Three weeks later, Ajoke returned to school for her fourth year. She buried herself in her studies with the intention to forget about Kokumo. This proved difficult as Kokumo continued to credit her bank account monthly. Everything around her brought back a memory of him; her phone, her dresses, her shoes and every tangible item that she owned. Many nights, she hugged her pillow and cried herself to sleep as she mourned the loss of the only true love that she ever had. Her children noticed that she no longer smiled and asked her what the problem was. How would they understand? She thought as she looked at them. When she refused to say anything to them, they asked her why her best friend, Uncle Kokumo, no longer visited. Tears began to stream down her cheeks and she stood up abruptly lying that she had a headache and needed to rest. Her kids left her alone and she went into her room and lay down on her bed in tears.
In her second semester, one of her lecturers gave the class a project to work on and paired the students in twos. She was paired with Enitan and given a tight schedule to deliver on their projects. Ajoke stayed up late many nights reading and researching on their project work. For once, her mind was totally off Kokumo. Enitan also brought his own repertoire of knowledge and they both put their energy into the project. They were asked to do a class presentation and Enitan urged Ajoke to present their findings. Even though she was jittery at first, she put in her best. The lecturer was impressed with Ajoke and Kokumo’s project and they were rewarded with the highest score. Ajoke was excited that her sleepless nights had not been in vain. As she put her books into her bag prepared to go home, Enitan walked up to her smiling. “Ajoke, your delivery was fantastic.”
“Thank you.” She replied.
“Can I take you to dinner?”
Ajoke stopped and looked up at him. “Why? For what?”
Enitan shrugged. “Just to say thank you.”
“I don’t think that is necessary. Besides, I did not do this alone. If I remember, we were teamed for the project.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”
“Enjoy the rest of your evening.” Ajoke said as she slung her bag over her shoulders and walked away.
The next day, Ajoke was reading in class when Enitan slid into the seat beside her. Ajoke looked up and frowned. “What do you want?”
Enitan smiled. “Good morning.”
Ajoke nodded. “Morning. How may I help you?”
“C’mon Ajoke, why are you so uptight? I just want to be friends. I’m not going to bite.”
“You know what? I think I should leave now.” Ajoke said packing up her books.
Enitan held her hand trying to stop her from leaving.
“Will you leave me alone? What do you think you are doing?” Ajoke said raising her voice.
Enitan dropped her hand and stood up. “I’m sorry, I will leave.”
As he started walking away, Ajoke felt sorry and called him back. “Enitan.”
He looked back at her.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you. Please sit down.”
Enitan smiled. “No, it’s okay. I assumed working together could make us friends. I apologize; my assumptions were wrong.”
Ajoke took a deep breath.
“Please go ahead with your reading. I don’t want to be a nuisance.” He said as he walked out of the classroom. For the rest of the semester, Enitan avoided Ajoke.
A week to their exams, campus became agog with activities as students began to organize tutorial lectures for themselves while some teamed up to read and burn the midnight candle. Ajoke asked her mother to come over again to stay with the kids, so she could have some time off to read. She stayed up many nights reading but she kept on having difficulty understanding a particular course. The more she read, the more confused she became. She decided to talk to one of her course mates in school the next day.
“Hi Tolani.” Ajoke greeted as she saw her course mate walking towards her.
“Hi Ajoke. How far with your reading? I won’t be surprised if you dust us again this semester.” Tolani sneered.
“Abeg, leave that matter jare.” Ajoke replied smiling. “I need help with Taxation. Anyone handling tutorials on it?”
“Ahn.…ahn, I’m surprised you are asking me.” Tolani looked at her in astonishment.
“What do you mean?”
“Is it not your team mate organizing the tutorials?”
“My team mate?” Ajoke asked.
“Yes nau, Enitan. He is the pro in taxation and he has been doing tutorials for the past three days.”
“Oh right!” Ajoke said surprised.
Tolani eyed her. “Everyone knows both of you are first class materials. I’m sure that is why Mr. Subomi teamed you guys together.” She harrumphed.
“Let me go find him.” Ajoke said ignoring Tolani’s comment.
Enitan was seated in class in a corner reading. He was so engrossed in his book that he did not notice that Ajoke was standing before him. Ajoke had to announce her presence by clearing her throat.
“Hi Ajoke.” Enitan said looking up with a smile.
He always has a smile on his face; Ajoke thought. “Hi. I guessed I would find you here.” Ajoke said a bit uneasy. She knew after the last encounter with him, he clearly avoided her.
“Please sit down.” He said tapping the seat beside him.
Ajoke sat down with her palms in her laps. “I am sorry about the last incident. It looks like you have been avoiding me.” She said.
“Avoiding you? No, I haven’t.” Enitan shrugged. “You came to school for a reason and it looked like your intention was to stick to that reason and avoid any fraternities.”
Ajoke wondered how she was going to ask for help considering that she hadn’t been particularly nice to him.
“So how may I help you? I’m sure you did not come here to talk about our last encounter.” Enitan said turning to face her.
“I need help with Taxation.” Ajoke said avoiding his eyes and glad that he had gone straight to the point.
“Okay. When do you want us to start? Right now?”
“Huh….erm….yeah, if you don’t mind.”
Enitan smiled in his trademark way. “I don’t.”
“Thank you.” Ajoke said.
“You are always welcome.”
After two hours, Ajoke was satisfied that the course which had given her sleepless nights will be a walkover for her during the exams. She thanked Enitan again before leaving him alone to continue his reading.
Taxation was the last paper on the exam schedule. Ajoke decided to make Enitan her reading partner and they both sat together in class reading, sharing and comparing notes and handouts. Enitan made sure he continued to refresh Ajoke’s memory on all he had taught her anytime they read together. In three weeks, exams were over and students heaved a sigh of relief.
As Ajoke walked out of the hall after her last paper, she met Enitan sitting on a bench opposite the class. He stood up as she approached him. A smile played broadly on his lips. “How was it?” He asked as she fell in line with him.
“Easier than I imagined.” Ajoke said smiling. “I should say thank you again.”
“Oh come on. How many times will you do that?” He asked as they started walking towards the main gate of the campus.
“Well, I don’t know how I would have written that exam without your help; so better get ready to hear another thank you when the results are out.”
Both of them burst out into laughter.
They got to the gate and stood at the bus-stop waiting for buses that will take them to their different destinations.
“Would you mind giving me your number?”
“Not at all.” Ajoke reeled out her mobile number to Enitan who saved it immediately on his phone.
They stood chatting and laughing at the bus-stop until the buses going towards their destinations arrived.
By Bukola Adekusibe
THE WAIT continues
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