JUST ONE NIGHT
I couldn’t have endured an extra hour in school today. Prior to my first semester exams, I had looked forward to coming back home having not to think of any quiz or assignment. ‘Damn! Studying law no be beans.’ I needed some special treats from mum’s kitchen and the security from home which I had missed for a while as a result of tight academic schedule.
A year before now seemed like the worse had happened to me; we were 3 in my clique. I, Chima and Greg; the 3 of us had actually turned blood. We thought going to secondary school may keep us apart, but that was where our true story actually began. We went to same school (not like we planned it though), with unquestionable experiences together too.
It was so disheartnening for me the first year we left secondary school, Chima got admission to study Political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Greg, was admitted likewise to study Mass Communication at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. I was the only one who couldn’t make it to further school like we have initially mapped out our plans on what entering school together would be like. When they informed me about their admissions, I was happy and hoped that sooner that year, my admission too, would become a reality. The futility of my hopes became glaring to me as that year passed away.
The conversation of those who entered school the previous year, when discussed at home seemed like a mockery to me; to remind me of what my mates had achieved which I couldn’t. That was when I had to cement my relationship with God, I made unresolute promises of what I would do and be for him when I get admission the next year.
JAMB had a way of making people humble; I had met Chima’s cousin whom he told us wrote JAMB for 6 times, it was his 7th attempt that gained him an admission. I can’t say for sure whether this shaky conversation of ours while we were still in SS 2, got to me that much, I was worried more than I should as I didn’t gain admission. One would dare to ask if age was not on my side, considering my nervousness as regards JAMB. But I was just 17, an age many might not have been done with secondary school.
All, I kept remembering was how I was seen as the ‘bad ass’ in Government and Christian Religious Studies. I literally groomed my friends in those subjects. Aside, my academic exceptionalities, I had this natural leadership traits that made me the one harmonizing us (usually adhered to my dos and do nots. At least for the time being.) I discovered that people usually asked me sensitive questions even if the three of us were all together. If either of my friend’s parents found either of them seeming mischievous, I was the person asked to speak to them and my place was needed if they are having a sly plan, if they confirmed that I was aware of whatever plan they used to cover for the main thing, then their parents would grant express permission without bothering.
Above all, I would say my zeal for God was much expressed in my senior secondary, which later placed me as the president of Scripture Union. This was an office that made a lot of people to look up to me.
“How can God leave his own? Besides, I have been faithful in my work.” I usually thought. After all the testimonies I have heard people share about how unqualified they were about certain positions which God gave them. I thought my case would not be different, which made me believe unwavering even when my aggregate scores that year could not give me admission to study law. Well, I felt a little disappointed and wondered if I had committed any sin that had caused my not receiving favour from God.
Chima was shy all he needed was an environment to become who he really was while Greg was of the sort that would kill an elephant but you could not read it from his face. Well, we kept our differences aside whenever we are together. Could never have thought they would rub off their personality to me, rather, reverse would be the case.
Our paths became obviously divergent in SS 3, but we were hanging out and nothing seemed to end the protracted friendship. Often times, we were called the ‘3 idiots’ from the popular Indian movie.
Chima had his first girlfriend in SS 3, undoubtedly, his first sex too. He became more fashion aware and concerned about his looks. Greg, I would say was not clear as regards his relationship with the opposite sex, but never missed out from the bashes in secondary school, whether he did go was not quite certain to our set mates as he would leave before you notice his presence. But he became more transparent in his year one at the university.
Often times, the semester breaks varies for Chima and Greg, but Chima was always available when Greg came in from Awka. We toured Nsukka, always together aside when I had to go for fellowship. I became active in Christ Ambassadors’ Student Outreach (CASOR) on campus. I wasn’t going to risk my faith for anything.
In no time, Chima and Greg often talked about how they wooed ladies and lured them to bed.
“I found one apple like that, which I ate a chunk out of it”
Became their slang for wooing a lady and having sex with her.
I seldom contributed when our conversation went that direction. The much I would say was, “imagine if these ladies you talked about like this were your sisters.” Then they would face me and remind me of how I was dulling.
“Guy I know even know why you dey dull with Mathilda, the shima love you scatter. The green-light wey the babe dey show you dey obvious na. You come dey use this una church brother and sister dey confuse yourself”, Chima would always say.
