1994/95 session, I was in 400 levels at the age of 25. My grade at the end of my third year was 4.76 CGP. I went down a little in my third year, but I was fortunate to have started up as a four-pointer from inception. I wrote to my mentor. He also had become a PhD holder, bagged his doctorate, and had become a lecturer at the prestigious University of Ibadan, the premier University. My letter to him was very voluminous. In it, I updated him with all that happened in my life over the year. His reply was equally voluminous with emphasis that I do not lose focus on my academic pursuit. Once again, I resolved to stay focused. I decided to start burning the midnight candle.
Well, on St Valentine’s Day, in 1994 at the bar, I felt the first impact of the love from cupid’s arrow. I was busy working at the bar at night. It was Val’s’ night and the number of customers that thronged in was overwhelming that we had to resort to “pay before service” basis. It was work from 2PM till the dawn of 15th February.
I was giving the balance of customer’s money. He had come to the bar counter to buy drinks. My eyes beheld her as she entered the bar. She stood at the door and looked around as if she was looking for someone. Something hit my heart, and it stopped beating for some seconds. “Jeez!” Was the word that came out of my mouth. The man I was giving change looked behind and saw her too.
“Biko, give me my change, barman!” He scowled. “You never see woman before?”
I gave him his balance. I did not know how much but he grabbed it and left with his drinks.
She looked around until our eyes locked. She smiled and glided towards me, swaying gaily like she was on a run-way. Her eyes sparkled like crystals as she smiled. She is about five feet nine inches tall; neither thin nor fat. She was perfect. Her breast was full and appropriate for her frame. Her curves were perfect in her fitted black mini gown. Her stomach was flat, and she had the loveliest legs on earth. This emotional confusion had never happened to me. I was still a virgin at 25. Though I had wet dreams and woke to meet sticky discharge in my boxers, I had never had sexual intercourse in my real life.
As she stood before me smiling, something moved in front of my trousers, and I had to move closer to the bar shelf to hide my bulging crouch. I could not understand what was happening to me.
“Hi! She said
“Hello!” I replied
“Please, I am new in town. I don’t know how you guys operate here, but I need a bottle of Heineken beer and some chops”, she said
I was breathing fast and was confused. So, I pointed at a lone chair and told her to go and sit.
“There! Someone will attend to you please!” I stuttered. “No! Sorry, please. You will pay here and collect your drinks. Then, you can go there and enjoy your drink”.
The smell of her cologne was mesmerising my senses as she opened her purse to pay up.
“Keep the change,” she said.
“No!” I said as I gave her the bottle of Cold Heineken beer.
“You said no?” She asked
“Yes!” I replied.
“No! Yes! What are you saying?” She asked.
“Sorry, I mean the change! I don’t want to keep your change”, I replied.
She laughed. My heart jumped. I was fighting to keep my emotions under control
“Why!” She asked. “You don’t collect tips here?
“We collect, but I cannot collect from you!” I said.
“Why is that?” She asked.
“Are you married, did you come here with someone? Are you waiting for someone here?” I asked all three questions together.
She laughed again and my heart almost tore through my chest. She did not know what her laughter was doing to me. I did not have any line to use on her. I had never wooed any woman in my life. This is when Godstime, my classmate, would have called me a “Jew man”.
“Please, I will bring your change to you. Go and sit there before someone else takes over the seat”.
She collected her drink and swayed towards the lone seat at the far end of the bar. The bar was dimly lit but she shone as she cat-walked towards the seat, making heads turn to stare at her. She was beautiful to behold from behind. The curves, the firm round buttocks, and the fresh long legs.
“Omo na wetin dey do you?” Emeka, my colleague, had asked
“Mekus! I swear I no understand wetin dey happen to me o! Woman never affect me like this before o! I don see babes tire for this hotel nah, but none dey like this one!” I explained.
“You sure say she no be hustler?” Emeka asked.
“She don marry?” I asked Emeka.
“Which kain stupid question be that? I sabi her before?” Emeka countered. “I beg attend to customers’ biko! See as your trouser don swell because of the girl”.
