Farhad sent the last message and powered down his iPhone’s screen, tossing it aside. He stretched on the bed and froze when he felt freshly shaved legs rub against his calf. He glanced over and a smile split his lips when he saw the face and remembered the girl; one of his newer conquests. He’d totally forgotten about her.
He rolled out from under the duvet and sat up, pulling on his briefs and wool slacks and stuffing his wallet, keys and mobile into the corresponding pockets before reaching over and tapping the other occupant of the bed. She stirred a little and turned away from him, snuggling with her pillow. He tapped again more insistently.
“Sary Hai, get up. Sary Hai!”
Her head shot up from the pillow and trained on him. He cringed inside when he realised he had addressed her with her twitter name, again. Wasn’t really his fault, he was meeting so many people these days that having to remember real and twitter names was becoming a bit of a struggle. He leant over and gave her a peck on the cheek and felt the hint of her name sift to the surface when he noticed her very prominent lips, Last night they’d looked positively Jolie-esque, this morning not so much.
“S…Sar… Salome.” He sounded out the syllables, using her facial expressions as a guide. “Salome dear, we need to get dressed. It’s almost 9am and I have classes.”
She nodded quietly, gathered her stuff and slowly swayed her pert behind into the adjoining bathroom. Farhad decided just that instant to not point out the irony. It would probably lead to a discussion he wasn’t quite ready to have. Unrequited relationship drama and all that was decidedly Xhiz’s area of expertise. He pulled on his shirt and shoes while she dressed and trashed the empty cans of Kiss Mix. She came out of the bathroom slightly wrinkled but not as bad as he’d anticipated. He slipped past her to flush the used condom and led her out of the self contained apartment, stopping at the door to give her a side hug.
She frowned. “You’re not seeing me off?”
“Farhad shrugged. “The roommate called when you were getting dressed. He forgot his key in the room so I need to wait for him. I hope you understand.”
Salome’s frown turned into a betrayed scowl as she fastened the top buttons of her shirt dress, suddenly realising her triumphant seeing off into school with her new ‘squeeze’ had just degenerated into a very solitary walk of shame. She hissed and started off, withholding her goodbye. Farhad made no move to follow and even waved when she stole a backward glance as she turned the bend that led back into school. Once she was out of sight Farhad pulled out his phone and dialled.
“Hey bro, thanks for letting me use your room for the night, I dropped the key under the welcome mat like you said. Wish everyone on twitter was as cool as you.”
“Sure bro, anytime you need a favour, just call me, I’ll be glad to help. After all isn’t that what friends are for?”
Farhad gave a hollow chuckle in response, topped with a sarcasm drenched ‘Of course’ and ended the call. Maybe it’s because of this blasted early morning shower, he thought to himself, but everyone is acting hyper clingy this morning.
The police station was thankfully scant as Farhad traversed the squelchy wet sand. He crossed the road with difficulty after waiting almost ten minutes for a break in the traffic and pulled himself together before entering the Lekki Expressway Police ‘precinct’. He wove through the small army of painters and daubing at the walls of the DPO’s office and shook his head. They ignored the dilapidated front buildings to ‘renovate’ the only office in actual good shape. Atypical. He knocked on the front door to announce himself, pushed inside and froze when he was met by an unfamiliar face.
“Heysss! Stop there!” The policewoman shouted, scrambling to her feet and reaching for her service rifle.
Farhad threw himself forward and trapped the woman’s hand on the table. “AH! Madam what is it now? What do you want to use your gun for?”
The woman glared at him. “You dey crase? You waka enter my office with ya boko haram face and ya bag wey be like say bomb dey inside, you no even get fear sef you con dey hold my hand on top. E be like say you wan sleep for cell this night. Oya, bifor I kant tiri, Leave my hand! Wan!”
Realisation hit Farhad in the face like a ton of bricks and he slowly backed away. “Madam, I came to see corporal Festus. I’m supposed to sign some ledger with him. He hates having to come open the door so he said I should just announce myself and come in.”
“Na wetin you for fes talk na.” the woman beamed. “Dem don transfer Festus go Yaba. E no sabi type letter. E no even sabi anytin. Na me dey here now.”
She gestured to a seat and reclined in hers.
Farhad took the seat and took extra care to put his satchel in her line of sight so she didn’t think he was up to any foul play. Every now and then, things like this happened to remind him that not everyone was enamoured with his ‘exotic looks’. He waited quietly as the policewoman fished out the ledger from the stack of hard cover books on her table and leafed through it with peculiar interest. She closed it abruptly after ten minutes and sat up.
Farhad rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t kidnapping. That was the original accusation but it was dropped eventually on the condition that I presented myself once a week for a period of time.”
