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The Sweetest Part Of Sin

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The Sweetest Part Of Sin

PROLOGUE 

Alice handed Sonia the tapes and smiled. There were five of them.
“It has to be perfect,” she said and turned to leave. Sonia stared at the tapes for a while then she took them inside the house. It was night and it seemed like she was the only sane person still awake.

She made sure that all lights were off and then made for her bedroom. She went straight to the table and inserted the tape into a recorder and after setting the volume right, she inserted her ear-piece and then she pressed play.

The words sipped into Sonia’s ears through the ear-piece like a torrent of rain. Alice had a very beautiful voice. She could get paid big money for doing radio jingles. Sonia listened for thirty minutes before she removed the ear-piece from her ears, her neck had begun to ache.

She adjusted the table–lamp to fall directly on her notepad. The light cast tall shadows on the walls as she reduced the gleam of the light. She cracked her fingers and took hold of her pen and stared at the blank paper, with her hand suspended in the air.

Sonia knew what she wanted to write, it was all in her head but she didn’t know how to start. She dropped the pen and looked up at the ceiling; flashes of memories came bubbling in her head: of faces, names, places, numbers, things; all in one confused blur.

Her fiancée turned on his back and his snoring reduced. Sonia turned to look at him and he looked darker in the shadows of light. She wished she had her camera there in the room; she would have recorded the sound of his snores. It would be fun to see his reactions, she recalled nights of funny arguments on the truth of his snores.

Sonia smiled finally and allowed her gaze to shift to the photo frames on the table; they showed Alice’s pretty grin, Seann’s boyish smile, Brenda’s beautiful face, my fiancée’s smug look and my cute one. Alice wanted this story to be perfect. She was ecstatic when Sonia told her of the intention she had to write the story. She was there all along in the shadow of things as they unfolded. It was to be in two parts, one was Alice’s life account and the others as told by her brother, Sean.

Sonia knew it was a story she needed to tell and there she was trying to focus on how best to do it. She closed her eyes. She heard her fiancée sneeze and when she opened her eyes she saw him throw the blanket on the floor. Sonia walked up to the bed to cover him up with the discarded blanket. She smiled as he continued snoring, lost to everything around him.

Sonia walked back to her table and drank a little water before she picked up her pen again. She shook her head, adjusted her seat and started to write.

CHAPTER 1

I am Alice Adeola Bryn, the eldest child in a family of four; my dad, mum, myself and my younger brother, Sean. Back when we were young, people said I looked a lot like my Yoruba dad but did things like my mum. This was something that always left me wondering whether it was a compliment or not. They however claimed that Sean was more like my mum in physical resemblance which also baffled me as mum was a very petite American and Sean was a lanky boy with little freckles.

I grew up with my parents on a quiet street in a suburb town somewhere in western Nigeria called Ibadan. It was a street where everybody minded their own businesses even though we were the only mixed-race children there. The street had rows and rows of buildings so identical that the owners often confused their houses with someone else’s. Lawns and fences, barbed wire and bamboo sticks, shrubs and hedges; all in a neat row like soldiers on parade just to identify which was whose.

Growing up with my parent was fun. Even though we were not rich, our parent did everything they could to make us comfortable and happy. We often traveled to Queens-New York to visit my maternal uncles, it was safe to say we had all we wanted. We attended the best school in the town and our parents showed us great love and affection. We didn’t really care how rich or poor we were because as long as we asked and were given, we were happy.

Everybody on our street addressed themselves as Mr. A or Mrs. B. They went about their various activities with due concentration while their children only looked at themselves over shrubs or through openings in such shrubs or fences and even through the window of their parents’ cars as they drove along the street. We, as what was popularly called half-caste kids, often got the most stares mostly because mum was a white woman.

Ours was a street where the only playmate we had were our siblings, our pets, and our nannies. The longing to go over the fence and play with Mrs. A’s children or shout at Mrs. B’s boys whenever they made their happy noises was ever present. There were times when Sean would crawl under the hedge surrounding our house into the next house to play football with Elijah, our neighbor’s son.

Sean always tuned his frustrations on me whenever dad scolded him for going under the hedge. The reason for this can not really be far-fetched because my brother would have loved to have other brothers to play with instead of being stuck with his overbearing older sister. Eventually he would content himself with the time he played football with dad and played house with me.

