Madamidola Oladele shares a moving story of love and an ill-fated experience.
Ouch...! A sonorous voice rang out from behind. It was followed by screams, yells and torrent of abuses on the offender - a young chap who probably did not even realise he had stepped on another's toes. She ranted and ranted and ranted, but got no 'sorry' for her efforts. Series of thunderous hisses soon followed. When it seemed the other party took no cognisance of her, she annoyingly resumed the chewing of the gum suspended in her mouth.
Barely five minutes later, there was a strong push from the front of the queue stretching and bending endlessly. He stumbled backwards and hit the offended young lady from behind.
"Sorry" he muttered as he struggled to regain his balance.
"Oh! so there is 'sorry' left in your mouth" she remarked as she weighed and sized him up with her eyes rolling from side to side.
"Excuse me! Are you by any means talking to me? he asked as he turned to face her.
"Yeah" she retorted.
"What! What for? I didn't hit you on purpose, you know. The push came from the front, as you obviously saw yourself."
She looked at his tall figure repulsively and added:
"Please, spare me that look. I know your type too well. You stepped on my toes minutes ago without budging. Now you're feigning innocence."
"Oh! So it was me you were wetting with abuses like a plant in need of water. I didn't even realise I had stepped on you. Sorry in arrears then." he responded calmly and repeated his 'sorry' to appease her.
Finally, she laid the case to rest and reciprocated his apology. He accepted warmly with a charming smile. There was quarrel, there was agreement - the dawn of new beginnings.
Barely few minutes afterwards, she tapped on his shoulder. Obviously, she couldn't bear the heat and rigour of the queue any longer.
"Please, can you help with my request for accommodation?" she asked politely. "I feel dizzy" she added.
Imagine that! 'Miss Little Tolerance' asking a favour too soon. If a curse kills once, then the chap would have died a thousand times.
"Why not!" he said without any hesitation. "Who would deny such a belle a simple favour?" He thought and smiled.
She gave him her required details, phone number and browsing ticket. She got his number so she could ring him later for her print-out. She thanked him and left the crowded Computer Centre.
Birds were cooing and basking in the euphoria of the charming evening. While the bats were migrating to a mysterious location after their morning-to-evening escapade on the Obafemi Awolowo University campus, it was time for ladies and gentlemen to begin their flirtatious acts at Anglo-Moz. Anglo-Moz, the open territories between the male and female hostels for first year students, was and probably still is a place of daily rituals - young and naïve lovebirds assemble after dusk and remain in that dream world late into the night.
It was at such time Ade thought it wise to give Eniola a call. He had finished the e-portal registration palaver earlier than expected. Rather than calling Eni, he went straight to the porters to clear his bed space. In any case, he met Eni at AngloMoz at 6pm and then followed her to the Porters' lounge at the Mozambique Hall to clear her bed space with the print-out he had brought. They soon parted and met again later that night to get acquainted. As the enchanting breeze blew that night, hearts were merging, love emerging at AngloMoz. It was like the first day of the rest of their lives.
Eniola was 17, though her robust physique gave her the carriage of an adult. She was far too mature and intelligent for her age. Ade was 21 at the time. Tall, skinny and handsome, could any lady resist his natural charm?
Eni was admitted to study Biochemistry while he was in for Literature-in-English. They soon became so fond of each other that they began to move like twin compasses - neither of them moved without the awareness of the other.
Just a week into their friendship, they left nothing to chance and built their own fates with their hands. They devised a means to see each other every night. Despite the difference in their course of study, they agreed to study together for at least two hours at night.
They tried ODLT (Oduduwa Lecture Theatre) the first night, but it was too crowded and noisy for their liking. The following night they decided to try the Auditoriums in Humanities, but for reasons known to Eni, she didn't like the AUDs either. The search for convenience continued until they found and settled for Ajose Lecture Theatre. One night, he started to imagine what one wouldn't do for love. Pleasant thoughts rushed through his mind that night as he laid on the upper part of a rickety bunk. He was hungry yet overfed by the thoughts of what was becoming and what could become. Suddenly, he remembered a line from the words he had read in a book he couldn't remember the title of "In dreams and in love nothing is impossible". He ran those lines through his mind over and over again until he fell asleep and began to dream of possibilities. Imagine him who ordinarily wouldn't read for long, let alone read at night, in a place where other faces were gathered. He was falling in love - so determined to do anything just to behold her face, be close to her and breathe in the very air she exhaled. Eni wasn't only young and beautiful, she was also brilliant and fun to be with. Call him 'Mario' if you cared, he was in love for the first time and nothing else mattered.
That night, he was nowhere to be found. She had waited for him in front of his room since his number wasn't reachable. She waited until the word 'wait' disappeared from her waiting dictionary. When she couldn't wait anymore, for the first time in the three months she had spent in the University, she went out to Ajose Lecture Theatre to read alone.
It was a cold night; an unusual night. The night was as unusual as it was cold. She was freezing like every other person in the 1000-seater auditorium. She wished Ade was there to absorb the cold and shield her from the unusualness of the night. When the cold became unbearable, students, one after the other and simultaneously, started to pack their books and leave. Eni wouldn't leave. She had her night planned and nothing, not even the unusual coldness of the night, could stop her from achieving her target.
She continued reading late into the night, unaware of the emptiness of the hall. By the time she looked up, she was alone with four awkward looking guys, waiting like lions to devour their prey. She looked around and noticed their prying eyes. She was scared but kept telling herself that all was well.
She packed and stood to go. But as she stood, the guys stood too. She moved. They moved too. She thought of running but knew it wouldn't be a good idea. She stopped, waiting for them to pass her by. But they wouldn't. They were there for her. It was a cold fated night.
They seized her from all around. She screamed for help but her voice was swallowed by the cruelty of the night. Not even the angels, ascending and descending between the heavens and the earth, heard her voice. "Where is Ade?" was the only painful thought that ran through her mind as they pinned her to the wall outside the lecture theatre and had her in-turn severally until they were tired of ravaging her.
The following day, her parents drove down to the University Health Centre to pick her up. They had requested for her referral to a Specialist Hospital where their family doctor could attend to her. Her father's tears mingled with her mother's as they both struggled to lift their battered daughter into the car.
Ade returned from home later that day and was greeted by the unpleasant news of the rape. He was mad and raging with anger. He charged and charged and charged like a ram fighting shadows. Finally, he succumbed and cried. Yet, his tears could not wash the stains away. Where was he? Where? Where... Was... He...when the whirlwind of rapists flew away Eni's innocence? Where was he?
He called and never stopped calling, but his efforts were like punching the air. He knew she lived in Lagos, knew her father had a house in Ikeja, but Ikeja was too abstract for a stranger like him to find his soul mate. He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't attend classes; three months of unrestrained love had changed him, transformed him in no little way. How would he survive without the love of his life?
Eni, on her recuperating bed, held the phone in her hand, contemplating whether to answer his call or not. All of a sudden, she removed his name from her list of contacts and switched off the phone.
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