“Ogechi, meet my boyfriend, Chidi. Chidi, this is my cousin Oge, the one I have been telling you about,” Uchechi said beaming with smiles. “I have heard a lot about you, Oge,” Chidi said, extending his hand for a handshake. He smiled broadly as Ogechi’s tender palm brushed against his. “I hope you heard good things about me,” she said with a cheeky smile. “Of course, no!” Chidi replied. “Really?” asked Ogechi. “Just kidding. Uchechi has told me what a wonderful cousin you are.” “That is better,” Ogechi said rolling her eyes. “Of course you are the best cousin anyone could ever have,” Uchechi added. “Thanks for everything you do for my Uche. She tells me everything, and I am deeply grateful to you.” “It is okay…Uchechi is my darling cousin, of course; I’d do anything for her.” Uchechi had been seeing Chidi for about eight months. Finally, she brought him home. She stayed with Ogechi’s family. Ogechi’s mother was her mother’s older sister. Since her family lived in the village, she stayed with Ogechi’s family while she studied at Enugu State University (ESUT). There had been times when her immediate family could not afford to pay her tuition or provide money for her upkeep, Ogechi and her family stepped in to take care of the situation. Consequently, both cousins had grown very close to each other. “I hope you are not one of those cultists at ESUT?” Ogechi asked as they sat down in the living room. “Come on, not every ESUT male student is a cultist,” Chidi retorted. “I know, but from the number of shootings we hear of from across the wall at UNEC, a lot of male students at ESUT seem to be involved.” “That is a lie. A whole lot of ESUT students are not cultists. A small fraction of the student population gives the rest of us a bad name. There are cultists at UNEC as well.” “Just a few. UNEC is a quiet academic environment, and you know that!” “No, I don’t. Folks at UNEC are just a bunch of pretenders – ajebos that would go to any length to show that they are from rich homes. Well, you and I know that the vast majority of your students at UNEC lie through their teeth.” “Just a few!” “Really? Just like a few ESUT students are involved in cultism?” “Enough of that ESUT – UNEC argument,” Uchechi stepped in to break the argument. “Please let’s get something to eat.” She got up and walked towards the kitchen. Ogechi followed her. Uchechi had suffered a horrendous heartbreak some years earlier, so she had formed the habit of taking time to study a guy before fully jumping into a relationship with them. She had taken her time to scrutinize Chidi before bringing him home. After the first visit, Chidi came around quite often. Before long, Uchechi’s uncle and aunt began to call in ogo (in-law). He was a bright engineering student with a big smile and a handsome face. He was likeable. Chidi’s best friends, Ifeanyi, Emeka, Sunday and Nsudeh would often accompany him to Ogechi’s house to see Uchechi. They lived in a sizeable compound with a two storey building belonging to Ogechi’s father. He was a real estate broker who had done fairly well for himself. The building was located in Achara Layout, Enugu. “I really like your babe’s cousin, Ogechi,” Sunday once told Chidi. They were seated in Ogechi’s father’s compound peeling and eating fresh oranges. “I want to ask her out,” he continued. “I think she already has a boyfriend at UNEC,” said Chidi. “But you are not sure,” Sunday protested. “Maybe you don’t want me to date your girlfriend’s cousin,” Sunday continued, frowning his face. “Don’t talk like that, Sunday,” Nsudeh reprimanded him. “He only said the girl might have a boyfriend. If you like her, then ask her out. Chidi won’t stop you and you certainly don’t need his permission. However, if she says no, things will certainly become somewhat awkward. Bear that in mind,” Nsudeh added philosophically. “I know that, but I still want to try.” “Then, go ahead,” said Chidi. “Lilly-livered Sunday. You always talk the talk but you don’t walk the walk. Please stop bugging us jare! Is this the first time you have made an absolute hullabaloo about a girl only to chicken out in the end? I heard Uchechi mention that Ogechi will be home this weekend. You have your chance to make a move on her. If you snooze, you lose, because I too have interest in her,” Ifeanyi teased. “Everyone is throwing their hat in the ring. What about, Emeka?” “I am just watching these guys make a fool of themselves. I am a man of few words. You know that when I want something, I go for it,” Emeka replied with a smirk. “So, you are