Mary and I had been friends since primary school.
We were in the same class from primary three at our Lady of Lourdes and we both lived at Clegg street in Surulere here in Lagos. We also went to the same secondary school, New Era girls in Surulere but weren’t in the same class, though we belonged to the same set.
We maintained our friendship, even though we still had other friends in our circle. The thing about Mary back then was that she was a girl who wanted to be accepted, she wanted people to like her, to be the one who was ‘happening’ and she had what it took to be just that. In my opinion, she was very pretty, her parents were not so well to do but they were not poor either.
Mary was never the type of person I would have thought was wicked or jealous or anything bad. We sometimes visited one another’s homes, her parents knew mine and vice versa.
After our secondary school education; she was lucky to have gained admission to university. I wasn’t lucky but my sister, even if I had passed both Jamb and WAEC that period, who would have sponsored me? My parents were not as enlightened as Mary’s parents. Me, I still had to hawk bread and sometimes plantain after school hours so that my family could feed, so tell me, where would I have time to go for extra classes like Mary did for Jamb?
Mary encouraged me to re-sit Jamb so that I too could further my education; she encouraged me to contact my elder brother, Chinedu in Asaba to send me to school. Now, this brother is estranged from my father but he was making serious money and sending to my mother before my father forbade her from collecting anything more from him; Papa said his money would bring us bad luck.
But after the third year of finishing secondary school and not going to uni, I tried Jamb again and passed very well; still, I knew my parents couldn’t really afford to send me to school. It was my mother who then advised me to contact my brother to help me with money but without my father’s knowledge.
I contacted my brother and he was happy for me. He said I would be the first person to go to university in the family and that he would help me. And he did, he sent me money, not much but at least enough to pay the necessary fees I needed to start school; he promised to continue to send money.
At school, with my friend, Mary already familiar with university life, I didn’t think I would have any problems settling in. As a first year student, I was given accommodation but I could easily have been living with Mary because of the way I was so dependent on her. She introduced me to her roommates, boyfriend, the different areas of campus life.
I trusted her.
One day, I got a call from Mary to meet her at one of the lecture halls. I went there and met her with one of the so called ‘big boys’ on campus along with other guys and girls.
Now, this same guy had toasted me before, but hey, I was just 19 years, never had a boyfriend before, had been warned to steer clear of these types of boys and after years of hawking, you pick a few things from the streets and one of it is that the rich and poor don’t mix. I mean, what does a spoilt rich kid want from a ‘poor local girl’ like me? So I just hurried along to my classes that day.
Mary introduced the guy to me, said his name was Iyke and that he said he liked me. I looked at Mary and told her I wasn’t interested in any relationship, I reminded her that she knows I am from a humble home, boyfriends were not my priority.
Even though I was facing Mary, it was Iyke I was talking to.
Then he said he would take care of me, that I would lack nothing, blah, blah, blah. Me, in my mind, I was saying, odiegwu, you will use me and dump me and what will happen to me afterwards? Biko shift.
I still shook my head.
Then Mary began to talk, she said I should agree for him, that he was one of the hottest guys on campus, that I should consider it a privilege that he was even talking to me, that I was very lucky. I swear, I was ashamed of her that day. So she wants me to sell myself because this one has money?
I knew I was poor but hawking plantain and bread in and around Surulere for years, taught me the value of money and anyone splashing it around anyhow has not worked hard enough, least of all, this rich boy called Iyke.
Just like my own brother, too, Chinedu. I soon realised what my father meant when he said Bro Chinedu’s money was blood money; my brother was involved in Yahooyahoo. Yes, I found out too. So I wanted to keep my distance.
Anyway, I think Iyke felt I slighted him because a few days later Mary called me again to meet her at a hostel outside campus. I was like, ‘I hope you are not arranging for me to meet Iyke again, o.’
She said, ‘no, don’t worry, just come.’
Me, mumu, I went.
Ok, so you know some students live off campus? I knew that particular hostel, I told her I would come after my lectures.
When I got there, I saw Mary and her boyfriend, I saw a few other guys and girls that I had seen around campus. Mary invited me into one of the rooms, it turned out to be a guy’s room. You could easily tell, guy things everywhere, clothes on the rack, messy table…
I entered with Mary, they gave me biscuit and coke; after a short while, Mary said I should wait for her that she wanted to go and pick up something from her room.
I said I would follow her but she said to wait, that she would come back quickly.
I am not sure Mary would have got to the gate when Iyke just barged in. He, said, ‘Behold the queen bee, you think you’re better than me?’
He said I was too full of myself, that I rejected him; fine boy that girls were falling over. At this time my sister, I knew what was going on, this guy was going to rape me.
So I began to beg him, I pleaded with him and lied that I would agree but that I wanted to break-up from a my boyfriend first.
He didn’t listen o.
We began to struggle; he tore my blouse and my skirt. At first I felt raw fear that paralyzed me, later, I began to scream in the hope that some of the students around would hear me and come to my aid. They did hear me, knocked the door down and swooped on the idiot!
They beat the living daylight off him, a few of the guys were asking of I was ok.
I said, I was fine and quickly gathered my clothes together and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I didn’t look back!
But that trauma lives with me still; I could easily have been raped; would you believe that for days I couldn’t sleep, eat or even attend lectures?
I was later informed that Iyke was reported to the student counsellor; I was called to give my own account and statement, I did.
Mary of course denied luring me to the hostel. She was given a warning but Iyke was suspended from school.