It was a memorable night. But not for the right reasons. At least, not for the reasons you think. I was a final year student in a school of very high repute. And I had been dating my boyfriend for almost three years. Yes, I was one of those ‘good girls’, who didn’t want to have sex until I got married. And I said this much to my boyfriend. He seemed to understand, or maybe he pretended to understand, because he still tried on occasion to get me to ‘do stuff’. I would usually stop at kissing, and demurely move away when his hands started to go places I thought they had no business going. Sometimes, he would gracefully accept it and other times, he would try to pressure me into going further. So, I stopped going to see him in his room. I told myself it was dangerous ground, and that as long as I kept away from quiet places, where there was a bed, I would be fine.
Of course, he didn’t like that I didn’t come to visit in his room anymore. He didn’t like that I would always wait for him downstairs, and prefer to take a long stroll around the school grounds, where there were lots of people. But he did it anyway. I remember he used to call me ‘his virgin’ then, like it was a thing of pride for him. I remember blushing hard every time he said it, revelling in the fact that he appreciated my innocence. I remember him saying how he was looking forward to marrying me when we were done with school. That thought brought a lot of joy to my soul, naïve twenty-one year old that I was.
And so it was, that we were preparing for our final exams, the ones that meant we were finally free from the drudgery of lectures and text books, and from ‘areas of concentration’ sometimes willingly revealed by lecturers. I was studying in my room around midnight, when all my roommates were asleep after having exhausted themselves with primping for visiting hours. My own visiting hours during exam periods were often spent sleeping in preparation for my ‘All-nighters’ – I was one of those annoying efikos – and my boyfriend knew better than to come knocking during this time. But he also knew I’d be awake from 11pm up until 3am, so when he called me that night, I answered my phone, in a whisper so as not to disturb the sleeping girls.
“Hey love. What’s up?”
“Where are you?” he asked, like I would be anywhere else but my room.
“In my room…” I responded. “Studying”
“I’m downstairs. Heading to class, and thought I’d stop by and say hello.”
“Oh really?” I said, not particularly excited, since I was just in the middle of getting through a difficult statistical quandary. “Ok, I’ll come down for a bit.”
I unfolded my legs from under me, and jumped down from my perch on the top bunk. My ‘bunkie’ and I had put money together to rug the floor in our corner, so I landed almost soundlessly on the ground. I had to shrug into a pair of jeans and a shirt, as I tended to study in my night shirt, and I wasn’t exactly pleased to have to get into any real clothes. But for peace’s sake, I was going to get this done and over with as quickly as possible. On my way out of the room, I grabbed my notebook and took it along with me, hoping it would encourage him to go off to class quickly and let me get back to my studying.
I walked out the hostel gate, and he was parked not too far off, fiddling with his phone as he waited for me. Going to his side of the car, I leaned down at the window and he gestured for me to get in the car. So I walked around to the other side and got in.
“How are you?” he asked as I sat down.
“I’m ok. Just trying to get my head around Stat 402. You know I hate Math. So this one is really giving me a tough time.”
He laughed and shook his head. “You’re an efiko now. So I’m sure it’s a piece of cake for you. Unlike those of us wey no know anytin.” He had a habit of switching to Pidgin English without warning.
“So who are you meeting up with in class tonight?” I asked.
“Joe and Ese. We are going to work on past questions.”
“Nice. I haven’t done any this semester. No time.”
“You don’t need it.” he said, starting the car.
“Where are we going now Emeka? Our exam is at 8.30 tomorrow, and I haven’t finished my notes.”
“Just taking a drive jare. I don’t like sitting in front of this your hostel for everybody coming and going to see.”
As he pulled away from the curb, I sighed in exasperation. Once again, like I had many times during this relationship, I asked myself why I hadn’t just stuck to being single and focused on just my books. This boyfriend thing was a real distraction from important stuff. What would my father say if he knew that I was using study time to ‘follow man’? I watched as he took a circuitous route around campus. We made small talk all through but I was overly conscious of time passing. Then he pulled into a clearing and under a tree and switched off the engine. I turned to him in the passenger seat, with a questioning look on my face.