“So you don dey come here for nearly five months now com sign this register? For this statement they say una be seven wey involved inside the case. Where all the other people? Why them no dey follow you come?” She asked, her eyes glinting at the prospect of unexpected gossip.
Farhad sighed and rubbed his temples. He really didn’t relish having to tell this story all over again. He looked up at the corporal, practically slobbering in anticipation and sighed a second time.
“Madam please, nobody kidnapped anybody. See me, I be like person wey fit kidnap somebody?”
The policewoman gave him a sarcastic smirk. “Dem never tell you say crase be like AIDS? That kain tin no dey show for face.”
Farhad huffed, feeling his anger bubble. “Walahi, this is what happened. One of our friends found a new boyfriend. She met him online and they grew close very fast. But she didn’t know that he was one of those crazy people they show on television, those types that become obsessed with people. He sha found a way to convince her to leave and go yawo with him without telling her parents or anybody. We were the people closest to her, her only ‘friends’. So when her parents reported her missing to the police, they went to meet her friend Panlam who gave them our names as her friends and possible suspects in her disappearance.”
The woman leaned forward, enamoured with his story. He thought it a good sign and began exaggerating details.
“Because of all the wahala with Boko Haram in the north and because I am half-Hausa and the newest of her friends, your incompetent nincompoop colleagues named me the prime suspect in the case and put me in detention. I slept here three days before that idiot girl came back home without her boyfriend. Apparently he didn’t let her call home and she got scared and left while he was asleep. She didn’t know anything else about him other than his name, apparently. So your people asked me to keep coming to report myself because they think she’s still lying to protect me even though the boy is obviously very real. Thankfully my father was not in the country; otherwise this thing would have been blown out of proportion.”
The police woman scrunched her nose and handed the ledger over to Farhad. “Na wa for this una children of nowadays oh. I don tell my sister tire say this Facebook and 2go tin go soon put her pikin for trouble she no dey hear. Where the girl dey now?”
“Louise? She’s in one of these private universities. I think her parents think she’ll be safe from boys there or something. If only they knew.”
Farhad he flipped through the pages and found the latest entry, ignoring her ‘Facebook’ comment. Another discussion spiral he wasn’t ready to initiate.
“If only they knew wetin? Wait, you this boy, you sure say you no follow that girl do anything?”
Farhad’s lips widened into a positively filthy smile. “Not yet.”
The woman surveyed him and made a face of disgust before snatching the ledger out of his hands. She’d obviously gotten the sinister undertone in his reply. Not that he cared; he had so many plans for Louise, none of them particularly noble. If he had to go through all this nonsense because she had bad taste in men, then he was going to make her make it up to him, his way. The policewoman frowned and tapped at the ledger, drawing his attention.
“For here e say e remain three weeks for you before them go clear you.” She caught his eye and nodded at the door suggestively. “But as Festus no dey again, I fit reduce am for you to one week provided say you rub body.”
Farhad’s shoulder’s sagged as she rubbed her thumb and forefinger. He dipped his hand into his back pocket and counted seven crisp five hundred Naira notes, wadded them into a ball and placed it gently in the woman’s outstretched palm. She lifted herself off the chair and stuffed the ball into her back pocket. At that moment his phone came to life, blaring Wande Coal’s ‘The Kick’. He gestured to his pocket and she waved him off, grinning widely as she marvelled to herself how she had almost missed noticing just how handsome Farhad was as he exited the office and shut the door behind him.
Farhad cursed as he left the dryness of the cab and entered the light drizzle, breaking into a run towards the Eco Bank building. He turned the corner sharply and ran past the bank building and the school shop and darted into the third building, the block that housed Unilag’s guidance and counseling centre. He headed straight for the felt notice board set flush in the middle of the corridor that doubled as a waiting room for students and started to scan the squares of paper attached to it with all sorts of adhesives.
“Your name’s on the bottom left corner.” A tired voice came from behind him.
He swiveled in apprehension and groaned when he saw Kike sprawled on the bench set out for waiting students, her legs stretched in front of her. She stood up and walked up to him, staring back with no remorse.
“It’s almost four pm and I called you since one. Where the hell were you?”
“Today’s Thursday remember?” he replied. “I had to go and mark present at that police station in Lekki. What are you doing here?”
At the exact moment, a yellowed face with red chemical burned cheeks poked out from the office at the end of the corridor. It belonged to a woman in her thirties with a scowl that added at least a decade to her wrinkly face. Her eyes roved from Kike’s protruding belly to Farhad and back.
“Kikelomo Olasinde?” it was half question, half insult.
