I needed to be far away from my Mum. I needed her to miss me; to miss the little house chores I did; to miss the way I cooked my beans that she loved. I hoped that my distance would make her realize how much she loved me and how she wanted me back home.
Needless to say, I passed the examination and officially left my Mum’s shackles. Or so I thought.
(You can listen to the audio file here)
We resumed school on the 22nd of October, 2011. Now, the life at Unizik was a far cry from the kind of life we envisaged we would be living once we entered the University. My school mates and I would all gather at the quadrangle, in secondary school and discuss about how interesting our lives would turn out once we entered the four walls of Unilag; The boys we would freely mingle with, the clubs we would go to all night, the freedom to finally have sex (well, that was for those of us who were still virgins and were not lesbians at the time).
It was a sad reality that Ada and I had to face: a town where the sun sets at 6:30pm and 8:00pm was considered dead of the night. A town that interpreted fun as going to the pool sides of hotels and drinking oddly-named Lager beer such as ‘’LIFE’’ and ‘’HERO’’ alongside large bowls of isi-ewu (goat head) in beer parlors. Oh gosh.
The first time my mum called me to find out how life was for me in my new school, I was not sure if it was sympathy I could sense in her voice, because for a reasonable amount of time, she was quiet. When she finally spoke, she did not sound like the woman I knew. She was low and slow. She asked me if I wanted to remain here or go to a private school. I wanted to tell her that I would love to go to a private school, but I did not want to leave Ada all alone in this shit hole. So I just said I was fine here. She hissed and ended the call. We never spoke about it again.
Ada stayed with me at Aunty Chika’s apartment, for the first three months.
As if the condition of the town was not bad enough, Aunty Chika had a copy of our lecture schedule and called us the moment the last lecturer for the day left the class. She said my Dad entrusted me in her care and she did not want anything to happen to me. So it was a proper cycle: home, school; home, school; church, home, school--- Boring, tiring and everything that does not relate to fun whatsoever.
Whenever our course mates spoke about parties they were attending or places they went to. Ada and I would just remain quiet. We were bored out of our minds, so we devised a way out of our predicament. Since Ada parents knew she stayed with me in my Aunt’s house, they only needed to call me to ensure that we were both fine, so Ada would get a room off camp and whenever we needed to go out or have fun, I would come over to Ada’s.
About funding it; we did what every smart student would do. We padded each and every of our expenses until we had enough money to rent a room for a year and furnished it to our taste.
The hostels off campus were divided into two main sections: The ones at the temporary site, where the school was previously located before it moved to it's permanent site; and the ones at the permanent site, where the school is currently located. ‘’Temp site’’ was where everything happened. It housed the most exotic hotels and bars the town had and the people who stayed in temp site were considered the big girls and boys in the school.
We chose to stay in temp site (well, Ada chose, I merely concurred), in Mercy Hostel to be precise. Mercy hostel was a 40 roomed, 4-story building, situated a street away from Queens Suite, which was the hotel that all the sort after parties in Awka happened and Ada was sure it was the right location for us.
Informing Aunty Chika that Ada was leaving her house for the hostel almost blew our cover. My aunt took it personal. She felt it was her fault. She wanted to know if it was something she did, if Ada had not been well taken care of. When she asked for Ada’s parent numbers, so she could call them to find out why they wanted Ada to leave her place for the hostel, was when I saw parts of my friend that I never knew existed.
Ada instantly came up with a very funny story of how thieves had come to her house the week before and stolen all the gadgets they had at home and how there was no way to contact her parents for now. She said her mother would be coming down to the east in two months to see my aunt and thank her for her help so far. And that was how she gained her freedom.
You see, Aunty Chika has been married for seven years now and had no issue. It was diagnosed that she had Polycystic-ovarian-syndrome and her womb would be unable to carry a child. She had lost all hope of giving birth, so she took care of every young person she came in contact with like her child. She always says that, God had giving her the mandate to take care of other people’s children. So she blamed Ada’s exit on herself. she began to say things like,
“This is the reason I cannot have my own child; I do not know how to take care of young ones. I am not good enough to be a mother.” she stopped eating.
Her husband was a business man. He sold imported doors and pumping machines in Onitsha market. Every time he got back home from work, he would sit with Aunty in the living room explaining to her how Ada leaving their house was not her fault, that it was just meant to happen. As I watched them, I wished I could tell them the real reason why she left. But what would I have said? That she left because she wanted freedom to stay out late with boys and go clubbing? Or that I also had plans of leaving the house too?
When I spoke to Ada about it in school, she just said,
“My dear, what is important right now is for us to come up with the perfect plan on how you would leave her house too. That way she can grieve at once and everybody’s life can go on.”
This might sound like a really cruel thing to say, but that was exactly what we did.