“No class again?” I asked looking puzzled.
“I’ll soon go. We planned to meet at 1.” I looked at my wrist, no watch. So I checked my phone. It was 12.20am. I was hoping he wasn’t planning to keep me there till 1. That would be a whole hour wasted. I was brought back from my thoughts by the sound of his voice close to my ear.
“I’ve missed you. You don’t even have time for me this exam period. Na only you wan pass?”
“You know I don’t like to mess about with my books. I can’t go home if I don’t pass well. You don’t seem to have such worries. And sometimes, I envy you.”
“No, don’t envy me. I wish I was like you, my smart, beautiful girlfriend. I love being the one who gets to kiss the smartest girl in class.” He pulled my face in for a kiss. I let him, albeit not so willingly. But he knew just how to get me to be willing. And I realized that I hadn’t let him kiss me like this in over three weeks. Considering that this was as far as I usually went, three weeks was a long time to have left him ‘hanging’, so I figured I’d make up for it. But, as expected, things got heated up far too quickly, and he started to grope and squeeze and rub me all over. He took my hand and pressed it against his erection, as if to say “see what you do to me”. I withdrew my hand as if from fire and kept it at a safe distance, on my own thigh. And then I tried to pull away from the kiss, but he wouldn’t let me go.
“Please…” he said. “Please. Just once.”
“Emeka…” I started to say.
“Don’t say no. I’ve been waiting for you this long.” His left hand started to undo the buttons on my shirt.
“We agreed…” I mumbled into his lips, “…that we were going to wait.”
“I know. And we’ve waited.” His hand had found its way into my bra, struggling to free a breast. He was starting to lean across into the passenger’s seat and I was beginning to feel very cramped.
“We’re almost done with school now. There’s nothing to wait for again.” He continued. I certainly didn’t believe him, but he was pinching my nipple ever so slightly, and I just had to concentrate on the sensation. I think he could tell that I liked it, because he pinched just a little harder, and I gasped. I hadn’t realised that my eyes were closed until I felt his weight on top of me. I opened my eyes just as he bent his head toward my chest and took my breast in his mouth. All thoughts of studying evaporated and I muttered a weak “No” as I heard the sound of his belt buckle opening.
When his hand went to my zipper, I started to panic. It was only then that I tried to push him away. I didn’t succeed though. Somehow, he had managed to pin one of my hands under me and I flailed about with my free hand, pushing at his shoulder but barely moving him. He started to grab at my jeans, trying to pull them down my hips. I writhed and moved as much as I could to prevent his progress, but it only seemed to make it easier for him.
“Emeka, please…” I attempted to reason with him. “Not like this. Not here.”
But he wasn’t listening. He held on to my free hand and used his other hand to free himself from his trousers. Then he moved my panties to one side and made his first thrust. And missed.
I closed my eyes in thanks and hoped he wouldn’t try again. But he did. And this time he didn’t miss. I felt him connect with that thin barrier I was taught existed between girlhood and womanhood. I felt him heave against it. I felt him break through it. I felt a sharp pain, quick and passing. And then a dull throb as he started to move inside me. I felt a tear run down my cheek, as the enormity of what had just happened hit me. And then it was over. He hurriedly pulled out of me and strained in silence, his hand collecting whatever it was that he had been thoughtful enough not to deposit inside me. As he tried to get his breathing back to normal, I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to look at him. I was ashamed and hurt and angry at the same time. I waited for him to move back into his seat, and quietly righted my clothes.
He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, and breathed a heavy sigh. I waited in silence, wondering what platitudes he was going to offer. I definitely wasn’t going to accept any one of them because what he had done was inexcusable. Just as I was mulling over that fact, a campus security van pulled up beside the car.
“Identify yourself!” the policeman in the passenger seat shouted, shining a torch straight into our eyes. I blinked several times and then squeezed my eyelids shut against the glare. My boyfriend sat up in his seat and wound the window down.