“Is he the one responsible for your pregnancy?” she asked, gesturing with her upturned nose at Farhad.
Kike suppressed an amused laugh. “No ma, he’s my cousin Farhad Usman. He’s here to see the Guidance Counselor as well.”
“In that case, oya you two come and pass, Ms. Forson will only be here for thirty minutes, you might as well see her at the same time.”
Ms Forson’s office was everything and nothing Farhad expected. Of course there were the dusty shelves full of books and the token CAC calendar hanging on the wall, not to talk of the musty smell, the overflowing table and the walls with peeling paint. But Ms Forson herself didn’t fit at all inside her office. She was very young, couldn’t have been much over thirty with perfectly coifed hair, a pink lipstick smile, Nirvana T-shirt and a plaid over shirt. When she offered them the seats on their end of the table and sternly warned her bleach burned secretary to close the door properly behind her, her American accent was quite pronounced.
“I’m sorry for bundling you both in like this after making you both wait so long.” She apologized with a shy smile. “I have a meeting in about thirty minutes and I absolutely have to see you both today.”
“Is there any problem ma?”
“Call me Ella, everyone does. Can I call you Kike?”
“Kike, I have received several complaints from your lecturers and your course advisor concerning your present situation. The general consensus is that your academics are suffering thanks to your pregnancy and they have asked that I advise you on how to proceed.”
“I see.” Kike said warily. “So what ‘advice’ do you have for me?”
Ms Forson gave a rueful smile. “Well, I think you’re lucky that your third trimester coincides with the beginning of a new session. I would suggest that you leave school, not drop out, just defer the session so you can have your baby in peace, get enough time to wean him or her and arrange alternative care before you return to school, next year. Fresh and ready.”
Farhad looked at her incredulously. “Are you serious? You want her to lose a year of her life just because she’s pregnant. In the North pregnant mothers go to school all the time. It’s not that big a deal.”
Ms. Forson’s jovial demeanor darkened for a second as she turned to Farhad. “I was addressing Ms. Kike and not you.”
Kike put a hand on Farhad’s shoulder and dragged herself to her feet. “Farhad please don’t bother trying to convince her of anything. I’m not deferring anything, being pregnant is not against any of Unilag’s rules. Trust me MISS Forson, I checked. So unless you people are going to kick me out, I suggest you not call me here again, cause I won’t come.”
She turned on her heels and left made for the exit with as much dignity as she could muster, pushing the door open suddenly to the surprise of the secretary who stood guiltily in full view of the office. Kike shook her head and pushed past the older woman, heading for the corridor.
“What did I say about your eavesdropping?” Ms Forson growled. The secretary burst into a litany of apologies and closed the door firmly this time.
“That was eventful.”
“Please can we just get to the point?” Farhad retorted, obviously irritated.
“If that’s how you want it, Farhad Usman.” She replied, dragging the syllables to emphasize their Arabic origins. “I have recently received a seemingly legitimate tip by someone anonymous that you were a part of the notorious Pirates confraternity in your former school ABU Zaria and that while you were never formally affiliated to this confraternity, you are somehow involved in the events that led to the assassinations of three lecturers there in 2011 and that this is the reason you changed schools.”
Farhad gawped at her in utter shock, his mouth moving but unable to form words. Ms. Forson noticed and decided to push the angle.
“I didn’t quite believe the tip at first, until I was informed of recent events involving a suspected kidnapping and you getting detained by the police. I do not know what is going on with you Mr. Usman and I’d like to think this is all a misunderstanding but such claims need to be investigated. But first I need to have a meeting with your parents as soon as possible to get their perspective on this whole incident.”
At the mention of parents, Farhad’s word drought immediately ceased. “My mother is a housewife and is out of her depth at these kinds of things and my father’s been out of the country for most of the year. But he’ll be back next week Thursday.”
The guidance counsellor nodded and scribbled something into one of the books on her table. “Sure, but I have to warn you. The longer this issue stays unaddressed, the less likely it will be resolved quietly. And you should be aware by now that Unilag has a zero tolerance policy to cultism. My doors are open whenever you’re ready.”
Farhad thanked her profusely and backed out of the office as fast as his legs would carry him. He was so distracted he almost bumped into Kike in the corridor.
“What happened? Your face is a fucking mess.” she asked.
He shrugged. “Nothing much, just academic wahala. Were you waiting for me?”
“Yeah, I just got an email from Saanyol. He’s coming back for his grandmother’s funeral next Thursday; he wants me to come pick him up. What do you think I should do?”
Farhad smiled, a sinister thought suddenly occurring to him. “You definitely should, my father’s coming next Thursday sef, I’m sure he’ll be pleasantly surprised to see you.”