FRIENDS…the one word which encompasses a lot. Family, acquaintances, business partners, even strangers can be grouped as friends. But there are friends; and there are friends. Some just answer the name while others are the real deal. Remember, a friend bails you out when you land yourself in trouble but a true friend would be right beside you, saying – “That was fun!”
I’ve been lucky enough to have friends who’ve turned family, friends who never questioned my judgement, friends that have always been accomplices in whatever offence I’ve had to commit. I know I’m nowhere near perfection but these people saw beyond that.
On days like this, I really have no inspiration to write anything. I’m just vague. But, the memories with my crazy friends keep me going. I stay fully entertained in my head; just remembering all the ridiculous stuff we’d done together. I just don’t know how we ever found ourselves in such situations.
We were still students, probably broke. No! I remember vividly, we were bleeding broke. My school had just turned 50 and they were marking their silver jubilee in a grand style. They had so many of their alumni come in to commemorate the event. They hosted a couple of events – fundraising dinners, long speeches …there was even a carnival and a show for students where artistes were invited to perform. It was insane! It lasted for a whole week. Those are probably my best memories from school.
But still, we hated our school. Not the campus and student life though. We hated the location of the school – the dead end of a ghost town. We hated the Vice Chancellor who had put a ban on all social activities within the campus, for fear of his own security. The Bible didn’t lie when it said “The evil man runs when no one chases him”. The VC was that evil man. He banned every form of student gathering except church. He demolished our eateries, salons and the students’ meeting point. We had nowhere to converge at night in our bum shorts, to tease the male population. We had a 9pm curfew…in a federal university! It was plain ridiculous. We were harassed by the additional security men, placed at strategic points within the campus. He just killed our social life. It drained us. It was that much of a big deal. It left us depressed. Many students resorted to drugs and alcohol. My friends and I sought solace in alcohol at first. But soon, we were becoming addicts. We needed to stay high. It wasn’t good. We needed that steady groove gotten from weekend party-hopping. There’s something about seeing fellow students coming together to blow steam. We had it no more. We craved it. We missed it like air.
My friends and I have always been the type to do exactly what we felt like doing at any given moment. But we were dead-ass broke. We wanted to have a little fun. We were bored and wanted to chill. We couldn’t travel. We couldn’t eat any of our normal delicacies and junk. We were so stuck in the dead zone we called ‘school’. It was almost depressing. We’d just converge to a spot and gist about possible chykers and the clichéd guys’ antics. We soon got bored of ourselves…and along came a savior. He came in the person of my friend – Belle’s ex-boyfriend. His name is Phil.
Belle and Phil were dating before I came into the picture. But from what I had managed to cull, he cheated on her because she was a ‘small girl’. I’ve always been friends with young achievers, people who never see age as a limit. Well, they broke up and she suddenly grew. He no longer saw her as a kid. He was all over her, trying to lure her back into a relationship. His offences were innumerable. He got her a used phone and passed it off as a new one, claiming she ought to be grateful. He made their relationship a common topic for his friends. He was just nonchalant, beguiling her with things she wanted to hear. It’s safe to say that his ‘small-girl’ excuse was the straw which broke the camel’s back.
Like I stated earlier, they had broken up before I came into the scene. So, Phil was introduced as ‘The Ex’ to me. Belle never denied still liking him, but she didn’t want a relationship anymore. She was contented with having him around, ready to do anything for her. That’s why he was our savior at that time. His timing was just perfect.
Phil was a graduate, though he had some ‘issues’ peculiar to my university. He was often around to resolve these issues. I saw a lot of him…and his friends too. My bad, but they were not a nice bunch. They were always gossiping about whose girlfriend they were shagging, or who had the most money, or who could smoke the highest wraps of weed, or drink the most bottles. I called them “gossip boys” and avoided their company. But Belle liked Phil though he was her ex. I’m Belle’s friends so I had to condone the gossip boys.
Phil’s presence usually made a difference, judging from the fact that he had just ‘issues’ with his results and he didn’t have to attend lectures like the rest of us. So, whenever he came in, he’d book a hotel room and literally chill. I remember going there often after lectures because the hostel life never appealed to me once he was around. He and his ‘gossip boys’ were a total relief.