The only times we ever had real fun with children of our age, apart from the school and the parks or the zoo, was in our dad’s village where our grandpa lived. As kids, we grew up to know only one grandfather and he was the most wonderful man on earth to us.

We used to look forward to the visits to grandpa’s place because it was the time to pride ourselves in our smart clothes, our toys that the village children had to put money down before they could touch or play with. Sean was always the one to coach a team of big-bellied, nose-running, ring-worm and rash invested boys that were always hovering around us whenever we visited the village. It was fun and games till our most precious grandpa died. That is however a story that I hold very sacred and will always retell for as many times as I can.

The day our uncle came to our house to tell us about grandpa’s sickness will always be fresh in my memory. We were having breakfast when he arrived and because we knew that he never actually visited unless he needed money; we didn’t let it bother us.

My dad had excused himself from the dining table and went to sit at the balcony with uncle Syl while mum set the table for him to join us. Uncle left hurriedly without eating and said something about a woman that needed stitches and dad entered with a worried look on his face. I sensed something was wrong.

“What is wrong?” Mum asked as she parked the unused plates to take back into the kitchen.
“Papa is very ill. He had been taken to the town hospital where they were told that he had to be transferred to a General Hospital,” Dad replied and sat down dejectedly.
“Is grandpa going to be okay?” Sean asked from the dining table.
“Yes, dad. Will he be…?”

“Eat up and get ready for school. Don’t you have a paper by nine?” Mum directed at me with a stern look on her face. I apologized and parked my used plates to the kitchen to wash. Dad was ready when I returned and I took my bag and off to school we went with the matter left unresolved.

My school was like any other so called private schools with buildings painted white and green. The school had rows of storey buildings with classes filled with smartly dressed students in their green uniforms. There were a number of European and American kids in my school, kids mostly sent down by their parents because they wanted discipline for their children and an in-depth knowledge of their heritage.

I quickly ran to my class. It was my last day and I had the last paper to sit for as a high-school student and I wanted to do my best. Dusty waved at me as I entered the class and I went to meet her; she was the only daughter of a wealthy politician and my best friend. Her parents were waiting for her to finish high school before taking her to London where her mum lived.

“Hey girl.” Dusty greeted as we hugged, “Why the long face?”
I told her about my grandpa’s sickness and my fear that he might die.
“Well, I will advise that you put that aside and concentrate. You can worry about it after the paper,” Dusty said and walked to her seat. I did as she advised. I dropped my bag and tried to put it all out of my mind till someone says something different about the situation.

As hard as I tried to put the thought away I couldn’t really do it. It was a very long day. I was moody all through the school hours and everybody avoided me that even Dusty who was known for her chatty nature got the cue and kept her wisecracks to herself. Before long the school bell rang and Dusty came over to say goodbye. I was too preoccupied to say a proper farewell knowing quite well that she might be leaving soon. I said a hurried goodbye though and went looking for Sean. I knew Dusty would be unhappy that I reacted that way but I decided that I would apologize when I go over to their house on Saturday for our usual sleep-over.

I found Sean playing football and I yelled at him to meet me at the school gate where Dad normally picked us from. Dad came later and drove us home still refusing to make any comment on grandpa and his health. I felt the urge to ask him how grandpa was but I couldn’t because I knew I wasn’t really prepared to take any negative response. Our parents didn’t discuss it with us and I zeroed my mind that everything was okay, if it wasn’t they would have said something.

Days after however, while watching the news of a plane crash that left many people dead and several injured I summoned the courage to ask what the nature of grandpa’s sickness was and if he was better. Dad had looked at mum and mum had looked away. I saw their reaction and my heart sank and then I wished I had never asked.
“Your grandpa is dead, Alice,” Dad mumbled. I shook my head; Sean screamed.
“That cannot be true, Dad. If he is dead, how come you didn’t tell us?” I asked, “You should have said something.”

“We know how you would feel and had to wait for the right time,” Mum consoled me and pulled me to her bosom. Sean got up and went outside. Dad followed him. I knew he would go over the shrub to tell Elijah about the news. Dad didn’t have the heart to scold him at that moment so he just went into his bedroom instead. I left mum in the sitting room and went crying into my bedroom. It was so sad and heavy for me. I wept bitterly. I heard later that Dusty was one of the few people that died in the plane crash on the news and I wished I had said a proper goodbye to her.

