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“If you still want to have me in bed, then you should fail him,” Oluchi said with annoying aplomb. “I can’t do that. Chisom is the best student in my Pharmacology class. There is no way I can fail him,” Professor Evans argued. “I don’t care whether he is the best or worst student in the class. You have to fail him. He is making my life miserable. Can’t you see it? You have to do something to help, after all, this whole mess started because I began to sleep with you.” “I guess we should stop then,” Professor Evans suggested. “Just like that?” “I guess so.” Oluchi turned to get a closer look at his face. She was lying naked next to him in bed. “So, if I walked out of this door now, you’d feel nothing for me?” She asked him. “I did not mean it that way. You know I care about you, but this is not Africa, remember? I can’t fail a student just like that. He can ask for a remark and if he does, I’d have to provide his script to the university. I could lose my job for this, you know.”

“You are a professor, if you can’t figure out a way to fail him, then I have no business snuggling in bed with you,” Oluchi said with a tone of finality. She jumped out of bed. Even the sound of his feet hitting the carpet in Evans’ bedroom echoed with stifling frustration. She picked up her clothes which had been lying forlornly on the floor and walked into the bathroom in anger. When she returned, she was keen to leave the apartment. “I guess I’d have to deal with these guys by myself. Don’t forget that I have pictures of you and I kissing and snuggling while barely having any clothes on. I wonder which is more terrifying; me releasing the pictures particularly to the university senate or you figuring out a way to fail Chisom and Bernard. The choice is yours,” she said just before heading for the door. “Wait!!!” Professor Evans yelled. He jumped out of bed and ran towards her. It was too late. Oluchi opened the door and left the apartment. She quickly walked downstairs and headed into the snow-covered street.

Chisom and Bernard walked into the Pharmacy department building together on Monday morning. “I’d like to have a word with Professor Evans,” Chisom said. “Do you think it is necessary to talk to him?” Bernard asked. “Absolutely, yes. Oluchi has shown that she will stop at nothing to hurt either of us. I don’t expect the professor to make such a mistake, but you never know – sex can drive some people crazy. Right now, he is enjoying it with Oluchi, so there is a chance that she might want to use everything she has to influence him. I am not about to let that happen,” Chisom explained. “I don’t see the professor succumbing to such pressure. You can easily ask for a remark, especially for a straight ‘A’ student like you…that can get the man fired,” Bernard countered. “I guess you are right, but I still think I should talk to him.” “Okay, if you insist.” “Yes, I do. I will see you in class later.” “See yaa!” said Bernard.

Chisom knocked gently on the door to Professor Evans office. “Come right in…the door is open,” the professor bellowed. Chisom pushed the door open and walked in. “Good morning Prof.” He greeted. “Good morning. What can I do for you? Please sit down,” Evans replied managing a feeble smile on his troubled face. “I…I wanted to say something to you,” Chisom began. He was not sure how to get the words out. “This is difficult sir, but I feel I should really say it.” “Go ahead…I am all ears,” Evans urged him. “Sir, I understand there is something going on between you and my friend Oluchi Chijinka,” Chisom began. Evan’s face turned red. You could almost see blood flowing effortlessly through his veins. A warm streak of sweat quickly began a procession down his face. He took a deep breath as his hands shook a little.

Not knowing how to respond, he listened raptly, wondering where Chisom was going. “I am also aware that she might try to persuade you to fail me. I came to reassure you that should that happen; I would fight with everything in me. I really had to say this for the records. I am not after you for any reason. Oluchi is the one I have an issue with, not you. I need you to know that, but should I fail your course, I would have to throw all my irons on the fire.” Chisom stared at Professor Evans with piercing attention. Professor Evans looked at him in utter confusion and discomfort. He wanted to say something, but his throat was awfully dry. His eyes dropped to the table. He could not stare Chisom in the eye.

“You…” he began, but his dry throat muffled his voice. He coughed to clear his throat and then reach for his fridge for a bottle of water. When he returned to his desk, he began to speak gently. “You are a bright student, Chisom. I see no reason why you should be worried. I am not sure I understand everything you said, but I do not see the reason why your grades should bother you at all. You are a bright student…in fact, the brightest in my class. Go home and stop worrying yourself,” he explained diplomatically. “Thank you sir,” Chisom replied before heading for the door.

Oluchi sipped a glass of margarita at the bar. Music was blasting at deafening decibels. The club was packed to the brim; bursting with revelers who waltzed with unbridled fervor. She scanned the club absent-mindedly. She could not sleep and Azubuike was calling her non-stop. She was too afraid to take his call out of fear that Chisom may have sent the pictures to him already. She was not ready for a showdown, so she refused to take his calls. After tossing and rolling repeatedly, she got out of bed, jumped into her party clothes and wondered her way to a nearby club. A tall handsome black guy was watching her from a distance. He lurked in a dark corner, searching for a ‘catch’ – a girl to take home for the night. This one looked promising because it seemed she too was searching from the way she was scanning the terrain.

