Rated 18 (For Mature Readers Only)
“Done and dusted.” I muttered under my breath as I stared at the green and off-white coloured certificate in my hands.
“Finally! We made it!” Kanyinsola said with a beaming expression on her face.
I looked at her and smiled.
“So, after the false threats of redoing the NYSC from the beginning, we got our certificates. I feel like jumping high in the air and slapping the ground with my palms.” She giggled.
The sun streamed on my certificate as though it was sending congratulatory messages my way. I couldn’t believe it. One year of torture was over! One year of being holed in one of the offices in the ministry of environment in Abuja had finally come to an end.
“Whew!” I said.
Kanyinsola looked at me and smiled.
“You’re happy too…right?” She said. “I can see it on your face.”
“Who wouldn’t be?” I replied. “The government should stop this crappy exercise and channel their energies to something better.”
“I love the exercise joor…” Kanyinsola said. “If not for anything, it cut my ties with my family. I can’t forget the shocked expression on my mummy’s face when she found that I had been posted to Abuja instead of Lagos, heheheheehe….” She laughed. “Abuja gave me a fresher outlook at life. Come to think of it, my primary school was Corona, my secondary school was Queen’s college, and my university was University of Lagos, all my education was done in Lagos state. I needed a fresh break jare. So, while mumsy was hustling for me to be posted to Lagos, I was bribing someone who knew someone to help me get Abuja…” She said humorously. “And I won! I can’t believe I spent one whole year away from my family!”
I rolled my eyes, I was tired of hearing the same old story over and over again
“So, tell me, where are you going to work? You studied Sociology right? What sector do you think you could fit into?” She asked.
“My dad is helping me get a contract job with an oil company, if you are interested, I could tell him to…”
I raised my hand to silence her.
“Don’t worry about me…” I said.
“Cleopatra, c’mon, don’t tell me you haven’t made plans for after service yet?” Kanyinsola asked.
“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” I said.
Kayinsola’s mouth slightly parted, and then she threw her head back and laughed.
“Where did you get that quote from? I swear you’re a dictionary of some sort, you love dishing out quotes.”
“It’s a quote by William Gibson.” I said, staring at my certificate again. “And Kanyinsola, don’t bother about me…I can take good care of myself.”
Kanyinsola stared at me and I could see the look of concern flicker across her face.
“I kept ranting on and on and forgot that we both lived practically the same kind of life while growing up. Your parents doted on you, just like mine did and you spent all your life here in Abuja.” She said to me, placing her hand on mine. “I just wish I knew what made you so angry at life. It seems like yesterday when we met for the first time at camp and hit it off. You were so much fun back then. Then, all of a sudden, a few months ago, you turned stone cold. What is it Cleopatra? What happened? A problem shared is half solved.”
I didn’t speak.
“Do you know what? You could relocate to Lagos?” She said to me. “My house is big enough and you are more than welcome to stay with us, I just have to ask mommy but I know she won’t say no to it.” Kanyinsola said. “I’m sure a change of environment will do you good.”
“I guess it’s time to go…” I said, looking at the gate to see that youth corpers were already leaving. “I’ll chat you some time.”
I walked away and never for once did I look back but I could feel her eyes on me as I left the camp.
As I packed my stuff and cleared my mini apartment of every trace of my presence, I sighed. Change is good but transitioning, is better, I told myself. As I packed the last of my stuff, I heard a beep from my phone. I opened my Whatsapp chat and saw about eighteen messages from friends and family.
‘Congrats on your POP! It’s time to rule the job market!’
Those were the kinds of messages I received on my phone and strangely, none of them cheered me up in the least. I scrolled through the messages and I saw one of the messages from him, it read.
‘Happy passing out baby, I hope we can talk soon.’
I read the message thrice and deleted it, then, I blocked his number and tossed my phone on the bed. I sat on the bare mattress and buried my face in my palms. I refused to think or feel sad over what happened six months ago, it was all in the past and the future was here for me to take by the horns. I pondered on Kayinsola’s proposal, I had left the poor girl standing at the campgrounds while I walked out on her.
“From now on…” I vowed, “I would never let anyone make decisions for me, ever! I am my own woman and I will rule my universe like the queen that I am. Besides, I was named after Queen Cleopatra, the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt. I am born to rule. No one will ever be the boss of me, again!”
I picked up my phone and dialled Kayinsola’s number.
“Hey…pretty girl, you left me standing like a mugu at the camp, are you okay?” She asked over the phone.
One thing I liked about Kayinsola was her ability to turn everything into fun and jokes, she wasn’t one to get offended easily.
“I’m sorry, I thought I left my house open before heading to the camp, that’s why I behaved that way. I just checked and found that the doors were locked. I am really sorry.” I apologised.
“No apologies necessary darling.” She said.
“I was thinking about your offer and I…”
“Do you mean the one for the job?” Kanyinsola asked breathlessly.
“No…not that one…I meant the offer to stay in your place…” I said. “In Lagos.”
“Yay! Yipppeeee! Finally!” Kanyinsola shrieked in glee. “I’ll talk to my mum about it right now…I am so excited! We will share my room and be very inseparable!”
When I hung up the call, I rolled my eyes and sighed. Kanyinsola was such a baby and she reminded me of my former self. The woman I had been before my innocence was robbed. I had been like a baby, happy and content, till life taught me that I was nothing but a pawn in its game. My phone rang and I stared at the caller ID for a long while, it was my mother.
“Good afternoon ma.” I greeted.
“Cleo darling, when are you coming home? I heard your batch passed out today.” She said in her very slow and soft voice which I recently found annoying.
“Yes.” I said.
“So, when are you coming home? Should I send the driver to come pick you up?” She asked.
I didn’t speak, so she continued.
“Adams called me and he wants to surprise you with something big.” She said with a hint of tenderness in her voice.
I wanted to yell at her, I wanted so desperately to tell her to stop being a hypocrite but I held myself.
“He loves you…you know he does and it doesn’t matter if any other woman warms his bed, he’s still yours.” She said.
It was at the tip of my tongue to say to her, ‘Is this what you’ve been consoling yourself with all the while daddy has been roaming about town with different ladies?’ But I kept mum.
“He also hinted that we can start planning the wedding. I am so excited.” She said with a rush in her voice. “There’s a new bridal shop at Maitama and it’s…”
“Goodbye mum.” I said and ended the call.
I removed the back lid of my phone and brought out my sim card and broke it in half. I dragged in a deep breath and said almost inaudibly.
“The old Cleopatra is dead! The new one has just been born!”
To be continued on Wednesday….