The ritual was almost impossible to perform as my mum was just my mum. I was gone and Chinwe, her favorite child, was back from boarding house. Mummy was too occupied to remember that an Nkechi existed. I mean, how does a mother forget her own child? Well, only my mum had the answer to that question and even as her lady-child, I did not have the balls to find it out.
Two weeks into thesemester; the ever jovial Ada, who had almost moved in with Kola, came to me, with a funny story about how she met this girl, who was really cool but just got kicked out by the person she was squatting with and now, she wanted the girl to stay with us.
“Err, does this even make sense to you Ada? How can we accommodate a girl we know little or nothing about?” I had asked her, one of the times she bombarded me with the girl’s story.
“Ahn ahn, we have been through this topic a thousand times and I will tell you the same thing I have been telling you from the beginning. She is a very cool chick, we are from the same village in Mbaise (which is a popular town in Imo state), so I can vouch that she will be well behaved. This girl does not have anywhere else to go now, let us help her.”
And she was right; we had discussed the topic of the new girl, several times, but I was not interested. I had heard the saying: If you are in a room with a snake and an Mbaise person, one should kill the Mbaise person first, before you killed the snake.
Granted, I am not one who believed in stereotypes and stigmas; after all, Ada is my best friend and has been my roommate for months now, but I knew nothing about this girl and her background, so I was not interested.
Trust Ada to know the exact place the itch was, to scratch,
“I am sure it is because she is from Mbaise that you do not want her in our house. I am also sure that if she were from Anambra State, you will welcome her with open arms.”
The next day, Florence moved into our house.
The first three days of housing her was more of a frustrating experience than it was rendering help. She could not just stop talking about her family and how affluent they were. She said that her siblings did not like the idea of her schooling in the east, that her elder who resided in Lagos wanted her to school in Unilag and her other sister would rather she schooled in Germany or a Private School but she chose to come Awka because she did not want to be far away from her parents. She said she was her Dad’s favourite and she was schooling here for him.
It was the name part that struck my last nerve. It was funny how it was Ada and I that grew up in Lagos, but Florence who insisted never to be referred to by her Igbo name, Chika.
“I am tired of all this Igbo name calling that was why I changed my name to Florence. Hmm, there is no Florence in my birth certificate o, but I gave myself that name the moment I got my admission letter.” She said to us, as she stood before the mirror just beside the bath room door, admiring her round boobs – an act she constantly did. The girl was obsessed with herself. In her mind, her body was the only attractive body on earth and it really pissed me off.
While she spoke, my gaze never left Ada’s. I could not imagine living with this girl for a year. There were a lot of things about Florence that put me off and I blamed Ada for having to put me through this.
That evening, Ada and I decided to visit mama Obi 's mama put joint, to buy her special rice and Ofe-Akwu stew for dinner. This day, more than ever, we could not afford to take a motorcycle to the joint because I seriously needed to talk to Ada.
“My first issue with this your Florence friend, is the fact that with all the English names that existed in this world, she names herself Florence and thinks it is something to be cool about.” I said to Ada, as soon as we were out of our hostel.
“Omo, the thing tire me o. I have been avoiding having this talk with you since because I know you will give me all that I-told-you-so sermon now.”
“Well, let’s see what she has to offer, before we judge her. Ehen, what department is she really in because she always avoids the topic every time I bring it up.”
“Okay, let me tell you the truth, …”
“The truth? Ahh, Ada, me I do not want hanky panky o. Which one is tell me the truth now?” I interjected.
“Relax now, let me land. So I met Chika in the examination hall when I came to write my diploma entrance examination.
That day ehn, when I got to the hall, I was depressed, I swear. There was no correct girl in the hall except Chika. At least, she was a really fair chick, with this very long human hair she fixed, so I automatically gravitated towards her. You know me now.
I walked up to her and asked if she was prepared for the examination, she laughed and said no. She asked me if I was too and I equally said no.
Omo, I thought it was just normal talk, until we began the exam. She sat directly in front of me, like normal setting. Men, Nkechi, this chick did not know jack. When I was done with the questions, I tapped her and asked if she was done too, that I wanted to go submit my script. She replied in the most hilarious way: "Ha, Nne, I have not written anything."
I thought she was exaggerating, so I asked which number she needed help with. The chick said "everything o". Finally, Nkechi, I ended up teaching her the whole exam, like from numbers 1 to 100
After the examination, she did not stop hailing me o and expressing her likeness for me. She said that God had answered her prayers, by bringing me to her life. She said she spent the day before the exams, begging God to make her meet a correct person in the hall, that God gave her double dosage of her prayers with me. She insisted on us staying together when we got admitted but I told her I already had a roommate, that we could still be friends and we exchanged numbers.
I did not bother telling you about her, because when I got back to Lagos, I didn’t hear from her and I was not particularly interested in the friendship to have called her. Then, one day, while I was in Kola’s house, a chick walks into his room to borrow his knife. As soon as I saw her, I was surprised, so I screamed: Chika, where have you been!
My babe just said: Mechie onu gi biko. Bia n’iro ka anyi kpaa (Keep quiet please, come outside let’s discuss).
I got up and went to meet her, then I was like, ahn ahn, which one is shut up na. She said yes o, that she now bears Florence and no longer Chika. She said Chika was too razz a name for her to be called in the University.
That was why I felt she was a coded girl, as she was using the word ‘Razz’ and she grew up in Enugu, you know?”
“I do not know anything, just continue.” I replied, without any effort to hide the irritation in my voice.
“Okay. When I asked her why I had not seen her in class yet; she told me that she did not pass English in her WAEC (West Africa Examination Certificate), so the school offered her Sociology and she refused, because she did not know what she will be using Sociology to do after school.”
“Ahn ahn, why did she not write GCE now?” I asked.
“Omo, I even forgot to ask her that one but you know now, she grew up in Enugu, we are not sure they write GCE there.” Ada replied.
“That cannot be possible. I am sure they write GCE everywhere in Nigeria.” I responded.
“Anyway, I did not ask her that one. The girl said that she plans to rewrite WAEC again, because she must read Banking and Finance. I agreed and she went into her room.
Two days later, on my way to Elite hostel to see Kola, I saw her roommate harassing her in front of their block about how she was not a student. I jejely went into Kola’s room. Later in the day, she came to Kola’s room and asked if she could squat with me, that her roommate embarrassed her and she would not want to stay in her place anymore.
I told her I had a roommate and she begged that I asked you, that we will not regret having her in our lives. She told me that she had a sister and brother that lived in Lagos and another one in Germany. So my dear, that is Florence’s background story o.”
“Wait Ada, you knew all these things and still brought her to our room?”
“Ahn ahn, we are in the University now, we are supposed to mingle. So why don’t we just start doing that already.”
And this mingling was one we would never forget in a hurry.