From a distance I could hear Tope shout my name as she kept talking not minding if I was in my room or not, “Ugo, at this point you have just two choices and I would not repeat myself after now. It’s either you change your hostel or you comply with these boys by changing your Department. You cannot keep risking our lives in this hostel while you’re trying to act like Wonder Woman. A word is enough for the wise, anyway these days I’m beginning to doubt if you are wise”. Before I could say anything to save myself, Tracey interrupted, “Ugo, regardless of all that is going on we are still your friends. It’s just that you are too stubborn and won’t listen to anyone who tries to save you from this mess. You know I can link you up with some of these big men in town who would protect you for the rest of your days in this school as long as you comply with them.
It seemed like a dream; could it be that all my friends have also ganged up against me? Immediately, I turned to Mirabel and asked her, “What do you have to say?” Mirabel held my hand and began to rub them so gently; I felt a sense of belonging that someone in this world still cares about me. She replied in the calmest voice I have heard in a long while, “Ugochi, I have always supported you since childhood and I won’t stop now especially at this critical period when you need me most, but I think you should listen to what Tope told you. She has a point and I’m sure that she doesn’t mean any harm. We all love you like our sister and we need to protect you, but we can’t do that if you won’t let us. You are risking our lives; all these threats from every angle makes it difficult for us to sleep with our two eyes closed, talk less of reading peacefully. Please for the sake of our friendship think about it”.
Tope increased the pitch of her voice as she tried to buttress her point, “babe, I’m sure you are not blind? Don’t you observe these things? Everyone is avoiding you; no one wants to end up on the hospital bed like that your dark-skinned guy. You are at that point where you have nowhere to run to in times of trouble. Can’t you see? It is you versus the school system, and evidently you cannot win this war.
The thought of Bayo flashed through my mind and I began to feel guilty all over again. I needed some fresh air; I had to walk out on the girls without saying a word as I could not possibly do what they were asking of me. It was the fastest way to kill myself. I walked out of the hostel with no idea of where I was heading to. Tope was quite right, I could see it that no one felt safe wherever I was. I saw the way people looked at me, how they murmured and pointed at me as I walked past them. I had become an outcast simply because I refused to follow the rules set aside by men. I walked to the school clinic to visit Bayo, maybe he would assist me in making my decision as I was almost giving up on everything.
I knocked on his ward and he told me to come in; I was glad that he was finally awake. “Bayo, I am sorry for everything I have put you through, I am beginning to think that I’m a cursed child who always brings bad luck to people around and people get hurt because of me”.
I was already sobbing as these words kept flowing out of my mouth. Bayo didn’t say a word until I had wiped my eyes and was silent. He didn’t like to see me cry. He pulled himself to sit up and told me to sit beside him as he began to speaking to me while he had a fixed gaze at me, “What next? Hey, it seems you are no longer the girl I fell in love with, you are beginning to lose yourself to their empty threats, don’t let fear steal your dreams”. He held my hands and tried to hug me but he was too weak to move any further. “Bayo, I am confused, it seems I am hurting everyone I have in my life. My friends are upset with me, I don’t even recognise those girls anymore; they already hate me. I think my dreams are selfish. I am putting so many people’s lives at risk because of my selfish ambition”, I replied.
“Ugo, Is that what you think? You think your dreams are selfish. Do you know the effects of your dream? You will inspire the world; you will give hope to every girl child. Every female will say ‘I want to be like Ugochi Ikechukwu’ you will be an icon, maybe a statue will be erected in your name someday”. This was the first time Bayo would call me by my name and it sounded so cool. I couldn’t hide my smile. He continued, “Success stories are like sweet music to the ears but gold has to pass through fire. Success won’t be celebrated if the path were rosy. Do not quit, remember why you began this journey. I will always be there for you no matter what happens. It’s fine if you don’t want to date me but I want you to know that I admire you and want to be your best friend”. He raised my chin and my eyes met his, I don’t know what force came over me as I hugged him, kissed his hand and whispered, “Thank you”. I never thought I would be friends with Bayo but now he has become my companion.
The tranquil moment was rudely interrupted by loud claps as we quickly let go of each other to focus on our uninvited guests. My heart skipped a beat at the sight of his draconian face masked with a theatrical smile. Behind him were four boys. His thick voice echoed Bayo’s name and Bayo replied with such serenity, “Eze!” Eze slowly dipped his hands into his trouser and brought out a black pistol.
I could hear my heart race loudly. What was Eze about to do? Did he come to kill me or he was here for Bayo? I couldn’t find any answers as Eze was very unpredictable. Immediately, I turned to Bayo in this queer moment but he didn’t seem bothered by the drama in front of us. Eze broke the silence saying, “I warned you, didn’t I?”
To be continued next Friday.
Written by: Ordeezy.
Photo source: Google Chrome Images.