[Story]: THE RICH, THE POOR, THE MISERABLE LOVE (Episode 7) TrendyVoice

13 September 2016





Aunt Arike’s cooler this very Monday morning was more extravagant than it used to be; nicely peppered and greatly spiced rice in an ocean of eggs, snails, cattle’s liver, plantains and crayfish. The cooler was ridiculously big, and in fact, it took me a long time before I spooned through the supplements to the rice.

So I was beginning to understand, the post of Registrar comes with threats though; it also comes with coolers and special treatments. Aunt Arike was the Home Economics teacher at the Junior Section and quite popular among students and staffs. Someone once said she was one of the most dangerous teachers in the school, but Aunt Arike never appeared that way to me; she was gentle, sweet and very friendly. When I was still uncomfortably adjusting to the methods of the school when I just came, Aunt Arike was the first person who didn’t find speaking to me fetid. She indirectly helped in my accommodation and ever since then, I’ve been getting coolers of rice in various tones from her. I’m not a fool, I knew she liked me but when I saw her voter’s card once, judging by the date of birth there, she was nine years older than me. Whatever held her to the status of being single, I was not willing to be her sugar son. I loved good sex as a man, especially one that didn’t involve the promises of matrimony, and I knew I could go to hell, but whatever it was, I was not willing to go unclad with Aunt Arike who judging by her birthday was my big sister. Pubic hairs of people of her age, according to legend, tear condoms apart. There were many occasions when she would call me on Saturdays and asked me to come over to her place, but I always dodged it by giving excuses. I bought several recharge cards for her though, to pass the impression that I wasn’t avoiding her and I was playing along quite well. If she was not a fool, she would have known I was not interested.

I never got to devour Aunt Arike’s richly supplemented rice until after my first meeting with the community of staffs. The meeting was conducted for several reasons, one of which was to officially pronounce me the Registrar of the school. And as Big Victor hyped my qualifications, I looked at faces that were sure I would not last three months, they did not know they were looking back at a face that had grown up in politics to understand well how to dismantle such jinxes. I addressed them to give them a hint of what I was made of, a political animal and an academic disciplinarian.

I told them, “On nominations of people like me to positions of leadership in academic environments like this very one, ignorance always says, it’s not done that way, he just came. Hatred swears he will not last a term. Expediency asks, is it right? Educational quackery, cousin of purposelessness asks; is he wearing expensive outfits? Is he well dressed? What’s his wristwatch’s price at the market? And variety comes along, asking, is he sociable? Is he ready to belong to our caucus? Is he friendly? Does he greet? But objectivity and progressivity rather ask; is he qualified? Is he competent? If he is, then, competence is all we need. And then will come the time for individual to take positions. I would personally stand with objectivity and progressivity, definitely not ignorance, quackery, expediency, purposelessness or hatred. If he happens to be qualified and competent, then, isn’t it most guaranteed that all other negative forces will be swept away into lagoons of oblivion and unpopularity by his so called competence? I am convinced that if the original objectives of a school are to be attained, we as an army of educators must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from how we look obsessions to how our students’ performances look. When Gucci, Prada, Versace, D & G, Rolex, iPhone and other trifling vanities are considered more important than drama, catering, visual arts, physics, chemistry, biology, laws of demand and supply and so on, the giant triplets of destructive quackery, abuse of educational standards and misplacement of purpose will forever live with us. A school steered towards material narcissism, calculated assassinations of character and general indiscipline years after years that the colour of purposefulness is now forgotten is approaching a certain death. Our school is a great school, our teachers great teachers, and I’m proud to be here, I hope you will support me as I am willing to support anyone ready to support the school in proving to the world that we are the apogees of educational evolutions; we are the future, and nobody can stop us, nobody can end competence’s rule untimely. God bless us all, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thank you.”

Well, they couldn’t help it; they had to clap even though they would rather find my speech more appalling than appealing. I was ready though, I knew the gravity of saying they cannot end my term untimely but isn’t that what I do best? Isn’t that what they call eBayism? We shall see. Or so I swore that day.

