Esther had woken up the next day, unsure of where she was. She looked up and saw a familiar ceiling fan rolling in the centre of the room, her eyes diverted to the side of the room where Monisola’s eye-catching aesthetic wallpaper stood. She was in her hostel room and on her bed. She tried to get up and felt a slight pain in her head. She moaned softly, holding her head in hand.
“You’re up! Thank God! You had me scared for a minute there” Anita’s happy face greeted her
“Yes….l.. wh-at happened last ni-ght?” Her voice was shaky as she stammered
“I don’t think we should talk about that right now. You need to rest, I got you some pain reliever and panadol. You’d eat first and use them” Anita rushed to serve her scrambled eggs and bread, placing it on a tray. “Here, eat”
“Thank you….” Esther half smiled, accepting the tray from her.
“I’ll go get you chilled water downstairs” Anita dashed out of the room, leaving Esther to herself.
The events of the night before started to play out in her mind. She remembered dancing and feeling a sudden migraine. She had walked out of the lounge and then the rest of the details was all hazy and muddled up in her head.
Anita’s entrance back into the room interrupted her thinking.
“Make sure you finish that food” She tried to sound authoritative.
“I will. Can we talk about last night first?” There was urgency in Esther’s voice
“As soon as you finish eating, using your medicine and relaxing. I don’t want you worked up”
Esther frowned a little then continued eating.
She ate the food partially and reluctantly swallowed the medicines Anita had gotten her.
She hated medicines, she was one of those people that preferred getting injections to swallowing pills.
“I’m done, thanks for these” Esther smiled
“Of course, you still have some leftovers on your plate,but I’ll let that slide. So about last night” Anita began, there was an awkward pause which Esther broke
“Now you’re scaring me…” Esther’s face showed worry
“Don’t be. You passed out in front of the lounge last night. One of the lounge attendant called our attention to you. Said a drunk girl was asleep by the side of the road”
Anita swallowed then continued “I and Temi brought you to the hostel. Esosa was nowhere in sight”
Esther pondered a bit before she said “A drunk girl? I wasn’t drinking. Where did that come from?” There was a bewildered look on her face
“That was the same thing I told the attendant, but I was barely sober so he didn’t believe me”
She frowned and added “I’ve been trying to think of a best possible explanation since last night and I came to the conclusion it’s most likely stress. You’ve been stressing out a lot lately, with the project and everything, plus I stressed you with my birthday” Sadness clouded her face
“Hey, don’t do that. It has nothing to do with you. I feel better so don’t worry. You’re right about the stress. I’ve been doing overnights at the library. I guess I need to take a break” Esther stared at the egg leftover on her plate, then looked back up at Anita” A day or two break at least” She added
“Not when I’m here, it’s two weeks or nothing” Anita hissed and Esther laughed
“That’s too much haba, my project won’t work on itself, speaking of which where’s my bag?! I was holding it last night! My laptop is in it!” Esther’s eye’s widened, worry lines descended on her forehead as she got up from her bed abruptly
“Sit your buttocks back down, your bag is beside you” Anita chuckled, Esther’s face flew to her bed and there her bag laid, unscathed.
“Jeez. Why didn’t I see that” She shook her head in disbelief
“Grandma” Anita chuckled again before saying “If I didn’t know any better would have said you passed out due to pregnancy” Esther threw a piece of egg at her as Anita’s throaty laughter resounded in the room
“Too much fun last night huh. Your hoarse voice tells it all” Esther said
“What can I say, I’m guilty as charged” She grinned. There was a knock on door and Anita made her way to open it. Monisola appeared, saying hello to them.
“Um I have to go mark attendance for us both, you know how particular that lecturer is about attendance” Anita tells Esther a while later
“I’m leaving you in safe hands with Moni here”
She waves at them on her way out the door.
“So how are you feeling? I heard what happened night” Monisola asked Esther.
Esther was surprised at her question.
Monisola usually kept to herself most of the time.
“I’m fine, thank you” She replies with her best smile
“I’m glad to hear that” Monisola returned her smile “Have you been to the hospital?” She asked
“Hospital? No don’t think I need to…or what do you think?” Esther asked
“I think you should go, just to be on the safer side. You don’t want that sort of migraine reccuring again do you?”
Monisola had a point, she had never experienced such head pounding migraine before until last night. She also recalled how drowsy she felt before she passed out. There was probably more to her migraine and she needed to find out.
“Thank you, I’ll go dress up now and visit the school clinic” Esther stated
Monisola gives her a thumbs up and continued arranging her clothes.
At the clinic Esther waited her turn before she was attended to by a young male doctor. She explained in detail to the doctor what had happened to her the previous night. The doctor suggested he run some tests on her which she obliged to. After the test she sat in the waiting room for her result.
