“Mara, see me after the class,” said Mr. Ethics “but you should come alone.” He concluded the last part of the sentence with his index finger standing while the rest clutched at a red mini towel that he used as handkerchief. Red was also the colour of his bowtie, but with white polka dots. The tie contrasted well with his white long sleeve shirt and a pair of black trousers.
“I am supposed to be at the clinic by then,” said Mara. Her eyes looked as if she was lost in thought.
“I will not detain you forever.”
Some other students exchanged glances at hearing the Relativity lecturer’s order. They were used to stories of teachers demanding sex from students. It was usual for lecturers to make pass at students. A lecturer could even collaborate with his colleagues to ensure that the female student that turned down his sexual advances never graduated until she yielded. But a stickler for morality like this lecturer, who had lost his real name to Ethics on account of his principle, could not be accused of immorality. He had defied seduction attempt from a lot of beautiful girls in highly provocative wears. Yet the invitation could not be spared the motive of most of its likes: sex. Reason? Most “see me in my office” orders had turned out to be “let me sleep with you”.
Mara was not new to challenges. She had two permanent ones to contend with: her legs paralyzed by a poliomyelitis attack at the age of four and her sight lost to a mysterious ailment four years later. In spite of them she went through primary and secondary schools with impressive results.
Her principal’s admonition to her to always be self-reliant strengthened the confidence her stellar performance gave her. Therefore, she passed on all the offers of helps she received from members of staff and fellow students. Rina, her course mate, only got the nod to help her navigate the numerous busy roads and drainage channels on her way to lectures and the university library. All other things she would do her self. So, going in to Mr. Ethics’ office alone was no problem to her.
“Have we got to the foot of the stair to his office?” asked Mara
“Yes,” Rina answered “but do you really want to go alone?”
Mara lumbered herself off the wheel chair held by Rina and groped with her right hand. “Where is the first step?” she asked.
“It is here, not there.” Rina put her hand on it. “Do you think it is safe to go alone? Em .. the man may try to do something funny.”
“Funny?” Mara asked.
“I mean what if he attempts to rape..”
“Come off it! Let me go alone.”
Rina kept quiet. She knew her friend’s anger when it came and knew that silence was the best way to curb it. She took her bad temper for a result of her disability and , therefore, overlooked it.
She watched Mara crawled up the stair with her pair of drained legs in shorts with knees padded in tire made shoes while her short-strapped bag dangled from her neck like an oversize pendant. Those two tiny legs are enough to neutralize the attraction her voluptuous torso may invoke in any man, she thought.
As she got to the landing, Mara thought it was very wrong to read negative meanings in to every gesture. If the man’s order had nothing to do with sex, she would ask all the voices that had told her to handle the lecturer well to go and apologize to him. She then moved on, a step at a time. She would feel for any obstacle before pulling herself forward.
That was how she entered the corridor of row of offices where Mr. Ethics’ was. The peculiar smell of the Relativity lecturer’s perfume guided her to his office. She knocked on the door, and it creaked. She could not see ahead, but noticed a faint uneasiness in the voice that welcomed her. It was shaky.
“Come in. The.. the way is clear”, said Mr. Ethics.
“Why must I go in farther? I have taken three steps already,” she said.
He didn’t expect her assertiveness. He got the jitters.
“Why did you close the door?”
She said this with her eyes looking wildly at the direction of the last step she heard.
“ I .. emm.. only didn’t want any body to ..to eavesdrop to our discussion.”
“Then why are coming close to me?”
He fondled her chest in response to the question. Then she used the only weapon she had. She started screaming.”
Having heard her friend’s cry for help, Rina made for Mr. Ethics’ office. She must be there before she is raped. Her silence after two shouts for help troubled her. She kept hoping upon hope that the man had not penetrated her.
He pushed the middle of his mini towel in to her mouth and tied its two ends behind her head.
As she flailed her hands trying to hold him, he slapped her and peeled out her V-necked navy blue T-shirt. She cupped her fingers around her bra. He pealed off her blue shorts without hindrance. He tied her hands backward with a piece of rag. Sweat had covered his bald head and forehead, and he was trembling with desire.
He didn’t notice that her crotch was a little distended. He pulled down her panties with his right hand and held off the hand she deployed to stop him with the other. A sanitary pad stared back at him. This made him paused for a while. If she was menstruating, it was not safe for him to sleep with her. Then an explanation came to his mind. It was just a ploy. The girl had anticipated forced sex. She only used it to discourage him.
He pulled off the pad and stopped short. He wasn’t prepared for what he saw. They were like worms.
“Maggots!” he said with surprise. Then the desire that possessed him released him. He became sober almost instantly. In disappointment he untied her hands and dressed her back. As he was un-gagging her, Rina rushed in.
“What happened?” asked Rina.
“It was em.. nmm . indiscretion,” said Mr. Ethics.
Mara’s palm caught his face thrice in a feline fury. “The bastard wanted to rape me,” she said.
He retreated to a safe distance and said “I am sorry. It was just the first time I gave in to the temptation to try what has become normal here. It will not happen again.”
Rina was already leading Mara away before he finished his explanation. They went without heeding him.
Mr. Ethics bemoaned his predicament. He imagined in advance how he would become a subject of gossip and innuendos in the university. His mind’s eye saw cartoon of himself in the school newspaper and soft sale magazines operating outside the school. He felt he couldn’t bear such a fate. Suicide and resignation options were not open to him because of his motherless children studying abroad.
He decided he would plead with her to keep the incidence to her self. If she didn’t, he would deny her report. He was likely to be believed since his uprightness was known to all in the school.
“ Miss Mara Bara, how did banana get in to you?” asked the doctor on duty at the University clinic.
“Feel free. There is nobody here. Be assured that whatever you tell me will be treated as a top secret.”
Mara felt assured. “I was trying to emn.. You see, some times you don’t get what you need. I was trying to use the banana to escape desire when it broke in me.”
“You should have come to the clinic to get you it washed then.”
“I was ashamed.”
“Ashamed to ensure your personal safety? If you had waited a little longer, the maggots of the decomposed banana would have done a lasting damage to your body. By the way, masturbation is not good. It has negative psychological effects. So, avoid it.”
“What is your friend’s name? Call her.”
Mr. Ethics kept stealing furtive glances at Mara at her usual front row seat in the lecture theater in the following relativity lecture. Though he had pleaded with her and she had promised not to expose him, his mind was not at rest. Human behavior is not predictable, he thought. But he had to avoid provoking her in to singing.
Therefore, he readily granted her permission to answer questions once she raised up her hands. He did not contradict her answers even when they were wrong.
She raised up her hand at the tail end of the lecture. Mr. Ethics gave her permission to talk.
“Come over. I want to tell you something.”
He obeyed her. “Here I am.”
“Bring your ear close to my mouth.”
He did so to the surprise of the whole lecture theater.
His ear could feel the touch of her lips now.
Then she whispered “Rapist!” in to it and buried her front teeth in to his earlobe.
Mr. Ethics yelled, broke loose and scampered off for safety looking back at her in terror with his hand on the bleeding ear. The students looked at the drama with expectation of what Mr. Ethics would do to Mara that had assaulted the principled lecturer.