Yesterday Lives – Chapter 16

“Stop crying nau. Don’t let Mama T start wondering what the problem is.” Ayorinde said for the umpteenth time. He tapped the bell at the gate as Ayotunde used the back of her palm to wipe her eyes.

Mrs. Taiwo opened the door smiling. She walked towards them and stopped abruptly. “What is wrong with Ayotunde?”

“Nothing ma. Something flew into her eyes as we were walking down here.”

Mrs. Taiwo opened the gate with a questioning look. “Hmm….Ayotunde, something flew into your eyes?”

Ayotunde nodded without looking up.

“Let’s go inside so I can have a look.”

As Mrs. Taiwo closed the gate, Ayorinde looked at his sister and gave her a pleading look.

***

“So, let’s see that eyes before you do anything.” Mrs. Taiwo said as she sat down and tapped the seat beside her.

“I think her eyes are fine now, ma. I have looked at it.”

“Ayorinde!”

“Yes ma.”

“Sit down.” Mrs. Taiwo ordered. “Come here Ayotunde.”

Ayorinde obeyed and sat with his hands in his laps while Ayotunde walked towards Mrs. Taiwo.

Mrs. Taiwo tapped the seat beside her and Ayotunde sat. “I don’t condone lies.” She said looking at both of them. “I want the truth.”

Ayotunde burst into fresh tears. “Ma….ma…..some….someone stole my money.”

“Which money?”

“The…the…I was….I was saving it….for my….school fees.” Ayotunde said in between gasps.

Mrs. Taiwo looked at Ayorinde. “Can you please explain?”

“We have been saving the money you pay us inside her kolo. She has written the exam for Government College and she passed. So she wanted to break the kolo today. We have searched the whole house, we can’t find it.”

“Oh dear!” Mrs. Taiwo said as she pulled Ayotunde close and hugged her tight. When Ayotunde stilled from her sobs, Mrs. Taiwo held her face in her hands and looked at her. “You want to go to school?”

Ayotunde nodded.

“You will go to school. I assure you of that. I didn’t realize both of you had started planning towards this.” She said as she looked at Ayorinde. “I had already made arrangements for her to attend my school in the new session. I just needed to speak with you so I could get permission from your parents if they wouldn’t mind Ayotunde living with me.”

Ayorinde’s jaw dropped as he looked at Mrs. Taiwo. He had no idea that she had a school. And now, his sister was getting a scholarship they didn’t work for plus a beautiful home to live in. She would leave the shanties where they lived and get a proper education. He was overjoyed. He prostrated flat on the floor before Mrs. Taiwo.

“Ayorinde.” Mrs. Taiwo laughed as she tried to raise him from the floor. “C’mon.”

Ayorinde was in tears. He couldn’t believe their fortunes could change so quickly.

“C’mon Ayorinde. Get up and stop crying.” He obeyed and knelt before her. He placed his head on her laps as he continued sobbing. Ayotunde was also in tears as she hugged Mrs. Taiwo’s waist.

Mrs. Taiwo took a deep breath as she patted both of them. They could pass for her kids.

******

Kevwe stamped her feet round the room. “She no dey go anywhere.” She kept repeating. Ayotunde sat at her father’s feet crying while Ayorinde stood by the door.

“You haven’t exactly said what the problem is. You keep repeating that she is not going anywhere. Don’t you want your daughter to be educated?”  Ayo asked his wife.

“Edu-wetin? Wetin all your education do for you?” Kevwe sneered. “Since I don know you, which real work you get?”

“Mama?” Ayorinde shouted.

“Wetin? Why you dey call me? Na lie I talk?” She raised her hands to hush her son as she eyed him.

Ayo put his head in his hands and took a deep breath. Times like this, he wish he were dead.

“You no want make she go school, Mama? I sure say na you take the kolo wey she keep for behind curtain.” Ayorinde spat.

“Me? Ayorinde? You dey call me your mama; thief?