“Good evening sir.” He said. “We’re students.”
“Where is your ID card?” the policeman demanded.
I didn’t have mine, because when I left my room, I hadn’t planned on identifying myself to anybody. But my boyfriend had his, which he always left in the car. As he reached for it, the policeman stepped out of the vehicle and tried to open the driver’s door. But it was locked. I always made sure car doors were locked no matter what car I was in. So I had used the central locking system when I had gotten into the car at the hostel. After several unsuccessful tries at opening the door, the policeman loudly demanded that the door be opened.
My boyfriend thrust his hand out the window with his ID card, shouting frantically that we were indeed students.
“Where is her own ID card?” the man asked, gesturing towards me. I was starting to say that I didn’t have mine when a knock at my window startled me nearly out of my skin. I hadn’t noticed the other officer get out of the vehicle and walk over to my side.
“Come down from this vehicle now.” He shouted, again grabbing at the door handle and simultaneously knocking on the window. “You people will be bringing prostitutes into the school and pretending they are students.”
“But officer,” my boyfriend protested. “She is a student, a first class student of this school. We are just coming back from class where we went to read for the exam we have tomorrow.”
“You think I was born yesterday? My friend, you better get out of this car now before I break the glass.”
All of this time, I was mute, probably in shock at all that was happening. It almost felt like an out of body experience. I was looking on the situation in amazement and utter disbelief. Was this even happening, or was this a weird coffee-induced dream? I saw my boyfriend reach for the ignition and start the car. Then I saw one of the officers bring out a gun.
“My friend, if you move that car, you will be sorry for yourself.” He said.
“Emeka, please don’t drive off. I’ll come down from the car.” I told my boyfriend, fear making my voice tremble.
“No. These guys are crazy. What if they do something to you?”
A small smile crossed my lips as I wondered at his being able to miss the fact that even with him just a few moments ago, I hadn’t been safe. I shook my head at the irony.
“I’m sure they’ll be calmer if we just do as they say.” And I unlocked the door and stepped out.
I saw my boyfriend get out the car as well, and start to say over and over again “Oga, we’re students. She’s a first class student, top of our class. We’re coming from night reading.”
The second officer grabbed me by the shoulder and pushed me towards the security van.
“Oya, enter!” he said, indicating that I should climb in the back of the van. There was yet another policeman in the back of the van and he watched as I clumsily climbed in, chuckling as I stumbled and then hissing.
“You dey do like say you be ole. If na to climb man now, you no go fall down. Stupid girl.”
I could still hear my boyfriend protesting and trying to make the officers see reason. I wished he would just shut up because I wasn’t particularly interested in the whole world knowing that a first class student had been picked up loitering and put in the back of a security van the night before she had an important exam. Even worse would be the fact that she had been caught with her boyfriend, and even if the officers hadn’t seen us making out or having sex, they would have assumed that was what we had been up to. No one would believe me if I told them that it had just been my first time.
“Bros, enter your car, make we dey go station.” I heard an officer say to my boyfriend as the other one got in the cab of the van and started it.
He made a U-turn and drove towards the ‘station’, which was really just the campus security post. Sat in the back of the van, I got to see my boyfriend drive behind us, with the third officer in the passenger seat in which I had, just moments ago been deflowered. Through the windscreen, I could see him still trying to reason with the police officer, no doubt repeating the same stupid argument he had put up earlier. The police man was looking pointedly out the window, obviously refusing to engage. But Emeka just wouldn’t stop talking.
How did I end up with such a silly guy for a boyfriend? Suddenly, everything about him started to irritate me. How he got overly loud and crude when we were among his friends; how he didn’t quite know how to pair the right shoes with the right outfits; how his trousers always seemed to hug his overly skinny frame in the most unflattering way; how he switched to Pidgin English on occasions where utmost decorum was needed. He also had an annoying habit of ‘packing’ when he stood in public and I remember trying to talk to him about it on several occasions, but old habits really died hard in this particular instance. Not like there was that much to ‘pack’ anyway, which I had only just found out this evening.
