Deba is sitting in the room with her friends, giggling and jesting. Amara, her roommate is applying gel to her renegade hair strands, forcing them into a mass of sleepy black cake. Four years ago, when Deba got admitted to study Fisheries in the university, she was just as beautiful — the kind that forged momentary agreement amongst onlookers. She got the full promise of what Ameze, her older sister told her the afternoon she brought home the admission letter. You know you are hot; boys will not let you rest. When Ameze, who bleached away her shiny sable skin because everyone always looked the way of her yellow-skinned sister, said Deba was hot, she meant it. Deba knew what awaited her in the University, but she did not know what awaited her outside her hostel this evening.
Deba throws out three of her dresses — two black, one red — on her mattress, not sure on which to wear.
“It’s Valentine’s Day for God’s sake! Today is not the day to be confused about colour or style!” Afoke her other roommate said, shaking her head histrionically as she throws her the red one.
“This one should go with that one,” she added, pointing at the black stiletto heels in Deba’s shoe rack. Iye got it for her on her birthday last month. Iye, Deba’s grandmother had left two marriages before she settled into a third one where she had Ibalegbe, Deba’s mum. The old woman was left with no choice but to sell all her Hollandais wrappers, beads and borrowed some more to send Ibalegbe to the Netherlands after Deba’s father died and his family made his wife sit with open fire for seven days as she fed with her left hand. Iye had been raising Deba and Ameze ever since with stipends from Ibalegbe.
Four sessions ago, when Deba just resumed class, Victor was voted course prefect. He liked Deba especially and gave her premium preference, from helping her with assignments and term papers to exempting her from paying class levies and attending to lab attachment. Most days, he would stalk her to her hostel and then stay just far enough to avoid detection. He would watch her and her roommates chatter and banter in the routine nakedness of the evening. Even though he never really said anything to her, he thought he showed it enough. She saw his many stealth gestures as windfalls of being a hot babe, she never thought he had it in him for it to be more. So, when two weeks ago, the faculty’s president announced the Valentine’s Day dinner party, Victor saw the opportunity. After much rehearsals and extended replay in his head, he asked Deba to be his date. Deba’s laboured smile instantly melted into a fiery form of summoned seriousness as she went berserk. She furiously wagged her forefinger in his face while she shook her head forcefully, warning him never to make such an attempt again, referring to his request as an insult.
“There is no way in heaven or even in hell for that matter that a girl like me will ever settle for a guy like you,” she added.
“But Deba, I love you with my heart and all I’m asking from you is that you love me back with your heart. Should that not count for something?” Victor interjected, his voice almost breaking.
“This heart doesn’t belong with you! Wake up Victor!” she replied sharply, hissing as she turned and walked away.
Victor swallowed hard in an attempt to ease the dryness at the back of his throat. He was rooted to his feet, regretting his misfortune for the second time. A girl had told him in his second year that the only time they would be seen together is if they were both run down by the same truck. Apart from Victor’s left leg which was just a little longer than the right one and maybe his monochrome dress sense, nothing was exactly wrong with him. Deba’s outburst and outright rejection did not break Victor as much as what he would go on to find on Deba’s WhatsApp status that night.
Somebody should warn Victor the dreamer oh! With legs like that, showing the sour aftertaste of nature’s indecision, he could still see me and him together. Anyway, I don’t blame him, it’s what happens when you smile with everybody. *anger emoji*.
It was that night that Victor knew what he must do.
In 200 Level, Professor Elawure, the Anatomy of Farm Animals lecturer, mentioned in class that humans have their hearts on the left side of their chest. So, when Afoke who is wearing Deba’s nightie walks out of the room laughing hard and making for the line to hang her towel, she doesn’t see that Victor is right there in the dark fidgeting with a pocket knife in his hand. As she turns to return to the room, he grabs her from behind, covering her mouth with his left hand as he plunges his knife deep in her left breast in three successive motions, searching for her heart.
“This your heart will be nobody’s,” he whispers in her ear, letting the limp body collapse to the ground. He hisses, turns and walks into the night.
Osamu Ekhator is a farmer and he writes. He’s @samuhub on social media