The holidays came. We had nowhere to go. No grandpa to visit and no Dusty to invite over for little gossips in the weekends. Mum and Dad decided to take us to spend a weekend at Aunt Betty’s house; she had a girl of Sean’s age. This visit was meant to replace our yearly visits to the village. But it had something else planed for our family.

I lost my parents. It had just stopped raining and the roads had been slippery. Dad was negotiating a bend when a big truck ran into us and I fainted only to regain consciousness in a hospital bed days later. Sean was not seriously injured and had helped the doctors in contacting Aunt Betty.

They told us that Dad and Mum died on the spot. I cried for days. Death was mean to us that month. Everything as we knew it changed and I was just sixteen years old while Sean was thirteen. People expected us to hold it together as we were old enough but it was terrible. It was like my whole life crumbled down in front of me. We were not prepared for this. It was nothing we wanted and we didn’t know what to make of it or how to do things after that. We had a close family and that made the future something I dreaded.

After the burial, we became the responsibility of the family. Our grandmother wanted us to come to Queens but the family said that it was too soon. Uncle Syl moved into our house in the name of taking care of us even though he had his interior motive which we later found out the hard way.

It started with his yells and scream and threats and then he tried to molest me to Sean’s anger. He bite uncle Syl and had threatened to kill him if he ever laid his hand on his sister again. Things became worse after this. Syl would call us names and would flare up at the tiniest provocations. I was saddled with the responsibility of shielding my brother from my uncle’s threats and curses. He would threaten to kill us if we dared to report him to any other member of our extended family.

The bigger reality dawned on me when I got admission into a higher institution and my uncle said that there was no money in Dad’s company account to spend on my education at a fancy university. It was a big blow to my face. He even suggested that I drop out so that Sean could complete his education at a public school.

We were however rescued by Aunt Betty who stood by us and helped us to reclaim our right from our uncle. The Will our parents left indicated that they left a fixed deposit account with some reasonable amount of money for us. The Will also read that a land was to be sold and the money used for our education, but it was really not enough to cater for the two us. Aunty Betty assisted in paying for my school fees. She changed Sean’s school because the school fee was not something she could afford. His new school was also a private school and it was located near her house and that was good enough for me.

I settled down to campus life after I had made sure my brother was duly settled in his new school. He was placed in the hostel when Aunt Betty’s husband refused the plea for him to live with them because of his daughter. Our house was given to a caretaker to run and maintain until we were old enough to take over, this led to one of uncle Syl’s threats and rages. He threatened to put a curse on anybody that stepped in the house but my aunt just waved it aside as the cry of a deranged man.

Soon enough, life on campus became less demanding and less frightening; the fright was because of the stories from my parent and the media about violent student unrest and cultism. I began to make vital decisions for myself instead of having to run to Aunt Betty every time something new came up on campus.

It was one of the days that I had to walk extra kilometers to the lecture hall that I ran into Sandra. I couldn’t really recollect who she was but I knew her face was familiar and it was as if she was thinking the same thing because before I could bring myself to call her, she walked up to me.

“Excuse me,” Sandra said. “Do you by any chance know me somewhere? You look like someone I know.”
“Well, I’m not sure. You look familiar too,” I answered and moved closer to her side.
“Did you attend Life-Gate Memorial at Ibadan?” she asked further.
“No, I didn’t but I lived in that town before my admission into this school,” I replied.
“I did too. I lived at Greenwell Estate,” she said, and squinted from the sun.
“Oh, that is probably where we met. I lived there too. I grew up there actually,” I said. Sandra’s eyes opened in surprise.
“I remember you. You are that girl that used to wear one funny looking eye glasses. We lived on the same street. Your dad had a blue BMW,” Sandra said and frowned.
I nodded, I remembered her too. She was the girl that used to wave and make funny faces at me anytime we passed by their house with the bamboo fence. The house used to annoy Sean because it was the oldest house with its ugly fence and dirty compound.
“I’m sorry about your dad. My mum told me he died in an auto crash. How is your brother?” Sandra asked as she pulled me towards the shade of a mahogany tree by the side of the road. She said something about the scorching sun and our delicate skin.