“How many of us dey dis house? I no say Papa no fit take am.”

As Kevwe stepped forward to slap her son, he held her hand and gave her a stern look.

Kevwe snatched her hand and took a step backward. She beat her chest. “Ayorinde, na me you dey take play. The thing wey your papa no fit do.”

“Enough!” Ayo shouted. “I have had enough of you Kevwe.” He looked at his son. “Which kolo are you talking about?

“Mama T usually paid us money every time we cleaned her house. Ayotunde was keeping most of the money in her kolo so that we could use it when she wanted to enter secondary school. We have searched the whole house and can’t find it anywhere. Mama T noticed Ayotunde must have been crying the day we went to clean her house and she asked us to tell her the truth. That was when she offered Ayotunde the scholarship in her school and also asked that we seek your permission that she lives with her.”

Ayo took a deep breath. “Hmm….she seems to be a very nice woman.”

“Yes, she is sir. Please let Ayotunde go and live with her so she can go to school.”

Ayo looked at his daughter. He wiped the tears on her cheeks and hugged her. He was going to miss her but he had to let her go. “You can go Ayotunde. I will miss you.”

“I will miss you too Papa but I will come home sometimes to visit you.”

“No, I want you to stay there and read your books. I will be fine here.”

“Thank you Papa.” Ayotunde said as she started sobbing again.

“Thank you sir.” Ayorinde said.

“Ayo, Ayo, no try me oh. I dey tell you. No try me oh.” Kevwe shouted as she pointed towards her husband.

Ayotunde looked at her father’s face.

“Don’t worry yourself. Let your brother help you pack your things.” Ayo concluded.

******

The next morning, Ayotunde, Ayorinde and their father set out early to Mrs. Taiwo’s house. As Mrs. Taiwo opened the gate for them, she scolded the children. “You shouldn’t have brought your father, I would have come to your house.” She looked at Ayo. “I’m sorry the kids made you go through the stress to get here.”

Ayo did a half-prostrate. “It is not stress ma. Thank you very much ma. I am very grateful.”

“Oh, it is fine. I take them as my kids.” She said as she led him into the house; Ayotunde and Ayorinde already ahead of them.

“Please sit down.” She said as she pointed to a couch. “What can I offer you?”

“Nothing ma. I am fine. I just wanted to escort them here, that’s all.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to make a quick breakfast?”

“No ma.” Ayo said standing up. “I should take my leave now. I also need to get to work.”

“Okay then. If you say so, let me get the children. They must be in the kitchen.”

Ayo opened his mouth to say something but Mrs. Taiwo had already turned her back and disappeared into a corner of the house.

He wondered how his children met such a kind woman and was surprised she mentioned that they were already in the kitchen. Cooking, cleaning or eating? He looked round the living room. There was a picture of Mrs. Taiwo and a man with a teenage girl. They all had smiles on their faces and were well dressed. He assumed the man was probably her husband.

He looked towards the credenza and saw another picture of the girl; this time in a University matriculation gown. Mrs. Taiwo was all smiles as she stood beside her but the man was absent.

Ayorinde and Ayotunde walked into the living room. “You are ready to leave Papa?” Ayotunde asked.

“Yes, I need to go to work.”

“Okay Papa.” Ayorinde said as he opened the door to let them out. When they got out, Ayorinde took out a brown envelope from his pocket and handed it to his father. “Mama T said I should give this to you.”

Ayo opened his mouth in shock. “Ah! God bless this woman. Her children and children’s children will never know lack. The eyes of the enemy will never find them.”

“Amen!” The children chorused.

Ayorinde opened the gate for his father and let him out.

Ayo looked back at his children. “You children are the only source of joy I have. Both of you give me a reason to continue to live. Ayotunde, don’t let your guardian down. Please make her proud.”

“I will Papa.” Ayotunde said as she waved to her father.