Yes. That. I cringed inwardly as my mind went back to the scene in the car. Somewhere down there between my legs, I felt very weird. And it wasn’t just the pain. It was the memory of strange – having him inside me had felt strange. Sure enough, my mind had focused on the pain. But in retrospect, I realised that there had been other things to feel; like the fullness of him inside me, stretching me; the friction as skin rubbed against whatever my insides felt like. The sounds he had been making as he thrust each time also came into focus in my mind; they were grunts really, weird animal noises that I had never heard from him before. One more thing to be irritated by, I thought. I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to shower. I wanted to wash all of it away. But that wasn’t happening any time soon, as the van pulled to a stop and I had to clumsily get out without landing on my face.
We were now at the ‘station’. I wondered if I was going to be booked for prostitution since I had nothing to identify myself with, well except my notebook, which was still in my boyfriend’s car. We were led into the security building and directed straight behind the counter. One of the officers who had come in with us shouted to the orderly at the counter:
“Book these ones for loitering. We catch them for under tree. Dem dey play love dia. Stupid children.”
“No mind dem.” the orderly chimed in response. “Dem send dem go school but na so so rubbish dem wan dey do. My friend, come and write your name here.” His instruction was directed at Emeka.
My stomach dropped to my feet. Not only was I to suffer the humiliation I had been through on that night, but it was also to go on record, a record which was traceable. It was almost too much for me to deal with. I watched as my boyfriend pleaded and argued and lost. He wrote his name and the orderly crosschecked with what was on his ID card and asked him to go sit down. It was my turn to write my name.
“Where is your ID card?” I was vaguely aware of the fact that that was the second time I was being asked that question in less than an hour but my mind was working on something completely different. “My ID card is not with me sir.” I said very calmly. I took the pen without further ado and wrote a name that wasn’t mine, a faculty that wasn’t mine and a course that wasn’t mine. There was no way a first class student at the top of her class was going down in the school records for loitering, especially with a daddy like mine waiting for me at home. The orderly had nothing to verify my name against, and I fervently hoped that he wouldn’t call on my idiot boyfriend to come check the details. I was lucky. He asked me to go sit down.
I moved towards the sitting area and it was only then that I realised that there was someone else behind the counter. A girl. I will never know if she was a student or not. She looked totally mad! Her hair was in uneven clumps with sizable gaps where someone (maybe herself) had obviously scissored through. She looked like she had been dressed for a night at the club – strapless black and white striped top, black bum shorts and pantyhose which were in tatters. She had no shoes. I concluded that she must have gone mad at the party. She was sitting on the floor. And she was in chains. I figured that they had put her in chains because she may have been trying to run away. She looked long and hard and quietly at me, saying nothing as I walked past her. I was tempted to go sit by my boyfriend, but he wasn’t exactly my favourite person at the moment, so I found a corner to sit by myself. I needed to just be on my own.
As soon as I sat down though, Emeka came and sat next to me.
“These guy are just crazy.” He started to whisper, but I stopped him midsentence with a palm in the air.
“I don’t want to talk about it. We’re here now and we better do what they say, so that they can let us go.”
“But they’re not even willing to tell us what to do so we can get out of here. I tried to offer the guy that came in my car something. But he wasn’t ready to play ball.”
I couldn’t believe my bad luck. Not only had he had the lamest argument to offer, my amazing boyfriend had also attempted to bribe a security officer. I was now convinced that we were going to ‘sleep’ behind the counter that night.
“I need my notebook.” I said.
“Ahn ahn! You want to read here?” he looked incredulous.
“Yes. I might as well. I don’t know when they’ll let us out. And exam time is 8.30am. No one is going to change the time just because we got detained.”
“Ok. I’ll go ask if we can get your note.”
I watched him walk up to the orderly and have a brief chat. Apparently, the other officers had gone back out on patrol, probably to round up more unsuspecting students loitering about. Emeka and the orderly both went outside and then came back, Emeka with my book in hand.
