After one week, Gboyega leaves for his place of primary assignment. He has been posted to a construction firm and the pay is beyond what he imagined he would be paid as a youth corper. He is delighted and calls Bola to give her the good news. She is happy to hear that he is settled down. They call each other every day and Bola begins to grow fond of him. She begins to look forward to their calls every morning and evening. Her roommates notice and also begin to tease her. They ask her if they are officially dating and she responds in the negative. They are surprised and wonder why she is not dating him. She looks at each one of them as they advise her on relationships. She nods as if listening to them but her mind is faraway. They cannot understand. My heart is still broken by daddy’s death. I am scared of letting go.
One cool evening, Bola and her room mates are chatting in the room. They have all arrived from lectures and are idling on their beds. A knock on the door breaks into their chatter. “Yes, come in”. One of the girls call out.
A tall, light skinned lady walks into the room. Her gait is confident and she chews on a gum with reckless abandon. She takes a look round the room with disdain before settling her eyes on Bola. Bola’s roommates look at her in confusion. They wonder who she is and are curious of her commanding presence.
“Hello, can we help you?” One of the roommates, Eseosa asks as she looks at the strange lady cautiously.
The lady sizes up the roommate who has spoken and eyes her. “No, you cannot help me.”
Another roommate, Halima speaks up. “Who are you and what do you want?”
The lady smiles broadly displaying a set of teeth that look like they have just been whitened. She looks at Bola who is watching the display and fires at her. “I came to warn you to stay away from my boyfriend.”
Bola is dumbfounded. She looks around her in confusion. She wonders if the lady is referring to her or someone else.
Bola’s roommates look at her and also at the lady. They wonder who she is talking about; their eyes questioning.
“I’m sorry.” Bola says finding her voice. “Are you referring to me?” She queries as she places a hand on her chest.
“Do I look like an idiot to you?” The strange lady retorts.
“I haven’t said that ma. I am confused. I don’t know who you are referring to.”
The lady laughs hysterically as she points a finger at her. “Stay-away-from-Gboyega.”
Bola’s roommates immediately understand the situation. They get up from their beds coming to Bola’s defence. Nekpen stands in front of the lady and gesticulates with her hands. “Look here, madam whatever. We don’t care who you are. You don’t barge into people’s rooms handing out threats like you run this place. If you have a problem with your so called boyfriend, why don’t you go solve it instead of forming big madam here?”
“Watch your tongue, girl. You don’t want to hit on the wrong nerve, I assure you.” The lady warns.
Bola stands up from her bed to say something but Halima steps in front of her. “Please leave our room, madam. You have done enough damage.”
The lady smirks as she looks at Bola. “I am sure I have made myself clear, right?” She looks at each of the girls with condescending eyes before walking out of the room.
Bola breaks down into tears as she sits down on her bed. Nekpen and Halima sit on each side and comfort her. “Hey, it is okay. He obviously left her and she wants to fight back.” Halima says.
Nekpen rubs her back. “This is normal, Bola. I know you love him. So you need to fight for him.”
Bola looks at both of them. “I never knew Gboyega had a girlfriend. She looks so….so…sophisticated.”
“C’mon, I am sure the lady was just tripping. Don’t believe everything you hear. You need to talk to him first.” Eseosa who had been watching from her bed speaks up.
Another roommate, Miriam, who had been sitting quietly on her bed hisses. “Hmm….I thought you said he is born-again. This one that madam the madam is calling him her boyfriend. This one pass boyfriend mata oh. E be like say na toy boy.”
Nekpen looks up at Miriam, her eyes spitting fire.
“I’m sorry oh, Bola. I did not mean it in a bad way oh. I was just saying my own. Abeg, no vex.” Miriam immediately recants.
Bola looks at Nekpen and Halima as tears stream down her cheeks. “Do you think he has been lying to me?”
Halima smiles. “I don’t think so, Bola. Gboyega has truly changed. Those who knew him before can attest to it.”
“Besides, what matters is that he loves you.” Nekpen adds.