Well, that darned weekend, we were broke and bored; probably hungry too. And Phil arrived. The enthusiasm with which we packed our bags and got to his room was epic. He didn’t mind. He liked the female crowd. He even had an event to attend that night. His uncle had just won the post of a local government chairman in the just-concluded elections. So there was a party to celebrate his success. Phil had his own cut from the rally and he was glad to throw it around. Our weekend was made!
That night, we prepared and giggled plenty. It felt like being sucked out of a dark hole. We didn’t mind where we were going as long as we had fun that weekend. Phil left us in the hotel room at a point. He had to check the venue out. Remember how I’ve often reiterated that my school is located in a dead zone. The venue was about 15 minutes from the campus. It was just far! So when he left, we got restless again.
We took a million selfies. We made a whole lot of noise along the corridor and we must have roused a couple of other guests with our giggles. We were just hyper-active. A man was coming up the stairs when he saw us; or rather when he saw my legs, because we were on short dresses and he kept on complimenting my legs. He introduced himself as Mr. Emeka. He had an American accent. He looked quirky with a lot of lost teeth and the remaining ones browning. He didn’t look shabby yet something seemed phony about his accent and his looks. He had a piercing way of looking at people. He was direct too. His first words to me were about my legs and how they could comfortably wrap around a lover in bed. If I were to be fair in complexion, I’d have flushed crimson. Thank God for this dark skin. He made us really uncomfortable with his compliments and perverted smiles. When he asked for Belle’s phone number, she didn’t hesitate. We just wanted to be away from him. He left and not long after, Phil called us to meet him downstairs so we could leave for the party. We totally forgot about Mr Emeka and his weirdness.
The party was a blast. It was full of old men looking for ‘fresh meat’ to take home that night. Trust campus girls not to give up on a chance to make some cool cash that night. They were everywhere; including people I know. It was hilarious watching them trying to act prim and proper. Most of them avoided my eyes. I was just being friendly. I just wanted to say ‘hi’. Something struck me that night. The way they clustered around with one person doing the negotiation reminded me of slave trade. It’s usually the most connected who herded the pack; acting as the emissary and making the deals for the night. The rest seemed intimidated. They couldn’t dance. They couldn’t even eat the small chops and cakes that were being passed around. They were drinking like they wanted to be numb. I felt sorry for them but what could I do? Any hustle na hustle. We are not all privileged.
I pigged out on all the cake and small chops they declined. I think I took a lot of champagne too. At a point, I became loud and reckless. I walked up to one of the girls I knew, even as she avoided my drunken gaze. I tapped her and hugged her tight. With my slurred speech, I made fun of the whole party especially the men and their conquests. I must have been very insensitive as she was quiet and kept smiling. I attracted a lot of attraction but Phil was my immunity. He kept on telling people that Belle and I were already taken. He lied that I was for his uncle. I made us leave early. Blame it on the alcohol.
I passed out as soon as I got into the room. It was pure bliss.
I was roused from my slumber by Belle who was screaming my name; if not, I wouldn’t have woken up till noon. I woke up to see her freaking out. Mr Emeka was calling incessantly. I had totally forgotten about him. I remembered the night before vaguely. I dunno how much I drank but I was so glad that my head wasn’t banging. I was still feeling fuzzy when I grabbed the ringing phone. I momentarily saw Belle’s eyes widen as I picked the call. I had no idea of what I wanted to say. I just wanted to stop Belle from screaming and freaking out. Still sounding drugged, I growled into the phone. Mr Emeka was full of apologies for waking me up. He was obviously assuming that I was Belle. I just had to play the role. He wanted to know our room and if we’d had breakfast. Then, he gave his room number, asking that we ordered breakfast and sent the bill to his room. If I had been feeling sleepy before, that cleared the last dredges of sleep. I suddenly realized I felt ravenous. It seemed like the alcohol had eaten up my insides. I grinned and my voice became lighter. I wasn’t growling anymore. I demurely asked for his room number and thanked him profusely. Belle was watching me with a bemused expression. She didn’t understand my mood swing.