“Thanks.” I said as he handed it to me. I figured it would be damn near impossible to assimilate anything but I needed something to focus on besides my thoughts, and besides the events of the night, even if I was going to be reading the same lines on the same page over and over again. Emeka tried severally to make conversation, but he eventually gave up when I pointedly stared at my book, refusing to answer. It was now 1.15am and I was counting the hours till 5am when my Bunkie would wake up and find that I wasn’t there. I changed position several times on the hard bench as the night wore on and I wondered what was going to happen next. I was worried about missing my exam, because there would be no bigger humiliation for a first class student than having to do an extra year because she missed a compulsory exam, never mind that the reason was that she had been out messing about with a boy.
Then out of nowhere, chains started rattling and I heard shouts of “They’re coming! They’re coming o. Ye! Ye! Ye! Help me please!”
It was the ‘mad’ girl, thrashing around, looking in the direction of the door and getting very agitated. My boyfriend jumped up with a start and went looking in the direction of the door to find out what she was shouting about. I folded myself further into my corner, for I didn’t want to see whatever was coming. I had thought the night couldn’t have gotten any worse, and now here I was, awaiting an unknown terror.
“Heys! Shut up dia!” the orderly snapped at the girl. “Stop disturbing everybody. Mad person.” And he hissed.
Still, she thrashed around, trying to run further into the bowels of the rather small building. But she had been chained to a rung in the anti-burglary fixtures of the window, so she couldn’t get very far. I realized with relief, that she just wasn’t alright in the head, and that for the time being, nothing was coming to ‘catch’ me on this bizarre night. So I moved a little further away from her, and tried to continue with my sorry attempt at studying. My boyfriend sat back on his side of the room and sulked.
They let us go around 5.30am that morning. The patrol officers just came back and said we could leave. One of them admonished me, advising me not to follow “all these stupid boys”. I nodded in agreement, totally in alignment with him on that one. We walked silently to the car and I got in, wincing slightly as I landed heavily in the seat. It was a deathly silent drive back to the hostel and I barely waited for him to pull to a complete stop before I flew out of the car. I think I heard him call my name, but I can’t be too sure. I ignored the knowing, oversabi look that the security man at the gate house gave me. He had seen me when I left, so he was probably judging. But he was the least of my problems. I went to my room, dropped my note on my bed, stripped down to my panties, picked up my bucket and toiletries and went to the bathroom.
When I took off my panties in the privacy of the bath stall, I saw the evidence of innocence lost – a dull red stain that made me weep. It pained me that I had lost it in such an unceremonious manner, in the front seat of a car and without my full consent. It pained me that I hadn’t even had a chance to recover from it before having to shove it aside and deal with being detained. It pained me that in all of what had happened, my boyfriend hadn’t thought it necessary to apologize. I scrubbed like I was trying to get the devil off me. But it didn’t change how I felt. Ashamed. Used. Dirty. Above all, I felt sad; a deep, deep sorrow, for the child that was now gone.
By the time I got back to my room, my bunkie was awake. I said a cheery good morning and got dressed, ready for class. I was determined to pretend that the night had just been a figment of my imagination. I picked up the same notebook that had followed me to ‘detention’ and I went to the faculty building. I was an hour and forty five minutes early for the exam, but I needed the peace and quiet to pull my thoughts together and do some last minute cramming.
I never told anyone what happened. It would have been way too embarrassing. And I refused to discuss the incident with my boyfriend – who by the way became my ex-boyfriend almost immediately after that. I never told him that I had written a fake name in the security log book. And I secretly hoped he would get singled out and severely punished for ‘loitering’. As for the mad girl, I didn’t know what became of her, but she would always be a part of my life, because I would always remember her every time I thought of the night I lost my virginity. And maybe the memory would fade as I got older. Maybe I would forget it eventually, though I doubted it. It was certainly one of the most memorable moments in my life, but not in a good way. Definitely not in a good way…