I cowered immediately. So, Emeka had seen it? I needed to stay away and calm down so my crouch could calm down also.
Numerous thoughts went through my mind. What could a beautiful girl like this be doing here alone? Perhaps to hook a man. I have been seeing girls come and go from the hotel, I have seen all shades of the female species but this one was unique. She was young, say between eighteen and twenty-two years. She said she was new in town, but how could someone new in town locate here of all joints in Owerri?
I opened a chilled bottle of Gulder beer and gulped straight from the bottle as I sat behind the bar shelf away from prying eyes. It helped me. The chilled drink sent charged sensations through my system, and I became calm.
I walked up to her and asked the kind of chops she would like. She requested for gizzards, and I told we had it hot and steaming. She asked for the price and I told her not to worry, I would take care of that. She laughed again and I felt that tingling sensation at my crouch again, I was in trouble.
I ran away from her and sent Emeka to take a serve of Gizzard in pepper source to hereineken beerhHkkk. I paid for the Gizzards immediately and gave Emeka her balance to give to her.
I attended to other customers while I stole regular glances at her. I saw different men approach her table and talk with her. I was always red with anger whenever anyone made her laugh.
I had seen men take single girls home every other night from this hotel, but it would kill me tonight if anyone should take this one home. Emeka saved the day.
“Omo, it’s like you like this girl”, he said
Yes Emeka! I said. “I never see her here before, but she dey make my heart beat to run faster!” I said.
“Okay, see wetin you go do ehn? Go upstairs, go change your clothes, and then go meet her. She must be a student. So, do not be afraid. Even if she be Ashawo, I never see her here before which means she no get customer for here!” Emeka encouraged me.
“I dey fear o! I never toast woman before o!” I said.
“My friend, wetin dey do you?” Emeka challenged. “You no be man? Go, abeg!”
He pushed me. I hurried out of the bar and changed into a pair of black jeans and red polo shirt. I sprayed my perfume “Tahoo for men” and quickly brushed my teeth before coming downstairs. As I approached the bar, Emeka quickly brought out a spare chair and placed it directly opposite the girl. She looked up as Emeka was beckoning at me to come and sit. She returned her gaze to her drink.
I sat down and said, “hi!”
“Hi!” She replied as she looked up into my eyes. She squinted and she looked towards the bar counter. She made a funny face as she peered into my face in the dimly lit room.
“Are you not…”
“The barman!” I completed.
“Have you closed for the day?” She asked.
“No! I am still on duty, but I need to speak with you”, I replied.
“Me?” She asked. “What for?”
“I am confused, I said.”Your presence is doing things to me that I cannot explain”.
She laughed again, displaying the most beautiful set of white teeth in the world. It was like watching Whitney Houston laugh.
“You are doing it again”, I said.
“What did I do?” She asked
“I don’t know why my beat skips whenever you laugh, and I was angry when I saw those guys coming to chat with you, and you laughed with them. Please don’t make me kill somebody. I could poison their drinks because of you”.
“Ha! Please o!” She begged.
“Can I get you another bottle of Heineken? I offered; the bill is on me!” I said.
“Hmm, it’s like you have some money to burn abi? You sent this plate of gizzard which your colleague said you have paid for and now you want to buy me another bottle of beer. I gave you a little tip, but you rejected it. Is this your own tactics for catching your babes here?” She asked.
“No!” I said. “You won’t understand, but please I asked you a question earlier
“I am not married!” She said. “I am a two hundred levels student at the Imo State University, IMSU. My hostel is close by; I just want to check this place out as I have heard a lot about it”.
“What course are you studying?” I asked.
“Mass communication”, she said.
“Hmm, that’s nice, you will be a beautiful newscaster, and so what is your name?” I ventured to ask. “And I mean your real name, please”.
She laughed once more, and I joined her. I was feeling free and lighter like some butterflies in my stomach.
“My name is Chioma”, she said. “And you, what is your name?”
“My name is Bolaji”, I said.
“Bolaji?” She asked. “Are you Yoruba?”
“Pure and applied!” I said. “I am from Ekiti state”.
