THE PROJECT SUPERVISOR, DARKNESS IN THE HOSTEL AND EJIRO’S REGRET
Mrs. Oduware sat stiffly across her project supervisor, Mr. Akin as his eyes scanned her body and rested on her engorged breasts. A predatory light had taken over his face. His moustache twitched as his tongue slipped through his parted lips and hung there like a lizard testing the air for a scent trail. Shivers of revulsion washed through Mrs. Oduware as she held his gaze. She prayed her instincts were wrong.
The man wouldn’t dare, seeing her state. It was impossible!
She found she was wrong minutes later when he came around his table to stand beside her.
“You are a very beautiful woman.”
Mrs. Oduware chuckled nervously.
“Thank you, sir.”
He cleared his throat, adjusting the stiff collar of his starched shirt.
“As for your year two course…POL 221, I will speak to Chukwu. I am sure they will find your missing script.”
“Thank you very much sir.”
His leathery face crinkling into a broad smile, he shook his finger at her.
“Not so fast. What are you giving me for this favour?”
Mrs. Oduware ignored the kick in her gut and sat straighter in her chair.
“I don’t understand sir.”
The project supervisor looked pointedly at her breasts.
“You are a grown woman. I should not have to spell these things out for you.”
Mrs. Oduware let her alarm show on her face.
“Ah, no sir.” She shook her head and made a sweeping gesture over her stomach. “You can see my condition. I cannot do that.”
The project supervisor shrugged his stocky shoulders.
“I don’t have a problem with that.”
“But sir – ”
“You want to tell me you don’t do it with your husband…” His eyes dropped to her stomach. “Even like this?”
Mrs. Oduware’s face tightened. “That is my husband sir.”
“Ehen? And I want to be your boyfriend.”
He reached for her arm but she jerked back forcefully and jumped to her feet.
“I am very sorry sir but what you are asking me to do is an abomination where I come from.” She backed away from him. “I cannot do it.”
He followed her, small beads of perspiration visible on his forehead. Mrs. Oduware’s heart began to race as she spied the bulge in his trousers. She spun around and dashed quickly to the door. She found it locked. Bearing her weight on one foot, she wrenched hard at the doorknob determined to escape the lecherous advances of the man closing in on her. She jumped back and crashed against the door when the man’s hand settled on her buttocks.
“Madam! Calm down please.”
Mrs. Oduware held a hand towards him.
“Don’t touch me sir.”
He did not appear to hear her. His face was overtaken with a dreamy haziness that made Mrs. Oduware’s fear spike. She held her bag out like a weapon.
“I will scream if you touch me sir.”
He touched her. First on her breasts, the on her stomach, his weight pinning and immobilizing her. His beefy hand clamped over her mouth.
“Nobody can hear you,” he rasped into her ears. “And even if they did, you cannot accuse me of anything. After all, everybody knows how you students beg lecturers for marks by seducing them.”
Helpless against him, Mrs. Oduware writhed in agony as his hand delved into the neckline of her dress and fondled her breasts. His knees jammed between her thighs, forcing them apart. Finally summoning strength from nowhere, she brought her right knee upwards, ripping it into his groin with all her might. She saw the surprise in his eyes and felt his hands slacken around her as he buckled and fell down to the threadbare rug of his nondescript office.
Seeing the chance for her escape, Mrs. Oduware fiddled with the locks of the door. This time there was a loud click and the door yielded and swung back to her pressure. She slammed it behind her, leaving Mr. Akin still clutching his groin and muttering obscenities under his breath. The corridors of the faculty were empty but she passed a few students loitering around the security desk downstairs. Dipping her trembling hands into her bag and fetching her car key, she ignored their curious looks. Several minutes later, she remained locked in the confines of her car, listening to the barely audible radio station with a lot of static and willing her pulse to return to normal. When the tremors subsided, she called her husband.
“You sound weird. Are you okay?”
“Are you coming home early today?”
“Yeah. Hopefully. Will try to leave the office before five so I can beat the traffic.”
“Juliet, are you okay?”
Mrs. Oduware swallowed back a choking sob.
“I am fine. I will see you later.”
She drove home, hands gripping her steering wheel tightly. The meeting with Mr. Akin replayed in her mind for what seemed like the hundredth time and revulsion returned with self-flagellation. It was all her fault. If only she had avoided the man like everybody warned her to. She thought of her reaction to his assault and pictured him groaning on the floor of his office. There would be consequences and they would be dire.