She wiped a tear from her eyes as she walked back towards the house. Ayorinde stopped her and looked at her. “I know you will make Mama T and Papa proud. I trust you.” He said as he pulled her into an embrace.

Mrs. Taiwo stood at her bedside window looking at the two children and wiped a tear from her eyes.

——

The story continues…

Yesterday Lives – Chapter 15

As the rooster crowed at 6.00am, Ayorinde rose up from the floor and tapped his sister. Ayotunde shifted and turned away. Ayorinde tapped her again and pulled her up.

“Ohhhh….” Ayotunde protested as she whimpered.

“Open your eyes.” Ayorinde said as he bent down to look at her.

“Why should I open my eyes? I still want to sleep.” She replied; her eyes still shut.

“C’mon Ayotunde, there’s no time for this. We need to set out early before other people get there.”

“I’m tired.”

“You can’t be tired. Didn’t you say you wanted to go to secondary school?”

Ayotunde opened her eyes wide. “I want to go to school. I don’t want to wash and iron clothes for university students again.”

Ayorinde sighed. He sat down on the mattress and pulled his sister beside him. “I am trying everything I can. Please don’t give up on me. You know papa‘s situation with his job right now. We need to help him.”

Ayotunde looked up at her brother. His eyes were misty. She hugged her brother. She did not need to speak again. He understood.

Ayorinde stood up and helped his sister up. He carried the pail of water behind the door and walked towards the bathroom. He set it inside the bathroom and walked out. Ayotunde knew she had just five minutes. She hurried towards the bathroom with her towel in her hand.

****

In thirty minutes, Ayorinde and Ayotunde were standing in a Molue on their way to the University of Lagos. They arrived on campus as most of the students were beginning to get dressed for lectures. Some of the girls had been waiting for them to arrive and they handed over their clothes to Ayorinde and Ayotunde as they rushed to lectures. Ayorinde looked on as the girls hurried to class. I should be going to lectures as well, but that is a luxury I cannot afford right now. Both of them got to work and by noon, they had washed and dried clothes for six girls. They hung around to see if there was any other chore they could do while they awaited the girls to come back from lectures to pay them. Ayorinde bought his sister a loaf of bread and a bottle of coke. He watched her as she ate hungrily. They sat on the stairs in front of the hostel watching students go in and out.  How am I going to raise enough money to send her to school? How much more would we need to steal? His mind wandered.

 

Four of the girls arrived from their classes and each of them paid Ayorinde five hundred naira. He waited patiently for the other two girls. An hour later, they arrived and also handed over five hundred naira each. Ayorinde and Ayotunde said their goodbyes and were about to leave when one of the girls called them back.

“My mum needs someone to clean the house for her once every week. I don’t know if you would be interested.” Nana said.

“We are interested.” Ayorinde spoke up quickly. “When do you want us to start?”

“I will have to ask her. Just give me your phone number; I will call you once she confirms.”

“I….I.…ermm….I don’t have a phone.”

Nana gave him a puzzled look. “You don’t have a phone?”

“No.”

“Ah, is there anyone who doesn’t have a mobile phone nowadays?” Nana exclaimed. “Okay, you would have to come back here then or let me give you my number. You can call me from a business centre.”

“Thank you.” Ayorinde said.

Nana tore out a sheet of paper from one of the books in her hand. She scribbled her phone number on it and handed it over to Ayorinde.

“Thank you very much.” Ayorinde and Ayotunde chorused.

“It’s fine. Call me early tomorrow morning before I go for lectures.”

“What time would that be?”

“Call me around 9.00a.m”

****

Ayotunde was silent as they walked home. Ayorinde noticed but decided to let her be. He had an idea of what could be going on in her mind but he wasn’t ready to broach the topic. Right now, she needed to understand that they had to work extra if her dream of attending a secondary school was ever going to come to pass.

Their father had lost his job in the manufacturing company years ago when the organization closed down as a result of the high rate of expenses incurred in production. At a point, salaries became delayed. They laid off some staff to be able to rise above their overhead costs but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, the company shut down operations.