After the meeting, another window meeting with some staffs that identified themselves as the Council of Stakeholders came up. They, according to them, were the oldest staffs in the school, some teaching, some non-teaching. This Council was a kind of fraternity of the senior members of the school. They told me that being a Registrar had automatically made me a member of the Council. I looked at them and smiled. How I had missed politics! I said I’ll think about it. When they left, Aunt Arike came to my office with water, not knowing the Registrar’s office had a refrigerator stuck with those already. I asked her to put the bottles in the fridge; tone of commandment obvious in my voice already, how power changes people! She warned me to be careful of the visitors that just left, that they were dangerous guys, they dragged WAEC and NECO candidates with the school, and I wouldn’t like to be identified with them, that I should trust her.

When I told Phillips, he said a similar thing, that I should just consider that they could be the darkness at the center of every previous Registrar’s regime and the reason why their tenures ended too quickly because they too, like I was just invited, joined their caucus. Well, they were right, my heart felt so, but when I listened to my head, it told me something different. In a situation as precarious as that, heart speaks, head whispers, but while heart thinks about comfort, the head thinks about survival. Every leader who ruled with their hearts lasted short time. If they were the darkness at the center of everything, someone definitely needed to go to that centre with a torch up his sleeve. You cannot defeat a union of mighty renderers if you do not have ears among them or most advisably, be at the centre of such rendering, basic conniving tactic my campus politics taught me.

“You need to put on weight, now that you’re a Registrar,” Aunt Arike was mumbling as she walked across the room from the refrigerator to my table to open the cooler. She fended for cups, going up and down and flaunting half of her breasts through the buttons that just went apart by themselves soon after she entered. If breasts moved me, I would definitely have walked about Lagos with my manhood permanently up. At that moment, luckily for her, I couldn’t take my eyes off her bosom, and I was thinking, “Since you’re so adamant, it’s high time I taught you a lesson, a gasping one.”

Didn’t someone say when two matured people of opposite sex, unrelated by blood, stay alone in a room, devil grabs a seat? After the meal, which God save innocent souls, maybe she spiked with love charms, she wiped my face even though it was a light perspiration. The air conditioner was on and she packed the stuffs off my table. Then the most daring thing, she stood at one arm of my chair and began to press pimples I never for once noticed on my face.

“Adebayo, you’re doing sinful things,” she began, “see pimples on your face!”
“Nooo,” I laughed. “I’m not doing any sinful thing o. I didn’t notice any pimples on my face o.”
“You? Notice pimples? Pimples are small. Do you even notice human beings? Do you even have eyes to notice anything at all? But don’t worry; God’s messengers don’t get discouraged. If the mountain doesn’t go to Muhammad, then Muhammad will—”
“Do it gently, it’s hurting.”
“Ah-ah, Adebayo, it’s hurting you? You’re so… lazy, God knows. Tell me, do you even have strength for anything, let’s say for example, to be an active husband?”
“I don’t know about that o, but I’m not lazy, how can I when I’m this— Ouch! Be subtle now please.”
“Maybe you and I should test it.”

Was this woman challenging me to an intercourse? My mind never left the fact that the door was still unlatched. Aunt Arike’s hand was on my crotch then. Oh my God, she even unzipped my—ouch! She brought the thing out in a jiffy and as disciplined as I claimed to be, I did not snatch my thing from her grip. She stroke up and down and led my hand to her, well, sorry to be this uncensored, booby. In the office for God’s sake! I was convinced I was truly not going to last in that office. The chair moved back and I was about to complain about the door not being locked when the door… what happened to the door? It suddenly burst open of course! And who stood there looking enquiringly confused? Mary Martins, the proprietor’s daughter!

“You little piece of shit, gerrout!” That was Aunt Arike.

She went to the door herself to latch it after Mary was gone. Whatever this meant, my erection came down, my heart raced like hell and pumped too much of blood at once, I was afraid of that little girl called Mary.