“God, please save me,” Mrs. Oduware muttered heavily under her breath right before she swerved to avoid a motorcyclist and running into a deep pothole. She barely heard the volley of abuse thrown her way. Her focus was pinned on the words flashing on the screen of her mind.
She would never graduate.
The heat was intense and the darkness oppressive. The girls stumbled all over each other, cackling and shouting at the top of their voices. Power had not been restored since it was cut two days before and rumours were making rounds that the SUG president would call for a protest that evening. The girls also heard about the order to stay away from the lecture halls. Tired of the constant darkness and long queues for water that ran out after thirty minutes, they welcomed the news with hearty enthusiasm and excitement. It was only Wednesday but a light weekend mood hung in the air. Ejiro was on her bed, her legs locked and twisted around Tobi’s own as she browsed through her phone. She had been thinking of Daniel all evening and how much she wanted to see him again. He had canceled three previous dates, citing exhaustion and stress from work. She did not believe him but she kept her suspicions to herself and Tobi.
“Maybe he is seeing someone else.”
Tobi popped the gum in her mouth and nodded absentmindedly.
“Or maybe he just doesn’t want to see me.”
Ejiro nudged her best friend sharply so that the phone she held tumbled to her chest. Tobi exclaimed in pain and slapped Ejiro’s knees.
“Are you mad?”
“Pay attention,” Ejiro said, rolling her eyes.
Tobi picked the phone off her chest.
“You have been saying the same thing since one hour. I am tired Ejiro.”
Ejiro found his last messages on Whatsapp and read them again until she had memorized every line, every word and every nuance. She was distracted by laughter from the corner of the room where one of their roommates Lota was engaged in a lewd, vulgar discussion about prior sexual escapades with her friend. Ejiro sighed and extricated her legs from the tangle on the bed. She found her way to her cupboard, her mouth set in a straight, determined line.
“Where are you going?”
“I am going to see Daniel.”
Tobi shifted to the edge of the bed, legs dangling over the side as she watched Ejiro sift through her clothes, the incandescent beam of her phone torch dipping up and down the small space of her cupboard.
“Did he ask you to come?”
Ejiro heard the sharp intake of breath just over her shoulder.
“Are you mad?”
“Stop asking me if I am mad. I am not.”
Contrition filled Tobi’s voice.
Then it disappeared again.
“But you don’t seriously don’t know what you are doing and I pity you.”
Ejiro found a small red dress and threw it over her shoulder.
“I don’t care.”
The two friends argued until their back and forth caught the attention of Lota who scrambled over to see what the furore was about. She laughed at Tobi’s concern and encouraged Ejiro.
“Don’t listen to her. She wants you to be single like her.” She plopped comfortably next to Tobi. “Enjoy yourself, but don’t suck his kini.”
Ejiro looked away from the duo on the bed, hiding the embarrassed grin on her face.
“You know these men, they don’t like you to know anything. If you whine waist too much, they will think you are spoilt. If you suck their kini, they will use you and do side chick.” She threw back her head and released a roaring laughter at the loud exclamation from her friend who was still lounging on her bed.
“See me like this, my boyfriend doesn’t know I drink. When I am with him, I drink only coke. In bed, I just lie there and do like a normal girl. No shouting. No anything, just hmmm hmmm.”
Her words elicited laughter from the other roommates. Ejiro laughed with the rest of her roommates and then shook her head in the end.
“I am not having sex with him.”
Lota shot her a dubious look.
“And the matchy matchy pant and bra you just selected is for what? Beauty contest?”
There was another round of laughter and Ejiro escaped the room to the corridor. Leaning on the wall, she exhaled. After minutes of procrastination, she sent Daniel a text and prayed that Tobi was wrong.
Daniel and Maxwell sat facing the screen, their faces scrunched up in concentration as their fingers worked feverishly on the buttons of the game console controllers. Their eyes followed the realistic simulation of their football game across the television screen. Maxwell grunted intermittently in frustration as Daniel’s team outplayed his team, scoring goals that made Daniel pump the air with his fists. Ebitimi picked Daniel’s phone from beside him when it vibrated.
“A message,” he said simply, extending the hand that held the phone to Daniel while his eyes remained glued on his phone.
Daniel ignored Ebitimi, concentrating on finishing the match with another goal. They ended with three goals in favour of Daniel.
“I don’t know what happened today. Didn’t even get a single goal,” Maxwell grumbled, reaching into his wallet to count the money he owed Daniel.
Ebitimi looked up from his phone.
“You shouldn’t be betting Daniel with these things. He is a sadist.”
“Is that what they call badass FIFA players these days?”