Ayo was back to square one. At a point, he was so depressed, he almost took his life. He couldn’t send his children to school anymore and he felt like a failure. Kevwe also did not make things easier for him as she became extremely troublesome and complained about everything. The situation pushed his kids to become petty thieves. Ayo decided to start washing cars for a living.

Ayorinde knew his sister’s dream was to go to secondary school. She once mentioned that she would like to be a nurse in the future and he was determined to put his all into helping Ayotunde accomplish her dreams.

****

The next morning, Ayorinde woke up early, had his bath and walked briskly to the business centre close to the house. The operator dialed the number Nana had scribbled the previous day and handed the mobile phone to Ayorinde. She picked up after the fourth ring. “Hello.”

“Good morning. This is Ayorinde. The guy that washes for you and your friends.”

“Oh, Hi. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. You asked me to call you this morning as regards your mum’s house.” Ayorinde spoke quickly.

“Yes, I remember. She said you can come to the house with your sister. She wants to meet both of you.”

“Thank you. I am very grateful. Can we go there today?”

“Yes, you can. Do you have a pen? I will give you the address.”

Ayorinde signaled to the operator for a pen and paper. Nana reeled out her address and Ayorinde scribbled it down quickly.

“We would go there today. Thank you very much.” Ayorinde said as he dropped the call. He paid the operator and smiled as he walked home. It was going to be a good day.

 

Ayotunde was awake by the time he got home. He told her to go have her bath quickly as they had a job to do. She was about complaining when he whispered into her ears that they were not going to the university. They were going to clean a house. She didn’t look happier but she refused to complain. She did as she was bidden and they set out immediately.

****

In about an hour, they arrived at their destination. The house was a modest bungalow in an estate. It had a low wooden gate and the front door could be seen from the gate. Shrubs lined the fence of the house and Ayotunde’s eyes grew big. She tugged her brother’s arm.

“The house is beautiful.”

Ayorinde smiled. “Yes, I know.” He tapped the button at the gate and waited.

He was about to tap it a second time when a woman opened the door. She wore a brown blouse and wrapper and had her hair packed up in a bun. She was greying at the temples and had laugh lines on her face.

“Good morning ma.” Ayorinde said as he bent his head a little.

“Good morning. How may I help you?”

“I’m Ayorinde. This is my sister, Ayotunde.” He said as Ayotunde curtsied. “Your daughter in Unilag asked us to come here to help you clean the house.”

“Oh yes.” The woman said as she closed the door behind her and walked to the gate. She opened it and let them in. “Go on inside.” She said as she closed the gate.

Ayorinde held Ayotunde’s hand as they walked into in the main house. They stood by the door and looked around.

“Yes, Nana mentioned you were coming.” Mrs. Taiwo said as she walked in and closed the door behind her. “But I wasn’t expecting her to be so young.” She said pointing to Ayotunde.

“I can clean and wash very well, ma.” Ayotunde said; curtsying again.

Mrs. Taiwo sighed. “My dear, you should be in school. How old are you?”

“I’m twelve, ma.”

“She is very good at cleaning ma. She also washes clothes for your daughter in school. Please ma.” Ayorinde begged.

Mrs. Taiwo sat down and looked at the two of them. “When Nana said she was sending both of you here, my assumption was that she was sending adults.”

Ayorinde knelt down and Ayotunde followed suit. “Please ma, don’t send us away. We can work very well.”

“Have you had breakfast?”

“Ma?” Ayorinde asked; surprised at the question.

“I asked if you have eaten today.” Mrs. Taiwo repeated.

“No ma. We wanted to finish working before going to eat.”

“Get up and follow me.” Mrs. Taiwo said as she stood up and walked towards the kitchen. She scooped some egg sauce into a flat plate and placed it on a tray. She handed over the tray to Ayorinde as she pointed towards the dining room. “There is bread on the dining table. Cut as much as you want. You need to eat before you can do any work here.”

