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Chapter 1

Daniel listened intently to the deep voice of the dean of his faculty booming over the microphone. It had been almost three hours since he started his ‘introductory speech’ and it didn’t seem like he was going to stop anytime soon. So far, it was talks of welcome, rules, how to excel in the university and, of course, the olden days speech of how he suffered in his youth and was able to breakthrough with determination.

Daniel sighed for the thousandth time in annoyance, wishing the old man could just get it over with. Another thing he regretted was not eating before entering the big hall as the results began to manifest in form of a growling stomach.

He glanced at his watch: it read 2:30pm.

Throwing his head backwards, he let out a frustrated groan which caught the attention of his friend sitting beside him.

‘Dude, just try and endure,okay.”

Daniel turned to him. ‘ Easy for you to say, Jake. My stomach is killing me. You know I didn’t eat before leaving the hostel.”

Jake chuckled. ‘ And who’s fault is that?”

Seeing the glare Daniel gave him, he became serious.

‘Oh come on, we were already running late.”

‘You mean late for a speech that started two hours ahead of time?” Daniel rolled his eyes.

‘Well pardon me for not realizing African time exists in universities.” Jake said.

‘It exists everywhere, man.” Daniel replied.

‘Tell that to your boss when you go late for work in future.” Jake laughed.

Daniel leaned back in his seat and was just about to doze off when a sudden feeling overwhelmed him. That familiar feeling that had felt for almost a decade now. The feeling that he was being watched. But who? He sat upright and glanced around the auditorium, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. The auditorium was crowded alright, but his instincts never failed him in the past and it wasn’t going to fail him now. He glanced to his right and his suspicions were confirmed. He saw her.

Sitting a few seats from him was a girl of his age with a no-nonsense look and sharp eyes. She was wearing a black T-shirt and dark blue tight jeans. She was dark in complexion, with pointed nose and red lips. Red? He found that weird. Her long unbraided hair was tied back in a ponytail and it glistened under the lights of the auditorium. What fascinated him was her eyes. A light brown in contrast to the dark black of the average Nigerian. As soon as she saw him staring, she narrowed her eyes at him and he quickly glanced away.

‘The hell is her problem? She stared first.” He grumbled silently.

‘What was that?” Jake turned to him.

‘ Oh,nothing. Don’t mind me.” He replied, leaning back to his seat once more and closing his eyes.

Jake looked at him for a while and shrugged. Daniel was always one to keep things to himself. More of a reserved dude. He had known him like that from primary school to secondary school to now. He had stopped bothering on that a long time ago.

‘ And finally.” The dean announced. ‘ Remember there is a difference between passing through school and letting the school pass through you. Have a wonderful semester and I wish you the best .Thank you.”

With that, he dropped the mic to a reception of applause and relieved sighs. Daniel laughed at this. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one tired of the 3 hour speech. One by one, the students filed out of the auditorium to begin their normal activities.

‘Hey, Dan.” Jake said as they trotted to their hostel.

‘ Yeah?” Daniel replied.

‘There’s a welcome departmental party for freshers this evening at the park. You coming?”

‘Well…” Daniel hesitantly replied.

‘Before you come up with your lame speech on how ‘Terrible things’ happen in parties.”

Jake interrupted using his fingers in quote.

‘ Alcohol is banned from the party. Plus it would give you the chance to mingle with people and socialize. I don’t want you graduating from this school a miserable old man.”

‘ Screw you too.” Daniel grumbled and they both laughed.

‘So what do you say?” Jake pressed on.

Before Daniel could reply, his phone rang and he fished it out of his pocket. Looking at the screen, he sighed.

‘ It’s my mum.” He turned to his friend. Jake nodded understandably and Daniel picked the call.

‘Hello, baby.” The feminine voice of his mom came over the speaker. ‘ How are you?”

‘ I’m fine, mum.” He replied. ‘ And you?”

‘ I’m alright. In fact, i am in front of your hostel.” She replied.

‘Really?” He raised his brows.

‘ Yes. I brought some things for you.” She said.

‘ Alright, hold on. I’ll be right there.” He cut the call.

. ‘ Jake, she’s in front of our hostel.” He turned to his friend.

‘Good, let’s go.” Jake replied.

The two boys hurried over and saw Mrs Johnson standing by a Toyota camry. She was wearing a white tight blouse and dark jeans that showed her curves and her hair was fixed in a brazillian hairstyle. She held a big white nylon in one hand and the other was placed on her hip. she removed her hand from her hip and started drumming her fingers on the bonnet of the car patiently. On seeing her attire, Daniel groaned inwardly at his mother’s attempt of once again trying to look younger. Not to say she wasn’t good looking. She was still attractive at the age of 42,having had Daniel at a young age. But after the death of her husband, she still wanted to make sure men found her attractive much to the chagrin of her son. He never hesitated to make his grieviances known to her on that issue which she found adorable and wave it away with a pinch of his cheeks, leaving him more frustrated than before.

‘ Good evening, Mum.” Daniel said as he approached her. She smiled and drew him in a tight embrace.

‘ My baby.” She smiled warmly, ignoring his protests as he struggled against her, while Jake laughed at this.

‘ Mum!” Daniel choked out and began to panic as their embrace drew in a little audience. ‘ This is embarrassing!!”

‘ Hush, boy.” She replied with a giggle. ‘ You don’t know how it feels being alone in that house.”

She finally released him, much to his relief.

‘Good evening, ma’am.” Jake said, bowing a little.

‘ Jacob.” She turned to him. ‘ How are you? it has been a while. Wow, you are looking

like quite the young man.”

‘ And you look beautiful, ma’am.” He smiled back.

‘Jake!!” Daniel glared at him.

‘Lighten up,will you?” His mother replied. ‘ It’s not everyday I get compliments from the male


Turning to Jake, She continued.

‘Thank you dear. That means a lot.”

Daniel rolled his eyes at that.

‘Anyway.” Mrs Johnson handed the nylon to her son. ‘This is for you. Provisions,

mosquito nets and other stuffs.”

‘Thanks,mom.” He smiled warmly, collecting the bag.

Reaching into her purse, she counted some money and gave Daniel. Then gave some to Jake which he politely declined.

‘Ma’am, I don’t think…” Jake began.

‘ Just take it, dear.” She smiled.

‘ Or you want to feign swag?” She joked and he laughed.

Jake smiled and accepted the money.

‘ Thank you ma.” He said.

‘Okay, boys.” She said as she opened her car. ‘ I’m off. I will check on you from time to time. Remember to study well and stay away from distractions. Make friends but sensible ones. Socialize and interact with people. Don’t join bad gangs okay? And always remember to pray.” She hugged Jake and gave a tighter hug to Daniel which he rolled his eyes at but he smiled at returned her embrace all the same.

‘You know..” She whispered in his ear. ‘ You are the exact copy of your father. In image and character. Even if he isn’t here, I have you to remind me of him and that is all I ever want. I love you, my baby.”

‘ Love you too, mum.” He whispered back and rubbed his hands soothingly over her back. Daniel never knew his father as he died two months after he was born and the cause of his death was never known. His mom and paternal grandfather had been the only family he knew and they made sure to take care of him. Overprotective? sure. But they were the best people in his life and he wouldn’t trade them for anyone.

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