It was two weeks since Chekwube had resumed school and so far, she was the best in her class. It wasn’t something she’d concluded on her own but she’d heard it from her class teacher’s mouth especially as she was given the position of class prefect.
They were in maths class and the teacher was solving the equation on the board, suddenly he said to the students.
“I know I haven’t taught you anything on this before but I’d like to see if anyone can try to solve this…” He said as he quickly wrote some numbers on the board and looked at the students.
Chekwube’s hand went up and she was beckoned to the front of the class. She was handed the marker and soon, she had solved the equation.
“Can we give her a round of applause?” The teacher said smiling at her.
The students clapped while Mickey frowned, she hated it that the village girl was already growing popular in class.
“I am so happy that we have serious students in our class.” The teacher said.
Chekwube smiled and walked to her seat, as she made her way there, she didn’t notice Gbenga’s eyes following her movements.
After the maths class, the bell for break time was rung and Chekwube sat in her seat and brought out her textbook to study. She never went out for break because she didn’t bring money to school or food. She ate every morning and in the afternoon after school. She had just pulled out her InterScience textbook when Gbenga walked up to her.
“Hello.” He greeted.
She looked up at him and instantly recognized him as the boy that Mickey followed about. It had been two weeks since the new term resumed and students were already gossiping that they were an item especially because Mickey made it a point of duty to accompany Gbenga everywhere. The boy didn’t have any friends because he had a mother hen in the person of Mickey.
“Hi.” She said.
“Good job with the err….maths equation. How were you able to solve it?” He asked.
“I’ve always been good at maths.” She said.
Gbenga looked at her, she was his ticket to leaving this school for good. If he could make her his friend, then, she could help him ace through his grades and in no time, his dad would enrol him in his former school and life will be back to normal.
“I am not good at maths.” He said.
“Okay…” She replied, flipping her book open.
Mickey suddenly bounced up to them and sneered at Chekwube.
“Village girl!” She spat. “You don’t go for break, you don’t talk to anybody, and you’re boring.”
Chekwube didn’t respond, she really wasn’t in the mood for Mickey’s madness.
“Gbengs! Are you ready to go for break?” Mickey asked, using the new nickname she’d given Gbenga.
“No…I’d rather stay here and study, besides, I don’t buy anything during break time…” He said.
“Study? You want to stay in class and study?” Mickey asked incredulously. “With the village girl?”
“Yes.” Gbenga said. “Have you wondered why she’s so good?”
“Do you mean her?” Mickey sneered, referring to Chekwube.
“She’s very brilliant….and that’s why she was given class rep.”
“Abegi…who needs to be the class rep? Being the class rep means being a slave to the teachers. They call you here and there and you can’t refuse.” Mickey said.
Gbenga raised an eyebrow at her.
“You can go for break…I’ll stay here and study with Chekwube.” He said.
Mickey saw red. She was furious! She had spent the whole week buying and using different beauty products; Lavender powder, Cherry, Avocado face wash, Anti-acne lotion, Eden body scrub and the like, only for the boy she liked to disregard her for the village girl.
“You what?” Mickey asked in alarm.
“I want to stay here and study.” He said.
“Then, I will stay too.” Mickey said, almost pinching herself for saying that.
Chekwube looked at the both of them.
“Can I join you?” Gbenga asked Chekwube.
Chekwube stared at Gbenga, then at Mickey, she couldn’t let Mickey sit with her or she’ll lose focus.
“No…my seat can only take two people.” Chekwube said.
“Yes, I mean…I am only one person.” Gbenga said.
Chekwube looked at Mickey and looked away.
“Wait…so, are you saying you have space for him and not for me?” Mickey asked incredulously.
“To be honest, the seat can only contain two people…” Mickey said.
Gbenga quickly rushed to his seat to get his books, while he was at it, Mickey stared at Chekwube venomously.
“You think you’re smart abi?” Mickey asked.
Chekwube didn’t reply.
“Remember that we’re in the same compound and I can deal with you.” Mickey threatened. “Don’t think that you can win Gbenga over because you’re brilliant.”
Gbenga rushed back to Chekwube’s seat, sat down and opened his books, he was ready to study.
Mickey stared at the two of them in raw anger. She felt so stupid, standing there while they poured through their books as though she didn’t exist.
Ola was waiting patiently for her husband to leave the house and today, for some reason, he was delaying.
“I won’t be home on time today.” Her husband said to her in their native language.
“Hmm…okay.” She replied.
“I am sorry that I can’t be home as often as I want to. We have a new job at the site and since the workers have been asked to put in extra time, I have to stay longer.”
“I will be fine. I have Chekwube with me.” She said.
“Thank God we brought Chekuwbe to stay with us. I hate to think that you’d be home alone while I spend long hours at work.” He said as he stood up from the small chair and headed towards the door.
As soon as he left, Ola rushed to the window to watch him leave the gate of the compound. When she was satisfied that he was really gone, she quickly brought out the dress she’d ironed and quickly wore it. She brushed her hair and was already buckling her sandals when she heard the rap at the door. It was a short rap and she knew who it was, she also knew that the rap came only once. She quickly stared at her reflection in the small mirror she’d placed by the side of the window and satisfied that she looked good, she rushed out of the house and locked the door behind her.
She made her way out of the compound, her heart beat fast as there was a chance that her husband could return if he’d forgotten something. She already had an excuse in mind, she’d tell him that she was going to Chekwube’s school to see her teacher who had asked her to come and see her. Of course,it was a lie but how did she explain to her husband that their neighbour who happened to be just a couple of years her senior, caught her fancy and that he had invited her out.
She followed the instructions he’d given her and soon, she saw him standing at the junction with his hands in his pockets. She reached him and said in a hush.
“I am here.”
To be continued tomorrow….