“We are doing reasonably well. Are you also in this school?” I asked eventually after she had finished wiping her sweaty arms.
“Yes. I got admitted for Mass communication,” She replied as we walked towards the lecture hall. That was the beginning of a friendship that was to last many years, through various ups and downs.

We became very close and we discovered that we had lots of things in common. Her parents were not as privileged as ours, because her dad was a half-educated mechanic while her mum sold beverages in a small kiosk in front their house. Sean used to turn his back whenever Sandra waved at our passing car. I did not remember ever waving back until she stopped waving and started making those funny faces and throwing sand. Mum saw this one day and urged me to wave at Sandra whenever she waved at me though Sean thought this was not necessary.

“They are filthy, mum,” Sean would say. Mum would scold him for saying such things and would tell him to thank his stars that he was more privileged. It never meant anything but we started waving at her and her sister, Jenny.

CHAPTER 2

I woke up the second day to the drone of Cindy’s big radio. Some people huddled around the gadget like lottery players waiting to hear the results that would make them millionaires. I yawned and stretched my neck which ached due to the awkward angle I had slept. The presenter on the radio was saying something and Sandra motioned for me to listen and I did.
It was reported that seven undergraduates of University of Lagos were murdered in cold blood in their sleep and that the dastardly attack was perpetrated by some secret cult members from outside the campus. The culprits were suspected to have come from the neighboring Lagos City Polytechnic.
At the mention of our school the other girls looked at me with something in their eyes which I couldn’t place. My mind went straight to Austin. Could that be where Austin went when he said he was traveling? I leaned back dejectedly, regretting the day I met Austin at the café. The newscaster continued but my mind was somewhere else. I became afraid of telling Austin off. It would have been easy if he was just a cult member but he was the captain. Who would have thought I would end up in that position? Someone turned the radio off and Bimbo asked me what I was going to do. I told her that I would give him his keys and start avoiding him until he gets tired and forgets about me.
We dressed up and went for lectures. Austin’s friends asked me if I had seen him or if he was back. I just walked away from them before anybody would see us and link them to me. I received my lectures and went back to the hostel. I cooked and ate even though the food tasted like sawdust and sat heavily in my tummy like lead, I finished it. At least it drove the thought of Austin off my mind for a while.
The other girls joined me later and asked if Austin was back and I said no. Some other friends came to visit but I just sat at a corner and listened to their conversations. The news was all over campus that the suspected cult attack was from our school. Another girl said two of the guys were caught by the vigilante group and one of the culprits claimed that the Rector of the institution was aiding and abetting cultists on the campus.
During this gossip, a lady came in and told us to turn our radio on. She said that someone said that Austin, the Black Crow was one of the two guys arrested. My heart missed a beat. I scampered off the bed and switched on the radio only to get the last bit of the closing music. I hissed and turned the radio off. I silently hoped and prayed that it was true. I decided to catch the evening news on radio or go to the Potters’ lodge to watch it on television.My walk to the lodge was fast and I was furious all the way there. Everybody looked at me with suspicious eyes and nudged themselves as I walked past them. I felt uneasy.
The television had just been turned on when I got to the lodge and the few people there looked at me with those stupid eyes. I ignored them and concentrated on the screen instead.
When I saw Austin in handcuffs, my heart leaped for joy and gladness. Now I didn’t have to face him to say anything. It was all in the open. It reduced my fear.
The reporter was saying something about the Rector being arrested. The man appeared on the screen and denied the allegation of his involvement in the activities of the cult group. I got up and walked back to the hostel, more relaxed and happier. The suspicious glances, low whispers and small talks were all what I could handle with the help of my friends. I didn’t let it bother me. I knew it would soon be over and it did.I didn’t run into any of Austin’s friends for weeks and it was like they had all disappeared. I was invited to the SAO to explain my relationship with Austin. I admitted he was my friend but I didn’t know he had anything to do with cultism. The senior student affairs officer said I knew he was a cultist but decided not to say anything. I was therefore given a week suspension from lectures.

I showed the letter to my friends when I got to the hostel and cried my eyes out. What will I tell my aunt when I get home? What will Sean say? These were the questions on my mind.
I gathered a few clothes and walked out of the campus. My aunt was full of understanding. I told her that I had learn my lesson and promised to be more careful. I was glad she didn’t take it too seriously. It would have been terrible for me if she had.

