She was a first year PhD student from another school a few miles away in Nsukka, who was considering transferring to my school in Enugu. I flashed my award-winning smile at her and pulled out a chair for her at the table my friend, Chinukwe, and I were seated at.
“Welcome.” I said.
Chinukwe, quite worn out and slightly cranky from our long day in the lab, said,
“What did you say your name was again?”
I cut my eyes at her and turned to explain her behavior to Amakka.
“We are all very tired. Mr. Oware works us to death in our morning class in BioChem lab. “We barely get through lunch before Mrs. Nyame drills us in Physics Lab.
“Tuesdays are just all around torturous! Chinukwe chimed in, regaining some of her usual pleasant bubbly energy.
“Come, I think we have to show her around as Prof requested,” I whispered quickly to Chinukwe. Something about Amakka’s eyes had caught my attention and I didn’t want to be left alone with her. Chinukwe reluctantly unfolded her long, lean, dancer body from the couch, straightened her dress and picked up her back pack.
“Ok, I’m up, let’s go!” She ordered.
“So where are you from?” I asked Amakka.
“Nyamara, about fifty kilometers from Nsukka,” she replied. “My parents tend a farm down there.”
“Why do you want to transfer?” I asked.
Chinukwe looked at me.
“I thought a few minutes ago you said you were tired and couldn’t wait to get to your bed! Where did you get this sudden energy?”
“Well yeah, I did and still do but we have a visitor to our campus.” I stated matter-of factly, avoiding both pairs of eyes. We left the cafeteria and headed down the hallway on the first floor.
“We should start in our department.” Chinukwe stated.
“What’s your thesis research on or have you not decided yet?” I asked Amakka.
“I’m doing mine on the tsetse fly which causes…,” I volunteered.
“…trypanosomiasis,” Amakka chimed in looking me directly in the eyes.
“How surreal! I am too.” she added, a smile spreading across her lips.
“Ei! What is this?” Chinukwe said cutting through our private moment.
“Nothing!” We both chimed as we quickly broke the magnetic field that had held our eyes briefly.
After we showed Amakka around our department, we walked to the 5th floor to show her the labs. There we ran into Ranni just leaving the lab for the day.
“I’m famished! She stated dramatically. Ranni was often prone to exaggeration to get her point across.
“Yeah, I could eat!” I said.
“O! Where are my manners? Ranni, meet Amakka, she’s a prospective student.” I added.
“Why don’t we all go eat at Madame Danquah’s Chop Bar? It’s almost dinner time.” Chinukwe said.
“If we leave now we should be there before the first batch of fufu comes out and before those Upper Six boys eat all the good parts of the goat.” Ranni was infamous for dating younger men and frequently leaving in her wake, a serious of unresolved circumstances that erupted at the most inconvenient of times. We all knew it wasn’t necessarily that the goat meat would be all gone if we delayed.
“Amakka, do you eat goat? Fufu?” I asked, resuming our locked-eye relationship.
“Yella!” Ranni said pointing to the door, calling on her Arabic ancestry as she did on occasion.