You were very happy when you checked your yahoo mail at the little cyber-café beside your house. Everyone at the cyber-café congratulated you on your successful admission into the University. You had originally chosen Medicine and surgery; your childhood dream profession, but you were offered pure and applied chemistry instead. That night, you were treated like a queen. Your parents and siblings congratulated you. Your mother even gave you the reserved chicken lap for dinner. It used to be sacred to you and reserved for your father and visitors. Your younger sister envied you as you tore the chicken lap with your sharp yellow canine teeth. She soon began a leg fight with you under the table. You only smiled in return.
In the little weeks that passed before the resumption, you were told exciting stories about the university from your friends elder brother. He told you that there were no school uniforms, no teacher would flog erring students, and no-one would query you if you decide not to go to class. For those moments, university was like to you the way Biafra was like to the Igbos. You were very happy with the unlimited freedom you were about to have considering the fact that you were only sixteen years old.
That night before you left for school, your parents counselled you after dinner. They told you to face your studies and not to mix with useless bastards who would want to get in your pants. All their advice were not new to you. They had become the song your mother sang wherever you helped her in the kitchen. The politics your dad talked about when he finish watching the daily evening news on TV. That night you slept very little. You woke up in the mid-night and kept re-checking your maroon coloured portmanteau. You checked for the pink blouse you brought in Katangora market a day before, the dried stock-fish mama Ngozi gave you, and the charger of your new chinco blackberry phone. There were enough frivolous activities your tiny restless arm fuelled by expectation of dreams made you do.
You didn’t forget the tears on your younger sister’s face when the bus left the car-park. Your mother travelled with you on the long five hour journey trip to school. Your mother told you that you were to stay with the daughter of her friend. You got to the university and your mother stayed with you till she saw the lady you were to stay with. Everyone stared at you as if you were a green alien from Mars. Even the gateman at the campus gate did the same. Maybe they wanted some of the dried stock fish and grinded egusi seeds that protruded from your hand-bag or the palm-oil bottle that you struck in the outside pocket of your back-pack.
The lady showed you around; the central library, the motion ground, the faculties and the sport complex. You especially love the round structured senate buildings that she boasted were the finest in the country. That night, she took you to Facebook to buy akara balls and bread. You were perturbed on why the place was called Facebook and she told you anytime you pass that area anytime of the day, you were sure to see someone you knew.
Settling in the university wasn’t as easy as you thought. The lectures were stressful. You had to receive it in a 1200 capacity lecture theatre. Proper lecture began by 8am, but there were students who made it to the theatre as early as 5am. When you got to the hall at 7am, it was already half filled. Your short-sighted eyeballs made it difficult for you to see what the lecturer was writing on the small white-board in the front of the lecture theatre. You got frustrated and you walked out. The chemistry practical was in the same way. About 250 of you had to squeeze yourselves in an ill-equipped laboratory that can barely contain 100 students. Everything was small; the acid and bases were limited, the acetone wasn’t enough, the oven was too small to contain even 1/4th of the glass wares the class needed, the retort stands were old, rusty and few. The only thing in excess was the distilled water that ran through the rusted pipes above the laboratory.
University life didn’t seem to be all bad when you witnessed the rag-day celebration by the final year students. Also the day the etisalat promo train came to your school with Terry G; you were amongst the numerous students in your school open field that danced to the rhythm of his free madness song.
University life didn’t seem too bad after all. So when your parent called you, you told them about the magnificent structures in the school, the expanse sport complex and the well paved roads. You didn’t tell them that the hostel you live in doesn’t have a toilet and you had to shit in nylon and flung it over the fence. You didn’t also mention that the act is called shot-put. You didn’t tell them about the overcrowded halls and the lazy lecturers who never came to class. You didn’t also tell them about your new boyfriend who own a Toyota Yaris car.
Your new boyfriend took you to many wonderful places. You went on dates and balls almost every week. He was very nice and didn’t look like the useless bastards who would want to get into your pant that your parent warned you about. After a while you began to miss classes. Then it became frequently. You became more confident about missing lectures when your boyfriend told you that students who do exceptionally well weren’t the ones that attended class and read their book, instead the exceptional student were the ones that slip a brown envelope filled with crispy naira notes across the lecturers table. All seem to go well until a weird night.
That night came. You never understood what happened that night. All you knew was that you went with your boyfriend to one of his friends party. It was bubbling like “bubbllinna” and you were dancing salsa with your boyfriend when you passed out. You woke up beside him with your body covered with a sleeping wrapper. You were petrified when you looked around the room. You saw on the chair undies that resembles yours. You raised the sleeping wrapper up only for you to discover it was yours! Your boyfriend later told you that you fainted during the party and as a first aid procedure; every tight cloth had to be removed from your body. Days passed and you never discussed anything about it again.
Exams were getting close. You didn’t have a 75% attendance in the courses you registered for. That was a real problem because it was a criterion for writing the exams. You were able to get over that by giving your class representative a thousand naira note. Though he resisted at first, you were able to crack him by giving him a peck while squeezing the money into his hands. He helped you mark the attendance till you attained an 80% attendance. You also collected his note to make photocopies. When you pick them up to read, the words looked like they were written in an extinct language, because they were too strange. You knew you could not pass the exam. You run to your boyfriend and he assures you he would see the lecturer-in-charge and that you should proceed to write the exams. That was truly the last time you saw him or heard his voice.
Months later, news began to filter in that EFCC raided some hostels a day before and that they arrested many internet fraudsters. You later learnt your boyfriend was among them. They even told you that he was a top ranking member in the Machismo cult. You began to shiver. In time, you noticed that you haven’t seen your period even though its two weeks past the due date. You had no prior knowledge on what disappearance of periods meant, so you asked the lady who stayed in the adjacent room to yours. She told you “disappearance of period was the aftermath of sex”. The answer seem strange to you. After all, your mother hated when the word sex was mentioned near your ears, she told you it was a word used by prostitutes. From her you had learn the mind view of what a prostitute should look like- ” a lady wearing mini-skirt with excess of makeup and a constant moving jaw chewing gum…”
Time soon turned to be the real enemy when your advisor called you the following day. Soon, you were seated in his office. He told you his usual long student sermon before he handled your semester result to you. You gently opened the folded paper to reveal the information it held. All that could be heard afterwards was your geysers of tears gushing out behind the closed doors.