Greg would be like, “O boy, reason am well o.”
Mathilda and I
Mathilda and I got close when she served as my prayer cord, in Scripture Union in secondary school and she would be the one to serve as the president after me. She was of the fire brand and a devout member. There was this unique attachment between us after I visited her parents to grant her the permission to fully participate in the fellowship.
She came crying to me one of the days that the long hours stayed after school, had sparked up suspicion with her parents, and they had threatened to withdraw her from school if she continued in that manner.
Having to know that we came from same village was my edge. I and 2 of my other executive visited her family; I went vernacular during our conversation.
They weren’t having claws or fangs as I had imagined them. They were just being protective as parents would be and was concerned that we stayed a little longer. When they asked of my family and parents, they fully committed Mathilda to my care, and asked me to take her for my kid sister (she was a year lower than I in class); Having termed my family a reputable one. That was how I and Mathilda kept going for like 3 years now, with our both parents being unassuming.
She was to write her JAMB and Post-UTME this year. Last year Christmas, I was excited sharing what my experience at the Agbani campus of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), was like. And we had intensive study together, solving many JAMB past questions.
When it came to prayers, vigil and church related programs, Mathilda was the friend to easily share such experience and passion with. We both invited ourselves for various church programs. I wanted her to join CASOR few months after I had joined, but she promised to do so when she was in school, she had less leisure time with the responsibilities of being the first daughter and preparing for her upcoming exams.
Chima and Greg had often painted sex to seem as a man’s greatest achievement and had made me fantasize elusively about sex. Though, I wasn’t going to leave the thought linger in my head, “God forbid, not me!” I interject when my mind drifts.
We were capping up our 3-day student program in CASOR with an all night today, and I had told Mathilda even before I came home from school that we would attend if not from the first day, but she should prepare for the last day. That she was prepared for, today.
Few minutes past 4 O’clock in the evening, Chima called to tell me that his elder brother was having a little party for his birthday today. ‘I called him earlier to wish him a happy birthday’, I thought, ‘why didn’t he tell me he was having any party?’
I was trying to excuse myself from the party when Chima kept insisting and saying that his brother needed our help. “I wouldn’t have bothered you if Greg was in town” he said.
I tried using the vigil and Mathilda as an excuse but he told me that having to come with Mathilda makes it easier for me. I wouldn’t stay for long and anytime we were ready to go, he would drop us off. He said his parents made the car available for them the whole day.
I was still considering this and asked why Chima should ask of such a favour of all the whole people; wondering what my contributions in a party would be when Junior’s text came in.
‘Bro, abeg no vex I no plan say anything go happen, but as u dey around I go need u 4 my small show dis night’
That was Chima’s elder brother and I could not say no to him. I had to call Mathilda to inform her of the slight change in plans.
“I am not so comfortable with this plan, can’t the party wait nor must I go with you?” Mathilda asked over the phone. But I told her of how she was my ticket to a brief stay. It wasn’t easy but I convinced her not to be afraid of anything, since we were going out together.
Chima came to pick me first before we drove to carry Mathilda at about 6:30 p.m. We exchanged our casual jokes, I called her “isi aki” and she said “isi ukwa, I bata goo?”
“Abata beghi m, ano m n’uzo”, I said.
We all laughed as she entered the vehicle, which was my first time of seeing her since I came in for the semester break.
The party was just a cluster of few persons; Junior and his girl friend, few of his lodge mates, Chima, and then me with Mathilda, a small cake covered with butter icing was on the table circled with Chamdor, AK 47, Magic Moment, Night Train and Hollandia yoghurt, with few of the drinks not opened yet.
The sign of unease was written all over Mathilda as the environment was dense and the jarring from the sound system, I doubt if she was exposed to such a gathering before. Not like I was though, but it was indeed a little cluster, but there was barely a walk way in the room, and I knew we won’t be long, I decided to ease myself with the thought that they weren’t alien to me.
In no time, Junior served us both Hollandia yoghurt in a disposable cup and teased
“make I no give una the one wey you go take now, go slap pastor for church.”
We laughed at his joke and sipped gradually, in no time Chima said he was going out with his brother to see the girlfriend off. He asked us to wait that he was coming.
He spoke with the few lodge mates that was there and they smiled and left gradually. He came in and said, “to marry no be here, make we settle family issues.” He left again.