“Thank you ma.” They chorused as Ayorinde did a half-prostrate while Ayotunde knelt down.

Mrs. Taiwo dismissed them with a wave of her hand.

 

Ayorinde and Ayotunde walked to the dining room just adjacent the kitchen. Mrs. Taiwo had disappeared into the house. The siblings looked at each other as they got to the dining table. They were mesmerized by the simplicity and beauty of the dining room. The room had a glass table with four chairs around it. A painting of a waterfall adorned the wall. There was a credenza by the side which ran from one end of the wall to the other end. A jar of coffee, a pack of chamomile tea, a jar of sugar, a box of cereal and fresh flowers in vases lined the credenza.

Ayo handed over the tray containing the plate of egg sauce to his sister. He saw another flat plate and a bread knife on the dining table. He opened the bread nylon and cut a large chunk onto the flat plate.

“Are we eating here?” Ayotunde asked as she looked round the room.

“No. We are going to eat in the kitchen. I don’t want anything to happen to the glass table.” Her brother replied as he shepherded her towards the kitchen.

 

When they were done eating, Ayorinde and Ayotunde cleaned up Mrs. Taiwo’s house to her satisfaction. They asked her if there were any clothes that needed to be washed and she said she had done that with the washing machine earlier in the day. While Ayorinde was taking out the trash, he noticed her car was dirty. He immediately asked Ayotunde to join him and they washed the car together. Three hours later, they were done with everything that needed to be cleaned in Mrs. Taiwo’s house. They told her they were about to leave and she asked them to have lunch before leaving. She had made rice and beans while they were working. Ayorinde said they were not hungry as he did not want to feel they were being greedy but Mrs. Taiwo insisted that they ate. She gave them five thousand naira and asked them to come again in two weeks.

 

Ayorinde and Ayotunde could not believe how their day had panned out. Their stomachs were full with food and the money they had received was beyond their imagination. When they arrived home, Ayorinde pulled Ayotunde to a corner of the house. He pulled out the money from his pocket and counted it again. It still felt like a dream to him. He smiled as his sister hugged him. “I will be able to go to secondary school.” She said with tears in her eyes.

“Yes, you will. Bring out your kolo, let’s keep four thousand in it. We don’t need to buy food today. I will keep one thousand in my own kolo.”

Ayorinde made his sister the custodian of their treasury so that seeing it would give her a hope for the future she desired.

They continued working for Mrs. Taiwo for the next three months and each time she paid them five thousand naira.

*****

When the forms for the state government colleges came out, Ayorinde broke his own kolo and counted nine thousand, five hundred naira. He purchased the form for his sister, filled it and submitted. Ayotunde wrote the exams and passed with high grades. She was overjoyed as she danced. Her dream of going to the secondary school was eventually coming to pass. The children informed their father of the good news and he gave a sad smile. How was he supposed to pay the school fees? He knew his children were working but it was a disgrace to him that he couldn’t afford to pay for their education. What he made from washing cars daily, he handed over to Kevwe to feed the family.

The next morning, Ayotunde woke up very early. She was excited. Today was the day she was going to break her kolo. She went to the corner of the room where she kept it. It wasn’t there. She assumed Ayorinde must have moved it. She tapped her brother and asked him.

“Your kolo is not where you keep it?” He asked her.

“No, it’s not there.” She replied as she began to tremble.

Ayorinde jumped up from the mattress. “I don’t understand. Did you change where you usually keep it?”

“No, I didn’t.” Ayotunde said as she began to cry. “It is always behind that curtain there.” She said pointing.

Ayorinde swept the curtain aside and began to turn everything upside down. He searched the whole room. Ayotunde’s kolo had disappeared.

