‘When Seun resolved to teach Professor Oloruntoba a bitter lesson for sexually harassing her, little did she know that she was about throwing a pebble into a stream of evils!’
Seun walked along the culvert, heading for her department, Theatre Arts. She was obviously lost in thought. She didn’t see Femi, returning from a TDB session, coming straight towards her. He deliberately bumped into her. The small black bag she was holding leapt unto the tarred road, with her 3310 Nokia phone ripping apart. Thankfully, it was a rugged phone that had survived many falls. Just like her.
‘Oops! A penny for your thought’ Femi quipped, picking up her fallen items.
‘No, two knocks for your mischief’ she answered gleefully, aiming for his head. Femi dodged swiftly.
Having collected her bag, she recommenced her journey. She had learnt how not to bother people with her problems. She had learnt how to smile even when she was grieving to the bone. Not even Femi, her closest friend, could be let into her miserable world.
The bag she now held firmly in her hand brought back torrential waves of her past. It was her bag! The product of her sweat! Seun was the third of four children- all girls- born into the family of Dr and Dr Robinson. Though an average student in school, she displayed lots of wits and intelligence in social affairs. She was the clown of the house and the jester at school. Things took a sharp turn for her when she sat for her first UTME and performed woefully. Her next two attempts yielded worse results. Then, her mum began comparing her with Sola, her younger sister, who wrote SSCE at SS2, cleared all her papers, with 7 distinctions, and passed UTME as well. Her ranting went on ceaselessly: ‘you eat too much’ ‘you play too much.’ Once, a tumbler fell off her hand, her angry mum fired ‘you are such a dullard!’ It was a slip. She later apologized to her, with painful regrets. But Seun had been taught in church that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And she believed it.
She made it on her third attempt and got admission to study Theatre Arts at the prestigious University of Oduduwa, Ile-Ife. She took to business, selling bags. That way, she became self-reliant. She collected nothing from her parent, aside school fees. She had cut them off her life. But she got her life back on track, with the many practical sessions and drama staged. She was the toast of many. Her lead role in Yemoja endeared her to many students. But it also endeared many lecturers to her. They wanted a piece of her. But he refused them all. They gave her marginal scores that affected her grades. She cared less. She knew none could fail her. She knew she would make it. She knew it…until Prof Oloruntoba returned from sabbatical leave. Prof, who was more powerful than the HOD, supervised her project. She couldn’t get Chapter 1 approved till the deadline for submission passed. She was gifted an extra year. And now with first semester of extra year almost over, she was already sinking. She knew it.
Seun went straight to the Association of Theatre Arts Students’ Press office. Chuks, the Editor-in-Chief was at the entrance waiting for her. He handed the midget tape recorder she had requested for to her, without much ado.
‘I owe you.’ Seun whispered, showing off her sparkling white set of teeth. Chuks had done the unethical, turning in Press’ property to a non-Pressman. But even though Seun is not a pressman, she is a depressed woman, he reasoned. I’ll do this over and over again. The law was made for man, and not man for the law. Chuks had a diploma in Psychology. Unlike others, he could see beyond the facades of her smile.
Seun took the stairs to the fourth floor of the department. She checked her time. It was 7.25a.m. Perfect. She checked the midget’s cassette to be sure it was rightly inserted. Good. She tucked it into the front pocket of her jean trousers, and pull down her black tee-shirt to conceal it. All set. She walked with determined pace towards the right wing of the floor. She stopped at the last door. On the door was inscribed Professor O.O Oloruntoba. As she made to knock, the door knob turned. A plump lady walked out sobbing. Tears streamed freely down her face, dropping in turn on her exposed bosom. She recognised her as Adaeze, a very fair-complexioned and attractive girl who once said to her: as long as my nipples are not out, I care less. If guys can flaunt their chest, what’s the big deal in flaunting my cleavage? ‘Latest fish’ she muttered. Unwilling fish.
Olu walked in, expecting the usual warm hug from his wife, Agnes. It was their 4-year old daughter, Teniola that greeted him welcome. She wanted to grab the briefcase he carried but it was too heavy for her.
Agnes sat at the dining, with her head on the table.
‘Didn’t you hear me knock? Did you not hear my footsteps?’ Olu queried, in his thick baritone voice.