“Wow! What brings an Ekiti boy to be working in a Bar in Owerri?” She asked
“Hmm, it’s simple! It is what brought you here that brought me too”, I said
“Are you in school?” She asked.
“Four hundred levels EE at FUTO”, I said
“EE as in Electrical Electronics?” She asked
“Yep!” I said
“It’s a lie!” She said
We both laughed out loud together, and at that moment, the General Manager of the Hotel walked into the Bush Bar. He looked around the bar and askedof me. I saw Emeka pointing at our table, so Mr Daniel came towards our table.
“Omo, how are you?” He greeted.
“I am fine, sir! Meet my friend, Chioma! Chioma, meet my Boss, Mr. Daniel, we call him Oga Dan!”
“Good evening, sir!” Chioma greeted.
Oga Dan greeted her, and they spoke briefly in Igbo language. She kept laughing.
“Omo, please take care of my sister o! She is from my State of origin o! We are both from Enugu state!” He said as he walked away.
“Your Boss is a funny man”, she said.
“What did he say to you?” I asked.
“He was praising you. He said this is the first time he is seeing you with a girl. He said you are very intelligent and the best in your department that you are a hustler and I should not lose you. Is it true?” She asked. “Are you the best in your department?”
“I can’t say I am the best! But I am not doing badly”, I said.
“Is it true that you have not been seen with a woman here before?” She asked.
“Yes!” I replied.
“And why is that?” She asked.
“Hmm, my story is a long one”, I said.
“I am all ears, tell it”, she said.
“Don’t worry, not today, but someday you will read about it. So, tell me about yourself! I continued; do you have a boyfriend?”
“Of course, I have many! I am a student, and there are boys everywhere around me, and of course they are my friends!” She teased.
“No, no! That’s not what I mean nah! I meant to ask if you are in a relationship”.
“You and your questions! First, it was if I was married, now it is if I have a boyfriend. What about if I said yes?”
“Then I would ask to be your friend, just friends! I replied.
“What are you afraid of?”
“I have seen a lot of things while working in this hotel that I would never attempt to take over another man’s woman. I wish to live long and whole”.
She laughed out loud. “Yoruba man! You people are cowards!”
“Thanks for the compliment!” I said
She laughed out loud again. “You are not even angry that I said you guys are cowards”.
“I started hearing that four years ago when I came to the east. You guys believe the Yorubas are cowards”.
“And what do you say to that?” She asked.
“You have a right to your opinion, my sister!” I said.
“I want to know your opinion about that my opinion”.
“You believed what you were told. We are all products of the environment we grew up. I also had certain opinions about the Igbos before I came down here, but my opinion had changed having spent some years here. Perhaps if you travel out of the east to the west and live among the Yorubas. Your opinion may change. But for cowardice, I would say that an average Yoruba thinks twice before going into a fight or a business. He weighs the risks and the consequences, and then decides if it’s worth it before venturing. We also have Yorubas who do not give a damn and plunge into danger and come out unscathed. So, it is relative, it all depends on your upbringing”.
“Hmm, man of wisdom!” She said. “I think you made a point there. Well, I was kidding, though. That is not my opinion, and I do not generalise”.
“So, back to square one!” I said. “Are you in a serious relationship?”
“No, sir! I am not!” She said.
“Thank God!” I said.
“Thank God for what?”
“At least I am not encroaching!” I said.
She paused a while before she said, “I was going out with a part 3 student last year, he is in part 4 now, but we are through”.
“What happened?” I asked.
“He is a womaniser and a cultist too! He has just been made the Capo of the Black Bats Confraternity in my school. I told him I needed to stay clear to be free from harm. It is dangerous dating such a guy on campus, you know?”
Wow! The Capone’s girlfriend? Yeepa! Mogbe? I exclaimed
“And what is that supposed to mean? She asked; you are scared already?”
“My dear”, I said. “To tell the truth, I would not like to be involved in any issue with a cultist o! I have heard a lot of sordid and terrible stories about their capabilities, let alone a Capone!”