“Aunt Arike, we really can’t—we can’t do it here. Today is even Monday. Let’s just…”
“But she didn’t see anything.”

Ah, look at this woman. Did she have to see more than she already saw to arraign me in her father’s panel? She dressed up and said we’ll see later. So I sent for Mary but she didn’t come. I sent another student to her, she didn’t come. I grew nervous and was very afraid to look afraid, didn’t I just brag confidently to a battalion of eccentric souls that nobody can end competence’s rule untimely back there? I stood up and went out myself. I guess some teachers still found it difficult to accept my promotion, greeting me was difficult for them. When I asked for Mary from one of her classmates, he said she was in the library. I went there and found her. Do not imagine this library as some single classroom converted to a library; it was separately built and had books beyond the standards of a secondary school. She sat at a far corner but she was not actually hiding, I located her easily.

“Mary, didn’t they tell you I sent for you?” I whispered to her. “I sent two students! What’s wrong with you?”
“You and Aunt Arike,” she simply grumbled.
“It’s not what you—” I looked around to make sure nobody cared about what Uncle Geography was bending over Mary Martins for, then I continued. “It’s not what you think. Please come to my office right now.”
“I can’t come. We’ve begun our tests, I have to read.”
“Come. Now!”

I turned away and went to pretend to be looking for a book before I finally went out without a book. It was as if she was following me, I hardly sat at my table before she barged in, latching the door behind her. She walked a bit inwards and stopped, hand folded across her wide chest.

“Aunt Arike and I are very close, but there’s nothing between us, I swear. She kind of crushes after me though but I prefer to maintain distance. You know… She was only pressing my pimples for God’s sake.”
“Which pimples?” she asked rather poignantly.

Then I ran out of words, I knew I had no point; this girl was no kid. That was when I realized I really didn’t want to leave that office. She went out without further comment or question and I sat there, concluding on the worst. Which pimples, she had asked. What could I have said in response when I knew myself that I had no pimples on my face? Subliminally, I flipped the file before me open and looked over 2015 WAEC and NECO results I was to analyze.

Exactly twenty minutes after two o’ clock, Mary came to my office again.

“You said there’s nothing between you and that aunty, then why’s she witch-hunting me all of a sudden? She just seized my phone in the library. If she thinks she can treat me the way she used to treat others, she’s just making an exit door for herself from this school. You better warn her.” She turned to leave.

She waited.

“She seized your phone and you came here to report her to me, am I her hairdresser or what?”
“I don’t know o, you can even be her manicurist. I’m just reporting her to her boyfriend, that’s all.”
“Mary! I told you there’s nothing between us. I’m not her boyfriend!”
“You better don’t tell me that, Mister and Mistress Arike Adebayo, there’s surely something between you and I know it. I saw it.”
“You don’t know what you saw.”
“I know what I saw- I know what I saw very well. She sat on your chair arm with all her buttons loose and you’re telling me there’s nothing between you. Do you think I’m stupid or what? Ptcheww… you don’t know who you’re dealing with, Olohun.  See, I know she’s very dubious and dangerous, but this is my father’s school, she can’t overcome me, I will rather demolish her. In fact, she’s stepped on my toes already and I’m going to deal with her. She took my phone; she can’t take my boyfriend too. I will demolish anyone who wants to take you from me.”

She did not listen to further ‘Mary waits’ when she flounced out. Of course students weren’t allowed to use phones in the school, it was totally normal for a teacher to seize such and even punish the student in whose hands such was found, but in this case of Mary and Aunt Arike, I was not qualified to pass verdict. Mary would obviously be hanging around my neck now, claiming ownership of what was Toro’s. This was really a great issue and I had to destroy this girl but I just couldn’t think of how to do it. How do you beat someone in the game she established?

At exactly three o’ clock, like thirty-seven minutes later, Aunt Arike herself opened my door and came in with her usual smiling face. Ah, what was she doing here again?

