The very first thing that hit me about Makama Bida Hall was the smell. It wasn’t stinking outright because it has just been renovated but there was this discomfiting smell for a hall that housed few students for now; others were yet to move in. my room was U106, on the first level and my first day in the hostel, I was accompanied by family members. I was the first person to go to a higher institution in the family. My elder brother got admitted into a polytechnic at Ilorin the same year but that pales in significance. Besides he is a guy and nobody was willing to make the trip to Ilorin to ensure he was settled in ok. We love him but I need all the attention considering Unilag’s reputation. The settling in crew consisted of my elder sister, two brothers, two cousins and my uncle, quite a number right? I was familiar with two of my roommates already, Hadassah and Tamilore were my course mates and we had discovered we were to share a room with one unknown occupant.
I was the third person to move into my room, Tamilore was absent. The unknown occupant shared a surname with Tamilore but that was all they had in common. She was well-rounded in an attractive way, which is a nice way of saying fat. Anyway, she wasn’t disgusting fat; she was fair in complexion and had a pleasant face. I felt a burst of envy when I spied into her locker and saw all the posh things she had. My luggage suddenly seemed like junk to me and my consolation that I was lucky to be here in the first place didn’t do much.
The settling in committee left after knowing my bed, locker and offering advice. Be careful with your roommates, know the daughter of who you are, do not disgrace us, and it went on and on. I possibly can’t remember half of what was said but I grasped the overall concept.
The unknown occupant who I will call Tito for safety purposes had a squatter and a boyfriend. I learned that a squatter was someone who stays with you because they couldn’t get bed space, like a tenant though you won’t take rent if you are generous. Tito and her squatter, let’s call her Marigold, were obviously big girls. They looked at me with pity and after a few fake smiles and petty greeting, ignored me. I knew about the boyfriend from the knowing look Marigold gave Tito when her phone rang and the instantaneous change in Tito’s voice as she answered the call. Her voice became breathless and inaudible as she squeaked out ‘Baby’. Ha, the not so hard to figure pieces of the puzzle fell into place. This must be what a bedroom voice sounds like, I thought to myself as I faced the task of arranging my locker, trying to ignore the fact that I lacked a boyfriend to practice the art of bedroom voice on.
‘Are you permanently residing in this room for all of your four years in the university?’
I recognized a tricky question when I heard one and the tone and expression was a dead giveaway.
‘Huh?’ was my non-answer to Hadassah’s question.
‘You have so many bags so I couldn’t help but wonder if you were never leaving this room. Maybe you aren’t spending just a year like the rest of us’.
Her smile didn’t quite take the sting out of her words and the snickers of the other occupants of the room weren’t as inaudible as they had hoped.
…to be continued