Later that evening, Gboyega calls Bola and she decides to take the call outside her room. As she walks out of the hostel, she narrates the incident of the day. Gboyega is quiet and does not say a word.
“Who is she?” Bola asks.
Gboyega takes a deep breath. “She is my past.”
“Gboyega, she threatened me.” Bola cries. “We are not even dating and your ex-girlfriend threatens me?”
“Bola, please listen. I have left my past behind. Don’t let this affect our relationship, please. I love you and you are all that matter to me now.”
“I can’t deal with this, Gboyega. I can’t.” She says as her lip quivers and her voice breaks with emotion.
“You are breaking my heart, Bola. Please stop crying. I will talk to her and warn her if that would make you feel better.” Gboyega pleads.
“Good night Gboyega.” Bola says as she ends the call.
The next day, Bola finds a hard time concentrating in class. The incident of last night bothers her the whole day. She thinks about discussing it with her assistant pastor, but would she understand? Besides, she is wary of discussing her private life with others. The only confidant she has right now is her mum. She decides to leave campus after lectures.
As she lets herself into the house, she rings her mum to let her know she is home and if she can prepare dinner for her.
“You are home? I hope you are okay.” Her mum asks.
“Yes mum, I am. I missed you and decided to come home.”
“Okay. I should be home for 9.00pm.”
“Should I make dinner?” Bola asks.
“No, it’s fine. Dinner will be too late by then. I will get some fruits on my way home.”
“Okay mum. See you later in the evening then.”
“Thank you dear.” Banke is about to cut the call when she calls her daughter – “Bola?”
“I’m glad you are home.”
Bola smiles in spite of the turmoil in her heart. “Me too.”
Banke drives into her garage at 8.30pm. She eases out of the car with a shopping bag filled with fruits. Bola meets her at the door kneeling down to greet her. “How was your day?” She asks collecting the bag of fruits from her.
“Tiring.” Banke replies as she walks in and slumps into a settee.
Bola drops the shopping bag on the centre table. “Mum?”
“Yes dear.” She looks at her daughter and sees that her face is serious. She sits up immediately. “Is something wrong?”
“I came home because I needed to talk to you.”
Banke makes herself comfortable. “I’m all ears.”
“Do you remember the guy I was talking to the night you walked into my room?”
“Yes, the guy you called your friend.”
“Yes mum. His name is Gboyega.” Bola says.
“Okay? What about him?”
“A lady came to my room yesterday warning me to stay away from him.”
Banke looks at her confused. “Stay away from him? I don’t understand. I thought you said he was just a friend.”
Bola looks at her fingers and takes a deep breath. “He has been asking to date me for a while.”
“Oh!” Banke exclaims.
Bola looks up at her mum. “I am not dating him, mum.”
“Okay. You are not dating but a lady comes to you asking that you stay away from him. The only reason why she would do that is because she assumes that you are dating.”
“Exactly mum. Gboyega never told me he had a girlfriend.”
Banke shakes her head and her forefinger. “Hmm…hmm, don’t get it wrong? Did the lady mention that Gboyega was her boyfriend?”
“Yes mum. She did.”
“And have you spoken to him?”
“He says she is his past.”
“You don’t believe him?” Banke squints as she looks at her daughter.
“I don’t know what to believe, mum. I am confused.”
“You are in love with him.”
Bola shakes her head.
“I think you are. Is he a Christian?”
“Yes mum. We attended the same fellowship till he left school.”
Banke holds her daughter’s hands. “You know you can’t judge anyone by their past. Everyone should be given an opportunity to create a future; their past notwithstanding.”
Bola retires to her bedroom after the pep talk with her mum a little relieved. She is still finding it hard to understand the whole situation but with her mum’s encouragement, she is willing to give Gboyega a benefit of doubt.
As she lies down, she opens her bag lying on the floor beside her bed. She takes out the only picture she has of him, tracing his face with her forefinger. She smiles as she picks up her phone. She types a text message. “I believe you.” She hits the send button and goes to bed with a smile on her face.
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