by Ikechukwu Yadi
I sat in class drawing on an exercise book. Someone sat beside me.
“How far your church girl?”
“No, Mary Magdalene.”
“She came to my house yesterday with some church women.” I cupped from the slip up.
“So if I didn’t ask, you wouldn’t…”
I didn’t respond.
Kay continued, “What happened man?”
Kay snatched my pen and book from me.
“My friend, talk.”
“Pssh,” I hissed. “I’ll tell you. Just give it to me.”
Kay placed the pen on the exercise book and slid it towards me. I stared at the exercise book, and considered lying.
“Don’t shout okay.” Kay stared at me with impatience. I looked around. No one was watching. “She told me she loves me.”
Wide-eyed, Kay shouted, “That she loves you?”
I resumed drawing, and acted like Kay wasn’t talking to me.
I didn’t respond but he continued regardless. “Didn’t I tell you she likes you?” Kay hissed. “I’m sure you wasted that chance.”
“That reminds me,” I said. “Have you seen new BB?”
“Don’t change the topic. So?”
I smiled. “I didn’t-” The class hushed. And Kay rushed to his seat on the next row.
Mrs. Ogunsanya our geography teacher, dropped her green textbook and a new cane on the table. “My assignment.”
Tables and benches screeched as the class hurried to submit. And I buried my head in my bag, looking for what I didn’t keep there.
I begin to sweat and heard my name.
“Dayo, out!” Mrs. Ogunsanya picked up her cane and gestured for me to stand at the far end of the board. “Anyone else?”
“James… You of all people. What happened?”
I raised my head, looked and smiled. The teacher’s pet was already crying.
“I… thought I put in bag.” James replied.
“Always crosscheck James. Always.” She raised her cane, “Your hand.”
James’ outstretched right hand vibrated as the cane cracked down. But then, Mrs. Ogunsanya stopped. Relieved, James exhaled through his mouth and lowered his hand. I hissed quietly and looked away.
“Which hand do you write with?”
“Okay,” Raising the cane once more, she said, “Your left.”
Tears resumed. “Aunty please.”
“Who’s your aunty?”
The class laughed. I forced a frown, and looked at the class and caught a pair of eyes staring at me. My turn came and I walked forward.
“You.” She cracked the cane at my rib area and I jumped back.
I gave her my palm. I squeezed my palm from the sting of the first stroke. Impatient, she caned my leg. The second stroke hurt so much that I made the mistake of rubbing both palms together.
“I’m starting afresh.”
Whip. I flicked my wrist and blew air into it. The next one hurt even more and I felt tears welling up. Then I put my hand out again and caught Bola’s eyes. She closed her eyes as the cane landed as if she was being flogged.
I sucked in air and grit my teeth. The next cane hit but I didn’t shake. The next landed but my palm barely moved.
Mrs. Ogunsanya started flogging me all over my body in frustration but I didn’t react. Finally, she said, “Take your seat.”
After seven strokes, Mrs. Ogunsanya stopped and said, “See me in the staff room after class.”
After class, Kay walked over from his seat. “What happened after she told you she loves you?”
“Mrs. Ogunsanya is calling me,” I replied.
“Finish the story man.”
“I changed topic and made her laugh. We talked till it was dark and I saw walked her to the bus stop and…”
“She kissed me.”
“Shit, lucky guy.” He danced a little and continued. “So you pressed…?”
“No. I didn’t press anything. Didn’t even return the kiss.”
“Fuck up guy.” Kay waved me off and walked away.
I wondered what Mrs. Ogunsanya wanted to say to me and started to get up. Kay returned, his face clearly showed anger. “Bola. Wasted. Fine. You don’t eat where you shit. But this –” He shook his head and walked away again.
Outside the school’s gate, I waited for Kay. My right hand held on the strap of my bag slung over my shoulder. I turned sharply to reprimand the owner of the fingers which tickled my ribs.
I turned around to a beautiful smile. I smiled. “Bola.”
“You like trouble. Why didn’t you do the assignment?”
“Which one?” She gave me the look. “Going home?” I said, switching topics.
We walked towards the bus-stop. Bola stopped walking and slapped her forehead. “I forgot.”
“There’s no one at home. My mum would be in church and I don’t want to go to church today.”
“When will she be back?”
“Come to my house, I’ve got a new film. You’ll like it.”
When we got home, the gate was locked. I collected the key from a shop across the street.
“There is a TV in my room.” I said as we entered the house.
I dropped my bag by the bed and threw my shirt into the wardrobe. I played the movie White Chick and jumped on the bed. At first, Bola sat up straight while I laid on my stomach. After a few laughs, she laid by me and focused on the TV.
I couldn’t concentrate. I wondered what Kay would do. Halfway through the film, NEPA struck.
“The room’s hot,” Bola said.
“Wait, let me put on the gen,” I said.
“Won’t your parents talk?” Bola said.
“Dad will kill me.” I said smiling. “But he won’t find out.”
“Then, don’t put it on.”
“Better?” I said, opening the sliding glass.
“It’s still hot.”
“Can’t find my handfan.” I said, handing her a notebook. “Use this.”
She took the notebook from me but dropped it on the bed and fiddled with the buttons on her shirt. She took off her shirt, leaving her blue bra exposed.
I swallowed hard and stared at her jugs before peeling my eyes away.
“This stupid NEPA, what’s wrong with them?” I said forcing myself to look at her face instead of her boobs.
In Kay’s house the next day.
“Stop.” I begged as Kay banged the side of my head.
“Chinedu, you hear what this idiot said.”
“I must be dreaming.” Chinedu replied. “She pull cloth finish and you let her go Scot-free.”
The words us all.
“You must be stupid,” Chinedu said breaking the silence. “Let’s beat sense into him.”
Kay resumed beating and Chinedu joined him. I curled up my legs and hands to protect myself.
As I packed my books into my bag after school the following Monday, someone shouted from the windows. “Goat come here.”
I looked up, saw Kay and walked out to meet him.
We walked to the back of the school and climbed the stairs to usually empty school hall. Kay opened the door and walked in. I froze when I saw Bola.
“Sit down.” Kay said.
Two chairs were in the middle of the hall. The rest were stacked roughly in the corner.
I sat in the free chair facing Bola. She looked down at her skirt and played with her fingers.
“I’ll get straight to the point,” Kay said, interrupting my thoughts.
Bola looked up. “This my idiot friend here likes you –”
Our eyes jammed and she quickly looked down.
“But he is a chicken.”
“What –” I started out to say.
“Do you like him?”
Bola blushed, her fingers twined even faster.
Kay, impatient said, “Bola, we’re adults here. Do you like him or not?”
She nod without taking her eyes off her lap. Two seconds of silence felt like forever. Kay and I exchanged a glance.
“Would you like to be his girl?”
My heart stopped. I shifted on my seat waiting for an answer. Bola’s fingers stopped. Slowly, she nod.
I exhaled sharply and smiled at Kay but he didn’t smile.
“That’s good. Bola, stand up and sit on his leg.”
Is he crazy? I thought. I wanted to tell him to back off but then something happened. Bola’s chair skid backward and she inched towards me. I swallowed and locked eyes with her.
She stopped and I held my breath. Slowly, she turned facing kay and lowered herself onto my lap.
I smiled. She smiled and Kay smiled.
I licked my lips and she wrapped her hands around my head, facing me.
“Your turn bro.” Kay said. “Kiss her.”
She closed her eyes.
Kay walked out of the hall, and said, “Don’t dull.” The door closed.
This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by YNaija.com.
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