Memories of a Young Man as a Teacher (19)

Read the previous episode here.

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Yesterday, October 11th, 2015, Obioma and I went on a date to the Stadium to watch Ifeanyi Ubah FC. It was a memorable outing with her riding her lady’s motorcycle and I seated in the back. She asked me to ride it and I said no. My motorcycle riding was rusty – wouldn’t be cool to ride your bae into a kiosk in Ozubulu Road. And her riding was romantic, drawing from the memories of Rancho and Mia in “3 Idiots”.

After the game, we had a long talk by the side of my junction. Then she drove away with her peck planted on my cheek. When she got home, she called me and we spoke until her credit finished. I called back and we spoke till my credit finished. I recharged with my app and we talked till that one finished. She called me back and we talked till her credit exhausted. Not wanting to cross below a thousandth threshold on my account, I borrowed credit and called till MTN told me “one minute remaining”. It was a sweet night, last night.

This morning, I met Oby at the desk at the gate where teachers write their attendance. She was writing on her primary section book and as I reached for the secondary section, I said, “Hey, Tom.” Tom was short for TomTom Mikimiki. She ignored me, finished her writing and went away.

I didn’t want to overanalyze this. She might be trying not to draw attention to us. That must be it, Atta girl! I wrote down my name, signed with the flourish of one with one million naira in his account balance, and dropped the pen.

“Latecomer,” the proprietress hailed me from upstairs.

“Good morning ma,” I said and looked at my watch with the deliberateness of someone who was fifteen minutes before time. 

“I came before you,” she said.

“And you forgot to write your name in the attendance list,” I said and she laughed and said welcome.

When I reached Oby’s window, I stopped to blow her a kiss a something but she stood, akimbo frowning. “What’s up?”

“Are you dating Joy?” she demanded.

“What is Joy?”

She made to say something but shut her half-parted lips and turned around and murmured something I didn’t hear clearly but made out to be: “After all, I am not your girlfriend.”

I smiled and made on my way. In 2013 or so, I once broke up with a girl for saying she hated me. Today, I know better. Nothing a woman says when she is angry is to be taken literally, except when she says you are not the father of two of her kids and that you have mouth odour.

Will deal with Obioma later.

I didn’t come down for assembly as I needed to finish a note or two. Don’t judge me: Joy and Adaora occupied most of my Saturday; Sunday was for church and The Good-Hearted.

After the assembly, I looked down from the window and saw some of the students going home. They must have been droved home for school fees. I looked at the clock on the wall of the staff room, 7.55am.

I looked at my timetable. English, SS3. My lesson for that was ready. I reached for the JS3 register to check who and who had paid and who and who hadn’t. I felt the presence of someone near my desk. That should be Mrs. Anozie. The person came and stopped before my desk. I looked up. Adaora.

She was not smiling.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning, sir,” she said, coolly.

“Why didn’t you say that before me?”

She made a sorry face. “They drove me out for school fees and the principal flogged me for not paying Christmas fee.”

“It was you who collected the Christmas fee and spent it?”

She said no. “My parents said they don’t have.”

“Well, I cannot turn back the hand and un-beat the beating you got from the principal. Your parents can help prevent the next beating. Insist, lean on them.”

She nodded like a child would nod at the counsel of a beloved uncle… or an adored boyfriend. The last point nearly ruined it for us. I decided to rise above this pettiness. A clear conscience fears no alligator pepper.

“As for your school fees,” I said. “When do you expect to pay it?”

“My father said month end.”

“A salary earner, huh?”

“Yes sir.”

“What does he do?”

“He drives for Blaze FM.”

“Blaze FM. One of the best in the East.”

She smiled weakly.

“Go to class and learn.”

She beamed. “Thank you, sir.” She reached the door and stopped. She returned to my desk as I rose to go out. “Sir, would you give me written note?”

“Oracles don’t do written notes. I asked you to go to your classroom, go to your classroom.”

She left. I used the corner of my eyes to catch Mrs. Anozie trying not to smile. Aunty Oge who never hid from her mouth what was in her heart said, “She is beautiful, isn’t she?”

I nodded. “She is very. One of the most beautiful young ladies in the whole of the South East.”

Mrs. Anozie said “wow” and asked, “Is she the one?”

“The one that did what?” I asked in a voice that a landlord might use for a tenant who hadn’t paid his rent for the past six years. Mrs. Anozie said “nothing”. I faced Oge. “Is there anything you wanna tell me?”

She said no sir.

I turned to the third teacher who covered her face with her water bottle. I sighed and stamped out of the room.

The students in SS3 stood up. I dropped my notebook. My cell phone announced the arrival of a text message. It was from Obioma and it was an empty message. In the university, The Princess usually sent empty messages to me whenever she was upset. What was driving Oby crazy? I didn’t know. Not that I cared. Why should I care?

I was at Mount Sinai International School to work not to play softballs on a turf full of women. I picked up a piece of chalk, walked to the board, and wrote “Obioma.”

To be continued…