We got locked out of the hostel again today. It wasn’t our fault, me and Chizzy. We were hungry, we had to come down to get something to eat. We would have come down earlier, but neither of us wanted to be the one to walk down six flights of stairs for a plate of mishai. We tried balloting; Chizzy was the loser but she refused to come down because she fetched the water we washed with this morning. I refused to come down because I was the one paying for the food. She had to contribute in kind. It was already past 9:00pm when our singing tummies dragged us down the stairs.
The front of our hostel was not as crowded as usual because the Business students were on vacation and the Law students were preparing for their examinations. I missed the surge of life that the crowds exuded—loud greetings, secret handshakes, heated arguments, bear hugs, laughter, and the occasional ‘Chei! My laptop! They’ve snatched my laptop!’
I missed the couples hidden in dark corners, exchanging sweet words and kisses. I missed the ‘Car Show’. Every night, different brands and models of cars would park in front of the hostel, some with young men and loud music, some with fat men and some with bodyguards, all waiting for our hostel’s nubile inhabitants.
Today the car park was empty; the dark corners were empty, waiting benches in front of the mishai stalls were almost empty. A few students could be seen buying already cooked noodles and fried eggs from the abokis. Some bought burger—suya with fried egg in bread. The woman in the ‘fries’ stall was closing early. Maybe no one wanted yam, fish and plantain tonight.
Chizzy and I opted for Indomie and egg with suya. We placed our orders in poor Hausa, hoping to win the aboki’s heart. Maybe he would add jara for us. While he prepared our dinner, we compared my school with her school.
‘Your school is an ajebo school,’ she told me. ‘In ESUT, you don’t dare come out at this time. If you do, you have to move in a group and the group must have at least two guys that can defend you in case of an attack.’
Yawn, yawn. The ESUT story; I’ve heard it a hundred times. I wasn’t even paying attention to her. I was Facebooking on my cell phone.
‘Even if you dare come out with your phone, you don’t bring it out. Look at you, browsing, and nobody has tried to steal it yet,’ she scoffed. ‘Your school is so dry. I’m sure you don’t have cultists.’
‘We have cultists,’ I said defensively. ‘They’re just not as unreasonable as other schools’ cultists.’
‘The cultists in your school are cowards. I’ve never heard of a cult clash in UNEC.’
‘That’s because they clash in your school, or in town.’
That silenced her for a while. While we ate our noodles she compared our female students.
‘UNEC girls are so dry,’ she started. ‘I once went to a night party that some UNEC girls attended. They couldn’t even get up to dance. They just sat, pressing their phones and looking at each other. Trust ESUT girls to show them how it’s done—we danced and danced. We were the life of the party. I’m sure the person that brought those girls was sorry.’
‘They probably didn’t dance because they were too classy for that event.’
‘There was nothing classy about those girls. They weren’t dressed better than us. They didn’t even look as sophisticated as us.’
I rolled my eyes and tuned out of the conversation.
It was the sound of banging on metal that brought me back.
‘They’re locking the hostel!’ I gasped. ‘Let’s go!’
‘Wait. I haven’t finished eating.’
I did not want to be locked out again today. Last night we had knocked and knocked till the security men asked us to leave. We had to sleep in the male hostel. It was fun. We played video games and had pillow fights. Then someone sent me a text message telling me that I was a disappointment and had ruined my good reputation. Killjoy. I went to sleep after that.
‘I’m done. Let’s go.’
We got to the door in time to have it slammed in our faces. Then the knocking and begging began.
‘Mummy, we’re sorry. Please open the door.’
The woman was still within earshot so she came back and gave us a good dose of her mind, but she opened the door.