He pointed at me, and I intentionally looked back, only to meet his wide eyes staring at me when I turned.
“Me?” I asked with hesitation, tapping my chest softly. I was in jungle green cargo pants, some vans and a white shirt.
He nodded. “Lock the door.” He ordered.
It was the first day of his class in my third year but he had supervised our December exams, I remember because I’d catch him staring for the most part of that day. He also mentioned it severally in our conversations. He was vulgar and he thought it was ‘cool’. His class started with a stern warning, “any girl that thinks she’s too pretty, I will fuck you and still give you an F!” we all gasped in disbelief.
Victor has mastered his craft all too well. We enjoyed his classes because most of them were practical, and he would crack a few good jokes. He always spiralled out of control though and talked of his parliamentarian friends, his connections with the who and who’s, his fine taste of wine, his Mercedes, how ladies hit on him, his beautiful four-year-old daughter and how he’d never spend a fortune on a wedding. He led this perfect life for a thirty-one years old guy in such a limping economy. What the entire class detested, however, was his agitated side. He’s the man with the most unpredictable mood swings to date.
I got in trouble when some of my group mates delayed our project submission, so we had to see him in person and explain why. He was sipping cheap whiskey, asking me and my coursemate questions about the state of the nation. He asked about our home counties, the executive and other related questions. He appeared pleased, at how I comfortably answered his questions. He was in the company of his fellow lecturer who took us to a different unit. He was quietly staring at us, sipping his whiskey. His silence wasn’t so strange to me, I had an idea as to why. After his cross-examination, he announced that he wouldn’t give us an F but rather a D for late submission, so we took it. It was better than a Fail.
The lift had barely hit the ground floor when his text message popped up.
Hey, it’s Victor. Could you come back to the office?
Don’t bring your friend.
They stumbled on each other in that sequel. I had just stepped out of the lift, so I excused myself and hurried back to his office. My guess was he had changed his mind about the grades. He pulled me aside to a different office, and a nerve in me was on high alert. I’ve been through similar experiences all through high school. Chances are, it was the same thing about to happen. I was right.
“Hey, Velma. As I told you, it’s my birthday. I would like to offer you the privilege to attend the party.” He said after sticking his head out to check if he had been seen. He had joked about his birthday invite and offered to buy us lunch in celebration. We didn’t think to say No to KFC streetwise two, I mean he offered and it was just a kind gesture. He would have gestured it to anyone and we were just in luck. It’s how he had taken our numbers from us. To Mpesa us the money.
“What? What will people think if they knew I was your student? Why are you inviting me in the first place?”
“You are a really beautiful girl, do you know that?”
“Yes sir, I do”
“Well, I would like to know you better.”
“Out of class?”
“Yes. If you promise to keep this private.”
I agreed so that he would let me leave, I had a date with two of my best friends that day, so I had to rush. He texted me for the better part of the afternoon, asking if I was done or if we could meet in town for coffee or whether I’d want to go out with him that night. It’s the first thing I told my friends when we met and they agreed to bring me to our meeting point, but sit at different tables and watch us, just to be safe. At that time, I felt compelled to sit through the entire conversation, because he had said he would give my results back only after I attended his birthday party.
It was a lunch with a few friends and not quite a party like he’d made it look. There was a familiar legislator, now a public secretary in his circle of friends. They acted very pleased to see me and loudly complimented my curves and beauty. He pulled the seat for me, held the car door, casually checked in on me and even offered to drive me home when the weather got a bit windy like it would rain instantly, a few minutes past seven. He was touchy, made sexual advances and I bent to some.
My results were updated on the portal, it was a B. We developed a friendship but of course, he pegged sexual expectations to it. He worked on the presidential campaign team for a popular candidate, so he enjoyed favours from most people. While he had declared his sexual intentions, he had slowed down on being touchy and suggestive and grown more intentional with our friendship. I knew it, because he introduced me to his daughter, and invited me to his city hall wedding reception. He married his campus sweetheart. They met at Uni and had their daughter a year after graduation.
My boyfriend got wind of our friendship on my birthday. He sent me a bouquet of flowers, chocolates, a Denri travel bag and air tickets. How would you explain to your boyfriend that your lecturer sent you this package because you are friends? He knew about the sexually suggestive messages he had sent me because, at the start of this, I had been very frank about his gestures. He wasn’t the only one in our department, who had tried to get into bed with me. The first lecturer has been sacked because many students had reported his advances while the other one had pretty much counted his losses.
“Velma. Will you explain how you guys got to this point?” Brian asked, furious.
“Trust me, nothing has ever happened between us,” I responded.
“You don’t have to be defensive, you have to answer the damn question, Velma!”
“We are just friends, he stopped making advances towards me,” I lied.
“Tell me what man sends lady flowers, air tickets and chocolates if they don’t have an intimate relationship if they aren’t her family?” I was quiet.
“You are just a cheap slut, Velma. Sleeping with your lecturer for money is a new low. Pathetic!”
The truth is, I strayed. My groupmates and I decided to create a documentary for a unit project, exposing lecturers taking advantage of students, but I had chosen to lie about his advances to me because I thought we were building an honest friendship because we hadn’t been sexually intimate. But he had crossed several lines according to his code of conduct, ones he laid bare to me on our first date. The one where two of my friends watched me till around 10 pm.
He cut communication with me a few weeks after I declined his invite to the coast and a few other road trips invites to Narok, Nanyuki and Naivasha. My boyfriend was right, the friendship was a means to an end because he wanted me to be his other woman. One that his friends and family, his wife particularly, knew of. I don’t know if she ever suspected anything, like how overly comfortable her daughter was with me at their wedding reception at a restaurant in town, but I hope she didn’t.
I tried to get my boyfriend to see things from my point of view, but he was too disgusted to even look at me. I blew it. He couldn’t wrap his head around the intimate jokes and loads of time we spent together. “You are an emotional cheat, Velma. Sure you didn’t get physical, but look at the emotional intimacy you joy.”
An emotional cheat. That’s a first for me.
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