BLINKERED- GRACE OCHIGBO
THE HUNTED HUNTER
Mondays are always the busiest and being a student makes this worse. It seems everyone wants to deliver his lecture on Mondays. l have been in school since 7am, see when am leaving…
The only thing on my mind right now is getting into that room and taking a warm bath. My stomach has been screaming in the last hours, l had only snacks to eat today. l strapped my bag firmly onto my back as l quickly meandered through the crowd of students around the lecture theatre and just flashed a quick smile at all my classmates hailing me as l almost ran across them. l didn’t have the patience to wait today, am really exhausted. As l hurried off though, l heard someone shouting my name. The voice came so familiar that l knew it just must be one person
“That must be Ben” l muttered beneath my breath. “Oh! Not now Ben! am too tired to talk.”
l glanced at my wrist watch and then hastened my footsteps the more
“Tonia!…” The voice came closer, l could now hear footsteps trying to catch up with me. l will be mean if l don’t stop at this point right? l had to stop, as l turned to face him with a scowl.
Ben came closer to me and hugged me affectionately. He wasn’t such a tall fellow, average in height, fair in complexion with a well built muscular body too. He is always on skin hair cut and recently started keeping a goatee. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have pot-belly and at least no sign of it in view. He will normally wear something out of his designers’ blazers and collections any other day but of all the days to act weird, he was dressed in a royal-blue slim-fit long caftan today. It looked perfect on him but that was weird for a Monday class if you asked me. Ben has a way of staying unique, he had his special style, he had his taste.
“Hey Angel, how are you?” He said at the drop of a hat before releasing me from the hug.
l scowled the more before answering. “Am fine Ben, just that this rigorous Monday lectures sucks.”
Ben looked around conscientiously as though weighing options in his mind, before speaking
“Let’s use the faculty cafeteria then, that’s the closest to this place.”
He pointed in the direction of the almost filled faculty cafeteria. It’s not a large place but it serves as a rescue spot for most students after a hectic day like this. It would have been a nice idea considering the stress with starting to cook when l get home if Grace didn’t make anything, but then l don’t eat out. So l had to turn Ben down quickly but politely
“l have to go now Ben” l stuttered. “l will see you tomorrow” l said walking away before Ben could even answer me. He still followed after me but l tried not to stop again
However, I stopped abruptly and Ben almost bumped into me when l saw Jerry walking towards our direction from afar. Quite unusual, but my heart began to race like it will jump out of my ribcage. He looked indifferent about whoever was around. I think there was something on his mind or maybe that was a deliberate act to ignore me, because am so sure he saw me. He yet walked on without looking in my direction. l felt doleful but managed to call out his name notwithstanding.
“Hi Tonia” Jerry responded glazed as he turned and walked calmly towards us. He shook hands excitedly with Ben
“My boss!” He bowed in obeisance
“Ha! You are my boss o, my honourable chief judge” Ben stopped him and bowed in obeisance too
l looked wistful as the duo talked. They said a little bit about everything linked to students’ life and leaderships. They must have forgotten l was still here. They chatted like old time friends doing some catching up, laughing and giggling. l needed to interrupt them now if not, they will rattle on and on. l adjusted my antique white blazer and coughed out loudly. They stopped to face me, l started smiling victoriously as l thought about what to say. Ok! Let me introduce them both… sounds crazy seeing obviously they were not strangers with each other but that’s the only thing that came to my mind right now
“Jerry, meet Ben, my very good friend … and this is Jerry, my…”
“We already know ourselves dear, Ben is the students’ union government president, of course, everyone should know him! We roll quite closely in the political realm, you know?! ” Jerry snapped in on me almost instantly, flashing his set of well-arranged white teeth at me. Ben was only just smiling proudly and I felt like giving him a punch already but l kept quiet immediately and let Jerry continue
“Well Tonia, l am rushing off to see someone rather urgent and important, so see you around.”
He shook hands with Ben again and walked away briskly without getting any response from me.
Shudders ran down my spine as l watched Jerry walked away. He looked smashing on his Bondi-blue peter-Pan collar long-sleeves well tucked in dark -brown trousers as always. l watched leeringly till he disappeared out of my sight. Your guess is as good as mine, l didn’t notice Ben had been calling my name. l even forgot he was still standing there. He tapped my shoulders lightly and l jerked back
“You do love him?” Ben asked with a stolid look on his face. l gasped
“You love him? Jerry Onuh?” He repeated this time more emphatically as he perceived l was forming blank, pointing in the direction of the office Jerry just entered.
l chuckled and regained my composure before talking,
“Ha! c’mon Ben?! Are you serious right now?!” l pouted nudging him crankily.