She was called back in to meet the doctor a while later.
Esther’s mouth opened with shock, she listened mystyfied as the doctor explained to her there were traces of hypnotic drugs in her system.
“Wh-at…..?” She managed to say when he was done explaining. He repeated himself while a baffled Esther stared blankly back at him, her face filled with terror and fear.
He asked her a few more questions which she unintelligibly answered.
“It was wise you visited the clinic, you were at the wrong place last night I’m sorry to announce to you. I understand how you must be feeling and I wish I had more light to shed on this. ” He Said empathetically
He wrote a prescription for her and asked her to return the following day.
Esther sat rooted on the spot, unable to move till the next patient came in.
The doctor’s statement played in her head continuously on her way back to the hostel.
She couldn’t fathom what was going on.
Who would do this to her? And why?
She laid on her bed confused, ignoring everyone that tried to speak to her. She was too shocked to speak, too perplexed to react.
The next few days were worse, She had many unanswered questions.
When was she drugged? Was it the bar attendants or the good samaritan that had given her water? The lounge had a dim light and she was so thirsty she hadn’t taken a second look at what he had given her. How unwise of her. Who was he? She couldn’t remember.
Anita blamed herself for what happened to her, “I shouldn’t have thrown a party, all of this wouldn’t have happened, it’s all my fault, I caused this , it’s all me” she said numerous times.
Esther was a shadow of her old self, she couldn’t bring herself to get out of bed and attend classes. She was a walking confusion.
She knew she was drugged, she wasn’t raped according to the doctor, so she wondered what it was that was done to her while she was passed out.
A few days later she got her answer when a half nude photo of her surfaced online. It was a headless photo, but Esther’s school ID card was placed conspicuously on her bosom before it was snapped. It was later taken down by the perpetrator, but people had already saved it on their phones, making it go viral in school.
Esther remembered she had gone straight from class to Anita’s birthday party, her school ID card and laptop were in her bag that day. That was how the perpetrator had gotten a hold of her school ID card and after the deed was done her ID was returned back into her bag.
She cried daily till there wasn’t any tears left to cry, her eyes were swollen and dried up from lack of sleep. She couldn’t be consoled by anyone. Day time was traumatic for her and night time was a nightmare. Everyday was unbearable for her.
On one of those days she got a letter delivered to her from the administrative office for violating a policy of the school. She was to face a panel a week later that would determine if she would remain in the school or be expelled.
Trauma and rage filled her, she felt like she was going insane. She rolled on the floor wailing at the top of her voice. Anita and Monisola held her she so she wouldn’t hurt herself
“Four years…four years…. for nothing” She cried aloud. Anita ran to lock the door and hid the keys so Esther wouldn’t go out the door and do something harmful to herself. Monisola held on to Esther while she wept, bitter, sorrowful tears. Her whole body and clothes were drenched with sweat, she couldn’t believe what was happening. The worse had come to worst.
Her two roommates spent the next few days comforting her and not leaving her side.
“You can’t let them win, you have to face the panel and explain yourself. You have to be strong” Anita told her.
Esther couldn’t have asked for a better friend or a better roommate, Anita and Monisola encouraged her, counselled her. They were both therapeutic for her, but most of all Esther comforted herself. She needed to be strong for herself and her parents. She needed to try her best to face this. She would endure it all if it meant she got to graduate. Her days of crying were over. She would not give up on herself.
Two days before she was to face the panel, she went to the hospital to procure evidence of her hypnosis from the doctor. There were stares and mumbles from everyone she came across, the new attention was one Esther disliked thoroughly. She tried her best to focus on what was important.
She would present her doctor’s report to the panel and pray they validate it. She held on to that hope as much as she could.
A day before her panel hearing, all three of them took a leisure stroll outside, Esther needed the air. Like the previous day people gawked at them, specifically at her.
Anita held her hand as they walked, her eyes telling her not to waver.
The next morning she was up as early as possible, prepared and ready to face the panel.
The validity of her four years at the school depended on this.
When it was time she presented the panel members with her evidence and spoke eloquently.
The panel members mostly had expressionless poker faces all through, their faces wasn’t a give away so she didn’t know what to expect from them.
She had broken down in tears that day after her meeting with the panel and Anita was there for her.
A week and half later she got a letter from the panel, a letter that held her fate at the school.
While Esther sat on her bed, reminiscing the events that had led to this moment, she stared at the letter in her hand and a tear drop from her eyes fell on it. She quickly wiped her tears and slowly opened the letter. Fear and uncertainty filled as her mouth flew agape, her whole body stiffened when she saw the content of the letter.