In case you missed the previous episode
Adaora advanced towards me as though to hug me.
“Shut the gate behind you,” I said. She braked and released what looked like a sigh. I didn’t wait to find out. I headed towards the overhead tanks. I slapped the vertical pipes and listened. There wasn’t so much water in the tanks but there was enough to water the flowers.
Adaora came and stood at my shoulder.
“Your flowers are not overgrown.”
“Yes, but they need watering,” I said.
She didn’t look enthusiastic.
“I thought you came for the flowers,” I said.
“Yes but to cut them.”
“When did you learn to trim flowers?”
“I have been reading about it?”
“And you want to experiment with my flowers.”
“I think I am good.”
“Dear Good Gardener, where is thy tools?”
“Ahh… I thought…”
I turned to go.
“We can water it together,” she said.
“I didn’t plan for this. I have exams to set.”
I went into the house. I sat on my desk and considered my situation. I would call Oby later and pile in the pressure with a dose of emotional blackmail, but we would no longer be getting the ring. I called Hosea.
“We ain’t getting that ring, mehn,” I said.
“Er… The babe is not sure to be there.”
“You can buy the ring and keep it for another occasion.”
“Na,” I said, “I have to build the momentum afresh. For now, I am not feeling it. We would talk when we see face to face.”
“So who are you taking to the lunch?”
I sighed. “Maybe you.”
The VP laughed. “Two lefts cannot make a right.”
“Well, there is food for two and it must be eaten irrespective of the gender. Food doesn’t discriminate.”
He just laughed.
I dropped the phone on the desk and looked out of the window. Adaora was walking, slowly if not gracefully, at the edge of the flower beds admiring them and whispering to herself or to the flower.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” the devil asked me.
“The flowers are beautiful,” I said.
“Not those flowers. I mean the flower standing near the flowers.”
“Maybe,” I said.
“She is beautiful, sexy, and as matured and even taller than Obioma,” the devil said,
I disagreed. “She is 16.”
“Look at her breasts…”
“Taaa!” I spoke out loud. It got Adaora’s attention. She looked at the direction of the window, hesitated for a minute or two, and began to approach. I could hear the devil giggling.
“What happened?” she asked when she opened the door.
“Something fell on my foot.”
She looked at my legs. “What fell on your leg? I can see nothing.”
“Sorry, I didn’t leave it glued on my leg. And sorry, no photographer to capture it. Now, go water the flowers. Tell me when you are tired.”
She looked at me with pretty, searching eyes. As she turned to go, I asked her if she had earphones on her. She said no, why?
“I want to block out the devil with music.”
For lunch, we ate beans and plantain that I sent Adaora to buy. She had watered the whole flower alone and was tired, hungry. I have her 500 naira to buy beans and plantain for me (250 naira) and whatever she needed for herself with the balance. Instead, she bought beans and plantain for 300 and two plastic bottles of sprite.
As there was no plate in my room, we had to eat it right from the takeaway plate, together. “I don’t like this,” I murmured.
“Then why didn’t you buy your own differently?”
“Because no money.”
“Are you calling me broke?” I demanded and she just smiled.
“You have never been this romantic with Obioma,” the devil whispered.
After the lunch, Adaora lay down on my bed to sleep.
“This is not appropriate,” I said to myself. I was just opening myself to temptations and moreover, it didn’t look well that a female student had the liberty to eat with me and sleep on my bed (more than once). I had to stop her. How do I do it without breaking the poor girl’s little heart?
Maybe I would ask Chisom to do it. Adaora was her best friend or something and she would do a good job of telling her to respect boundaries, Uncle K is your teacher; you can’t be sleeping in his house. People won’t understand.
But Adaora may not understand. She might see it as a confrontation coming from Chisom whom, in all intend and misjudgment, was her rival: Chisom was my favourite student, the one I usually turned to for help in class, the one that I complained to when student(s) misbehaved, and the one that answered most of my difficult questions.
But outside of the classroom, Adaora was the one who had more access to me (due to her persistence), so she was within her fallacy to see Chisom as a rival and not listen to her.
So should I tell a female teacher to caution Ada? Woman to woman. Or, woman to girl, actually. Who should I talk to?
Aunty Peace? She didn’t look like she had the will to do this?
Aunty Oge? She was a loquacious one and may make a scandal out of this by gossiping about it?
Mrs. Anozie? She would mock me for throwing my “babe” under the bus and she would do the mocking without opening her mouth which was the most painful one.
Mrs. Nwokeji? She might escalate the situation. She might badger Adaora and make her cry or even punish her or take the matter to the assembly ground or to the proprietress. With that cunning woman, you never know.
I sighed, then suppressed a yawn.
“You are sleepy, man, go to your bed,” someone said to me. I wasn’t sure it was the devil because I really needed the sleep and if Adaora was my sister I wouldn’t hesitate to on and lie on the same bed with her. If I was hesitating then I saw her as a woman who wasn’t a relation and who could be in relationship with me, which was to say I was taking her on an elevation she didn’t belong. She was just a girl, she was my student which meant he was my daughter-figure.
I rose to my feet and began to gather my dirty clothes to go and wash. I would decide how to deal with Adaora later but for now, I would have to stay far away from my bed. I would sleep later.
So I washed my clothes. After this, I washed and cleaned and polished my shoes accordingly. When I finished this, I went to the bathroom/toilet to wash it. It was at this moment that Adaora woke up. She sat up. “Let me help you,” she offered.
“No. You have helped me enough for the year. Why don’t you ever help your parents? Today is Saturday and you’re here hiding from your home chores.”
“I have finished my chores. I woke up very early to do my chores. I…”
“Let me do my own, I’m not crippled!”
She was taken aback by my harsh words. Of course, she knew I was harsh and she had been in the receiving end of my sharp tongue in the past. But she didn’t know this part of me existed outside the four walls of Mount Sinai International, for her.
“If you don’t want me to come here and help you from time to time, tell me.”
“Yes,” I bellowed, “don’t come here again. A lot of people will not understand that it is just normal help you’re rendering me. People like stories and most of the time, they paint imaginative pictures and tell fake stories.”
She said nothing. Quietly, she got down from the mattress and began to make the bed. When she finished, she made for the door.
“Hey, I am sorry if I am sounding harsh but it’s for our own good.”
She left with her shoulder flaccid with pain. When I heard the gate opened and closed, I heaved a sigh of relief and a little sadness. I loved the result but I hated the approach. Suddenly the muscles of my stomach tightened with annoyance for the womenfolk in their entirety. They knew what was right and they chose not to do it. You dropped hints, they ignored them; your body language showed that you didn’t like what they were doing and they looked away. When you pushed and get the right thing to be done, they take it badly and make you look like an inconsiderate, aggressive fellow.
Adaora was just 16 but she was learning the evil ways.
Obioma was 21 and she was a master in the art.
Vanity, declared the sad philosopher. All is vanity.
I brought out my phone. Since Hosea wasn’t sure, I would call Ikenna and take him with me to the lunch. And while there for lunch, if I see any young woman within hearing distance of the proprietress house, they would see my red eyes.