When I got back to the campus after one week, the first person I saw was Austin. He called me as I passed through the gate but I ignored him and went to the hostel. There was nobody in our room when I got there. I unpacked my luggage and cooked some rice, Sandra came later. She told me that her dad died the third day I left and had since been buried at Nsukka, a town in the Eastern part of the country. She said she came back from Nsukka two days ago and that her uncle threw them out of the house when her mum refused to relocate to the village as they had suggested.

Sandra told me how her dad’s family had accused her mum of witchcraft. They even said she was the one that killed her husband.
“They said she had to drink the water that was used in bathing the corpse of my father in order to prove her innocence and when she declined, they sent her packing and labeled her an outcast and a witch,” Sandra said and tears started to fall from her eyes in spite of her effort not to cry. She said her mum had since rented a small room on a street close to their former house.

I was baffled, I knew the Ibos were very traditional and crude but I was amazed that it was as bad as Sandra had described it. I went to Sandra and hugged her until she stopped crying. She pulled back and wiped her tears.
“Cindy will kill me if she sees me crying like this,” Sandra said and smiled. We joked about that for a while.
When I saw that she was in a lighter mood I asked how lectures were and what I had missed. I told Sandra my encounter with Austin and to my surprise she told me Austin was released the third day he was arrested. She said the judge had said there was no evidence strong enough to convict him as charged.
“Austin came back into school with a car, Alice.

A guy arrested for murder came back into the campus with a brand new car. Can you beat that?” Sandra concluded and hissed. I asked if he had come for his key and Sandra told me he had. She said they had given it to him just two days after his release. I breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t in the mood to face Austin now or ever.
Bimbo and Cindy joined us later and we gossiped till late in the night. As I lay on my bed, I remembered what Bimbo said about politicians using these guys as political thugs, sending them to do their dirty jobs while they sit in the comfort of their offices and count the money the thugs brought. It was sad that the society had degenerated to that extent.

The government had let us all down but we all had our path to play. I decided to start a group where we can enlighten new students as to what and what they can do in campus to while away their time without the violence. It turned out to be a very successful group and we soon become very popular and had our share of treats and enemies.

By the second year on campus, a girl started to frequent our room. She was Ronnie Ferguson, Bimbo’s supposed course-mate. Each time this girl visited, Bimbo and Cindy would dress up and go out all night and return the following morning tired and ruffled.

When it first started, Sandra and I thought nothing of it and often ignored them when they came back the following morning. Things started to get out of hand though. They started to go on their weekend escapades and come back drunk and they sometimes vomited all over the room. Sandra would boil with rage but I always cautioned her just to avoid any quarrel. There was a particular day they came back to the room so drunk that they fell asleep on the floor.

Sandra and I had to undress them and lay them on their various beds. It was during the walk to the bed that Bimbo’s bag fell off and its content scattered all over the floor. When Sandra came to pick the things up, she saw bundles of five hundred naira notes in Bimbo’s bag. She called my attention to it but I told her to return the things and mind her business even though in situations like that I knew that minding her business was not something Sandra was good at.

The following morning was a Sunday and as we walked to our Sunday campus fellowship, Sandra asked Bimbo how she got the money in her bag. Bimbo smiled and just walked on. Sandra caught up with her and demanded an answer to her question.
“I’ll tell you when we get back to the hostel,” Bimbo said.

“That is fine by me. I just hope it’s not something that can land us in serious trouble.” Sandra said.
“Oh, I didn’t steal it and it’s neither from the Forum’s purse,” Bimbo answered and smiled. We concentrated on the pastor and left the accusation in the air. After service, Sandra and Bimbo waited behind to talk to some girls. Cindy and I went to the hostel.

By the time they got back to the hostel after the fellowship, Cindy and I were about to eat lunch.
“Can’t you just let it rest?” Bimbo asked as they entered the room. “It’s beginning to annoy me.”
“What is the problem?” Cindy asked as she dished out some rice into a plate for Bimbo.
“I wanted to know where she got such a huge amount of money from,” Sandra said.
“Oh, that! I have more than that,” Cindy said and resumed her seat.
“I thought I told you to forget about that money Sandra?” I asked sternly.

