I stayed in Fagunwa Hostel, University of Lagos while I was a student. The rooms on each floors were built in a way that they were opposite each other in a long row and two wings to represent a column on each floor. They had eight rooms. The long row was demarcated into two, to have distinct wings and they all had their kitchens. Our hostel was built in a large fenced compound and when I got admission and was allocated to the hostel, I thought it was a sort of an estate. Whenever I walked out from my hostel, through the inner gate that had my hostel and one other, a round and short woman would yell, “Hey, fine girl, come and buy earpiece . I get original one.”
Some students will ignore while others will smile back at her gesturing they are not interested. Students always gathered around her wooden kiosk and hassled for the prices of different phone accessories.
There were five hostels in the whole compound; three female and two male. We would pass through the walkway of the two male hostels while we walked back from classes. My friend told me how the girls were catcalled and demeaned and I thought it was a joke.
After a class, I sashayed home with my coursemates. I was at the middle of my two friends, Funke and Sharon who where by my side. From few kilometres away, we could hear noises from students in one of the hostels, Shodeinde. “What’s happening?” Funke asked, taking glances at each one of us.
My palms gestured openly in the air raising up my shoulder, whilst Sharon stared confusingly. We were almost there and could now hear their voices clear.
“Orobo, see as you fat. Go and lose weight,” one said in a Pidgin.
Others laughed and they continued mocking the chubby girl that walked past. She was ahead of us. I could feel the girl was getting embarrassed immediately I saw her tripped on a stone and almost fell. The boys laughed peeping through the netted windows of their rooms.
We were almost there and they had stopped as we got closer.
“Hey, fine girl, which department you dey?” one asked.
“It’s like you mad?” Funke replied.
She said it with her finger positioned towards her head to indicate he was not mentally okay. One clapped. “Hah, if dem dey talk about fine girls, this one go come out? See as her eyes big, and come look like frog with a mouth as a wide as a breakable plate,” a voice said.
“Yaay!” they chorused cheering him on.
“And na she wowo pass,” another said.
“Yepa!” they cheered on.
“I go use pillow cover this one eyes while I dey f*ck am. She wowo die. See as her friends fine pass am,” another said.
Funke stared at me expecting me to talk but I ignored her and my eyes moved to Sharon’s face but she wasn’t looking either. She kept a straight face and we continued walking without uttering a word till we got to the kiosk of the woman that sold phone accessories.
“Fine girl, you wan buy earpiece?” the shop woman asked, trying to touch Funke, but rather dragged her.
Funke pushed her, and she staggered falling down on the table. “Jesus!” everybody shouted.
I looked at Funke expecting her to stop and say sorry but she kept walking to the hostel. I knew she was angry. A man ran towards Funke and before we could come to her help, he had held Funke’s cloth and slapped her so hard. The slap thundered so hard, spinning her head and I saw her head fly to the direction of the air. I could imagine stars blinking out from her eyes.
Funke grabbed his own shirt. It was a buttoned shirt. She dragged it down quickly and it tore while the buttons scattered on the ground. I saw tears trickle down her cheeks as she muttered unknown words to the man, while still holding his shirt. The woman had stood up and ran towards us to fight Funke back, but I held her tightly. Sharon assisted me and we begged her to calm down.
The man had pinned Funke’s neck and was almost killing her. I squinted at Sharon to calm the woman, and I swallowed my saliva as I walked towards the man to beg him. People had gathered around and cussed out on Funke. I begged them to calm down that Funke wasn’t in a good mood when it happened. My eyes still blinked towards Sharon while she still held the woman and calmed her down. Students stood there holding their phones in the air. I guessed they were trying to make a video and in no time, our brouhaha would surface on social medias and we would be made an object of mockery. I was glad when the man finally heeded to my plea and freed her. Funke heaved heavily, looking exhausted. Her face had turned red and sober and tears still clogged on her natural lashes. I knew not to touch her or she would transfer her aggression towards me. The woman had finally heard to Sharon’s pleas and walked back to her shop.
I felt exhausted getting back to the hostel and laid on my bed. I would wake up and blend the pepper and tomatoes, I had bought in the morning but didn’t cook when the impromptu class was fixed. I laid on the bed with my back resting and my face upward, staring towards the upper bunk and in no time, my eyes closed and I dozed off.
I was awoken by noises in the hostel. “They have stolen my laptop,” a girl cried.
I stood up from the bed, and walked towards the door with my eyes still blurry. Standing on the door, I stared and felt pity for her, while her friends held and consoled her.
The whole scenario ended and, I walked to the kitchen with my blender. I bent to blend my tomatoes and in a few minutes, a girl joined me. I noticed her footsteps and looked up, then greeted her and she responded and smiled. It looked like she needed my greetings to be free with me.
“There are lot of thieves in this hostel. They even steal pants. I can’t cope fa,” she said adding the Yoruba at the end.
“I have heard a lot too, but I don’t pray to experience one,” I replied.
“This one no be prayer o. Even the nicest person experience it but God is our protector,” she said.
Her face looked expressionless and wrinkled. I nodded.
I was done blending my tomatoes and pepper and poured it into the pot, then placed it on the hot plate, to allow it to steam. I looked around but she had left the kitchen. She would have helped me to watch over my pot of stew, while I kept the utensils in my room and return back quick. Since she wasn’t around, I decided to estimate myself and promised I won’t take more than three minutes. I walked into my room, dropped the utensils and made to walk back but Funke stood at the front of my door.
“Hey, Funke,” I said.
“Don’t try that thing you tried today again ever in your life! From today, you are cancelled as my friend” she said and walked away.
I stood at the door with my hands at its edges, shocked. Other students stared at us, and I couldn’t say anything till she walked back to her room. I sighed and remembered my stew was on fire. Ah, I hope it hasn’t burnt, I thought and quickened my pace to the kitchen.
On the floor was my pot with my stew all gone and the bottom had been scraped with an iron spoon.
I shouted, as my mouth stood agape.
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