We dedicate this episode to all the corps members who would be hitting camp tomorrow. The struggle has begun, but the ball is in your court, most of the time.
For easier continuation we started with the last scene of episode seven. In case you missed it, you may read the full episode HERE.
Helen was having a wonderful time. She was sucking a lollypop and chattering. She would suck the sweet then feed me the sweet; I would suck for few seconds, then she would remove it and return it into her handsome mouth. So romantic. I just wished this was happening in 2017, a million miles from Osun.
Somehow, my hand fell on her chest.
‘I thought you were crippled.’ She laughed.
As I made to caress a knock sounded on the door. My hand snapped off as though it had been laid on electric cooker. I listened. The knock increased in sound and urgency.
‘Who is it?’ I couldn’t recognise my voice.
‘It is me,’ Uncle Dayo said. My heart sank.
‘Who is that?’ Helen asked as she put the lollipop in my mouth.
‘Please get up and put on something decent,’ I said.
Helen frowned. ‘Why?’
‘Kings, open the door na,’ Uncle called. I looked at Helen, ‘Please get something; it’s the NCCF uncle…’
‘And so? Is he a virgin?
I blinked at her.
She frowned at me. ‘Are you a virgin?’
‘What arrant nonsense,’ Helen said as she rose to her feet. ‘If he has never seen a woman in bum shorts before, let him say so.’
As Helen made for the door, the lollipop fell off my mouth.
Helen unbolted the door and snatched it open, and she stood in her skimpy dress before Dayo like Amber Rose before Pastor Adeboye. Their contrast was near darkness and light level. For what seemed a decade, saint and non-saint stood looking at each other too piqued by the other’s display of blatant righteousness/blatant iniquity to speak.
I wanted so badly to interfere, break the spell, douse water on perilous fire but I couldn’t get up because of what was happening in my crotch. I would rather be six feet under the earth at this moment than look his holiness in the eyes with the evident of my crime apparent, arrow-pointed.
‘Yeeey,’ someone exclaimed, then I saw Mercy swished past Uncle Dayo and stopped breathless before Helen, admiring my guest with unabated curiosity. She took Helen’s hands as IBK zoomed in. ‘Oh my God, she is beauriful!’
‘Aswear,’ IBK affirmed. ‘She is hot!’
‘Where is she?’ Agatha shouted as she entered, ‘I am here to see his babe o.’ Agatha, Tina, Fisayo and Fatima, in that order soon crowded my room, fussing around embarrassed and elated Helen.
‘She looks take-away,’Tina said.
‘What is your name?’ IBK asked.
Helen said Helen.
‘What a sweet name.’
‘Why do the good girls fall for bad boys?’ Fisayo asked. I began to frown but the whole room laughed, forcing a smile of me. I looked sharply at the door but Uncle was gone. In his place was Agu, smiling sheepishly, Edwin, smiling jealously, and Micah, leering. I wanted to throw something at the male contingent but gave up the idea as nothing was handy.
‘She is so fine,’ Fisayo said then she looked at me, ‘At least, someone will have acceptable-looking children.’ The room vibrated with laughter. I opened my mouth to return the hammer but Micah stepped on me and I gasped with pain instead.
IBK looked at me and warned, ‘If you ever look at my legs again, I will cut of something. You dare look at me even when you have someone like Helen!’
‘If you cut of something,’ Edwin said, ‘Helen will leave him.’ The room dissolved into a fit of cough and laughter.
‘She should leave him,’ Faima said. ‘She should go date another until he finds work in an oil company.’
‘I swear, he can’t maintain this beaut with 19,800 naira,’ Edwin said. Everyone cackled.
‘Have you seen my beautiful baby?’ Tina sang. ‘Have you seen my tomato baby?’ the others chorused. Agatha sped away and returned with a bottle of inexpensive wine just as they sang, ‘better soup na money kill am’. Helen, that mad girl, did a little dance to the tune and the room exploded into a circus. The ladies ululating, Agu whistling and Edwin clapping fat palms. I wiped the sweat on my face as I rose to my feet, standing by Helen, the reluctant groom.
‘I have something to say,’ Agatha was shouting for audience. The mob calmed down and listened. ‘This is a bottle of very expensive wine in my hand,’ she waved the bottle of cheap fruit wine. ‘We are going to toast for love. K is a good neighbour…’
‘And a renowned troublemaker,’ IBK added.
‘Yes,’ Agatha agreed, ‘a real pain in the ass—’ my mouth fall (everyone was laughing and leering, Helen a little embarrassed)—‘who has been conquered by love.’ ‘Or lust,’ an idiot added inaudibly. Agatha began to unscrew the cork and then pop! They cheered. I nearly smiled.
‘To long lasting love between our Achebe and Helen,’ Micah announced.
‘Now, let’s hear what our Achebe has to say.’ ‘Fake Achebe,’ that idiot added.
