“I can’t believe we’ll be leaving this school in a few weeks, seems like only yesterday we were naive freshers” Monisola sighed deeply and pondered for a few moments before she added “Time really does move quickly”
“Undisputably so…” Esther agreed. She stared at the ground thinking of all her travails in the last few months, it had threatened her graduation, but here she was about to graduate. She had never felt so happy in her life.
“I hope we keep in touch” Monisola smiled, there was a hint of sadness in her eyes
“We will, come on. Besides you’re going abroad for your masters programme, so I should be the one telling you not to flake on us” Esther said and Monisola sighed before saying “I wish I could promise that won’t happen, but you never know”
“Yes, I understand. New scenery and everything. Well at least you’re being honest, but I promise I would keep in touch, I’m ethernally thankful to you and Anita for standing by me” Esther squeezed her hand
“You’ve thanked us enough, you could do me one solid by accompanying me to engineering faculty, I want to see my cousin” Monisola folded her hands together, pleading with her to say yes
“Right now?” Esther asked and Monisola nodded.
“Let’s go then” Esther got up from the bed and Monisola followed suit happily.
At the engineering faculty Monisola’s cousin, a tall lanky male fresher was waiting for her in front of the faculty library. According to him that was the easiest place to locate him.
“I didn’t know you were coming with someone” He said shyly
“This is my roommate and friend Esther. Esther this is Tobi” Monisola introduced them
“Hi Tobi” Esther smiled at him, he stretched out his hand to shake her and she accepted.
His palm was moist and Esther figured he had just washed his hand. She tried to withdraw her hand, but he held on to it a little longer, smiling down at her.
Monisola noticed the lingering handshake and tactfully separated their hands.
Tobi was still staring at Esther and Monisola cleared her throat loudly to grab his attention.
He looked away shyly and Monisola silently chuckled.
“He has to show me something. Do you mind waiting here for us please?” Monisola asked Esther
“No worries” Esther said
“No, she can come with us, I don’t mind” Tobi took a look at her and quickly averted his gaze
“Really? You’ve forgotten what you want to show me?” Monisola gave him a questioning look , like a coded reminder of something only the two of them knew about.
“Oh!” Tobi said abruptly having decoded the message. He turned to face Esther and said “Please wait here, we would be back soon, please don’t go anywhere” He said quickly as Monisola pulled him away. Monisola waved at Esther before they disappeared out of sight “I have nowhere to go” Esther mumbled to herself as a response to Tobi.
She reached into her pocket for her phone and her eyes dilated as she realised she hadn’t taken her phone from the bed.
She was going to be bored standing alone and she had no idea how long they would be gone for. She frowned a little and stared into space.
“You came all the way to my faculty to find me, I’m touched” a baritone voice said behind her, it sounded vaguely familiar, she had heard the voice before. She curiously whirled around to see the face behind the voice and in front of her stood Bamidele, the guy she had met on the night of the finalist party. He was smiling at her and she stared at him both shocked and pleased at the same time. She suddenly lost her speech
and managed to say “Sorry…?”
“I remember telling you I’m in chemical engineering” He said smoothly.
Esther composed herself and said “And somewhere in your head you think I was listening to you that night”
“Ouch” He laughed before he said “Something tells me you were, else you wouldn’t be looking at me like you’ve just seen a ghost”
“Maybe you have that effect on a lot of people” Esther said and bit her lips hard, it came out awfully wrong and sounded better in her head
“I would take that as a compliment” He smiled broadly
“It’s not a compliment” Esther flushed and looked away
“Either way I’m glad you took me up on my offer to do this again, I see you’re in a better mood today” Esther looked at him, deep down she was happy to see him again.
“Yes well I’m almost out of this school, that’s something to be cheerful about” She told him.
“That’s true. I’ve been here five years so I know the feeling” He said
“Five years course, figures. The extra one year seems like torture to me” She laughed.
He raised an eyebrow before saying “Wow. I would really love to see you as a medical student”
“That thought would remain in your head where it belongs” Esther grinned at him.
“What’s next for me is NYSC. Well hopefully…
I’m done with clearance and I was finally able to get my statement of result after much hassle, you know the usual stress pattern, anyway I’ve applied at the student affairs to be included in the names to be considered for NYSC so I’m keeping my fingers crossed at the moment” She added. He hadn’t asked her, but she told him. If felt easy talking to him and she wished Monisola and her cousin wouldn’t return back anytime soon.