He walked casually towards her. She looks Nigerian to me, he thought to himself as he got closer to her. “Hello pretty girl, how are you doing to night?” He asked, making painstaking efforts to mask his Nigerian accent – at least at first attempt. “Hi there…I am doing great,” Oluchi replied with a smile. She too had put on a ‘borrowed’ British accent. “You sound Nigerian,” the young man pointed out. “Yes, I am Nigerian and I can tell that you are Nigerian too,” she replied. “Yes I am…from Anambra State to be precise – Obosi.” “Great! I am from Abia State.” “So what do you do?” “I study Pharmacy at Brunel University.” “My cousin goes there…he is studying pharmacy as well, I guess.” “Really?” “Yes.” ‘What is his name?” “Chisom…Chisom Uzonnna,” the young man answered. “By the way, my name is Eloka Uzonna”

“Are you kidding me? Chisom is your cousin?” “You know him? Yes, he is my cousin. His father is my father’s younger brother.” “Interesting. How come he has never mentioned that he has a cousin in London?” “Are you close friends with him?” Eloka asked. “Not really, but as a fellow Nigerian in my class, I can say that I know him to an extent.” “What is your name?” Eloka asked. “I am Oluchi Chijinka.” “Great name, Oluchi. I have to say this…please keep it to yourself. Don’t get any closer to that guy.” “You mean Chisom? Your cousin?” “Yes. His immediate family is cursed. I have only seen the guy twice or thrice since we have been in London. We don’t really get along with them. They are cursed…terribly cursed. His father is an evil person. My father told me that he slept with women from our kindred when he was a young man. You know, that is an abomination…incest. That is the reason the gods are after him. His first son who was doing well in business died mysteriously. His wife passed away just like that! She went to bed and never woke up. His sister died just days before her wedding ceremony – just like her mother. She went to bed and never got up. As for Chisom…”

Eloka lowered his voice. He leaned over, almost talking directly into Oluchi’s ears. “He has HIV. I told you they are cursed.” “He has what?” “Don’t shout that here…you know, you don’t want oyibo people to start looking askance at us,” Eloka cautioned.  “Are you serious?” Oluchi could not believe her ears. Fear crept into her throat and quickly worked its way to her eyes. She wondered how the condom had performed when she slept with Chisom. She could hear her chest pounding like an old jet fighter shunting to life for the first time in many years. “But he does not look it?” She asked Eloka. “You talk as though you forgot that people can have HIV for years before manifesting it.” “I mean…there is nothing to suggest it at all. How do you know?” Someone got hold of his medical records where he went for the test in Lagos and spread the news in our village. Everyone at home knows. He is hiding here in London, studying pharmacy in the hope of finding a cure for HIV someday.”

Oluchi felt her feet dangling in shock as she hung on the high bar stools. “Would you care for a dance?” Eloka asked “Yes, I don’t mind,” she replied. As they joined the sea of fun seekers on the dance floor, she could not stop thinking how everything went that morning with Chisom. Yet, a part of her was pleased. She tried to calm herself down on the premise that the condom did its job. Yes…she thought. I have something on Chisom…something big at last. With this, I will destroy him for good. Her imagination was running wild. Eloka was busy pressing his hands all over her body with a ravenous sexual appetite. At the end of night, they exchanged numbers and Eloka promised to ring her up. He was excited. He wanted to take Oluchi home, but she declined. “Let me get to know you a little more,” she said. “That’s fine. I am keen to know you more,” he answered excitedly. “You are such a beautiful girl,” he added. “Thanks. You are so kind.” “Don’t mention it,” Eloka replied. Meanwhile, Oluchi was referring to his kindness with regards to the wealth of information he had furnished her with.

“So what can we do for you young lady?” The university lawyer asked Oluchi. “I would like to bring a lawsuit against another student,” she replied. She feigned tears as she spoke to whip up emotion in the lawyer. “Why?” asked the lawyer. She was a slender, bespectacled lady in her late thirties. Her frame belied her toughness. Imogen was a hard nut to crack. This was her kind of case. She was already thinking of how to chew up the student that Oluchi was referring to even before getting the details of the case. “He slept with me even knowing that he has HIV. He endangered my life,” Oluchi explained. “Did he rape you?” “No, he did not, but he knew he had HIV yet, he slept with me without protection. He should have told me about it. I may have the virus now. Can you imagine…just like that?” Oluchi began to cry. The lawyer gave her tissue to wipe her tears. Afterwards, she handed her a glass of water. This young man is dead, Imogen thought to herself. “Of course, he endangered your life. If he knew and he did not tell you, then he truly put you in harm’s way, knowingly. That is unacceptable. He will have to answer to the law. We have to file a case against him to have him tested and you too.” “Yes, I need a test as soon as possible. I am so afraid,” Oluchi said shedding crocodile tears one more time.


Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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