Once I ended the call, I felt alive! I stood on the bed and started dancing; or rather hopping and singing in my off-key high-pitch voice. Let me give you a recap of the events that whole weekend. Remember we were bleeding broke with no hope of fun before Phil came into town. Fast-forward to just 24 hours after that, I had had the time of my life at a party which most girls found uncomfortable, I had met a weirdo and this weirdo offered us breakfast. Now to the breakfast part, I was dancing because it’d have cost me my whole week’s pocket money to pay for that. It was too much of a treat for the broke kid I was for that weekend. I explained the whole situation to Belle. She was skeptical. Typical of Belle. She asked why he couldn’t just drop the money, what if his room number was fake, how would we pay up if he wasn’t there. She reminded me of how weird he seemed the night before. I didn’t blame her. The consequences of our actions whether good or bad, as long as it involved Mr. Emeka would land solely on her. She was the one who’d caught his eyes. He wanted Belle to order the breakfast. I don’t think he even remembered my name.
But as I’d normally say, “hunger is a driving force”. I ruled every negative possibility out of my mind. My only defense was that he just met us, so he’d still be trying to impress. It sounded logical to me. It must have sounded the same way to Belle too. She gave up and let me make the order. I felt like the lady of the moment. I relaxed on the bed, with feet crossed and feeling really pampered; I ordered two plates of fried plantains with omelets to go with coffee and PLENTY milk. The hotel management told me that it’d cost extra for the milk and I curtly replied if I asked for the price. I had been given the express order to eat anything and these people wanted to kill my vibe with the price of milk. I felt disgusted.
The food came in no time and I gave the room service guy the supposed room number of Mr. Emeka. I dug into the food and watched Belle pick a piece of fried plantain. She was obviously thinking. I was thinking too – thinking that once I was done with my own food and she was still picking hers, I’d ‘help’ her with hers. I must have been starved because in no time, my plate was empty. Belle had finally managed to drink a black cup of coffee. She didn’t touch the milk. She was avoiding the whole tray of food like it was plagued. Then, there was a loud knock on the door; the type only the person you owe money knows how to do.
Belle’s eyes widened and she smirked. I assumed it was Phil. As I stood up to open the door, all of Belle’s reservations came flooding back to me. I couldn’t help it. I held my hopes up that it’d be Phil. I opened the door and the room service guy stood there, looking livid. He told me the room number I had given him was unoccupied. I let him come into the room because I suspected he’d raise his voice. I imagined other hotel guests poking their heads out of their rooms to see who had lodged but couldn’t pay for meals. I was still trying to rearrange the look on my face not to mirror my feelings when I heard Belle’s voice right behind me. I had no idea that she’d moved to see who was knocking too. She calmly asked how much the bill was for one plate and two cups of coffee. It took me some time to assimilate what was happening. I had ordered two plates and two cups of coffee. Why was Belle asking for just one plate’s price? My eyes strayed to the bed with my empty plate with pieces of omelet, to my lukewarm coffee laced with triple potions of milk, to Bella’s empty coffee cup…and to her barely-touched plate of food. Then, it hit me. She was going to return hers.
I was still trying to assimilate what was happening when I heard Belle telling the room service about her early morning running stomach and her loss of appetite, thus she couldn’t eat. She was turning on all of her charms and pleading with the room service. I watched in wonder. The only people who’d ever managed to surprise me are my friends. So, while I was wolfing down my meal, Belle was hatching up a plot, just in case her fears were confirmed. I looked on as the room service mumbled something about his ‘oga’ and the meal being prepared on demand. I could see he was begrudgingly giving in. I don’t think Belle was seeing that. She must have been too busy trying to save face to notice. I also noticed her phone had been ringing incessantly too. It was a strange phone number. I ignored it too and joined in the pleading. It was outright demoralizing. He must have been the one who’d told me about the added amount for the extra milk because he made continual reference to that. I felt thoroughly embarrassed. Belle kept casting me sidelong glances that spoke volumes. Somehow, I wished the room service wouldn’t leave because I dreaded being alone in the room with her. It was that bad.
The phone was still ringing. It had gotten pesky. I was back to my grouchy mode. I picked it off the bed and growled into it for the second time that morning. It was Mr. Emeka. I felt weak with relief as I sank into the bed and softened my voice. I was practically whining when I told him of the room number incidence. He apologized and requested that the room service guy came back. I was filled with bravado again. I ended the call and told Belle to stop pleading as it wasn’t necessary. Without much ado, I sent the room service guy off, back to Mr. Emeka’s room. This time around, he didn’t return.
