Welcome to the last week of January!
Honestly, I am happy to say “Bye, Bye” to January. But before the month ends, we’ll complete this series.
Here is Part 2 of Toasting Her.
Have a fantastic week ahead and Enjoy!
While they did not mention the girl’s last name, David was still worried. He knew a certain Sade, and would have given anything in the world to make sure she was not the same person embroiled in this dirty lecturer scandal. Sade was a very common name, especially on campus, and it was possible that this Sade was not the person he knew.
But, David had tasted enough surprises in his 20-year lifetime to put him well above the ignoramus level. He knew that a university campus was itself a community, and a very small one at that. There was always a chance that public gist of this nature involved someone you knew or the friend of a friend of someone you knew. It was just a matter of degrees of relatedness.
The brain cells in David’s erstwhile empty head began to quibble with the details of the story, and a mental compare-and-contrast was initiated. The full name of the Sade he knew was Folasade Onakoya. She was a 200-level Economics student. The men had talked about a girl in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
“Hmmmm … The Department of Economics is in the Faculty of Social Sciences,” David observed. “But, I don’t know if she is related to a cultist. Oh no! What if she is? That changes everything. I mean … if I mess up–” he thought to himself.
David’s reference to “messing up” was a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. You see, he had never even spoken to Sade, yet here he was thinking of dating her and maybe breaking her heart. The latter part is what he referred to as “messing up.” But, he had not worked up the nerve to approach her and have a normal conversation with her.
In David’s world, there were many guys who would have chased after Sade many times and inundated her with “I want you to be my girlfriend” requests. Bold, brave guys. But David was not like them. He was painfully shy and introverted. To make matters worse, he was an incurable romantic. The common joke among the few friends he had was that he was already married. To his books. They said that any woman he married would only be a second wife.
While David did not find the recurring joke funny, he understood where they were coming from. As far as they could see, he was too serious with his academics, spending long hours in the library every single day. When he was not reading school books, which in some circles is called ‘studying,’ his eyes were glued to the pages of one of those paperback romances, which are ever-present all over Lagos.
David nursed his shyness by reading about the lives of people who were doing the opposite of what he was doing. The men he read about were bold, handsome and desired by beautiful women. In short, all the things he wanted to be. He imagined that reading about these men whom he envied would somehow inject him with the courage he needed to approach women. At the moment, only one woman would be worth all the trouble. Her name was Sade.
He had taken a class with her in his first year at UNILAG. Being a 100 level student, he took general courses outside his area of study. One of those classes was English 102. As part of the requirements for this class, they had to read and analyze The Marriage of Anansewa, written by Ghanaian author, Efua T. Sutherland. During one class, the lecturer called on students to provide their opinions on the theme of the book. That was the first time he heard her speak. Sade in a few, eloquent words, dissected the book in such a remarkable way that it drew even the admiration of the lecturer. From that moment, David was in love with Sade.
To him, there was something incredibly sexy about a woman who could express her genuine opinion in everyday language in front of other people. She sounded so sure of herself, so confident. David wished he was that confident. In fact, he remembered wishing the ground would open up and swallow him when he saw the lecturer come close to where he sat in the front row, looking like he was about to tell David to answer the question. But Sade, who sat just a few seats to his left, saved the day when she spoke up and answered. Since that day, he constantly plotted and planned on how to get close to her.
But, it seemed that David was cursed with ill luck. Every time he saw an opportunity to approach Sade and talk to her, some other guy would come along and whisk her away. To make matters worse, she did not live on campus, so there was no cooking up an excuse to visit her and pour out his heart. David carried this burden till he was in his 2nd year. And now that there was some gist flying around campus about a certain Sade and a lecturer, he hoped and prayed that his Sade was not the one.
David’s stomach growled again. The line had moved considerably, but David was still outside Mama Ruka’s stall. The men in front of him had shifted their discussion to politics, which was of very little interest to David. Craning his neck forward to see how far the line was before it was his turn, he noticed inadvertently that most of the people on the line had all sorts of food containers with them. Some had regular plastic bowls with lids, but most people had insulated food flasks of varying sizes. They did not plan to sit and eat there.
“I should have brought my own flask too,” David said in a low voice to himself.
“Abi o. Me too.”
The voice of the person who had spoken belonged to a woman. David turned around in surprise and came face to face with an older woman. She looked to be in her 30s and wore a wedding band on her finger. She wore a fitted floral print dress on a body that betrayed the signs of recent childbirth. The sun had melted some of the pomade she rubbed into her hair, making her forehead shiny. She smiled at him.
“Honestly, I should have brought a flask with me o. This line is too long,” she complained.
“Sorry. It will soon be our turn,” David said, trying to comfort her.
Then, a thought occurred to him.
“You can take my spot o. You look very tired,” he said, pointing to the spot in front of him.
“Ah, no. That’s very kind of you, but no. I’m waiting for my friend. It won’t be fair if both of us cut in front of you like that,” she insisted.
“Are you sure because I don’t mind at all–”
“Okay. Since you don’t mind,” the woman finally said, accepting his offer and walking to the spot in front of David on the line. She thanked him again and then introduced herself. Her name was Joy. She did not give a last name, but told him she was also in the Faculty of Social Sciences, studying Sociology.
At the mention of “social sciences,” David remembered the lecturer gist he had overheard some minutes before, and wondered if this woman could give him more details. By now, his typical shyness had left and even though the woman was doing most of the talking, he was having a conversation with her. Somehow, he worked his question into their conversation. Joy, the woman he was talking to, said that she had heard of the incident and actually knew the Sade in question. That Sade was a student in the Department of Sociology, not Economics, and her name was Sade Ilegbusi.
David could almost have danced for joy. Joy did not know the great service she had just rendered, but she did not miss the look of relief that came over his face when she confirmed the identity of the other Sade.
“But you know, it was not her fault. Sade, I mean. Nobody asks for these things to happen … for a lecturer to pick on you and ask for sex before you can pass his course. But for as long as she is a student here, everybody will know her as the girl that exposed that lecturer–” Joy remarked.
“–And as the girl whose cousin is a cultist,” David thought to himself. He nodded in response.
“I mean, if it was me that a lecturer was harassing and putting pressure on like that, and my husband even heard about it, he would kill the man o–” Joy said laughing.
“You mean a lecturer would go after a married woman?” David asked incredulously.
Joy clapped her hands together dramatically.
“Of course! When has marriage ever stopped any man from chasing women?” Joy asked. David did not have to answer. Someone else did.
“It’s true, my sister. Nothing can stop such a man. But hands down, they prefer to prey on single women.”
The person who said these words had been standing behind Joy before she switched places with David. After the switch, this person was now standing directly behind David. The whole time he had been talking with Joy, and possibly even before that, she had a large textbook spread out in front of her blocking her face from view.
As soon as she joined the conversation, she put her book away and for the first time David saw her face. He almost screamed in shock.
It was Sade Onakoya, the girl he had wanted to toast for the longest time.
– to be continued –