“Baby,” she called tiredly, “I’ve sought permission from the Principal, I’ll not wait till four today. I need to get to the Bank before four o’ clock.”
“You want to go and withdraw?”
“No, I want to go and send money to someone.”
“You can do it with your phone, should I teach you?”
“Maybe some other time, I also want to do something else. I need to go. What would you like to eat tomorrow?”

Like seriously?

“Uh, hmm… I don’t know. Anything should do.”
“We’re going to my place tomorrow after school. No—no—no, no excuse please. Schedule it. You need to spend some quality time with your doll, okay? Bye love. See you tomorrow.”

Was she joking? Go to her place to do what?

“Mary said you seized her phone,” I called while she was already about to twist the knob.
She turned back. “Yes, has she come to report to you already?”
“No, but someone told me.”
“Adebayo,” she frowned now. “Don’t lie to me. You’re befriending that girl.”
“Ah—ah, God forbid, she’s a student naw. What kind of accusation is that? I’m not befriending her.”

She walked closer to me and looked steadily in my eyes, I didn’t look away, I only shrugged to prove my innocence more.

“You said Mary said, and then you said it was someone else who said. Well, I seized her phone and there’s nothing she can do about it. Phones are contrabands in this school and I don’t take nonsense from any student, be it the proprietor’s daughter or even the Commissioner of Police’s son. For all I care, she can go and report to Big Victor. In fact, I would have that girl warned, she better be careful, if she crosses my path, I’ll crush her. I’ll destroy her completely. Whatever guileful treachery she has up her sleeves, I am a better schemer. Let me go quickly dear, tomorrow, right?”

Something I liked about that school, everybody spoke quality English. Guileful treachery! That was nice.

“Yes, tomorrow.” I was short of words.
“I’ll call you. Love you.”
“Okay then.”
“I said I love you.”
“Uh, I… l—love you too.”

See suicide!

She smiled widely, winked at me and left, cat walking. I was thinking of destroying Mary; Mary said she’ll… what was her word, demolish Aunt Arike and anyone dragging me with her, which would automatically include Toro; Aunt Arike too said she’ll destroy Mary, crush her if she crosses her path; I guess we were all set to destroy ourselves in that school. I only prayed they did not spoil my relationship with Toro, even though the Miss Oyeleye hadn’t been answering my calls. I sank into my chair and started thinking about my Cadillac girl. I’d rather lose my job than lose that girl. She was everything I ever dreamed of in a life partner; I wouldn’t let a bag of fat or a sack of age complicate my blissful relationship with her.

It was 9pm when I was on my bed thinking about Toro that Toro herself called. I was excited and was like, think of the devil and the devil appears. She’s not been picking my calls since that Sunday and I’ve been very worried, considering the dreadful fact that her former boyfriend could have broken through to her as Teju boasted. When I answered the call, I couldn’t pick what she was saying; the network was really bad from my side. And by the time I got outside to find a better spot, her number was no more reachable. It was switched off. Why could she have refused to pick my calls? What was she saying that network didn’t allow me to hear? Why was her phone unreachable again? The day passed.

The second day came with a very ridiculous incident which became very popular too quickly. Not all the teachers in the school had tables in the staff room. We had three laboratories in the school, Biology laboratory, the biology teacher stayed there as his office; physics laboratory, the physics and the Basic Science teacher used that as their joint office, close buddies; we also had a chemistry laboratory for the chemistry teacher. There was also a Home Economics laboratory but I wouldn’t count that as one of the functional laboratories since it was always closed and Aunt Arike who was the Home Economics teacher never went there unless during practical classes; so was Geography laboratory, very tiny and situated at a position which lacked good ventilation. I only went there to pick materials, not use the place. Some teachers who were not science teachers had personal offices which were not given according to any factor, in fact, some teachers preferred to sit at the populated staff room where they could gossip and monitor other teachers’ movements.

