Not even the passing of three weeks helped me make any sense out of Yemisi’s recriminations. I would wake up after each overdose of my medications, with water gushing from my eyes as if a very busy housewife was wedging a flood from entering her house.
Scenes in which I tried to rescue Halima from Yemisi torturing her, kept playing in my mind. They weren’t pictures that my mind had created; these were real memories.
“Yemisi, I don’t like how you’re maltreating this girl, oh. Take her back to Sokoto if you can’t treat her well as you promised her parents,” kept echoing in my head.
And Yemisi’s customary response kept cutting me deep. “Erobot, leave me and Halima’s matter alone. It’s none of your business.” These were the words that played on repeat, for three weeks in my bedroom.
I missed an appointment with my therapist, as I moved from my living room to bedroom, looking for nothing in particular, and trying to stop the flashbacks. Different recollections kept visiting me – the happy ones, and the rosy-thorny days …
Yemisi and Akande had been friends during our undergraduate days. They were the ‘churchy’ ones and I was, as Oliver, our mutual friend called me, ‘the clown’. Another mutual friend, Efe Petermen called me ‘funny’. I was the heart of every gathering, getting people to talk and laugh away their sorrows. Guys fell over themselves for me, not because of my face, which many said was pretty, but because of my cheerful spirit.
“My mother and sisters will have no problem with your kind,” Akande once said, during our second year in the university.
And Yemisi’s mood changed. She was sour, the rest of that day.
I kept asking if she was okay and she would give me this side glance while forcing “Nothing” out of her nostrils. On the third day of not seeing her, I went to Mass Communication Department to hunt for my journalist-to-be sister. Yes, we were soul sisters.
“People were not wrong about you. You’re so full of life and will love to know you more,” Oke who was sitting with Yemisi in front of their department, said, barely five minutes after I joined them. I was cracking him up. He stood, drew me closer to him, while I giggled at what he was whispering in my ears. Then, our boat hit a huge iceberg.
Yemisi stood up and tore me away from Oke, hissing. Then she looked into my eyes. “Why are you like this? Why is it that every guy I’m with, flood you as if you’re the best thing in the world?”
“Yemisi, why will you say such? But you know it’s only play we play naa?!” Oke said.
“Stop acting innocent. You think you’re the best because people are attracted to you? You are not,” she said venomously, before she stormed off. Oke and I were left, staring at each other.
Maybe I should have been bothered by her tantrums, but to be honest, I wasn’t. One day, I saw Akande standing in front of the hostel with Yemisi and some other guys. I was about stepping into Ethiope Hall when he called me. In the presence of everyone, Akande invited me on a date. I preferred the beach to a restaurant, but told him my twin, Yemisi must come along.
“Anything for you, honey.”
And the date for that weekend was sealed.
I brushed off Yemisi’s apologies in my usual playful way, when she tried to talk to me. I saw no reason to hold a grudge. We chatted, as we walked to the market that evening, hand-in-hand.
In retrospect, that was the beginning of the end of our happy days on campus. But at the time, how was I to know? I dragged her into all games and pranks Akande came up with. I didn’t want her to feel excluded, because she had complained about how that no-one asks her out the way I got numerous invites.
“If only date invites were transferable,” she would sulk while I assured her that she was pretty enough to be asked out, too.
“Having guys jamming their heads over me, doesn’t mean I will get married before you,” I would encourage her, each time she expressed fears I would get married before her.
“I will be so lonely when you leave for your husband’s house,” she would weep bitterly.
And I always told her I had certain things to achieve, before getting married, so I truly doubted that I would marry so early. Yet, it seemed there was always a tense moment with Yemisi.
I would keeping dragging Yemisi along, to the hangout invitations I got from Akande. I knew she would be sorrowful, whenever I went alone. And I really didn’t want that.
It was on one of those days, that Akande detonated a bomb.
“Erobot, I told my mum and sisters about you and they are dying to meet you,” Akande began. We were all sitting in front of River Ethiope.
Yemisi looked frozen in shock.
I kept mute.
“Erobot, what about we get married immediately after we are through with school next year?”
I was silent still.
“You know I like you so much. Don’t you feel same way?”
I was speechless. I liked Akande only as a friend. I was more interested in conquering the world, journalism and a writing career. Not marriage. I feared being owned.
Before leaving for my room, I promised to give Akande a reply, very soon …
EROBOT ON TRIAL is a serialised, true story