Though I had sensed a little change in Junior’s countenance before he left with his girlfriend.
The dim lighted room became gradually empty and the sound coming from the sound system became well faded at this time. We were still sipping the yogurt without uttering a word when I began to feel a dip heat in my loin. I was battling to distract myself from my feeling but my heart beat became faster than it used to and my temperature rose.
I was seating face to face with Mathilda, I decided to cross my legs and not to get both she and myself embarrassed. I wanted to go look out for Chima and Junior, but not in the state I was. I tried wishing that this wasn’t happening, Mathilda too kept watching me without uttering a word, she was looking glued to her seat.
All I could remember then was the countless styles and positions Greg and Chima had told me they explored. I couldn’t think of Mathilda as my sister at the moment.
The deed is done. Within a spark of a feeling, a story has been re-written. I hated myself for what I just did. I couldn’t look Mathilda in the face, not to mention her cry of pains and betrayal. Was it the devil? But it was staring me at the face, I would have avoided him. Why did we come here?
At this point, I despised Chima, I felt like strangling him. If I saw him, I doubt I wouldn’t break a bottle on his head. I kept remembering the portion of the bible that said, “be unequally yoked with an unbeliever…” It became clear that the people I called friends, were actually the devil, who would not stop at anything rather than bring me down.
It was past 10 p.m. already and I saw neither Chima nor Junior. Just that moment my eyes caught the blood stain which was spread on the bed sheet. I cried and cried, I couldn’t control the words, “I am sorry” coming out from of my mouth. I have stolen something so precious and I knew it. I wanted to be hung in the public or be burnt on stake by a mob, cos I knew I deserved it. I took the bed sheet and washed it so as to feel unstrapped from the chains of guilt. Mathilda, was still in pain and tears. That was ‘one night’ that changed everything in my life.
“What would I tell uncle and aunty? How would I face my parents?”
Mathilda got up limping, took her clothes scattered all over the floor, wore them and headed to go. I asked to take her home, but she asked me not to go with her nor touch her. Her eyes were reddened and swollen she didn’t have a blink last night. I was hurt she never talked to me. I could barely touch her and my face was covered in shame. It was past 6 a.m. and I knew she would find a bike home. But I was soaked in guilt.
I dressed up and left for home as well. I left the key to the room for the next door neighbour.
That day, I parked my bags and left for school. I used an emergency meeting in school that needed my attention as an excuse.
From that day onwards, Mathilda stopped picking my calls. It rang over and over again, but she wouldn’t pick until lately the line became not reachable. Going to her place was out of it because I haven’t been to Nsukka in the past 4 months and wasn’t planning on going anytime soon.
The name Chima or Greg filled me with strife and resentment, I deliberately blocked and deleted their contacts in my phone. And I know I had deleted them from my life too. I felt the soared orientations and conspiracy.
Just in the deep of my thoughts, my phone began to ring. I looked at it and the number wasn’t familiar. I felt reluctant to pick at first. These days, I am scared of my phone.
I remember my mum’s voice asking me if everything was alright, that she was having a feeling I wasn’t ok.
“Nna ahu adikwa gi? O nwere ka isi abia m n’obi.”
“Mummy, I am fine. Ahu di m.” I replied.
She never asked again even though she accepted in suspicion.
Now the phone rang again, I picked it up and the voice sounded familiar but it was crying.
“You have succeeded in ruining my life and your plans had worked out fine. We are coming over to your place. Now you would marry without bride price. I regret the day I met you, God would judge you.”
I was still trying to understand what was happening before the call ended.
Newton’s 3rd law of motion states that ‘action and reaction are equal and opposite.’
My phone rang again, it was my mum, I was scared to pick and next my dad. Then I knew I had gotten a delivery beyond my pay check.
“Ah! In just one night, I had derailed from my focus and dream. How would I face my younger siblings to be that model my parents had always used as an example? How can I raise my head in Nsukka again? Am I ready to become a father at this age? Instead of bringing honour to my parents who barely found it had feeding us thrice this season, I bring a burden upon them. God just take me now.”
This mistake was what I would live the rest of my life, wishing it never happened.
This is not just another random story. Please leave your comments and kindly share with friends too.
Written by Dozie Ethelbeth