Phillips had an office of his own and on that very Tuesday, it became very popular that used condoms with female girdles were always found there by the cleaner, every morning whenever she wanted to sweep the office. We learnt that the cleaner came late and the prefects conducted junior students to play her role, and then used condoms and a panty was found on Mr. Phillips’ table. The gossip spread like flu and got to Big Victor’s ears quickly, then he summoned the cleaner and the cleaner said she always found underpants in his office every morning but she just didn’t find it crucial to report it, since according to her, she did not think it could be students’, she simply thought it would be adults’ mess. After Big Victor lambasted and blamed her for not have reported such gruesome discovery, he summoned Mr. Phillips himself and well, Mr. Phillips denied authorship of it. He came to my office shuddering and bitter. He told me he was not having any such indecency in his office, that it was a setup. He wouldn’t lie to me, I knew it was truly a ruse to tarnish his image, but who would do that to him? Who could he have offended? Mr. Phillips, having sex with students in his office; that was not like him! And we were both afraid his sack letter was being prepared. Damn it, who could have done this to my tutor?

Phillips’ face was scarce in the school that day and I pitied him. I had suspects though, it could be the Council of Stakeholders trying to prune my strength and dismantle my advisory board, or maybe they thought he could convince me not to join them. I stayed with him that day, promising I would talk to Big Victor, and I did talk to him, but he only told me, “It’s an embarrassment of the highest order for teachers to be stooping so low to engage these little children in such licentious endeavor. We’ll perform our investigations. Both the student and the teacher are leaving this school. Come to think of it, if you were a parent and you heard of such, what would you think? How would you feel? It’s totally unacceptable, no—no—no—no—no, Mr. Adebayo, please don’t involve yourself in this, trust me, you don’t want to.”

I backed out totally clueless of what to say next. I checked the meaning of licentious on my phone as I dawdled back to my office. Whoever did this knew how to conjure propaganda up against someone. I was afraid then, when will my own come up? When will I expire in the school? The best thing to do was to discreetly hunt the perpetrator down, finding him or her and destroying him or her would save my ass from being the next victim of similar ridiculous scandal.

It was six o’ clock on my way home that day after I left Phillips’ house that my phone rang and it was Toro with a strange number. Her announcement was brief and non-negotiable.

“Send me your address. I’m crashing at your place tonight.”

Saying I was flabbergasted and overwhelmed would have been understatements, hell, I was flabberwhelmed and overgasted. I was thunderstruck. Toro coming to my place? Oh my… I tell you, a new mattress and carpet saw the inside of my room within the hour she called. I would’ve phoned Phillips to ask maybe I could bring her to his place but he was in no shape for that, he was in soup. I thought about a hotel but it just didn’t seem like what Phillips would agree to. I used air freshener, took my pots and other odd stuffs to a vacant room in my house; somebody just packed out of that room and I tried to at least not look uncouth if at all I would look poor. You see, that was the end of our love story, I was sure. My room! That room! I was so in trouble dear. I got a standing fan, before I finally texted her, wishing and praying that she never came.

I bathed, brushed, sprayed cologne, rinsed my mouth with water diluted with perfume, brushed my hair and eyebrows, did what I could and then she came on a bike.

“Where’s your car?” I was curious.
“I would crash if I drove; I’m not myself at all these days.”
“I don’t know. Teju called mum that day and she’s all over me now. Kevin has been calling me too, that’s why I’ve switched my phone off. I just got this SIM I called you by. I want to be away from them all.”
“No wonder you’ve not been picking my calls.”
“I’m sorry about that. I knew you’ll be worried. I’ve technically not been using the phone since Sunday.”
“It’s okay. Seeing you now has changed everything. So, do you mean you want to stay the night here?”
“Yes, if you don’t mind. I wanna stay with you for two or three days.”

This was supposed to be a good thing but that simply meant she’ll be following me to school, stay in my office where Arike and Mary would surely also come, anytime. Besides the situation of my room, this was really a bad idea, very bad.

“Okay, come, let’s go inside.”

