It is Friday and Bola has lectures in school. She bids her mother, who is also getting prepared for work, farewell as she leaves the house early in the morning. After classes, she goes straight to her hostel and finds her roommates getting ready for another gig. She sits down on her bed and watches them as they slather make-up on their faces.
“How was home?” Nekpen asks.
“Okay. Mum is fine.” Bola answers.
“We were kinda worried when we did not see you yesterday.” Eseosa says.
Bola shrugs. “I just wanted to have some time alone.”
Halima looks at her. “Have you heard from Gboyega?”
Bola exhales. “Yes, I have.”
Eseosa is standing in front of a wall mirror. She stops applying her make-up as she looks back at Bola. “That sigh says a lot, Bola. What’s the problem?”
Bola fakes a smile. “Nothing.” She could not bring herself to tell them that Miriam had been right. Tears build up in her eyes again and she looks away and tries to get herself together.
“Is this about Gboyega?” Halima asks as she sits by her side.
Bola nods unable to say a word. She does not trust that she won’t break down into tears.
“Gboyega is a changed man, Bola. Whatever it is you and your fellowship did to him changed his life. Look at some of his friends who moved around with him when he was on campus. Most of them are in their final year now. Bola, you know them ‘cos they attend your fellowship. Gboyega’s turnaround touched their lives. He was the last person anyone could imagine will become a church boy.” Halima says as she tries to convince her.
“I think you should listen to Halima.” Nekpen says matter-of-factly. “Me wey dey look for person wey go love me the way Gboyega dey show love for you. Babes, open your eyes.”
“Abeg, abeg, which one com be all the tory this night nau? Wetin? If she no open her eyes, which one com be una own nau? Shior! Make we go where we dey go jor. Leave this born-again people make dem dey do love in Tokyo wey no consine us.” Miriam hisses as she rolls her eyes.
“Aunty, you fit waka your own oh. Nobody say you must waka with us.” Nekpen replies Miriam in anger as she points her finger at her.
Miriam grunts. “Hmm….sorry oh, no vex. But what time we go comot nau?”
There is a knock on the door and Miriam walks to the door to open it. She is still for some seconds, shock registering on her face. She suddenly hisses and walks back into the room. The others look up wondering who the visitor is and the reason for Miriam’s hiss. Their jaws drop as they look behind Miriam.
“Hello ladies.” Gboyega says as he walks into the room. He gives Miriam a confused look wondering why she hissed on seeing him.
The other girls look at each other’s faces with surprise.
“Hi Gboyega.” Nekpen answers breaking the awkward silence.
Bola is too shocked to speak. She can’t believe that Gboyega is right here in her room at this time of the night.
“I’m sorry I hope I am not intruding. I can wait outside while you…..” Gboyega is saying before Miriam interrupts.
“Yes, pls. You can stay…..” Miriam gesticulates towards the door before she is also cut short.
Nekpen clears her throat as she looks at Miriam with scorn. Her face immediately turns into a smile as she looks at Gboyega. “We were actually on our way out. You are free to stay.” She looks at Bola. “Bola, take care and have fun. See you in the morning.” She smiles as she winks at her. She nods towards Miriam and points to the door. Miriam hisses again as she heads forward and the girls file out of the room behind her.
Bola could not help but smile as Nekpen herded her roommates out of the room. Even though she did not share Bola’s faith, she had proved to be a friend that Bola could count on. She sighs as she looks at Gboyega. He walks up to her bed and kneels before her as he holds her hands. “Bola, I came to apologize to you.”
Bola shakes her head. “What are you sorry for? Your past?”
“What would you have me do?”
“I don’t know Gboyega. Sincerely, I don’t know.”
“Please give me a chance.”
Bola stands up. “Your past is too much for me to bear. Don’t you understand?”
“But I am no longer that man.” He stands up from his kneeling position and holds her by the shoulders. “I want to create a future with you.”
The tears she had held back some moments ago fill her eyes again and threaten to make their way down her cheeks. She opens her mouth to say something but closes it again as her voice has become raspy.
Gboyega looks into her eyes and realizes that she loves him but he also sees fear and he is determined to wipe away any doubts that she has about him. He pulls her into a hug and her tears eventually burst forth like a tap that has just been opened. He rocks her like a baby as she sobs into his chest. When she is spent from her sobs, Gboyega cradles her face in his palms and looks straight into her soul. “I will never do anything to hurt you. I love you too much to let anyone harm you.” He longs to take her lips in his but he fights the temptation and pulls her into a hug again.
His past must remain in the past and with Bola, he is determined to start their relationship on a clean slate. Bola hugs him tightly and she unknowingly fans the embers of passion in him. Gboyega feels warm as heat courses through his veins seeping into every pore of his skin and threatening to awaken his once asleep body. He pushes Bola back gently. She looks at him in confusion unaware of the feelings she has triggered in him. He caresses her face with his fingers and smiles. “Let’s take a walk.” Bola nods and Gboyega interlocks his fingers with hers as they walk out of the room.
They stroll lazily round the campus like two love-birds. Gboyega talks about his job in the construction company and his desire to come back to settle down in Akure after his National Youth Service. Bola is surprised and asks why he would leave his house in Lagos to start afresh in Akure. He tells her that Lagos has too many bad memories and he would rather start a new life filled with promises in Akure. He also mentions that he does not want to be far away from her.
They sit down on a bench outside one of the campus halls enjoying the coolness of the night breeze. They lose track of time while talking and by the time Gboyega looks at his wrist watch, he realizes they have been out of her hostel for almost two hours.
“What time is it?” Bola asks when she sees Gboyega looking at his wrist watch.
“You are sleeping in the boys’ hostel this night, right?”
“Yes, since that is the only way I get to see you tomorrow.” Gboyega replies with a smile.
Bola blushes. She stands up and holds his hands trying to pull him up.
Gboyega laughs. “You know I can lift you off the floor with just one hand.”
Bola drops his hands. He tries to hold her but she swats his hand and begins to walk away frowning.
He reaches her in two steps and holds her by the waist. “Hey, I was just joking.” He says laughing. “Even when you are frowning, you are still beautiful.”
“Yeah, I know. I wish the night could remain young.”
They walk back to her hostel and Gboyega plants a kiss on her cheeks as he wishes her good night.
Bola lies on her bed unable to sleep. She cuddles her pillow smiling. She feels butterflies in her stomach and she knows that this can only be love. Gboyega had come all the way from Shagamu to Akure just to be with her. She felt silly that she had condemned him because of his past. Yes, it was sordid. And there was still a lot of work getting used to it but she knew that the love they had for each other was going to create a better future.
She falls asleep hours later dreaming about Gboyega and the bright future ahead of them.
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