I met Lade at the university when I was in my second year and he was supposed to be in his final year. I said “supposed” because you see on campus, you can’t deceive anyone about your status, everyone knows who has been suspended but still masquerading as a full time student on campus, everyone knows those who are repeating the year, a semester perhaps, those who should have graduated but are being held back over one course or the other or those who are being victimized by a certain lecturer….students talk, if you listen well, you will know these things.
So I knew who Lade was when he approached me that second semester of my year two. I knew he had been suspended a year before; I knew he had rich parents who didn’t know he had been sent out of school for a while but he still showed up every semester. I knew he was also trying to get a few lecturers to speak on his quick reinstatement; he had been bribing these lecturers, plying them with clothes, money, booze at the clubs around campus and you know…the works. I think the Dean of his Faculty found out and extended his suspension for another year. He was supposed to return in two year’s time but it was extended by another year. What was his crime? He was said to be a Cult sponsor…I told you he had rich parents.
But his parents didn’t know he was out of school for two years and more. He never told them he was on suspension. Most of us thought that he would not return to campus and would relocate like a few of the others rusticated along with him had done.
Where am I going with this story?
I became his girlfriend because I truly believed he was unjustly rusticated. He gave money to friends without asking them what they were doing with it, that shouldn’t be his undoing. But anyway because the cult activities he was said to have sponsored resulted in the death of an innocent student, Lade was was grilled, asked to bring his parents, he brought fake parents, he paid for the people to come stand for him, the school found out…he was sent on suspension.
Anyway, day of graduation came and his real parents came with all their village people. They hired a coaster bus, came with relatives and friends and food and drinks and bata drummers, in fact…on the day Lade was meant to have graduated…
I knew his parent were coming, he had told me he would collect a graduation gown from one of his friends and use it to pose with his parents for a photograph. I played along because…well, let’s just say I was stupid and naïve and dumb. I mean, if he hadn’t told his parents he hadn’t been in school for two years, will my doing anything that day save the day?
So when his parents came, I met them at the car park and took them to the grounds where the event was holding…Lade couldn’t because…as graduant concern, he would be in the hall…with others, listening to speeches…et al.
I showed his mum where they could set up their things…the small band, the food, the friends and family that came along with them…
His dad then decided that he wanted to go take a photo of his son among the graduads in the hall…
I told the man I didn’t know where Lade was seated plus non graduating students were banned from approaching the hall. I had to lie because the man was just insistent on going to take a photo of his son. Anyway, the proud father decided he would go find him himself…that was when I spoke to my legs because I knew katakata would burst.
So what happened while I was gone?
His dad met with an old friend of his who happened to be one of the professors in the school. It was the Prof, who told Lade’s dad that his son was not among the graduands, that he had been sent off school in the last two years and was shocked the father didn’t know!
I imagine the dad would be like, “No, that’s not possible…”
He must have gone back to meet Lade’s mum, maybe they got a copy of the brochure listing all those graduating and of course, Lade’s name would be missing…
I’m just conjecturing because after that day, I ceased to exist in his parents’ radar! I mean, I was part of the lie!
Me, I had disappeared o! They began to call my number, I didn’t pick!
Long story short, the father went back and told the mum and they packed all their stuff back into their coaster bus and headed back home!
I heard the father suffered a stroke weeks after but before then, I told you Lade is a rich man’s son. That day, Lade went to the site where his family was setting up because, he called me to say he couldn’t find his parents at the place I told him I led them to for set up. I went to meet him there and we were told by the people who also came to celebrate graduation with their sons/daughters that they had left, they had packed up and left!
I truly felt bad for the parents.
If it had been my dad, I would be dead by now!
But you won’t believe what happened, afterwards?
Lade called his mum, in my presence…they hadn’t even got home by then, Lade said, “Mum, I’m disappointed in you guys, I can’t believe you didn’t come for my graduation.”
Omo, the guy has balls!
He didn’t graduate, he knew he wasn’t graduating, he embarrassed his family by not telling them not to bother calling family and friends for an occasion that is a lie; they came and found out and he calls to say, they didn’t come! Some balls menh!
Anyway, a few months afterwards, I mean, I don’t know exactly how it went down with him and his parents at home after that incident, he called me to inform me he had relocated abroad, to Canada.
You know, my parents aren’t rich. Lade was helpful to me while I was in school, so I will not disparage him. But I also knew he was not the guy I would settled down with…not that I was even interested in settling down at that age. I was young…still am, o. Anyway, Lade calls me, has been calling in the last one year in fact, that he had found work and would send me tickets to come join him…
In these days of japa, his invitation is tempting but here’s a guy who deceived his own parents for more than two years, had the balls to accuse them of wrongdoing on top of it…what kind of job does he have? What kind of live is he living because I am sure he didn’t finish school? What kind of offer is he sending to me?
I no wan go oyibo land go suffer o, maybe I should just wait jejeley for better to come o, abi I should ja pa?
Tell your Nigerian people to advise me, please.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)