Ben peeved as he saw clearly l was dodging his question
“Look here babe, don’t play a smart one on me, l saw the way he looked at you, l saw how uneasy you felt all of a sudden, you couldn’t stop staring at him long after he already left, damn it! You didn’t even hear me call you for Christ’s sake” he yelled but l just smiled
“Ben, l have to go now ” l said and started walking away turning deaf ears to all he just said. This even got him more pissed, he pulled my hand back forcefully and stared wide-eyed at me, his eyes were turning red. My feeble hands hurt badly as he gripped them
“Is that the answer you can give?” He screamed even louder. I quickly scanned my eyes round about, thankfully, the faculty is quite empty now, so almost no one was watching or listening to us
l tried to yank my hand off his firm grip with the little energy left in me and stared back at him, eyeball to eyeball
“You can go to hell, Ben.” l hissed and walked away hurriedly without turning back.
l shut the door angrily behind me as l stormed into the room, l flew my Charlotte sandals off my feet to a corner of the room and threw my bag on the bed. The hunger l felt earlier had suddenly disappeared and anger mixed with disappointment replaced my emotional bank now. l just fell into the bed like it was a refuge nest. Hot tears burned down my cheeks as l held my pillow against my chest. Grace who was typing on her laptop when l got in, could only wonder what came over me. She closed her laptop immediately and came to meet me on my bed
“What’s the matter again Tee? Why are you crying?” She asked rubbing my back
“l saw Jerry this evening and he first tried to ignore me. Even when l called him, he behaved casually like everything was fine , like he didn’t care anymore, like l meant nothing to him anymore” l explained amidst tears.
Grace’s initial confusion was replaced with utter amazement
“Is that all?” she asked me standing up, l nodded in the affirmative. She hissed and went back to her table and picked up her laptop.
l didn’t know why she did that. l wiped the tears from my face and sat up on the bed still holding my pillow
“Gracey!! say something”.
“l know you can be crazy Tee, but don’t come into this room playing pranks on me, not now that am working on an urgent and important assignment ” She broke out facing me squarely as she came and sat on the chair in front of me. She sounded like she was meting out a threat.
“It was right in my presence you ordered Jerry out of this room last week Tuesday, he is letting you be now, what do you still want?”
l kept quiet for a while. ‘What do l still want?!’ l have never considered the possible answer to that question. She continued
“Tonia , the poor boy can’t continue begging for your love forever. You have broken his heart enough times, you don’t appreciate the fact that he is head over heels for you. Let someone who appreciate him, have him. Please let him be, Tonia. What is your problem?” She asked, running her eyes through my body.
l blinked my eyes. “I just feel really terrible right now”
“If you feel bad about hurting him, it’s not as if this is the first time you are doing this” l eyeballed her coldly but she ignored and continued, holding my hands firmly… “Then be a humble girl and apologise to him, it won’t kill you girl” she said bluntly.
l turned my face away from her
“Apologising to him will make him think that l have changed my mind, he will think am helpless without him , he will think l too am so in love with him, he will think l truly have feelings for him” l said defensively.
l rattled on, l knew somehow that l was just giving excuses for my wrong actions, my eyes were closed tightly as memories of the good times l spent with Jerry flashed through my mind. He was everything in a man and he will do anything just to keep me happy. A little smile lurked around my lips.
“So you truly love him?”
This question startled me. It seems gloomy in here. Everywhere was quiet as l drowned in the ocean of my own thoughts. l still can’t fathom the depth of that question but l know the sharp cut l feel through my heart the times I’ve heard it. First, it was Ben and now is Grace. “True Love? l can’t have true love for Jerry. In fact, not even for anyone. Not me. Not in this condition! l may not know what this weird feeling is, but it’s definitely not love” l thought within myself as l stared vacantly at Grace unable to find an answer to her question.
l was sober, l initially felt elated seeing Jerry, but l now feel bad breaking up with him and l even feel more devastated by his cold attitude towards me. It was a nostalgic feeling. Yes! that’s the word for it. This can’t be love at all, this must be mere nostalgia.
l ran my fingers through my hair and slightly squeezed my forehead. My right hand supported my chin all the while. l didn’t know Jerry owned a part of me this much. l am not sure about this, it’s taking like forever to get an answer to a simple question right now. l looked pathetically at Grace, my eyes carried so much pain, many words l don’t seem to know how to express.
” Grace, l don’t know!” l replied honestly.
To be continued…