She laughed until tears came to her eyes
“Chai! Onye Yoruba!” She exclaimed. “You are scared!”
“Look Chioma! You can call it whatever you like, but I am an only child with a complicated and disjointed family background. I have gone through so much in life to come and allow one cultist kill me over a girl on Campus!” I said.
“Which means you cannot risk your life for me?” She asked.
“Look! You are adorable, you are sweet, your beauty and mien have captured me, but I am not an idiot! Excuse me for a moment”. I said as I got up and dashed to the bar to get a bottle of Gulder the “Ultimate” and a bottle of Heineken the “Chairman” for Chioma. Emeka, my colleague, asked me, “Omo! How far nah? The Babe don fall?”
“Old boy! Wahala dey o!” I replied.
“Not all that glitter is gold o! I added as I collected the drinks and scurried back to Chioma. I opened both bottles and filled our glasses.
“Fear-fear Yoruba man!” She teased.
“No wahala! I agree”, I said.
“So, tell me,” she said. “Which Cult do you belong to in your school?
“I am not a Cultist!” I snapped
“Why are you so defensive?” She asked
“Defensive of what nah? I am not a secret cult member and will never be!” I restated.
“Well”, she continued. “I like cultists! I feel protected with them, and it is fun rolling out with them, especially when there is peace on campus”.
“Jeez!” I exclaimed. “You like Cultists?”
She laughed but the laughter had no effect on me this time around. My Gulder was making me bolder and more reasonable.
Okay, look at it from my point of view”. She took a long sip from her glass and gave out a slight belch, then continued. “When I gained admission into the University last year, I had so many toasters coming daily to ask for friendship. Even my roommates and hostel mates became jealous of the array of men that came visiting me in the room that I was warned by the leader of the Black Angels to reduce the influx of men to my room. She later asked me to join their clique if I must continue to do as I please in the hostel.
My life was so engaged with people that I almost ran out of school. The black brassier, the white Angels! The black Angels! And the Amazon Confraternities all wanted to recruit me. On the other hand, different shades of male cultists wanted to date me. In the second semester when the pressure continued, I had no choice but to give in to Julius popularly called “Major”. He was involved in school politics and an active member of the Black Bats. He happens to be a very charming guy, too, and he has his ways with the ladies. My relationship with him scared every other guy from toasting me. Both male and female. Did I tell you that I had female toasters too?” She asked
“How?” I asked.
She laughed. “Are you that naïve? Stop behaving like a Jew I beg! There are lesbians and bisexuals all over the campus that wanted to sleep with me also!”
“Jesus!” I exclaimed.
“Chai! Yoruba boy!” She teased. “Well, I like you sha! Your humility and your pure innocence appeal to me!”
“Please!” I said. “Please, don’t like me!”
“What is that nah? Don’t be a Jew, please!” She said.
“No! No! I want to remain a Jew!” I replied.
She laughed out loud and held my hands over the table.
“I was tactically pulling my hand from her grip when she gripped it tight and became serious”.
“Yoruba man!” She called.
“Bolaji!” I replied.
“Sorry, Bolaji cool down! What is your problem? I have not even told you half of my story, and you are scared already! Don’t you like me again?” She asked.
“No! No! No! I don’t!” I replied. “You are dangerous!”
She released her grip on my hand and recoiled. She sank into her chair and held her head in her hands. And the next thing I realised was that she was sobbing.
Now, I was more confused because I was looking for an opportunity to leave her. Her spontaneous change of character left me in dismay.
“What is the problem Chioma? Why are you crying?” The more I asked, the louder she cried. In order not to create a scene in the Bar, I pulled her up and led her upstairs to one of the rooms I had access to the key. She followed me quietly.
As I closed and locked the door behind us, she started to wail, and she cried. Then, she told me her story.
She was a product of a broken home; her father eloped with an Edo woman leaving her mother with her and her kid brother, when she was just seven years old in primary 3. Then, they were in Benin City, where she and her brother were born. Her father was a staff of Chevron Oil Company and was sent on internationalisation to the Middle East, which allowed him to abscond with her mother’s closest friend who happens to be her class teacher, Auntie Osas!
