“Dinner was great, huh ladies?” Ranni asked the next morning as we walked to class.
“I like the new student!” I declared emphatically.
“Correction, prospective student! And of course you would!” Chinukwe retorted.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked searching their faces as they both pretended to find another subject of concern at that very moment.
“See you later!” I split off and headed towards the cafeteria still perplexed.
Later, as I checked my email and drew my time table for the week, I wondered if the girls knew. I almost fell over when I saw an email from Amakka:
“My father’s driver will not be picking me up until Tuesday. Do you think you could suggest some things to do around here? Are you free Monday?”
I couldn’t get my fingers to type fast enough. I have just the thing! I would invite her to come hang out with Chinukwe and I at our usual power lunch and lab. Chinukwe and I subscribed to the idea that powering through four days of thesis research and then taking three whole days off was more efficient than doing a bit each day and taking a few hours off each day. I wrote back. She wrote back. Fifteen minutes later, it was settled. I kept my fingers crossed that Chinukwe would not be upset with me.
“Hi! It’s good to see you again.” I said approaching her. Unfortunately, Chinukwe bailed on me this morning.”
“It’s not because of me, is it?” Amakka asked.
“Don’t be silly!” She bails sometimes. She said she had to run an errand for her part time job.
“I hope you didn’t eat already.” I said searching her face.
“No, I could eat.” She responded meeting my eyes.
We got our plates of avocado sandwiches and Fanta and walked to my favorite spot in the canteen. Come to think of it, I was glad Chinukwe didn’t come after all.
As we ate we talked a little bit. It seemed we had quite a bit in common. Cancer in our family, divorced parents, half siblings…. I loved her sense of humor when delivering even the most depressing of stories. I explained to her what we usually did on our lunch and lab. Even though she was not a student at our school, I could get her into our lab with Chinukwe’s ID number.
Two hours later, we had donned lab coats and were busy titrating and calibrating test tubes and flasks. We decided to work individually on one of my own most recent experiments, break in two hours and share results.
“All done!” she yelled out from the front of the lab right before the timer began buzzing.
“Yeah right!” I retorted looking for an excuse to keep working.
“Yeah really. Come see for yourself.”
I went over, and to my surprise she had solved the problem I had been having trouble with for a week.
“Seriously, you must explain how you came by this equation!”
As she spoke, I struggled to keep my eyes on the flask and buret.
“What do you and Chinukwe usually do after this?” she asked.
It depends on what we each have going on.
“What do you have going on today?” she asked.
“Nothing. This is it.” I said.
“Do you want to see a movie or something?” she asked shyly.
“That would be nice. I don’t get to do that very often.” I responded.