This time, the day had already gone to bed and the stars had begun to reign supreme in the sky, encouraged by the mighty moon which shone like it was mocking me. When she entered, she stood motionless and looked about. I looked at her eyes to guess what she was thinking but I couldn’t be sure. Seriously, I was no prince, I was a fool. She looked about really long before she finally glanced at me and exhaled slowly, not passing any comment.

“Do you have a shoe rack?” she asked.
“I—I don’t, but… b—bring your shoes.”

She put them off and I took them to a corner of the room where my shoes were; her eyes followed me and met with mine when I looked back. Well, na me ask u to come? See clean legs nonetheless! She fell facedown unto the bed which was placed on the floor.

“I don’t like this place,” she muttered finally and at that, I died for one second. I knew she wouldn’t but I just didn’t expect her to be so direct about it.
“I just got this place out of emergency. I’m still looking for another place before I get myself set up properly,” I lied.
“You better do that soon. Gosh… this place looks so small and… God! I’m hungry, anything to eat?”
“What would you like to eat?”
“I was thinking about that on my way here and I’ve decided to eat èko and àkàrà.”
“What?” I thought I didn’t hear what she said.
“Èko and àkàrà,” repeated she.
“Are you kidding me? Com’on, tell me what you want to eat?”
“I’m serious, I’ve never eaten it and I’d love to. Can we find such around here?”

Of course we could but I was just confused of what she was doing. What kind of Nigerian Yoruba wouldn’t have ever eaten èko àt’àkàrà? What could she have been eating then? Èko àt’àkàrà for that matter! I concluded she was joking, because if I didn’t know of many rich men, I knew of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and he does take gaàrí àt’èpà, cheaper than èko àt’àkàrà.

“I’m sorry; you’re going to have to eat something different. This is your first time of coming here and I don’t think that kind of food befits you.”
“Says you, but that’s what my dad ate mostly when he was my age, when he was just a guy in the streets of Ibadan. Just get them for me please, can you? I would’ve loved to follow you but I’m so… you better go now before I fall asleep.”

I stood there and looked at her on the bed, facedown, the bum-bum like a nicely sculpted mountain. Even from the back, she looked exotic. Something came back to me at that point, Kevin’s letter to her, “I could’ve emailed this but I want to be traditional now, like you’ve always wanted.”

Traditional like you’ve always wanted? Traditional; I see.

Thank God there was light and a fan newly bought, it would’ve been a disaster for her to experience what I passed through every night, mosquitoes feeding on the blood already cooked by the heat of the room. Something I could have fixed to make life easier for myself but I’ve just been too stingy to myself. Ah, girls are boys’ punishments in life! She said she’ll come and everything just arrived within the hour.

When I returned, she was asleep already. I called her but she didn’t respond, so I let her be. I went to my desktop, booted it and managed to sit at the edge of the bed beside her, then I resumed to the fourth episode of the first season of Pillars of the World I was watching. Occasionally, I would look at this figure beside me, the Cadillac girl in the same room, on the same bed with me, alone with me and I just… sat there? No, I am doing the right thing, it would be improper to attempt something lewd with her on her first night with me. Wait, why would it be improper? If she didn’t want to have sex with me, would she have come? Or maybe she trusts that I would not demand for sex, that is why she feels so free with me. Or maybe I am just being—
“You’re back?” she interrupted my thoughts.
“Yes, since quite a while. You’ve slept for long.”
“Is this the only light in this room? It’s too dark.”

Some fancy lights I installed after I painted my room few weeks back. They served as my overhead, not meant to make the room very bright but to just make it colorful. I rose and did as she bade me. Then she asked me to show her how they eat the food. It was too much for her alone, so I sat, on the floor and ate èko àt’àkàrà with her.