‘Agnes, I’m talking to you!’ Still, no response.
‘Agnes!’ he shouted. He was by her side now.
Agnes raised her head. Her eyes were swollen and reddish. She had been crying.
‘Professor Olu Oloruntoba, you are such an idiot!’ She grabbed his tie and pulled him to herself. She raised her hand to hit him but he got hold of her hand. As Prof struggled to get away from her, Teni said ‘Mum, dad, why are you fighting?’
Prof was rattled. He had forgotten she was there. He managed to get loose from his wife, and picked up Teni. ‘Oh no! Dad and Mum will be fine. Now, come, its past bed time.’ He took her up to tuck her in.
On his return, Agnes appeared calmer. ‘Darling, don’t lets…’Prof started.
‘Just shut up and sit!’ Agnes said firmly. He sat. It was then he caught sight of a tape recorder close to the cutlery holster. She pressed the play button.
‘What exactly do you want from me, sir?’ Seun said.
‘You’ll have a second extra year the way you’re going’ Prof retorted. ‘Why are you so stubborn?’
‘I…I…I’m a virgin’ Seun stuttered.
Prof roared with laughter. ‘Then my mum must also be a virgin! Common!’
‘See, I’m very gentle at it. I use condoms too’ There was scorn in his voice.
‘My first and only sexual intimacy must be with my husband.’
‘Your first and only! First and only! Get out of my office!’
Agnes stopped the tape.
‘So, this is how you ruin young girls’ lives? Will you be glad if an old fool does the same to Teni, our daughter? First thing tomorrow morning, I’m going straight to pastor. You are not fit to be a deacon. Get ready to face the congregation on Sunday. We’ll deliver your body to Satan for the destruction of your flesh that your spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, my dear old fool!’ Agnes resumed crying.
Professor’s face was expressionless. He took off his pair of glasses and placed it carelessly on the table, something he rarely did.
‘Agnes, let’s be civil about this. Don’t add to my pains’
‘May you die of pains! May you never know peace!’
Prof sighed. ‘Well, I never wanted to say this. But I guess I must, now. Teni is your child, not mine.’
‘What the hell do..’
‘I couldn’t have fathered Teni’ Prof interjected. ‘I did vasectomy after we had Tayo!’
7.30am, two days after, Seun was again in Prof’s office.
‘You may think I’m devil incarnate. You have a right to think so.’
Seun didn’t blink. Yes, that’s who you are. She could as well talk back in her mind.
‘I used to have a happy home and a lovely career. I was a mentor to young girls like you. My students took me as their father. We thrashed their private struggles together, until…’
Until you gave your soul to the devil. Seun thought.
‘Well, until evil crept in.’
We’re saying the same thing.
‘I had two children: Tade and Tayo. Tade, my boy lost his life on the way to Niger state, where he was to report for NYSC camp. He had first class in philosophy. He was a product of Oxford University.’
Poor soul! Hope he was not a pervert like you. Else, he’ll rot in hell.
‘Two months after, Tayo was raped, right before my eyes. The bastards told me to watch while they took their turns. Four of them. Tayo begged me to save her. I couldn’t.’
Seun was close to tears now.
‘Seun, you know what? Tayo was a virgin!’
‘Hell no!’ Seun muttered, mouth ajar. She cupped her mouth.
Prof stood abruptly. He fetched a bottle of whisky from the fridge close by, gulped some, returned it, and resumed his seat.
‘We found her lifeless body dangling loosely, with the rope of her window blind tied around her neck, and attached to the fan in her room. That was three days after the incident.’
Tears streamed down Seun’s face. She wiped it with the end of her shirt. Prof handed her a white handkerchief.
‘Agnes, my wife, was also raped that night. We thought she had reached menopause. We never bothered to check. I had sex with her before and after. But I know the pregnancy isn’t mine. Teni isn’t mine. Teni is a bastard!’
Seun was wailing now.
‘Seun, I had vasectomy after we had Tayo. She wanted a third child, I didn’t. I never told her.’
‘I’m sorry. I’m so…’ Seun’s voice trailed off.
‘I allowed bitterness to rip off my soul. I was desperate to produce many Tayo’s. I was a fool. I…Seun!’ He cried out, holding his chest fiercely. He slumped.