Something happened to my son recently at school.
That is the reason I decided to share my own story.
Well, it’s really not my story, per se, it’s the story of four young men, four undergraduates from one of Nigeria’s popular universities. If I mention the school, then so many people may recollect the incident but for the sake of those who still do not want to own up to their part in this story, I will keep a lot of details anonymous.
What happened to my son that triggered my story?
My son is in his final year in secondary school and was almost done with WAEC when he told me some of his classmates were planning to molest girls after their exams.
He said some of his friends were against this move and had been trying to talk the others out of it. I then asked him if he and those against this have gone to report to a teacher or someone in higher authority, he said no, that it was not his business.
I told him, ‘your silence can kill’. I said if he didn’t report, I would because if anything happened to the girls, it would be on his conscience for the rest of his life. I am proud to say my son and his friends did the needful and they’ve all passed out without incident.
Now to my own story,. It is not at all connected to rape but similar in the sense that we said nothing about one of us who was in danger.
This is what happened. Years back, as an undergraduate in the university, we partied a lot. I had roommates who had been kept indoors all their growing lives so as soon as they got to the university, they lost their heads to the freedom it offered.
I had four friends that we moved together; myself and three other guys. We were BJ, TJ, Dave and Tai. Two were my roommates-TJ and Tai, we were all in the Humanities Faculty, the fourth, Dave was in Engineering.
We were young, our ages ranged from 18 to 21. We were not all from wealthy families, only one of us was, TJ- his father gave him a car to use in school. TJ’s car was what we used to oppress girls and the rest of the guys that didn’t have a ride…and he was the youngest amongst us.
Like normal crazy undergraduates, we painted the town red every Friday, unfailingly, we went clubbing with different types of girls.
We were loud, we were boisterous, we were often aggressive especially when we got drunk; we smoked weed…yes, it was common even back then. And when you are that young like us and in the university, too, you feel invincible, like you are above the law and really afraid of nothing.
That was what we were.
We were generally having fun at school. No monitoring spirit like parents or guardians to check us, we lost it!
Now, TJ was the one from a wealthy background and he was also the one who had learned to drive which is why his father gave him the car. The rest of us hadn’t learned to drive, except Dave who always boasted that he was at least better than Tai and I, since we hadn’t even learned to move a car.
Also, back in the day, whenever we were going clubbing or gate crashing parties, we would be like six seated behind with three in front; there would often be girls among us as we moved from club to club or party to party.
Back then, the police hadn’t become as notorious for stopping such crowds of students as they do now.
So, on this day, during one of those ASUU strikes, we had not gone home, instead we decided to chill in school for a while. So, we had plenty of time on our hands. As usual, we went partying at a club. We were drunk…and four young men piled into the car that early morning. TJ was at the wheel, he was drunk, we all were.
The car had a sun roof and we would often open it to let in air and many times, one of us would be standing head sticking out of the sun roof. Of course, we were drunk, remember and that day, the person who stood out of the sun roof was Dave.
I fell asleep as soon as some bit of air blew in so I can’t tell you exactly what happened afterwards. I know this minute we were driving back to campus, the next, I heard a loud bang and I must have blacked out.
I came to later and I can’t tell what happened exactly because like I said, we were all drunk, young and foolish.
We had run into a pole and somehow, Dave must have been flung clean off into a ditch not too far off. From the way his body was positioned, we sensed he was dead.
We were in a dilemma and we made a silent pact that morning. Never to breath a word about Dave. Over the years, I have been tormented by this simple fact, we killed our friend.
Maybe if we had called for help that early morning, Dave would still be alive, maybe he didn’t die that moment but was just unconscious, maybe if we had alerted his family or even some of our friends who were left on campus, we would have been able to save our friend.
But we were afraid and so we said nothing.
TJ was afraid he would go to jail for being the driver of the car; then Tai and I were afraid we would be accused of throwing him out of the car or something. We were afraid we would be rusticated if it was discovered we were with Dave when he died. We were afraid, so we remained silent.
Two weeks later, school resumed, Dave’s sister came looking for him. We said we didn’t know where he was. He was not our roommate, so we had no idea where he was…we lied.
Dave’s body was eventually found; he was identified by his student’s ID card in the ditch. We played the part of friends mourning his death and indeed we mourned because hell, Dave was a great friend, he was also the only son of his parents.
Interestingly enough, today, we are all men but not friends. That night changed us all. So, you see why I said silence can kill; it can kill the person you should speak up for, it can kill something in you who keeps silence.
(series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)