Life was blissful for Esther, till one day a scandalous photo of her went viral, changing her life forever.
“How was it?” Anita asked with dreaded apprehension. The two hours wait had seemed like forever with time ticking slowly.
“Say something!” Her soprano voice was laced with urgency and sounded higher than usual. “I tried….” Esther dragged, she sighed briefly before she continued “I did the best I could” Her voice sounded wobbly as she fiddled mindlessly with her fingers.
“You’ve come this far,now’s not the time to waver, you’re assertive so I believe you when you tell me you did your best. Trust me your best is enough” Anita said with a soothing voice; “I was nervous, but tried not to let it show, I was as lucid and eloquent as I could be….”
Esther sounded sceptical, almost as though she was trying to convince herself she did well.
She got up abruptly and paced round the room, chewing at the side of her lips with agitation.
“This is a nightmare” She said, more to herself than to Anita “I agree” Anita got up from the bunk bed and walked slowly towards Esther “Try and relax, you’re getting me worked up” Anita added mildly
“Playing the scenario over and over in my head, like is there something I omitted? Something I could have said or given more details to perhaps” Esther looked at her with eyes pleading for reassurance.
Like an answer, Anita grasped her hand
“There’s nothing more you could have said or done, don’t beat yourself up over it” She told her “Where would I start from? I’m a finalist…..why did this have to happen to me…….” Esther’s voice was shaky as she sobbed quietly, Anita reached out to hold her and her sobs turned into loud wails.
She had fought back tears for so long and her body shook with fear. She felt like her whole life was shattering right in front of her and she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
“I’m sorry….. you’ll get through this” Anita tried to console her, but Esther’s sobbing only increased to a higher pitch.
Two weeks ago Esther was just a regular final year student in the university, working on her project.
A week later she had gotten a notification from the school board in writing telling her she had allegedly violated a specific policy of the school. Such notification is normally made at least seven calendar days before the hearing.
She had faced the school disciplinary panel earlier that day. She was asked a number of questions, but one question in particular kept playing in her head even hours after they had dismissed her.
“So are you affirming you’re the one in the photo?”
One of the panel members had asked her.
She swallowed hard before she answered quietly “Yes sir” Her heart sank as she answered.
She stared at the floor for a few seconds, gathering her courage before she continued. She spoke coherently in her defence, trying to convince them of her innocence.
They had informed her she would be notified of their verdict in a week’s time, but she worried she might have sounded stilted or overly confident. She couldn’t stop worrying or stop the tears from flowing. This one week was going to be the longest of her life.
“Have you had anything to eat at all? I made yam and egg” She heard Anita say,
she wiped her swollen eyes and didn’t answer.
“I’ll just bring you some” Anita said when she didn’t get a response from Esther.
Anita went to her corner of the room and served Esther a plate.
“Thank you” Esther told her with a half smile
“You’re welcome, all this would pass okay?”
Esther nodded in agreement and nibbled at the food in front of her.
She usually enjoyed yam and egg combination but it tasted sour in her mouth today.
“Even if it’s little try and eat something. You look like you’ve not eaten for the past three days. Wonder how you had stamina to talk to the panel today” Anita handed her a pure water sachet and added “The worst is over”
Esther didn’t agree with her assertion but said nothing.
The worst wasn’t over, she could be expelled and all her four years of studying and hardwork would all be for nothing. How would she break the news to her parents, the look on their faces would be disheartening.
She would know her fate in a week’s time but until then she would walk on egg shells with her heart in her mouth