn’t know when it slipped out. All these teachings on faith…..”
“Ha! Blame it on Pastor Chuks!”
“No, really. He assigned that hunk of a greek god to me to follow up intentionally. The follow up coordinator was there, as well as several brothers. Why me?”
“So you saw it as a sign”
“But you need to see the guy! Handsome like……”
“I actually know him”, Ikenna interjected.
“He’s my cousin’s friend”
“And you never thought to introduce us?”
“See me O! Introduce, kwa! For what?”
“If you see something good, won’t you like it for your sister?”
“I wonder when my mother gave birth to you”, Ikenna mumbled under his breath.
“He’s not a bad guy but, I’m not sure he’s a Christian”
“I will convert him now! He will even become a pastor by the time I’m through with him. Put in a good word for me”
“But he has shown an interest in Uche”
“Uche has shown no interest in him. She has multiple toasters. Besides, she will feel guilty snatching him from me”
Ikenna fidgeted uncomfortably. “Can we just change the topic? Sometimes you girls think I’m a girl”
“O! Boy! Sorry O!”, she laughed. “How about that your babe?”
“Stop calling her my babe. She is a family friend. Her family told me to look out for her as she’s a fresher. I’ve told you severally”, Ikenna replied crossly.
“Why are you getting worked up? The girl hangs on your every word, stares at you like you’re a star, appears at your doorstep for no reason? You keep telling me nothing is going on”
“If you are jealous, say so”
“Jealous of? Please, I am only concerned for the poor girl. It is obvious you intend to remain girlfriend-less till you graduate. That was how you and Vicki lasted 1 month. What of Banke?”
Ikenna was mute. When she was in this mood, it was best to ignore her. He always wondered where women got their ability to talk from. They never ran out of things to say. Trying to keep up was futile. She noticed his silence and kept quiet.
“2 can play”, she thought. “Selfish somebody! I know how many times I’ve tried to hook him up with nice girls. He can’t even return the favour. Why exactly are we friends?”
They walked the rest of the way in silence. Soon, they were at their lecture hall. They spotted other classmates gathered at the back and made their way to join them. Already, Big J could be heard trying to dominate the discussion. He was a boisterous fellow, who took delight in proving just how many pages of the textbook he had read before others. Laura detested him. Moreso, because he had teased her once about being left Uche’s leftovers. The sight of him churned her stomach but, she refused to leave the group for his sake.
3 days later, Laura was having lunch at the cafeteria. Ikenna and Uche had gone to buy a textbook sold by their lecturer. She didn’t have enough money to buy hers yet, so she went to console herself with a plate of rice and stew. She was alone at the small white plastic table, left to her thoughts.
“Hi, Lily”, she heard. The booming voice sounded familiar. Her heart skipped a beat as she turned and saw the owner of the voice.