interested, abi? I am interested too,” declared Nsudeh. “I said I was watching.” “Watching what? Us or the beautiful girl?” “Both!” Ogechi was home that weekend and the boys were on hand, shelving their plans to join Chidi on a visit to Achara Layout. “All roads lead to Achara Layout this weekend,” Sunday said as they rode in a taxi. “I am sure when you stand in front of her, you will begin to suffer Parkinson’s. Stop shouting now, shout in front of her,” Nsudeh teased him. “You nko? How many girls have you successfully toasted?” Sunday red back at him. “Children shout and make noise, but when the chips are down, they cannot get the job done,” said Emeka. “Stop talking like a sage!” Ifeanyi red at him. “I have never seen you with a girl, yet you always want to claim that you are commander of all women. Where are they? Who is your girlfriend? You dey fear girls too, so stop pretending as though you were the king of queens!” Ifeanyi red a straight shot at Emeka. “I will not argue with you, Ifeanyi. Watch me act…that is all,” Emeka replied with an air of confidence. … Darkness was slowly wrapping its long dark arms around the skies, shielding the sun from mother earth. Ogechi went downstairs to fetch water from the tap and Sunday followed her. “Let me help you with that Oge,” he offered. “Oh, thank you Sunny,” she replied. Her dimples were ravishing! Her big bold eyes glared with life as she smiled. The teasing puff of her perfume swirled around, mesmerizing Sunday. Side by side, they descended the stairs. “So, how are things going at UNEC?” He asked, not sure how to start his move. “Life at UNEC is ne. I enjoy it. How about you? How do you like engineering at ESUT?” “Not bad at all. I am doing very well. You know, I am the best student in my class. If things stay the way they are, I’d end up with first class honors.” “Good for you.” “Yes, I am really thankful. I work really hard. I want to work for Chevron when I graduate.” “That would be wonderful.” What about you? What are your aspirations?” “I don’t know yet,” replied Ogechi.” “I am still thinking about it. Business administration could lead into anything, really, but what I really enjoy the most is writing. I find that I have a passion for writing, so I might return to school for a master’s in mass communication when I graduate.” “That is great. If you want it, just go for it,” Sunday urged her as he dragged a bucketful of water up the stairs. “Did you ask her?” Nsudeh asked at the first opportunity after Sunday and Ogechi rejoined them upstairs. “Yes,” he lied. “And what did she say?” She wants to think it through, but I know she will say yes. She is into me already…I can tell,” he whispered to Nsudeh. “It is a lie,” Ifeanyi said his eyes burning with incredulity. “I am going to make a move on her,” Ifeanyi insisted. “You can’t. If Sunday has already asked her out, it would look stupid of any of us to as her out this night,” Nsudeh explained. “I know Sunday’s line…I swear he went there and told her that he is a first class material.” “How do you know?” Nsudeh queried. “Shut up. You are jealous of my academic performance,” said Sunday. Eventually, they agreed to hold off asking Ogechi out in the meantime. Weeks later, there was no news from Sunday. “She is taking her time,” he explained to his friends.” “Come on, I spoke to Uchechi about it. If you had asked Ogechi out, she would have told Uchechi. Up to this time, she has not mentioned it to Uchechi,” Chidi intervened. “I said it!” shouted Ifeanyi. “He went there and told her he is a first class material. Idiot. You took my chance away from me. I would have asked her out that night!” Ifeanyi fumed. … Three Months Later “Why are you crying, Oge?” Uchechi asked. “This has got to stop. You have failed to return to UNEC for over four weeks since school resumed. What is going on? You won’t talk to me or your parents. I am not leaving your room until you tell me what is going on,” Uchechi insisted. “I can’t…I am not sure. My God, I am dying of pains that are marauding every inch of my body and soul. I don’t know what I know or if what I know makes sense. I am hurt, Uchechi. I carry a burden I do not know how to let go of it,” Ogechi replied, almost in an esoteric language. “What are you talking about, Oge? You know you can tell me anything. Please, my dearest cousin, what is it?” Ogechi peered at her and shook her head in tears. “I am not going anywhere until you tell me what it is,” Uchechi insisted. “I am…I am…” She paused as tears ran amok on her face. “You are pregnant?” Uchechi asked.