Belle wolfed down her own food and we kept on recounting the incident amidst laughter. We showered and prepared to leave the room when Mr. Emeka called again. I had taken to picking his calls so Belle didn’t budge when she saw the caller. I picked the call and cooed into the phone. I was in a lighter mood. He still apologized for the incident and asked if we could meet him in his room. We were idle so we agreed.
Mr Emeka is WEIRD! He was all over Belle and singing my praises at the same. He just couldn’t believe that we were with him. He made us accompany him out. In the car, he told us of how he was around as an alumnus and he had been enduring a boring week before he met us the day before. He made us spend the most of our day with him as he regaled us with stories of his glory days as a student, how he went abroad to study and got his white girlfriend pregnant, how she kept the baby, would never speak to him and how she poisons the child’s mind against him. He was married to another lady with two kids. He lives in America with his family though he came back with his two sons. He wanted them to get a feel of where he had spent his formative years as an adult. He gave us his life history in such a way that we considered too uncomfortable. He revealed too much information. In between his narratives, he’d hold Belle’s hands and talk of her fair skin and her beauty. I found it absurd how he could be talking of his wife and family and simultaneously be paying compliments to Belle. He must be a crook.
At a point, he stopped the narratives to tell Belle that whoever she was dating wasn’t up to the task. He was too direct. He spoke of skin exfoliation and beauty spas and designers labels for her. I give it to him, he’s sleek with words. I was glad I wasn’t Belle at that point. I’d have given in to his advances. Belle stayed strong, just smiling and removing his lingering hand from her body.
Suddenly, he asked me of my age. I was almost sure he didn’t talk to me. I had been pretending to be deeply engrossed in my phone while I listened to him talking to Belle. He asked again in a loud voice. I was 17 at that time. When I told him, he looked pleased…really pleased…maybe too pleased. He abruptly told me that I was exactly who he was looking for. I imagined he wanted a threesome. I was planning my retort already when he started talking of his 16-year old son who he’d want me to meet. I told you Mr. Emeka is weird. What sort of father match-makes his 16 –year old? Well, to me, it was better than having a threesome or some other dreadful thing. I wasn’t ready for what he said next.
He went on and on about how his boy was all grown and built as he was the captain of their rugby team, how he was getting scared of the boy’s maturity and the way girls were all over him. Long story short, he wanted me to be the first girl his boy would have. Sounds cool, right? But, Mr. Emeka wasn’t talking of dating. He was talking of sex. He wanted me to ‘disvirgin his boy’…those were his words. He talked about my legs again and how he’d love to have his boy feel them wrapped around him. He told me that I looked experienced and he wouldn’t mind it if I was the one to break his boy into the world of sex because he didn’t want the boy’s first sexperience to be a nightmare. I was stunned, discussing how to fvck the boy with his father. He was offering anything I wanted. Now, remember I was still broke. It took my whole willpower combined with God’s grace, together with that of all the angels and saints; for me to tell him that I’d think about it. My excuse was that it was too sudden, that I’d love to wrap my mind around the idea so as to give his boy the best. Belle gave a similar excuse too, something about just meeting him. He was happy with himself; with pending replies from two females for both him and his son. He chattered on excitedly about other random things. I was lost in my thoughts. Bella laughed dryly every now and then. She was distracted too.
When he dropped us off at our hostel, we came out of the car dazed. We thought of our very existence that afternoon. At a point, I just hugged her without words. I didn’t want to cry though I wasn’t happy at all. I was just confused. I knew Belle felt the same way. We hugged for a while in total silence. When we drew apart, she smiled at me weakly and told me it’d be fine.
We then proceeded to edit Mr. Emeka’s number on her phone to “Pervert Don’t Pick”. He called incessantly the next few days. He was acting desperate; sending innumerable text messages too. After a while, he stopped calling. We assumed that he had travelled back to America with his blue balls. I won’t deny that the offer was tempting. It’d have been me and his son. But then again, I thought of how his son would recount his visit to Nigeria. He’d have obviously tagged us a country with numerous teenage girls waiting to give young boys their first sexperience. And nothing would have been able to wipe that thought from him; after all he’d experienced it firsthand.
In the end, I was glad I didn’t give in. Good riddance to bad rubbish.