Thank God I am sitting at the back of the class. The lecturer won’t see as I bang my head repeatedly on the desk in front of me. One of my friends, Anu is staring weirdly at me but I ignore her. I am going to hold on to my last shred of sanity, thank you very much. My other friend isn’t even looking at us. She is seated next to Anu and is staring straight ahead at the lecturer.
Bang, bang, bang.
Bang, bang, bang.
She passes me a piece or paper when she realises I’m not about to acknowledge her.
I read and look at her. I shake my head in the negative and continue banging my head making sure not to arouse anyone’s notice.
“That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. As you all know this topic is important so put it in that part of your brain that stores for a long time. Any questions?”
“Nooooo.” The class choruses.
“You are all deceiving yourselves.” He says as he always does and walks out of the class. I have not raised my head from the table but I see him clearly. In my head. I’m sure he is walking out with that telltale limp through that particular door and the class rep is chasing after him because he has forgotten again, to give him the handout for the lecture.
It’s as if Anu is waiting for him to leave because she grabs me immediately and pulls me up. “Did you even listen to any part of the lecture?”
“Did you even listen to any part of the lecture?” I ask the same of her. I’m the only one that can gives as good as is gotten from her.
“I know something is wrong with you.”
“I will tell you but it’s going to blow your mind.”
“You sound so sure.”
“Okay. Here goes.” I look about her to see if I’m carrying Tito along too but she is not even anywhere to be found. I guess she has gone to reserve a space for photocopying the handouts.”let’s wait for Tito.”
“Aha. Nawa o. She is not even curious or concerned about you. She has gone after what she is more concerned about. Why do I have to suffer for that?”
“So waiting is now suffering?”
“Well when it comes to the gist behind banging your head throughout an hour lecture, it is torture.”
“Feyi.” I hear and turn towards Priye. Oh my God, I totally forgot about him. I was supposed to go see him at the hospital. “How was the wedding?”
Anu turns to me, eyes shining with wonder. “Someone is sure keeping secrets.” She mutters.
“Fine. I’m sorry I didn’t come and check you in the hospital. I have been swallowed up by a lot of things.”
“It’s alright. I should be the one apologizing for disappointing you and probably disrupting your plan.” He says then clears his throat. “So… How did you manage to get there?”
I know the question he really wants to ask is if I went with another guy. I’m tempted to taunt him a bit. I look down at his right leg in a cast and think better of it. “I cajoled baba Muri.”
“That man can die for you o.” Anu says jokingly and I smile at her. Priye ignores her completely. I think Anu has a tiny crush on him but ironically, he can’t stand her. Life is a pot of beans filled with unreturned love. Sometimes, Anu just likes taunting him. “At least, we are sure of his faithfulness.” She eyes Priye sarcastically and brings out her nail file.
“Priye Whatsup now?” Tito asks as soon as she gets back, her hand wrapped around three handouts and second one mopping sweat from her forehead.
“I’m alright.” He replies, smiles stiffly and turns to me, expectant.
“What?” I ask, quite not comprehending. Oh. “As I said earlier, he took me there, I had fun and came back home. Nothing eventful.”
“Oh my God, Priye! What happened to your leg?” Tito asks as she reaches us.
“A minor accident.” He says as he shrugs it off.
“Well, get off of it then.” She admonishes and takes her seat.
“I’m okay.” He says to her then turns to me. “So, it was uneventful?”
“What’s going on here?” Anu looks up from her nail and gives us brief glances before returning to the nails.
“I guess I will see you later.” He says and leaves.
“Yeah.” I say and smile. He prances off.
“Okay.” Anu says excitedly. “He is gone. She is here. The gist!” Her eyes are eager.
“Okay. So this Saturday…” I begin but get interrupted by students scrambling to their seats. “Errmm..”
“We can continue. Just write and pass to me. We will go back and forth?”
“No.” I mutter as I fish for my note.
“We are continuing it later.” She says as the lecturer enters the class.
I give her side eyes and pick up my pen.
It is a long boring lecture; my mind keeps wondering. Honestly, I don’t know how I maintain a first class 4.85CGPA. Which reminds me I have to call my dad. We have a quiz and soon, the lecturer is out of the class. Tito makes to stand up but Anu grabs her hand.”Wait. Feyi has correct gist for us.”
“Really?” She asks looking at me. A little deets on Tito. She is a fragile person from a bourgeoise family. She doesn’t really know about life even though she is in her mid twenties. She feels that life is just black and white. Prolly because she has been sheltered all her life. She is the most serious student of the three of us but has the lowest CGPA. She is the most unassuming adult I have ever met. I still wonder what she is doing here. She is what the indigenes like to call ajebo. She has the face of an aristocrat to boot even though it’s not nearly as pretty as mine. She has this strong aquiline nose set in an almost too oval face but what her face lacks in shape, it makes up for in texture. Her skin is not of this world. Her stature is bourgeoise too… Lol… Thin… What whites would call a fine bone structure. She has a Spanish look that says Hi! I’m not from here. When we first became friends with her, I used to tease her that she should ask her dad if she has Spanish ancestors or maybe caucacoid. Anu used to tease her that why her her parents asking if wealth is enough because of her name Bolatito. I just shake my head and laugh. She used to get upset about our gibes but then she got over them.
“Yes. I do. You guys probably won’t believe like you haven’t really believed for the past few years.”
“Here we go again.” Anu says, rolling her eyes. Anu is who we can call a pretty lady with a solid body. She isn’t thin but not also as thick as me. She is somewhere in the middle. I can confidently say she is the smartest of us all even though her CGPA is at an average but I think she is just too lazy to read though. In fact, she is the smartest person in our class. She doesn’t have to hustle so hard or read that hard to even maintain her CGPA. She has a secret that she keeps from us. Like a major secret. Something she absolutely doesn’t want us to know about. What with the way she disappears for days and goes travelling every other day. Tito and I have deliberated on it and we think she has a kid somewhere because we couldn’t think of anything else that would make her travel a day before exams. It has to be a child. “Don’t tell me this is about Tom Stiles again. WHAT? You saw him in your dreams? News flash! Everyone does!” She shakes her head and sighs in pity.
Okay. Maybe she is not that smart. I think resentfully.
“Anu let her talk. I’m sure she has something important to say.” Tito says and I pass her a grateful smile.
Anu sighs again. “Okay. Let’s hear the gist that has nothing to do with him then.” Sometimes, I wish she was not so…
“With who?” Tito asks.
Anu sighs, long and deliberately, so wanting us to be aware of her frustration. “I may kill this girl someday.” She mutters under her breath. “Let’s just hear the gist, Tito.”
What is he doing in Ife? Seems so whimsical and out of the ordinary.
“Tom stiles is in Ife.” I say rapidly before I can change my mind and concoct a long story for them instead.
“I knew it!” Anu says simultaneously banging the table with her hand. I pat the table gently. Poor table.
“Tom is in Ife?” Tito speaks slowly, as a person speaks when realization and verbalization occur simultaneously.
“Yes. That’s wht she said.” Anu says with an air of great patience. “Are you sure…” She is saying but I have zoned out completely.
I think about him and my ridiculous grin refuses to subside. It keeps creeping across my face, unbidden and disconcerting, as I recall our various conversations and when he touched in the restroom and how he looked at me at the entrance of the hall. Maybe? Naaa. No.
“Well, I’ll be damned.” Anu says with complete disbelief. Disbelief that my words were actually true after all.
He is here.