Three years later, her mother relocated to the east, Enugu. She got a job as a secondary school teacher at Ekulu Girls secondary school Enugu. She later became the mistress of an Enugu based millionaire, who built a bungalow for her and took over the responsibilities of her elusive husband.
When she was seventeen and awaiting the result of her JAMB examination, she took a part-time job as the secretary to the mother’s man friend.
She lost her virginity to him inside his office, on his desk. He had made her drink some whiskey while waiting for the rain to subside after the close of work on a Friday evening. He gave her some money the next day and made her promise not to tell her mother.
It became a regular occurrence as he took her along on all his travels, exposing her to people and places of importance both home and abroad. She had all the good things of life plus a very fat bank account.
Things changed when her mother was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed international airport for drug trafficking by the NDLEA. Her sponsor was her millionaire man- friend, and he was subsequently arrested. Both were sentenced to forty years jail term each and were currently serving.
She had to sit for another JAMB examination as she did not follow up on her admission two years before her involvement with her mother’s man. She had a lot of money saved in her bank, and she could take care of herself and her younger one.
When she gained admission into IMSU, she faced a lot of challenges before finally settling down for Major simply because she wanted protection.
“Please don’t hate me! Don’t be scared of me! Is it because I told you the truth?” She asked. “I never knew you before today, but I felt as if I have known you for ages and that was why I spoke freely with you. I felt I could confide in you that was why I told you about Major not because I am proud to be dating him. I have never been in love. People have been taking advantage of me and I had no choice than to turn such opportunities to my advantage too. I am not a bad person, though I have been spoilt and pampered with money. I drink, smoke, go clubbing, but I can change! I promise you. I can change!
She clung tightly to me as she buried her face in my chest, crying. I held her close for comfort and kept patting her back and encouraging her that all was well. She slept in my arms that night. I could not sleep. I was torn between two worlds! Confusion and fear!
For me, I had no father, and my mother was somewhere in Lagos prostituting. I was in school by my own effort and here was a girl I just met and fell for. Her father had run away, and her mother was in jail. She was in school by her own effort too. I thought like terms, they say, repel while unlike terms attract. The two of us should not be together!
As I looked at her face as she slept soundly with tear-stained face, I felt pity for her. I imagined the frankness and openness with which she spoke.
And I said to myself, “here is another victim of circumstances that have adapted her circumstance to her own favour! Here is another survivor!”
Thus, I resolved to be with her, with the hope that she will change for good. To bid time, I picked up a textbook and began to read. I did not go back to duty.
Early in the morning, I woke her up with a kiss on her lips; she opened her eyes and saw me. She yawned and called my name and smiled. Then, we kissed some more. I was inexperienced. She was experienced. She felt for my hardness and held on to it. I was on fire!
“Relax!” She said. “Just relax! I am not running away. Try to be calm! Breathe in and out. Breathe normally,” she instructed.
I tried to breathe normally but could not. I was breathing like a leaking hose. She sat up and removed her clothes slowly, all of it! I almost had a heart attack. I had never been so close to a naked woman, let alone in the same bed.
I hurriedly took off my clothes too. I had problems removing my boxers, but I eventually did, with her help. I happened to be heavily endowed down there, and she was shocked at the size and thickness of my hardness as she held it in both hands. She took my hands to her bosom.
“Play with me!” She said.
I remembered some erotic movies I had seen. I knew what to do. After a while, she stopped me, pushed my head up from her bosom, and she asked, “Bolaji! You have heard my story, are you going to be there for me or you are just going to take advantage of me?”
What a question at such a critical moment? What was she expecting me to say?
“I love you!” Was all I could mutter as I dug my head back to business.
“Are you sure? She asked.
“Yes! Yes!” I replied as I kissed her all over.
“I love you too!” She replied. “I have never told anyone that.
She then spread out and guided me into her. She held her breath as I slowly pushed into her inch by inch until I was fully buried inside her. She wrapped her legs around me and pulled me closer. Then, she whispered into my ear, “You are so big! I love you”.