Running from the Past, Episode 1

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By Grace               

Whatever it was, pride or self-esteem, it just didn’t last long. Walking down the streets of Obafemi Awolowo University after seven years brought tears to my eyes again. I looked at the beautiful Law basement, remembered beautiful memories: when I used to write for ‘for justice and equity’ board, when I organized talk shows and tutorials for my juniors and even my colleagues, the argument sessions every Thursday and Friday during group discussions, the ‘get-togethers’, rushing down to Moot and Mock Court for one activity or the other, the beautiful white and black colours that made other students love to call us OAU choir, lol. It was fun all the same; times when we would sit at the basement after classes and be like ‘God how do I go down to the hostel?’.

In the midst of all these beautiful school memories, one ugly one popped up in my head. I wish I could just wipe it out of my memory and live like it never happened.              ‘Hello, that was a great performance’, I heard a voice boom behind me on a fateful day.‘I’m Johnson’, he continued, ‘a representative of the critic magazine, from the honourable department of philosophy’.                                                I can never forget that sentence, it rings in my head every now and then. I can never forget those blue eyes, I can never forget the handshake. I can never forget the smile, I can never forget my blush, I can never forget the conversation and events that happened afterwards. Every moment I think of it, I cry even right at the basement I couldn’t help it!

Hmm, I wiped the tears off my eyes and tried to remember some other good things that took place at the basement. I remembered when my closest friend, Wonu, spilled smoothy on my new and sparkling Ife Law jacket, I was so mad. I was in part one or two then and that was my first Ife Law costume. I could so wear it anywhere and everywhere, it was an obvious indication that I was a student in the prestigious department of Law. At this thought, I was already smiling to myself, how proud I was then. In the midst of my smile, blushing and remembrance, I heard my name from behind ‘Miss Joke!’. In less than a second I tried to process in my brain the voice that called. It sounded so familiar, in fact just one person called me that way. No, it shouldn’t be! That’s the least person I wanted to see in Ife at that moment. But there he was, Johnson! As I made to turn around, thoughts ran wild in my head; how could it be him? Why should it be him? How do I face him now after over 7 years? What do I do? How do I go about this? How would I explain to him that I was invited to take a seminar on sexual purity? How much he’d laugh at me and make me feel bad and dirty.

My mouth remained wide open like someone who saw a ghost.                                                                        ‘You don’t remember me?’ Johnson asked stretching his arm for a hand shake.                                              ‘Of course I do’, I whispered to myself grabbing his hand and still looking dumbfounded,‘how can I ever forget you’, I thought. I felt like squeezing his hands till they fell off. I felt like telling him how horrible his memory was in my head. I felt like letting him know he was the greatest evil that had happened to me in my entire life. But no, I wouldn’t do all that. I smiled instead and said, ‘Johnson, sure I do remember you, what are you still doing here? Wow its nice seeing you again’. He gave a killing smile. He always had a way to capture my heart and make it beat like gong gong. ‘Well, I just finished my doctorate degree and I’m currently an assistant lecturer in the department of Philosophy. You know I graduated as the best student in our set. The school made an offer to retain me but I gave them a condition that I would study further till this level free of charge before I started working. It’s nice to see you, what have you come to do in Great Ife again?’

Really, in my mind I was rolling my eyes, I wasn’t gonna fall for all his proud stories anymore. He had always been like that, that was the reason why I fell for him. He was intelligent, handsome and rich, not again!                          ‘I came with my husband’, I began and he gave me this ‘Really?’ look.                                                              ‘We came for the UJCM new beginning program, I’d be talking to sisters on Saturday, that’s tomorrow, of how to stay pure, even on Campus,with all the pleasures and pressure around’, I concluded.                                          I was scared within me. My past was haunting me, but I overcame my fear. I was proud of who I was now and how I had affected lives all over the world.

Johnson, who looked more interested in my mission moved closer and sat beside me.                                              ‘So, would you tell them our story?’he asked, like I knew that was what he was going to ask. Like he knew that was what was on my mind, but trust me I wasn’t going to admit.                                                                      ‘What story is that?’ I asked back.                            ‘Common you know, most ministers like to encourage their listeners with the stories of how they fell and how they overcame and…’ he almost succeeded in bringing tears back to my eyes, but I wouldn’t let him.                                    ‘Johnson, so what encouragement does our story contain?’ I asked angrily.                                                ‘That you shouldn’t fall in love with the school most handsome and intelligent guy, or that you should not believe guys when they say they love you? What? Tell me what?’

At this point, Johnson picked up his bag, ready to leave. He must have noticed I was getting angry. He tapped me, smiling and said ‘That you should not compromise your standard, no matter what or who is involved!’ That was a big slap on my face! It’s like he drove a 6 inch nail through my head. He blew the trumpet loud and clear and tears rolled down my cheeks. I was so furious, mad, angry… any other word worse than these would be the definite description of my mood at that moment. I pulled his neatly ironed smart shirt back and yelled! Tell me …

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