Maxwell grumbled some more, falling back on the brown beanbag chair beside Ebitimi as Daniel picked his phone off Ebitimi’s lap. He read the text with a smile.
“Who be dat?”
“That Unilag chick,” Daniel answered, lowering himself into his favourite chair and typing his reply. “She says there is no light at the hostel.”
Ebitimi laughed. “ You be NEPA? What is your business with the campus not having light?”
Daniel’s grin turned wolfish.
“Well, she wants to come over.”
Maxwell sighed loudly. “Why don’t I ever get calls like this?”
“I want to come over, I want to come over,” Ebitimi said, mimicking a female voice. “That’s how people carry belle.”
“So what are you going to do?”
Daniel pushed his phone into his trouser pocket.
“Discharge you guys because I just told her to come over.”
They sat quietly in the living room, their faces illuminated by the light from the television. She could feel his eyes on her and agonized over the prickly awareness of him that reduced her to a stammering mess and made it hard to concentrate on everything that had happened since she stepped into his apartment an hour ago.
“Are you enjoying this?”
Unable to meet his eyes, Ejiro answered, eyes glued on the television screen.
She heard his light chuckle before the television went black.
“Come, let’s do something else.”
Ejiro turned to see him extend his hand out to her. She placed her hand tentatively in the middle of his palm and allowed him pull her up. They stood inches apart and he looked down at her with a half-smile and vibrant brown eyes that seemed to see through her.
“You are not a good pretender.”
“What?” Ejiro let out a brief self-conscious laugh. “I wasn’t pretending.” And then hated herself for not saying something witty and cool.
“Let me pour you something. Might relax you.”
Her heart hammering away in her chest, Ejiro followed him meekly to his kitchen where he poured amber coloured liquid from a small bottle into red plastic cups. Ejiro held her cup to her face as he took a sip from his own. The sharp smell of spirit, coconut and pear filled her nostrils.
“What is this?”
She took a gulp from the cup and heard him laugh.
“Easy. You might want to be slow with that.”
His warning came to late. Ejiro stared wide-eyed at him as the alcohol hit her system. Her throat burned. Her entire being buzzed and vibrated.
“Go slower next time,” he said again, taking her hand and leading her back to the living room. He played music, a jumping hip hop number he sang along to while guiding and urging her steps. Ejiro felt herself loosening up to him. She watched him in awe, enjoying the sound of his laughter and the sight of him moving in tempo to the beat blaring from the small black speakers in the living room. Several sips later, the lights burned brighter and the music louder in Ejiro’s mind. She found herself struggling with goofy giggles that constantly erupted out of her without warning. The buzz had become exhilarating freedom. She touched him more. Spun around more. Fell into his arms more.
Then after a breathtaking moment of staring into each other’s eyes, he kissed her. Mouth slanting over hers, he claimed her. Easily. She went to him without resistance, melting into him as his arms closed around her. Her breasts pressed against his chest, she moaned as he stroked her back, his tongue sliding past her lips and exploring the contours of her mouth with lazy expertise. Losing sense of everything except the awareness of him, Ejiro clung to him, tasting him as he tasted her, liquid heat flaring somewhere between her thighs. His touch roused her like no man’s touch had ever done before. She felt alive with desire and need.
The clothes fell from their bodies. He admired her as they stood surrounded by the untidy pile at their feet and then led her to the room. There he kissed the soft swell above her bra line and snapped off the hooks with one hand while trailing kisses down her neck. Soon she was naked and spread under him. His hands were everywhere, grazing over her thighs and the dip between them. She reached to touch him, but he grabbed her wandering hands, placed a kiss on each palm and pinned them above her head. He gave her pleasure again and again until she was chanting his name under her laboured breath.
Finally, he entered her, sheathed yet close enough to send her senses spinning. They locked eyes as he moved inside her. Ejiro felt a rush of love in that instant. She lifted her head off the pillow to kiss him deeply, wondering if there would be any like him in her life again. Time froze and they moved in one rhythm until his pace picked up and his thrusts became frenzied and uncontrolled. It was ended after an eternity and they lay in each other’s arms, struggling to catch their breaths.
Ejiro stroked his lean muscled arm, her eyes reflecting her feelings for him. What she had shared with him was magic. She wanted more. A string of words floated in her mind and she blurted them out before she could stop herself.
“So, what are we now?”
He stared at her for a long time, his brows dipping thoughtfully.
Ejiro swallowed back her disappointment.
He gave her a small smile.
Then left for the bathroom, leaving Ejiro replaying Tobi’s words in her mind.
….you don’t seriously don’t know what you are doing and I pity you.