I guessed in the girl’s life, she never ate in that position before, on the floor. Their lives were always about eating at the dining table with so many rules; drink the juice before you eat the fruit, eat with forks, only babies eat with fingers, napkins should be placed on the laps as soon as you’re seated, sit up straight, do not hunch over the food, sit square with hands in the laps and do not fidget, chew with your mouth closed, it’s gross to pick anything out of your teeth while eating, knife at the right hand, fork at the left, and of course she was trying to eat with her left hand there too until I told her she should try eating with her right hand. If I’d tried such with my fellow hypocrites disguising under the cosmetics of being educated, they would’ve said it is local, and so you’ll see them eating àmàlà, fùfú, and èbà with forks and knives instead of their bare hands as the foods were intended to be eaten. Fake lives have become the trend and everybody is in style.

We laughed at each other’s faces as we ate and cracked jokes. She did say I lack table manners at some point but I told her we were not eating on a table, that it was better she said I lack floor manners. She laughed more. I made her laugh that night she almost chocked. I guess I naturally have the charisma of making people around me laugh their asses out. She said she wanted to shower after the late meal, another wonder to her as I fetched water in a bucket and carried it to a bathroom that didn’t have any bath or water sprinkler, nothing like hot bath.  She firstly said she couldn’t shower in there, but I told her I could stay with her if she wanted.

“Stay with me in the bathroom? Tunde, are you serious at all? Com’on, wait for me outside.”

She wasn’t there for two minutes before she rushed out and said the bathroom smelled very badly. A bathroom which never smelled anything to me before! I wanted to look at her while she dressed but she bluntly told me to go outside. I showered too, hopeful that what usually comes after showering of a boy and a girl before they go to bed together happened. And side by side we lay on the new bed, not even a kiss between us and I didn’t know what was proper. I lied there quietly; awake until around 2am when I accidentally fell asleep.

The following day which was a Wednesday, the last day before the mid-term break found us together in my school. At home that morning, she had asked me to leave the room for her to dress up… again! And she had left the room for me too even though I asked that she shouldn’t bother to trouble herself. My neighbours behaved like they never saw a girl as beautiful as her before, they never stopped to peep at my room anytime they passed by my window. She didn’t do much of makeup and she was still stunning. She sat at my table through the assembly period, reading a book she took from my shelf. Esh! What if Aunt Arike went there to drop her usual cooler?

While the assembly went on, my heart racing as I watched Aunt Arike with my left eye to see whether she would go to my office, I was called to address the students, and as I did, telling them that the students who prefer to remain in the school hostels through the break would be looked after and taken care of, that it was not compulsory to go home and that they should not stop reading their books, I wasn’t monitoring Aunt Arike. When I finally finished the address and looked about, Aunt Arike had disappeared. Then I quickly rushed towards my office, not clumsily though. I was hopeful Aunt Arike had not gone there to destroy my true relationship. I opened the door with my heart banging like Mayweather’s knuckles on a boxing bag, a direct look at my table at the far end of the room, I spotted the stainless cooler and Toro still reading and seated at my official table. I walked inside, Aunt Arike was not there, and then I looked back to the far assembly ground, she was there now, looking back at me. The door was closed slowly with my leg. Toro looked up.

“A woman brought this cooler,” she announced without a tone of suspicion.
“Wow, thank God, I’ve been pestering her for it since a long time.”
“We’re going to eat this one together then. I’ve checked what’s in it, quite attractive. We could go out later in the day to a closest eatery maybe.”
“Anyhow you want it, love.”

So far, I was sure the nature of my room had not removed my love from her heart and that was a relief. Did I say love? She never practically said ‘I love you’ or ‘I love you too’ once, maybe I should be careful at the usage of words. She left my table to sit at the sofa to my table’s right with the DSTV’s remote control. She changed the channel to whatever I didn’t even look up at. I was worried. She wasn’t supposed to come here.

I soon went out to meet Mary. I discussed with her at an open place so that nobody would be nosy.

“Mr. Phillips is my friend,” I told her. “Please help him. I don’t want him sacked. He didn’t do it.”
“I know he’s your friend. If you want me to help him, you don’t have to beg, you just have to ask. But on one condition though.”
“What do you want?”
“Nothing unusual, just what’s rightfully mine, I think. You will place your hand on your chest and promise me that your heart is mine and mine alone.”ml“Why? I can’t.”
“You can’t or you won’t? I see you don’t really need my help.”
“Wait, wait, okay? I p—”
“Speak now, we’re matured people here.”

