“Not my son! I am sure that someone put it there to frame
him.” James mother argued vehemently.
James had been left in detention till after school hours, he
had been flogged by the teachers, principal and the vice principal of his
school. He was serving punishment when his mother arrived the school after
being called via phone call by the principal, as soon as she saw him kneeling
down in the principal’s office, she ordered him to get up. Now, after explaining to her in details what they had seen in her son’s possession, she defended him.

“Madam…I saw a condom in your son’s possession…how else
can I explain this to you?” The mathematics teacher said trying to control his
temper.

“Listen to me! My son started his first day of secondary
school in this school and has never been reported for bad behaviour. I feel
that you teachers are oppressing him. Someone could have kept that thing in his
bag without his knowledge.” His mother continued.

“Yes mum…I came into the class after break and saw that my
bag had been broken into and that the condoms were inside it. I didn’t
understand what it was so I pulled out the packs and started looking at it
inquisitively till Mr. Okechukwu caught me. I have tried to explain to no avail
and they have beaten me mercilessly.” James said beginning to cry.

“Look at him….just look at him…he is fifteen years
old….he is still a baby. How could you accuse him falsely of what he didn’t do?
You all should be sued! How dare you beat my son for no reason at all? Infact,
I should withdraw him from this school….if not that his father works far away
in Kaduna, he would have come here to teach you all a lesson. His dad is in the
army and I’m sure he won’t like this!”

“We are very sorry madam…we will look into the case…”
The principal said, gulping down the fear in his throat.

“After the damages done to my son? Look at him! Just look at
his body, filled with cane marks….”
James began to cry silently then slowly broke out into a
loud bawl.

“We are sorry James…we would look into this…” The vice
principal said to James in apology.
Mr. Okechukwu was highly disappointed with the school
management.

“I know what I saw and I am not going to degrade myself by
apologizing to this boy. I am a teacher and a good one at that and when I say I
saw something, I really saw something. I hereby announce my resignation from this
school.” Mr Okechukwu said bitterly.

“Mr. Okechukwu…calm down, we will discuss this.” The principal
said to him.

“I will not stand here while you ridicule me before this
boy. I saw him bring out those condoms from his pocket, I watched him closely
in class and saw him shift his attention to them while I was teaching…”

“Are you an inspector or a teacher? What is your job? Is it
to teach the students or monitor their every whim? If you were observing James
so closely in class, I’m sure you have a personal vendetta against him.” James
mother flung at Mr. Okechukwu.

“Madam, with all due respect, I know what I saw and if you
don’t believe me, go ahead. He is your son and not mine, if he doesn’t get
corrected now and destroys his life tomorrow, it’s not my cup of tea but yours.”

“How dare you? Look at this miserable teacher! How dare you
point accusing fingers at me? Do you have enough to fend for yourself that you
took a teaching job? Listen to me, this boy is richer than you’ll ever be in
your entire life. I pay a total sum of two hundred and five thousand naira
every term. A sum, I doubt you have ever seen in your entire life so, shove
your opinions up your ass!”
Mr. Okechukwu stared at her in anger and biting his tongue
from retorting, he angrily ripped his ID card from his shirt, dropped it on the
table, and took his leave.

“Idiot! Good for nothing teacher! Look at him! Pointing
accusing fingers at my boy. Does he have a son? Does he know how hard it is to
nurture a child from birth till this age?” She said to the principal and vice
principal. Turning to James who was standing behind her, she said to him. “Let’s
go my darling. I have to contemplate on whether you should return to this
school tomorrow or not! Besides, it’s still the first week of resumption and
you can conveniently fit in into another school.” His mother said and stormed
out of the office with her son in tow.
*********
Kendra stood at the front of her school gate waiting for her
mom’s car. She remembered that she had told her mom that school might close
early today since it’s the first week of resumption and obviously, her mom didn’t
remember. She would have called her but she didn’t bring her phone to school besides it was against the rules. Her brother and sister attended the same school and they both boarded
the school bus. Kendra was upset, she really needed to go home as everyone was
already leaving school.
“Hey Kendra…” One of the boys in her class waved at her.
Kendra smiled and waved back, she knew that many of them had
a crush on her but she wasn’t interested.
“Do you need a ride home? Your mom isn’t here yet?” Gbenga
one of her classmates said to her as he walked up to her.

“No…I guess she forgot that on the first week of school,
we don’t close school at the normal time.”
“You could hitch a ride with me. My dad’s driver is just at
the other street…the car will be cramped though because most of the kids in
my street join us.”

“Don’t bother, I would take transportation…” She said.

“A taxi?”

“Nooo….I don’t have any money for that so, I’ll take a bus
maybe.”