I smiled. Thanks Micah, I would cut this mob down to size. I would cause them serious injury with my tongue. I would show them who was in charge. I cleared my throat. Then Dayo poked his head into the room and his betrayed gaze met my eyes. Power left my joints.
‘Please excuse me,’ I said, pecked Helen, nodded to Micah and went after Uncle Dayo.
Dayo was seated on the bench in the veranda. He looked up when I came out but my eyes took refuge in the graveyards opposite us. ‘Sit down,’ Dayo said, meaning besides him. Ah, I am not qualified to sit by His presence, I wanted but couldn’t muster the energy to say. I sat beside the venerable. It is better to die in His presence anyway.
Dayo gave me a piece of paper. My heart sank when I saw it. ‘Read it,’ he said, his eyes on my face. I already knew what it was even before I collected it, but I read it all the same, perhaps it wasn’t that bad. It was worse.
How is your daughter, Jumoke? She has been acting strangely of recent. Why don’t you take her to the hospital and check her thoroughly. Do all manner of tests including pregnancy test on her. Thanks.
From a Christian brother who doesn’t approve of abortions.
‘Who wrote that?’ he asked.
I had written this more than a week ago but I completely forgot it under my pillow. This morning, in my mad rush to make my room habitable for Helen, I had remade my bed, rearranged things, dusted, wiped, cleaned and swept away. That was how I swept away this letter-bomb and somehow, his eminence had gotten hold of it and recognised my duck-crawls handwriting. Now I was cooked, thoroughly.
‘Who wrote this letter?’ Dayo repeated.
I strangled a sigh. Dayo shook his head, caught by the tail of my eye. ‘I am really surprised at you,’ he said. ‘A lodgemate must have impregnated a villager but rather than confront him and preach against murder you hid and wrote this silly letter. What kind of a kingdom person are you?’
I found my toes attractive, as I studied the floor.
‘Children are a heritage of the lord, haven’t you read about that?’ It could have been my father scolding me, it could have been worse than my father even. ‘I don’t know how long ago this is, but I believe the baby is still alive. You must save that baby.’
I looked at Dayo sharply. He nodded. ‘Yes, you have to save the baby’s life.’ He rose to his feet then, ‘Or on the last day, God will tell you, I was in the womb and you let them abort me.’
My jaw sagged; Dayo left.
Then it came, anger and hatred, slowly for Agu. It started from the soles of my feet, bit hard at my ankles, crawled through my legs, hitting hard at my knee-caps, then snaked past my laps, crushed my waist, swam into my belly and squeezed my intestines in a nefarious knot, then bulldozed its way into my heart, burnt my heart. My heart was on fire for a long second before it made through my neck, rushed into my head, filling my brain with hot disgust.
I stamped to my feet, grabbed at the iron pole and shook it. I wanted to uproot it, dash into my room and beat Agu into a paddy. But as soon as I touched it, my hatred was replaced with cold common sense and lamed frustration. I wouldn’t afford to be rash.
Slowly, I made to my room. I opened the door to a pandemonium of cheers, jeers and idiocy.
‘Absent from your party!’ Mercy accused.
‘Hey, come righta here,’ IBK ordered. But they stopped short when they saw the debris of my crumbled face. ‘What is it,’ Micah asked, ‘someone died?’
I nodded. They caught their breath in fearful unison. ‘Who?’
‘Our principal.’ I swear I didn’t say this; it just fell off my lips.
‘Chimoo,’ someone exclaimed.
‘It can’t be true,’ Agatha said.
I kept a poker face.
‘What killed him?’ Fisayo asked.
‘Who told you?’ Edwin enquired.
‘They are talking about it all over the town,’ I droned.
‘Chai, that good man.’
I sighed. The principal wasn’t popular among us. He didn’t welcome us for weeks when we were posted here, and had refused to act upon our complaints of leaking roofs, mal-wired electricity, ‘toiletial’ problem and general welfare. But between the last time they saw him and his ‘death’, had transformed from the epitome of official malevolence into a near-saint. Nigerians!
The sad news stood in the room like a bad smell until every one of the partiers left with sagged shoulders. Helen came and put her hands around my neck. ‘I am so sorry to hear this darling. You must have liked the man.’
I nodded. ‘He was like a father to me.’
‘Eiyeah,’ Helen buried her head on my shoulder, ‘God will comfort you.’ If not for the foreboding of Jumoke’s pregnancy, I would have burst out laughing. But I couldn’t help it when, a few minutes later, I picked up my phone and saw that Edwin had updated his Facebook status with, ‘Rest in peace, my Principal. God knows best’. I hugged my pillow and laughed at the top of my voice.
‘What’s it?’ Helen was shocked. But I only reeled, ‘Bwebwebwe-hehehehe-hehuhehu-hahaha-hohahahuuh….’
‘What is it na? Are you mad?’
I forced a pause. ‘Edwin…’ I choked, ‘Edwin and the principal—hic—are friends on Facebook,’ and I dissolved into salty particles of mirth.
Click here for Episode Nine
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