The first time Adeola road on a bus for more than 10 minutes long, she was 20. Her dad would not let her travel for two hours alone and unsupervised so he came with her. It was the first time Adeola left Sagamu. The road to Ibadan stretched out like an endless thread.
The city of Ibadan was crowded. Walking beside her dad she felt that if she didn’t hold on tight the crowd would drag her away.
Her Uncle’ss place was right inside the university itself, a small house with just two rooms, one where her Uncle and his wife, Mama Show slept and the other which was for their two boys. Adeola had a cloudy recollection of bolaji, her cousin and his brother Felix.
Her uncle took her into the campus the next day. Registrations had begun.
“Your dad said you are staying with us for your first year.” He told her, “the campus is a dangerous place for a first year girl.”
Adeola was content just to go to school, it didn’t matter where she stayed.
Adeola’s first night in her Uncle’s home, she slept in the boys room with his cousins, bolaji and Felix. There was only a single bed in the small room. The boys left it for their sister and slept on the floor. That night Adeola hardly slept. He missed her room, her parents and brother. He thought about Taiwo. Perhaps she would find a way to write him.
In time it became obvious that school would be difficult for Adeola. Her parents being poor barely sent enough money to her. She would join her uncles wife in her hair salon outside the school to learn the skill. Mama show was a curious character.
“You don’t need to disturb your parents for money, look at you, you are a goddess.” Mama Show said one afternoon. Adeola was going to walk to her class because she was broke. Her parents hadn’t sent her allowance for two months and her uncle kept complaining about money.
“Let me introduce you to money, my girl.” Said Mama Show.
That night the couple had a row. Adeola overheard them talking about mama shows association. And the husbands financial weakness.
The two boys were in the room with her. Bolaji who had been giving her odd stares lately told her that their dad was probably going to lose his job.
“We will lose this house too.” Said Felix.
“This house? I thought you people owned it?”
“The school gives it to staffs.”
Adeola wrote a letter the following week. She told Bolaji about it. She had never written a letter before so she had no idea where a post office was. Bolaji opened the envelope when Adeola had left for her classes. Bolaji went around the house with an erection all day after reading the letter. That night he stood over Adeola as she slept, contemplating her figure, her erection threatening to tear out of his shorts.
Felix was writing his university entrance examination a second time while Bolaji was repeating it a third time. Sometimes Adeola helped them with math. One evening while Bolaji had gone to the post office to see if Adeolas letter had arrived, Felix told her that their dad had lost his job.
“We have just about a year to stay now.” He said.
“Isn’t something that can be done?” Adeola wanted to ask what their father did. But she didn’t.
“He says he is appealing the case though.”
Bolaji arrived with a letter from Sagamu. It was Taiwo. She read it in the glow of a candle that before studying. It was a short and regretful letter, straight to the point, and in character. Adeola found out how much she had missed him. He said he missed her and wanted to see her. But that would not be for another two months after.
Adeola’s Uncle had been accused of theft in the department where he worked. But he wasn’t the only one. However, he was the only one who didn’t have a leverage with the department authority so he was getting the ax.
At home, his wife was breathing fire too and their marriage was going through a rough patch after another. Adeolas allowance was barely enough for her, if they came at all. Mama Show was getting impatient with everyone.
At night, Adeola woke up to study. In the day it was becoming improper for her to be around the boys. Changing her underwear in the bathroom sometimes, she have had to be excused too by the boys. It was decided that the dinning room should be converted into a room her.
In her third month in the university and in her Uncle’s place, Adeola had her own room. The room was only big enough for a student sized bed and a small study desk. It had a window too that she often opened on hot nights.
Adeola received another mail from Taiwo. He was going to the north in a week’s time to live with relatives. When he leaves they may never get to see each other again. Adeola quickly sent a reply off asking him to come to Ibadan to see her if he can.
This time she went and posted it by herself.
Exams were on their way and tests and assignments inundated her. She would stay up almost all night to study. One afternoon a week later she received a reply from Taiwo that he would visit her in a weeks time. Adeola was feverish with expectation.
In one of her letters to him, she had described to Taiwo what her department looked like and her favorite spot in school where she sat to read. It was a big tree in the middle of the department. One afternoon after class she found Taiwo sitting in her spot.
When they embraced she looked for that smell of his. It filled her with longing. They walked around the school most of the day. She took him to the zoo, the swimming pool in the students Union building. They walked up and down the school main gate.
Taiwo waited for her under the tree until she was through with her lectures in the evening.
That night, Adeola went back home alone. In her room she paced restlessly, checking her watch. About midnight she heard a tap on her window. She quickly went and opened it and in came Taiwo. They embraced again. Adeola quickly made the bed and she put out the light.
It was a dangerous night. It had its beauty too, but it was not meant to last.
Adeola wasn’t just good looking. She was beautiful in almost every meaning of that word. She had a face that wasn’t quite African. She could have been from an Arab country for all anyone knows. Other than her aquiline nose, high forehead and almost six foot height all of which she got from her father, she had nothing else in common with all of her family. Of course her wide hips he got from her mother and grandmother.
Mam show saw business wherever there was money to be made. She thought it was foolish for anyone to be broke when they were as beautiful as Adeola. But she had restraint too. She feared her husband. However, as long as she contributed to her education, Adeola was an investment, one way or the other. And what did they say about protecting ones investment? Of course.
Hence, she had people watching Adeola in school. They reported on her; where she hung out, who she hung with and whatever else she does, mama show knew about it before anyone else.
“I want to know what she is doing, even before God himself knows about it!” she said.
So it was that when Adeola was embracing Taiwo under her favorite tree in school, three eyes and two mouths reported it.
They were going to do it quietly. They were going to hold each other all night till early morning when Taiwo would slip out the window again, just as he had came. Then they would meet under the tree again, just like old times and for old times sake. For the sake of what they had lost. And probably do it again another night before he went to the north.
Adeola was cradled in his arms, sharing a passionate kiss when the door opened slowly.
In the dim light stood Mama Show with a torchlight.
The couple froze like trapped rats in the wicked light. They were naked together. Mama Show entered the room and shut the door behind her.
“Who are you?” she asked Taiwo.
The two of them were shaking violently. Adeola jumped off the bed and went on her knees, pleading.
“Adeola, calm down. Tell me who he is.”
Adeola told her.
“So you both were so hungry for s*
x so much that you turned your room into a motel?”
“N, n, no maami.” Adeola rubbed her palm together, tears ran down her cheeks. Taiwo was slowly putting on her trousers.
Mama show went to the window to shut it. “you, you must stay here tonight. You will do what you have come to do.”
Turning to Adeola she said, “in the morning tomorrow, meet me at the salon. We have a discussion.”
She opened the door and was gone.
In the morning Adeola came out of her room, alone as usual. She went about her chores too, as always. She swept the house, did the dishes and made breakfast.
Bolaji was unusually subdued. He would t talk to her even though Adeola tried to. Felix was his usual indifferent self. Her uncle sat in the parlor reading a paper and listening to the news on the radio. He liked to compare what he read in the papers with what they said over the air.
Everything seemed normal.
She got ready to go see her aunt at the salon.