“Okay, you people should sit down and listen very well.” Cindy began but I told her not to bother telling us where and how they got their money because it was not necessary. Sandra looked at me like I was crazy.
“Calm down. We had a plan to tell you anyway,” Bimbo said as she ate. “Sandra was just being too pushy and nosy.
“You will be nosy if you were also in my shoes. How come you have such a huge amount of money?” Sandra said but was interrupted. Cindy wanted her to stop calling a mere fifty thousand naira a large sum of money; she said she had one hundred thousand naira with her. It was then my turn to exclaim.

“One hundred what?! Are you sure it’s not from the Forum’s account?” I asked Cindy, and Bimbo burst into laughter. Cindy asked me if the only way a girl could have one or two hundred thousand naira is when they steal from someone or somewhere.
Sandra answered by saying, “When it is gotten overnight, it becomes suspicious.”
Bimbo smiled in her usual calm way.

“Please stop smiling. This is serious.” Sandra said sternly and stared at Bimbo who just burst into a hearty laugh. It was then that Cindy told us what they did to get the money.
“Runs? What does that mean?” Sandra asked, looking all puzzled.
“It means we date sugar daddies and work hotels,” Cindy explained further.
“Wealthy, fat, pot-bellied, old men with bald heads?” was all Sandra could say. “That is so disgusting.”
“Not all of them are pot-bellied and bald,” Cindy corrected. “In fact, Senator Martins……”
“Senator who? Is that a real senator or someone who just answers to that as a nickname?” I asked.
“He is a real senator of course. He is handsome and really cute. You should meet him. He is the one that gave me the Hundred Thousand Naira.” Cindy concluded.

“You girls are unbelievable!” Sandra interjected and swung her leg over the bed, twisted her neck until it cracked loudly.
“Are you telling us that these married folks you date give you such amount of money?” I asked. It sounded very unreal to me. Cindy answered affirmatively and Bimbo said she had three hundred thousand naira in her bank account. Sandra shook her head and said she really did not envy them because it was their future they were toying with.
“Don’t you feel any remorse sleeping with other people’s husbands?” I asked with all seriousness. “And they would have other girls too?”
“Tufiakwa! God forbid!” Sandra said and snorted noisily, “Lots of diseases and germs circulating.”
It was obvious that Cindy had no intention of making excuses for anything she had done. Bimbo did not look pleased, but she did not look as if she had anything further to say.

“Well, we always insist on using protection. And moreover, we are just their friends. We act for Madams who are incapable of satisfying their husbands’ sexual wants,” Cindy said and lay on her bed, her chin resting on her palm.
“You are just their Friends?” asked Sandra.
“Yes,” Cindy replied.
“I really think it’s no different from prostituting,” Sandra grimaced and made a funny face.
“Of course it is. We don’t go around parading ourselves on the street for those hungry, poverty-ridden men out there. Ronnie made sure we had the best clients.” Cindy countered.
“Did you just say Clients? Is that what you call those irresponsible married men?” Sandra asked and went into the toilet.

At that moment I inexplicably saw flashes of the girls I used to see on the streets when I was a kid. I advised the girls to stop their escapades with those men. It might be sweet now but what about their future?
“What if the man you decide to marry turns out to be related to one of your so called clients?” I asked, facing Bimbo.
Bimbo didn’t answer me. Instead, she turned her back. Cindy said she would drop whoever he is and go for another person. She said she didn’t have to be married to have a happy life or children. I shook my head, lay on my bed and closed my eyes to sleep. Sandra came back in and we all dropped the topic.

From then on each time Bimbo and Cindy went on their rendezvous, Sandra and I just wished them luck and safe return. Sandra became withdrawn after that conversation. I noticed that she was no longer as close to both Bimbo and Cindy as she used to be. She avoided eating with them, using their body creams or sitting on their beds. I asked her why she withdrew and she said she was just being careful. She said her fear was that the ladies could have been infected with some kind of disease by the men they slept with.

