Hadiza dearie are you in?”
I opened the door reflexively, I hadn’t even heard the knocks. They trooped in, what some would call my entourage. My friends and colleagues.We did almost everything together, and even shared a room in the hostel, close as we were supposed to be, even they did not know the real me. They had no idea who I really was. They knew my age, a few of my likes and dislikes and, to some extent, my temperament. But they were ignorant to what really mattered.
“Babe I have gist for you o!”
That was Yemisi, an Economics student in the same level, we all were. She and I had attended the same secondary school, but she was a class or two ahead of me. She was loudmouthed and relished in gossip. We all loved a good story as long as it was not about us, but Yemisi was in a class by herself, she knew everything about everybody. She sometimes even went as far as to carry tales about one of us to another. Bad as it was, none of us had, for some reason, thought of taking her up.
“Yes o! Very serious gist, you won’t believe it.”
“Who is it about?”
“Who is Yetunde?”
“Hadiza, Yetunde Black” Sola chipped in from her corner of the room.
“Yetunde Black? That one in year 3?”
Sola was not as gist crazy as Yemisi but she ran a close second when it came to insulting her friends. She was tall and fair skinned, less physically endowed than she liked and Yemisi teased her endlessly over her lack of ‘essential commodities’. Sola was also kindhearted deep within but when anybody got too close to Yemisi, that milk of kindness had a way of drying up.
Truthfully, we were all gossips. Amaka, the last of the four who was currently lying on the bunk above me was the least insulting of us. She was tall and rake thin; somewhere between honeycoloured and chocolate. She had a sweet voice and her singing was her most endearing characteristic. Still, she like the rest of us appreciated a good tale and from the excitement in Yemisi’s voice, this story was one to die for.
Yemisi climed up to her bed, moving away from the table she had sat on as she came in. The bunk creaked. I was about to shoot out a punch line about her weight when I thought the better of it. It would only put her in a mood and I would never get to hear this story she seemed so sure was extraordinary. Yemisi’s weight was the only flaw she aknowledged about herself, nobody thought to point out the countless others. She was heavily endowed, though that did not really count considering that she was unbearably fat, borderline obese in fact.
“Oya, what is this gist?”
“I was going to the toilet this morning around 4am. You know the toilets on this floor are bad now, so I went to the toilets on the last floor. On the way, I had to pass through F wing. You know the corridor leading to R wing abi? Well, as I was approaching it, I could hear whispers. When I got close enough, I peeped and I saw Yetunde and one fresher like that, I don’t know her faculty but she likes forming big girl. Anyway, they were kissing on the corridor.”
“Yemisi! Are you sure?”
“Very very. In fact, at first I wasn’t sure who it was and I heard the fresher telling Yetunde that she did not want to do it anymore and Yetunde was saying that it would help her ‘develop’. Can you imagine, then later she would be forming usher in fellowship!”
Amaka hissed from her perch, “don’t mind her, she will start carrying oversize bible around now and be shouting up and down, imagine the nonsense she does at night.”
Shola had nothing to add, she merely joined Amaka in the hissing game, though usually some retort would have been on the tip of her tongue.
All this while I was silent. Lesbianism was not a novel concept to me. I was not shocked, what I felt was pity, for the younger girl. Hearing that she was trying to resist had taken me back in time, it was like I was back in that room, the little girl begging and that older silkier voice that kept whispering,
“I’m doing it for us.”
“Hadiza. What is it? Don’t you have anything to say?”
I got up and turned round, backing the room. Hiding my face from the people I called my friends, without commenting on the lesbian usher, I told them about my narrow escape and my unknown rescuer. And while they listened to my ‘gist’, I wondered how they would react if they knew the real me. If they knew the truth. I was not a giant bible toting fellowship usher who doubled as a lesbian, I was worse.
Oladimeji Ojo is a writer and unrepentant cake addict resident in the suburbs of Lagos. During the week you might spot Oladimeji wearing a grey wig and a flowing black gown, swimming with other sharks. Out of the water, he spends his time reading, writing stories and hanging out with friends and family when he’s not racing unsuspecting motorists on the Lekki-Epe expressway. You can follow him on Twitter:@iStalkwriters. For more information on the book visit The Monitored Facebook Page.