“I’ve done the same thing, hard luck, but if chosen hopefully we end up in the same state” He said
“Hard luck indeed……” Esther sighed beside herself, she hardly knew this boy standing in front of her, but for some reason she didn’t want to stop talking to him. She thought of the first time they had met, he seemed oblivious of her. As unlikely as it was is there a chance he didn’t know about her scandal? What if he knew about it and was still talking to her? Esther quickly dismissed that thought as impossible. He wouldn’t be talking to her right now if he knew about it, unless he had a game plan. Esther frowned at that realization.
“Can I have your number meanwhile?” He said interrupting her thoughts
“No you can’t” She said flatly
He appeared surprised at the change in her countenance.
“Um..did I say something…wrong?” He asked looking confused
“No you didn’t, I would rather just be left alone” Esther answered and glanced at her wristwatch. She was all of a sudden impatient to leave. Where was Monisola anyway? She would hate to leave her behind without prior notice.
“I’m sorry-” He began, but Esther cut him short
“Don’t apologize when you didn’t do anything”
“Ok I’m a bit confused here, is there something I’m missing? you’re suddenly cold” He looked truly confused, but Esther felt it might all be a ploy. He was more or less a stranger to her after all. She felt like asking him questions that were baffling her, but she remained silent, staring at him with uncertainty. She couldn’t let herself be hurt again so she ignored his question and chose to walk away from him instead.
She walked as fast as she could unsure of where she was headed, but all she knew was she needed to get away from him.
She stopped when she was a safe distance away from him and rested on the pillar beside her, breathing heavily she fought back the tears that was starting to form in her eyes. It dawned on her the scandal might always hang over her head, preventing her from having normal conversations with other people without her being at alert and extra sensitive about their motives. As much as she enjoyed conversing with Bamidele, she was sceptical about his intentions. She might be wrong about him, but she didn’t want to find out.
She convinced herself she made the best decision for her well-being. She was still in the dark about who had drugged her and posted her half nude photo online so she needed to be extra careful and not let anyone or anything jeopardise her future.
“I’ve been looking all over for you” Monisola appeared moments later.
“Um, me too” Esther said
“Why did you leave the library front?” Monisola asked and Esther paused. She couldn’t explain what had happened with the guy from the party, Monisola might not understand her inhibitions.
“I just needed to stretch my legs” Esther said instead
“You were stretching your legs where you were, just say you were doing some sightseeing, I hear engineering boys in this school are good-looking” Monisola winked
“I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t on the lookout” Esther said drily
“Why do you sound that way? So sorry I delayed. I got held up and I made sure Tobi didn’t come back with me much to his chagrin. I think he has a little thing for you. Poor boy….” Monisola raved on, but Esther wasn’t really paying attention to her, she thought she had seen someone that looked like Bamidele a distant away, but maybe it was just her mind playing tricks on her
“Let’s just go” Esther said sadly
“Okay and stop looking that way” Monisola said as they left the faculty.
Esther didn’t want Monisola blaming herself for her sour mood so she cheered up and they chatted all the way back to the hostel.
The next few weeks was spent rounding up, saying goodbyes and moving out of the hostel.
On one of those days she had imagined Bamidele approaching her and saying “So you were going to leave without saying goodbye?” In his smooth baritone voice
She would then be all smiles and reply “No way”
Her imaginations never happened because she never saw Bamidele again.
Anita was the first to move out of the hostel and all three roommates said their goodbyes in tears with everyone promising to keep in touch. Esther was the second to move out, leaving only Monisola in the room. Esther had wanted them to leave on the same day, but Esther’s parents had come to pick her a day earlier. There was tight hugs, tears and promises as they baded each other farewell and Esther was overjoyed she scaled through against all odds.
While at home, Esther’s name appeared on the NYSC eligible list and she allowed herself think about Bamidele for a moment, remembering when he had said he hoped they’d end up in the same state. She wondered if she had misjudged him back then or if she had been right to walk away from him.
As she packed her bags for NYSC camp she hoped there was a slight chance they would be in the same state. It was an almost impossible hard luck, but it didn’t stop her from wishing nonetheless.