“Have you ever been on a public bus before?” He asked.

“Never.”

“What makes you think it’ll be so easy.” He said.

“Everyone boards the bus, how difficult is that?” She said.

“Okay…see you tomorrow then, in one piece I hope.” He said
to her and hurried off. 

Kendra walked away from the school gate and headed towards
the main road with her school bag. She saw a trickle of her fellow students,
enter the bus to their destinations and she shrugged, ‘it couldn’t be too hard’
she thought ‘Gbenga just wants me to go with him in his car and I won’t’.

She quickly entered one of the yellow buses where the
conductor was shouting the bus’s destination in such confusing manner.

‘Oh well!’ She thought, ‘I’ll just tell them to stop me at
the Pride Park Estate, that shouldn’t be hard’.
Soon the bus filled up and zoomed off.
********

Clara was asleep when she heard the bell, muttering under
her breath, she stood up from her bed and left her room. She soon got to the
entrance door and opened it to reveal, Emerald and Zika clutching onto their
school bags and looking tired.

“I am so hungry…” Emerald said hurrying into the sitting
room to toss her bag and slump in the sofa.
“Get up from there this instant and pick up that bag…”
Clara shouted.

“Go jor…can’t someone have freedom again?” Emerald said.

“I’ll slap you if you don’t pick up that bag.” Clara warned.

“Come and slap it! Mtcheewww…when is the housekeeper
resuming work? I can’t wait for her to come back. If she’s the one here, she’ll
take my bag into the room for me.”

“Well…she’s not here so, take that bag in or I’ll slap you
and I mean it.” Clara warned.

Emerald saw that her sister was serious so she took her bag
and hurried into the room she shared with her brother. He was already there
removing his socks and shoes.
“Can’t you knock before entering the room?” He said harshly.
“Is this not my room too?” Emerald said.
“I don’t care…just knock before you come in. Besides, I am
not supposed to share a room with my kid sister…”
“Well…I can’t sleep alone in a room and if I joined Kendra
and Clara in their room, it would be so cramped up.” Emerald said.
“I’m going to complain about this to dad, I can’t have you disturb
my peace in this house.” Zika said and stormed out of the room in order to give
his sister the privacy to change out of her uniform.
As soon as they had both changed into their stay-at-home
clothes, they went outside the house while Clara sat in the sitting room
watching television. Zika played basketball by himself while Emerald rode her
bike about.
********

Rose Lily was glued to the window watching the kids play in
the other compound. She was so thrilled that her room gave her a full glimpse
into their compound.

“Rich kids! I bet they’ve never soaked garri before!” She
said to herself.

“Yes ooo…” Aunty Lizzy said to her.

Rose startled, she turned to look at her aunt and smiled.

“I was snooping…” She said.

“I know…” Her aunt replied.

“It’s nice to have the fine things of life! Look at their
compound…I mean…who has such large space in their freaking compound?” Rose
said.

“Some people have bigger compounds.” Her aunt said. “So, you
went with their sister to the dry-clean today, how come you never said anything
about the journey?”

“Oh…that! I just went to disgrace myself. Can you believe
that the place where they take their clothes to, is that dry-clean in our
estate? The prices are so high and they have some kind of attitude.”

“Really? How come you didn’t tell me?”

“You’ve been busy all day so…I just let it slide.”

“Where did you take the beddings and curtains then?”

“To the dry-clean outside the estate. The girl took me there
and I was embarrassed that we couldn’t afford the estate one.”

“Hmmm…have you gone into their house?” Her aunt asked
still staring at Zika and Emerald.

“What are you talking about?” Rose asked confused at her
aunt’s sudden change of topic.

“Their house…that one…” Her aunt said, pointing into the
compound.

“No I haven’t…why should I go there?”

“You know…just to survey…to see if things are really as
it is…”

“No auntie! No! I am not doing the same thing I used to do
at our former home! No! I won’t be a pawn for your games.” Rose said angrily.

“C’mon…it’s not difficult, is it? Make friends with
her…you know…”

“No! You know I don’t want to…” Rose said in a plea.

“How do you expect us to pay for this rent when it expires
next year? I need to establish contacts, build database and that’s why I moved
here because back in the other place, we had poor church-rats as neighbours…”

Rose stared at her for a while and exhaling deeply, she
said.

“I’ll see what I can do…”

“You know what I want right? I need information of their dad’s
movements…every detail…” Her aunt said with a smile.

“Okay auntie…”

“I love my little mustard…” Her aunt said affectionately
and pulled her into her embrace.

Rose loved her aunts but this was one thing she truly
loathed them for.

To be continued….

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