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Caleb’s Blackberry beeped. It was Kelvin’s reply.
Caleb was sitting out with his girlfriend Tolu, in front of Amina Hostels. The lovebirds were in a serious relationship and they planned to get wedded in the near future.
Caleb chuckled when he read the text message.
I’m really grateful for this piece of information that I’ve decided to take you out tomorrow for a plate of amala with a delicious egusi soup, and capped with two large chunks of roast beef.
If my mood soon changes before then, you may have to make do with a plate of fried rice alongside a bottle of malt.
Hey, by the way, don’t you come litter my night dreams—and that’s a warning! See you tomorrow; rest in peace.
He whispered to his girlfriend’s ear. ‘Baby girl, I wanna tell you a secret.’
Tolu was eager to hear.
Caleb leaned slightly into her and whispered. ‘If I die tomorrow by poisoning, don’t bother informing the police to investigate who killed me. You know him, don’t you? Kelvin. He just warned me.’
Tolu met his whispered words with a sharp, edgy hiss. ‘It’s late; I’m going in to sleep. Good night.’
She stood up and headed inside her hostel.
Caleb begged her to hug him good night. But he wouldn’t get a hug tonight. He’d played a prank on his girlfriend like he sometimes did, and his dole of punishment that night was to leave for his hostel without her hug.
He lazily walked to Fela where he stayed on campus.
Kicking stones on his pathway like a little boy.
◙ ◙ ◙
Kelvin and Caleb’s love interests also bonded between them so naturally: Yemi and Tolu were to themselves like sisters as Kelvin and Caleb were brother-like.
The young women were also studying English literature at the University of Ankara as Kelvin and Caleb.
But they were both second year students, while their men were a year ahead of them.
Yemi and Tolu both stayed on-campus at Queen Amina Hostels, with their rooms being only a few doors apart.
Earlier that day, the young women had chitchatted about their day, about their class and about their guys. They were both in Yemi’s room at Amina.
‘Have you thought of the solution to the puzzle Professor Oni gave in class today?’ Yemi joked, asking Tolu.
The two young women were just done watching an American movie on Yemi’s laptop, both of them sitting on her single bed.
Tolu chuckled. ‘Which of the puzzles is that?’ If the subject was of interest at all, it was one that she liked to vent her ill passions talking about it.
She began shooting. ‘Oh, the one that talkative of a professor talked about today!
‘You see, that man’s got loads of problems, trust me. He expects us to solve his life problems which people like me don’t have a penny worth of interest in!’
Tolu ranted on. ‘How does he expect us to care about his “special difference between smartness, brilliance and intelligence”?
‘Or even care about which one of his three blind mice we need to have?
‘Look, who among us doesn’t know that what we need is simply getting good grades?
‘Or what has the freaking threesome got to do with English literature for crying out loud?’
Yemi giggled. Her friend knew how to be serious and funny at the same time.
Tolu went on spitting fire. ‘If I know the answer to the stupid puzzle, will I be out of my comfort zone to be in this corner of the world going on hunger strike to study?
‘It is not his fault anyway. Really, I’ve forgotten it’s no fault of his at all!’
Yemi shut down her laptop. ‘You and your lamentations!’ she chortled. ‘I wish you were born in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah—you two would’ve composed his Book of Lamentations. You’d have made an unforgettable legend, for certain. The thought alone makes me feel extraordinarily excited, you know!’
She closed her eyes and spread her hands apart in a conscious abandon.
Tolu couldn’t help the laughter that burst out of her lips. ‘Miss Josephine!’
She waved her hand across Yemi’s face. ‘OK, enough of the daydream; I’m done with my own part of Jeremiah’s book now!’
‘OK, OK…’ Yemi said, laughing, too, and stifling her laughter into chuckles with a hankie. ‘By the way, you said it’s not prof’s fault, right? Whose fault is it, then?’
‘Your boyfriend.’ Tolu’s rejoinder came pretty unexpectedly.
‘Pardon? Which boyfriend?!’
‘Kelvin your boyfriend, of course!’ It appeared Tolu meant the words she was spilling out.
Yemi’s lips just formed a silent wow. She looked askance, an accompanying half smile accentuating the pretty side of the amazement on her face.
Tolu went on. ‘Of course, the one guy on this campus that has his tongue tied when you talk.
‘The only guy that loses his mind when you sway your hips past him in the Department.’
Tolu gave her friend an eye. ‘Don’t tell me you dunno the dude’s so much into you,’ she added.
‘Or worse still, that you dunno you’re freaking smitten by his personality already!’
Yemi sat as silent as a cold rock under the rhythmic pelting of a downpour of rain and ice.
Tolu gave her an eye a second time. ‘You feel me?’
She went on in a bit. ‘You know, he has the qualities of the three words involved in the puzzle, too.
‘He’s also got cash. I learned from Caleb he’s just won himself another poetry prize. A national poetry prize particularly.
‘One that grants him a travel privilege to run a writer’s residency in the UK. I think at Edinburgh… the University of Edinburgh.’
Yemi knew all those. She was only being coy with Kelvin.
Tolu breathed an exhausted sigh, as she reclined herself on the bed.
Yemi sighed, too.
Tolu sprang up with an afterthought. ‘And come to think of it, all that’s on top a monetary award of £2000. And that’s like one million naira!’
She was again reclining her back. ‘I just wish he’s my mama’s kid,’ she said a teasing whisper. And then, she yelled. ‘I’d be walking with cocky shoulders all around campus already, I swear!’
‘OK, OK… Royal Praise Singer!’ Yemi said in a raised, humourous tone of voice. Her voice dropped just as soon. ‘How’s it your bro’s fault then? What’s Kelvin got to do with the puzzle?’
Yemi was suddenly sitting up again. ‘Oh, thank you for acknowledging us!’ she joked, gleaming wide and cocking her shoulders in a simulated show of pride.
‘You see,’ she gently explained, ‘last session when he was in the second year, he was used to providing answers to Professor Oni’s puzzles.
‘You know, he made the man think there’s always a solution to every puzzle under heaven!
‘And I learnt it’s your boyfriend’s unnecessary display of brains back then that encouraged the old man to keep pestering students for solutions to stupid puzzles.
‘Now the man is looking for another Kelvin among us second year students.’
Yemi raised a hand. ‘All right, ma’am; we’ll see if there’s another Kelvin in the class tomorrow…’ She packed her laptop aside.
‘But mind you,’ she added rather emphatically and with a slight, coy smile in her face, ‘Kelvin is not my boyfriend; he is just a se—’
Tolu interposed. ‘Yep, a senior colleague—I’ve been expecting that!’ She had a rather teasing smile highlight the corners of her lips.
Yemi couldn’t help unconsciously biting down her lower lip at the mocking grin in her friend’s face that met her own last statement.
She tried to hide the sheepish gleam in her own coy eyes. But it was bent on betraying her real feelings this time.
She almost couldn’t take the moment’s awkwardness. ‘C’mon, stop it!’ she said in a low breath.
She didn’t want to say anything, though. The words had come much like a reflex. She now felt childish hearing how lame they sounded.
Tolu giggled. ‘Look,’ she put in, ‘I’m off to my room before you start complaining to me about how much you love-hate his confidence or pride.’
She added some golden final words as she stormed out. ‘So, till tomorrow. Dream of Kelvin!’
Before Yemi could retort a word of protest, Tolu had dashed out of Yemi’s room.
Yemi just chortled and had her lovely thin feminine voice send a lazy ‘Good night!’ through her bedside window.
To follow her lovely friend’s retreating footsteps.
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Copyright © 2019 by Kayode Olla