I came back one day to find a fuming Sandra in the room. She told me that Bimbo invited her to come with them to one of their mysterious trips so that she could introduce her to an expatriate that was working with an oil company.
“What? Are you serious?” I asked looking all excited and Sandra shook her head, disappointment registered on her face.
“Why are you excited about what I said? I may do a lot of things but would not turn myself into anybody’s bed-mate because of money,” countered Sandra. “I’m so disappointed in you. What will the Forum members say when they get to know?”
I reasoned with what she said. I said I was sorry and that I just thought it could make an exciting varsity experience.
“You want an experience that can be disastrous to us if it goes wrong? No, thank you,” Sandra retorted. I shook my head and kept quiet after that.

A month after that discussion however; Cindy, Sandra, Bimbo and I were off to a party that was supposedly organized in honor of a retired Inspector General of Police. It was curiosity and my plea that made Sandra decide to go. When we got to the supposed venue, it was to find the place empty except for some Caucasians drinking at the open bar. One of them sighted us as we entered and came over to meet us. Cindy hugged him and he shook Bimbo’s hand. Introductions were made and we all joined the others at the bar. Sandra and I exchanged confused glances and looked around suspiciously.

“Are we too early for the party?” Sandra mouthed and I shrugged. Sandra begged to be excused with Bimbo for a few minutes and Bimbo followed her reluctantly.
“What is it now?” Bimbo asked as they got to a corner of the place.
“Is this not the venue of the party? Don’t tell me we are too early,” Sandra asked as she led Bimbo to a corner of the lobby.
“Relax, girlfriend. Well, there is no party. Those three guys just came into the country to visit Jeff, Cindy’s mate and needed companions for the night and through their stay. They’ll pay in dollars,” Bimbo explained and tried to smile but frowned instead when she saw Sandra’s stony stare.
“What the…”
“Wake up girl, these guys has hard currency and are ready to spend it if you play ball.”
“Do I look like someone who wants play ball?” asked Sandra as she shifted and poked Bimbo in the belly. “Do I?”
“You could do with a little more money,” Bimbo said. Sandra hissed and walked away from Bimbo and came to where we were seated. From the look on her face, I knew she was ready to make trouble.
“This is bullshit,” she whispered into my ears and turned her hard gaze to Cindy who looked away and drew closer to Jeff. Sandra pulled me out of my seat and told me we had to leave. I pulled back and she leaned towards me and said, “Let’s go.”
“Come on Sandra. It’s late,” I whispered back.
“They want us to hook up with these men.”
“Well, they are not married,” was all I could say and Sandra hit me.
“How do you know that? Is it because they are white?” Sandra answered angrily and forgot to whisper and so everybody heard her. Cindy got up, took hold of Sandra and dragged her out of the Hotel.
“What is wrong with you? Did you have to raise your voice like that?” Cindy fumed.
“Please, spare me all that because I’m not in the mood for that bullshit just now,” Sandra said and snatched her hand from Cindy’s grip. She made to walk back but Cindy pulled her back. We came out to join them and I begged Sandra to calm down. She wanted to know why she was not told anything before asking her out.
“Would you have followed us if you were told?” Cindy accused, sounding sarcastic. Sandra said she probably wouldn’t have agreed and demanded to know if she did not have a choice not to do what they wanted her to do.
“Let’s just drop this issue. Do you want to leave as late as it is now?” Cindy asked.
“Yes, I want to leave,” Sandra replied. Cindy went inside and came out later with one of the guys. She told us he had offered to take us back to the campus. Bimbo and Cindy left us there and went back into the Hotel.
Sandra and I were quiet on the way to the campus. We sat in the back and everybody kept quiet. Sandra; who had been all hot and furious, started to feel uneasy.

She started shifting in her seat.
“We are so sorry for putting you through this stress,” Sandra said suddenly to the guy. The guy appeared not pleased but managed to smile. He asked for Sandra’s name while reminding us that his name was William.
“Was it really necessary to say what you said at the Hotel the other time? About our being white?” he asked. Sandra dabbed her face with the corner of her handkerchief and picked at an imaginary speck on the seat.
“Well, it just came out wrongly. I didn’t really mean anything by it.” Sandra replied and looked out of the window. It was starting to drizzle outside.