Ah, when did she become ‘matured people’?

“I promise.”
“If you fail to fulfill it, what should I do?”
“But you’re a student! It’s not moral for us to… t—to be engaged in such tone.”
“Engaged in such tone… okay, maybe it’ll be moral to find a student’s bra on your table next week Monday then, with your sperm spread all over it.”
“Mary! Tell me you didn’t do that thing to Mr. Phillips.”
“If it was me, it would be worse.”


“But you can’t force me to love you. Love is supposed to be natural, not forced.”
“I’m not forcing you. When I found that Aunty showing you her breasts, did I complain? Weren’t you the one who came looking for me, sweating and almost crying just to explain that there’s nothing between you two? You love me, just admit it, we’re matured people here.”

Will she stop saying we’re matured people here? I hated that expression from her mouth! I sagged back with my mouth open, gave a jaded sigh.

“Just help Mr. Phillips for me, please.”
“Say the promise words first.”

Ah, mo mà wáá dáràn báyì o.

“I promise.”
“Say it in full.”
“I promise to be faithful to Mary and I’ll never share my heart with anyone else. If I do that, God shall punish me.”
“I don’t like cursing, I won’t say that, but I promise to be faithful to you.”

She looked at me under her eyes and suddenly burst into laughter.

“I love you,” she whispered and walked away. I left the spot quickly so as not to look like she walked out on me to an unseen onlooker.

I went to assure Phillips that the storm would pass and there was no cause for alarm. I also told him Toro was around. Out of his puzzlement, I still saw excitement in him. He followed me back to my office to welcome her, and at the door, I looked back and saw Aunt Arike again, looking at us. Wasn’t she supposed to be conducting test somewhere? Phillips returned to his office not long after.

“I need your account number, Tunde,” Toro told me after she ended a call with someone. “I want to receive money from a friend and I don’t want to give him my account information. He’s promised me the money since long. Can you let me use your account to receive it?”

“By all means.” I wrote it down in a jotter and tore it out for her. She inputted it on her phone and sent it to someone. She followed me around the school while I invigilated here and there, such a thing, Aunt Arike watching, Mary squinting, teachers whispering, Benedicta eager to finish the test and rush out to see her sister.

Parents were already arriving, waiting for the school to release their children. Toro said Teju will come for Benedicta and that she’s warned Benedicta not to tell him that she saw her. After an assembly was conducted and the Principal declared a mid-term break, I crashed back in my office with Toro and we got started with Aunt Arike’s food. Well, she was her father’s daughter. That time was when she entered and stood at the door, expressionless, looking at her cooler in our hands.

“Have you forgotten we’re to go to my place today, baby?” she shrieked, not minding Toro’s presence, but I guess she already suspected she was my girlfriend and her intent was to give her a dispiriting impression.

Another person entered. That was Mary. The way she eyed Aunt Arike was so… well, rude and I kind of just choked on the food without actually choking.

“Big Victor said I should give you this,” she said and placed a sheet of paper in my hand. I read it, not Big Victor’s handwriting but hers.

“I’ve got a new phone, Aunt Arike can eat the one she collected. My phone number now is…” she included it. “I’m going to sneak out of school this night, I want to stay with you till tomorrow evening. Then I’ll come back and return on Saturday till Sunday morning. Don’t bother about daddy, he’s traveled already. Please call me.”

What the… I hid it from Toro’s sight.

While she was at the door, she slowed down, looked back, winked at me, blew a kiss at me and closed the door gently behind herself.

Then it remained the three of us in the office, none looking merry, Toro, Aunt Arike and I.

I felt like I would need to use the toilet.

....to be Continued!

Written by: Lord eBay (and his romantic adventures, 2016)
Twitter: @eBayism
Facebook: http://facebook.com/lescothafrica
Email: dearlordebay@gmail.com


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