Hello, everyone! Here comes a new series titled “Campus Tales”. One of the aims of this series is to share the everyday experiences of a Nigerian undergraduate. Believe me, many things are happening on our campuses. However, the principal essence of this series is actually to serve as an appetizer for something greater in the offing. Guess what. I’ll be publishing an electronic chapbook of about 30 pages in a couple of days, solely for your reading pleasure and entertainment! And it’s even for free! Tomorrow, when I post the next installment of Campus Tales, I will tell you more about the chapbook. Come, am I putting you in suspense? Oh yes, I know, but I think it’s cool. #flees
Enjoy the Campus Tales 1!
Since I got admitted into Ekiti State University three years ago, I have had over five relationships. I have never had more than one girlfriend at a time, to whom I have always ensured to be faithful. Fidelity is a difficult thing on campus and so requires great discipline and constraint. The ravishing ladies around are sore temptations, ripened fruits waiting to be plucked. Girls are like a fruit salad, and we guys are never content with just tasting one of the variety. It is, therefore, little wonder that none of my relationships has lasted over three months, except for Bolade’s. It has been a year and half, and we are still counting.
I remember the lady I dated just before I met Bolade. Her name was Evelyn, a Calabar beauty who had come to study in EKSU. Evelyn was an engineering student who lived in Divine Grace hostel, a stone throw away from my residence. We had met at the famous Mama Tee restaurant in the Faculty of Education. That day, as usual, I had gone to eat my breakfast of jollof rice, plantain and egg. Halfway through my meal, a fair lady, petite and admirable, a black handbag slung over her arm, walked in with grace. She headed straight for the counter, bought a plate of fried rice, beef and a bottle of La Casera, then turned around to seek for a table to eat. Our eyes met, and I motioned to her that she could join me on my table. She looked away, searching for other options. When she confirmed my table was the only free one, she came over reluctantly and sat. I smiled and reduced the speed with which my jaws were moving. I would need some time with this pretty lady; my food could not afford to finish so fast.
“Good morning,” I greeted.
“Morning,” she mumbled, with disinterest.
Now, that was a bad pointer. If her response had been a little more cheerful, I could have struck a conversation with ease. An unnerving silence was enthroned between us. She set her cutlery on the plate, while she swept a finger over her Blackberry Z10, squinting for a few seconds to read something on the screen. She sat up, picked the fork with her left hand and the knife with the right, deftly scooping rice to her mouth with elegance. I looked at the spoon in my hand and shook my head. There was little hope that I would make this sophisticated lady utter any other word, let alone getting her number.
I knew I was running out of time. Only a dramatic action would save this angel from slipping through my fingers. I told myself to relax, that this was something my brain could handle. A barrage of ideas flashed through my mind. What would capture the lady’s attention? I could not afford to make a mistake. At last, I figured it out.
On purpose, I dropped my spoon on my plate and allowed it clatter. I then began to stare at her so much that she could not pretend not to notice. She became uneasy, as grains of rice started falling off her fork. Getting the desired result, I intensified my stare, widening my eyes to accentuate it. When she could bear it no more, she stopped eating and sighed.
“What? Why are you staring at me?” she asked, stuttering.
I was elated I had made her speak again, but I hid my excitement nevertheless. I feigned a dazed look, like one who was shocked to be caught stealing a piece of meat.
“Uh, sorry.” I cleared my throat, forming my best British accent. “I was just blown away with the charm with which you handle your cutlery. I didn’t know there were Nigerians who could do that so effortlessly,” I said.
She smiled, quite pleased with the compliment.
“Thank you, but I don’t think it’s as difficult as you make it seem,” she replied.
“Not as difficult, you say? Hmm, I guess you can only speak for yourself. See the way I’m grabbing my spoon as if it were a shovel.” I picked my spoon and made a funny movement with it. The humour got to her. She threw back her head and laughed. How I loved the sound of her laughter! It brought down the walls of unfriendliness she had earlier portrayed.
“Very funny of you,” she commented after regaining her breath.
“Yeah, I mistakenly sound funny sometimes, even when I mean business like this. I think it’s a curse from my grandfather,” I replied. She chuckled some more.
“Anyway, I must learn how to handle cutlery like you. I don’t mind paying for a workshop, if there’s one that teaches etiquettes,” I added.
“Gosh, nobody does that!” she said.
“Says who? Unless you want to teach me.”
“You would pay me the workshop fee then. Agreed?” she asked, a mischievous smile playing on her face.
“Come on, you don’t look like an Economics or Accounting student. Don’t mention money so readily. Dem forbid you to teach for free?” We both laughed.
Ladies laugh easily around guys, I thought to myself. Now that the tension was gone, I could move to my next line of action.
“I am Dele Davids. Medicine. 200 level,” I blurted out like it was a recital, offering her my right hand. She must have been amazed by the spontaneity of my introduction, because she hesitated before taking the handshake.
“You’re quite a character. I am Evelyn. Civil Engineering. 200 level. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Davids,” she said, smiling and shaking my hand, her palm soft like a baby’s shawl.
“Interesting formalities. Pleasure indeed. Abeg give me your number so I can start disturbing you for my lessons on etiquettes jare.” I whipped out my phone to get her number.
“Smart chap! I very much hope you are collecting my number for the singular purpose you mentioned and nothing more.” She eyed me before dictating her phone number. I dialled it to be cocksure. No room for mistakes.
When we left Mama Tee restaurant that morning, I was confident I had only little work to do before Evelyn would become mine. I thought I had laid a strong foundation on which I could build, but I was wrong.
My relationship with Evelyn was a delightful experience, just as it was a very demanding one. I was in trouble if I did not call her within 48 hours. She was the jealous type who wanted to be always doted upon, but I loved her like that. It was a consuming love, one that took your time, energy and money.
Evelyn was full of eccentricities, too. She could drag me into kitchen and make me do the dishes. She could dash into my room in the morning, walk up to my wardrobe, request for the shirt I wanted to wear to class and insist she would be the one to wear it. Altogether, I would say I enjoyed the fun while it lasted.
When it would all end, Evelyn and I did not break up because of a fight. I remember how she walked into my room that breezy Sunday evening and stood by the door. She would not sit. She would not come any closer.
“Davids, I have come to tell you something important. Pay close attention to my words this evening, for I might not have the confidence to repeat it again,” she said.
I sat up on my bed and pricked up my ears.
“I’m all ears,” I mumbled, trying hard to steady my sweaty palms.
“I am sorry, but I can no longer be your girlfriend. I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour earlier in church today. Old things are now passed away, and all things have become new. I’ll see to it that we remain good friends. Thank you for being a part of my life.” She turned and made her way out of my room slowly, never to return again.
I was glued to my bed, head bent in a feeling for which I would never get a definition.
I saw her in school the next day. She waved at me from a distance. A scarf was now wound around her head, her earrings and makeup gone, her skirt billowing in the early morning wind.
I still find it hard to accept. Evelyn was one fruit out of the salad whose taste still lingers.
*** The series continues tomorrow***
First published on Levitatenaija.com
Written by: Omoya Yinka Simult
Twitter handle: @omoyayinka