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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sophie (4)


    I missed Sophie after she left for school. We tried to keep in touch through calls and messages and other forms of communication but it was not the same.

 I wanted her with me.
 During school holidays, however, we often had sweet reunions. Like her first vacation home. It was just before Christmas and a festive air hung in the air.

 Sophie's parents and siblings travelled to their village in Delta State for the holidays. But she remained in Lagos so she could spend some precious time with me.
 We had a good time visiting fun spots and partying.

 I felt bad when the holidays ended and she had to return to school.

 "I wish you didn't have to go back. I miss you so much when you're away," I stated one evening. It was a few days before her departure and we were in my room at home.

 "Maybe, you should get me transferred to a school closer home. Then we can be seeing more often."
 I pinched her nose and drew her close to me.

 Things went on well between us for the next few years. Then, in her third year in school, things began to change.

 It began with the phone calls. From being regular, they reduced drastically. Whenever I called, she would blame her lack of communication on bad network or pressure of school work. 

 Then, I stopped hearing from her totally. Worse, she was no longer picking my calls or answering my mails, making me really worried.

 'What could have happened?' I thought, confused. As if her silence was not bad enough, she did not come home for the long vacation that year, which was very unusual.

 That week, I went to her parents' house to check if they had heard from her. To my surprise, she had also not contacted her family.

 "We heard from her some months ago. That was when we sent her money through a relative that was going to her school," her father explained.

 That was strange. Usually, Sophie kept in touch regularly with her parents as she did with me. 
Why this silence now, I wondered.

    
                           ***
 I nursed the idea of visiting her at school but I was very busy at work at that time so I could not get away.

 Things continued in that manner for some time, with no news from Sophie.
 "Why don't you go see her in school? Find out what's going on," suggested John one day when I had complained about Sophie's continued silence.

 I shook my head.

 "Things are tight at the office right now as we are short of staff. I'll see my boss on Monday about giving me a few days off so I can travel to her school."
 My boss refused my request for casual leave, blaming the workload in the office.

 "You can take your annual leave when Kayode returns from his vacation."

 I waited patiently for his return, all the while full of anxiety about my Sophie.

 I arrived Sophie's school and went straight to her hostel. She was not in her room on my arrival. 

 Her roommate Boma informed me she had not been on campus for some days.

 "Where did she say she was going?"

 "Visiting a friend. She didn't tell me the friend though," the girl said, shrugging.

  I did not know any of her friends on campus so I decided to leave and return later.

 My lecturer friend also lived on campus and since it was a Sunday, I felt he would be at home. So, I made for his house.

 He lived in a bungalow in the staff quarters. In front was a nice garden screened in by a thick hedge of luxuriant-growing ixora plant.

 There was no answer to my knocking so I pushed the door, which was unlocked, open. In the living room was my friend with a lady curled up on his lap on the sofa.

 I was about to greet him when the lady sat up and my mouth hung open in shock...


 To be continued...

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