William asked if she was a racist and Sandra hissed and told him to cut the chit-chat and just concentrate on his driving. By this time I was beginning to get angry at Sandra for being unnecessarily rude. The guy was only trying to make conversation and there she was being ridiculous and rude. I felt like giving her a hot slap across her face.
We thanked him when we got to the hostel but he drove off without as much as a reply. When we got into room, I burst into an array of angry words telling Sandra that what she did was childish and wrong.
“You need to stop being stupid. I prevented you from sleeping with those guys. Come to think of it, is that why you are angry?” Sandra said as she undressed.
“You are totally out of it, Sandra. That poor guy agreed to bring us back and you couldn’t even appreciate it,” I countered.

“Is that all?” Sandra asked and turned to look at me.
“Yes, that is all. You really need to improve on your silly temper tantrums. It’s becoming irritating,” I said and went outside to buy a loaf of bread and tin of tuna. I returned to find her on her bed and I sat down to eat. She had slept on an empty stomach, so I left some bread for her because I knew she would wake up sometime in the middle of the night hungry. I switched off the light and got into bed.
Just like life is so unpredictable and the society is always changing, it happened that I came back one day to find Sandra in tears after her trip home.
“What is wrong with you?” I asked as I dropped my books and bag on my bed.
“Alice, I’m finished. How will I ever cope?”
“You better not let Cindy come in here and see you crying like this. Are your mum and Jenny okay?” I asked and moved closer to her.

“Mummy had another crisis and the doctors said I should go and bring thirty thousand naira,” Sandra said amidst wails.
“Thirty what? Where do they want you to get that kind of money from?” I asked; scratching my head.
“I don’t know. May be one of the girls can borrow me,” Sandra replied wriggling her hands and looking at me expectantly.
“Sandra. Have you forgotten how you swore not to touch their money?” I replied.
Sandra burst into another string of tears.
“You really do not have to cry. I think it’s high time we sit down and reason things out,” I said looking serious.
“What are you trying to say?” Sandra asked me.
“Let’s consider what Cindy and Bimbo had been telling us. I think we’ll have the money by the end of this week if we put our heart to it,” I explained.
“God forbid. I can’t. Its prostitution,” Sandra said sternly and shook her head.
“It’s not really prostitution. Let’s try it out. I know you are thinking of what Cindy will say but leave it all to me,” I said further.
“I will sell my body to some useless, irresponsible men because of thirty thousand naira?” asked Sandra as she moved away from my side.

“Yes you will. Do you know what can happen if we do not get the money soon? Your mum will be paralyzed for life. What will happen to Jenny? Do you think I deserve to do it too?” I said angrily.
“You have been paying too much attention to Cindy and her sweet talk,” Sandra said.
“That is not the issue Sandra. This is a way of survival. Bimbo pays her sister’s school fees and Cindy just rented an apartment for her siblings. These girls are not dullards and are definitely not prettier than us. Look at you; despite your short hair, you look gorgeous,” I said and poked Sandra and she smiled.

“I really have to give it a serious thought,” Sandra said and lay down on her bed.
I told the other girls what happened when they came back. Sandra was sleeping then so she didn’t hear what we discussed. Cindy felt very bad and volunteered to borrow Sandra the thirty thousand naira. She said she would have given her the money but the apartment she rented for her folks had left her broke. That was a new chapter in our journey. One thing led to the other and months after that incident, we blended in.

We became popular on our campus. We started making more money than we ever imagined we could have. I began to visit Sean in his hostel with beverages and money but I always avoided his questions on the source of the money. I never took money or my expensive clothes to Aunt Betty’s house whenever I went on semester breaks. Sandra paid her mum’s hospital bill, bought her rather expensive drugs.

They later moved from their one-room apartment to a mini-flat which Sandra rented. Her mum was glad, it was a relive to her so she didn’t bother asking where the money came from. This surprised me but I did not blame her, it was the society I blamed.

When Sean finished his secondary education and Aunt Betty complained that she was hard on money, I sent him to South Africa to study medicine with the help of Alhaji Baruwa, a wealthy politician whom I was dating then.
Everything didn’t really go smoothly as our group began to suffer. Members started withdrawing and we began to get labeled by other students. There was even a day that I ran across Austin during one of my visits to the café to chat with a foreign friend of mine.

He called me all sorts of names and spat on me. I was so embarrassed to see that many people witnessed my humiliation and saw the laughing faces of some of my course mates. I walked away with my feet dragging in shame and I swore to deal with Austin in a very brutal way for making a fool out of me.

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