——–

The story continues…

Fufu war

The closing prayer was said. The Amen was followed by students ducking under the table. Wrapped mounds of fufu began to fly in all directions. The culprits would raise their heads, fire a mound of fufu like an arrow and duck immediately. Anyone standing or not crouched under the table received a striking stab of fufu. The fufus were usually cold and hard and the strikes from one was indeed painful. Other students who refused to be part of the chaos ran out of the dining hall crouching.

The dining hall was built like a huge warehouse with awning windows and louvers situated at about 20 feet high. In the ensuing chaos, a junior student who had just joined the school some months before ran out of the dining hall with his plate in his hands. A mound of fufu struck the louvers above him and glass pieces came crashing down. The broken louver struck the boy on his calf and blood gushed out like an open tap.

The screams and cries of the hurt boy and other students who were escaping the dining chaos broke the fufu war immediately. Students rushed to carry the boy back into the dining while some went into first-aid mode immediately. A white T-shirt was torn and the boy’s leg was bound to stop the bleeding before he was rushed to the hospital by the principal.

The boy’s mother was contacted. She hurriedly went to see her injured son at the hospital and came to the school in anger. As she saw one of the housemaster’s, she rushed towards him and grabbed him by his shirt’s collar.

“Do you know how many months I carried this boy in my womb?
“Ë fé p’ömö fún mi?”
“You want to kill my child?” She screamed at the housemaster who was struggling to free himself from the woman’s hold.

“I carried him for thirty months. Do you know what I went through?” She continued in her rant.

The woman was held back by other housemasters who intervened and calmed her down. Two things however happened after; the fufu war came to an end and the junior student received a nickname “Omópénú”.

——

Photo Credit: https://www.cdkitchen.com

Forest living

I attended a secondary school that was surrounded by thick forests on three sides with no fences. The fourth side which was the school gate had farmlands opposite the school . The school was a natural habitat for rats, snakes (mambas and pythons), scorpions, beetles, crickets, millipedes, centipedes, soldier ants and termites.

I remember the day I was almost bitten by a scorpion. I was walking towards the back of the hostel after dinner with my friends to go shot-put. It was dark and I was carrying a lantern with me. As we were gisting and heading towards our mission, for some strange reason, I decided to take a step back. I turned the lantern towards the ground and right in front of me, where I was just about to place my feet was a scorpion with its sting facing up. I was terrified.

A black snake also fell on my shoulder in another incident. I even remember a student doing his morning duty of sweeping the administrative block when he felt a huge stone fall on his head. He assumed a friend was playing pranks and looked up but saw no one. Another look at the ground revealed that a snake had been the culprit.

A room mate packed her clothes which she had dried on the grass outside the hostel and carried a snake with the clothes. If I ever had any intention of drying my clothes on the grass; which I never did because of beetles and crickets, the incident that evening in my room ended such thought.

A senior boy once killed a large python and carried it on his shoulders like it was an award. A green snake which I assumed was a mamba slithered out of the field right in front of my friends and I when we were going for an afternoon prep.

Rats had a party running around in my hostel and also eating students feet. This happened mostly to students who went to bed with dirty feet. Students took joy in killing them but they gave the rodents a slow and tortuous death. The rats were caught and their tails were burnt in a lantern. Next, students put their whiskers into the lantern. It was funny hearing the cries of a rat. Trust me, their cries warned all other rats to stay away and for the next few weeks, we saw no rats in the hostel.

At night, after lights out, we often heard the cries of foxes in the forest. Their barks and cries were so loud on some days that we almost felt like they were right behind our room.

Different students had encounters with soldier ants and termites as they walked into their long armies. I learnt early to always look on the ground while walking to avoid becoming a victim.

A classmate had a weird liking for millipedes and she picked them up every time she saw one and caressed them like a baby……ewwww.

I look back today and I still wonder; how did we survive living in the midst of all these?

——
Photo Credit: http://www.canstock.com

Trees and their friends

The senior girl received the exeat from the school secretary. She had been given permission to take a sick junior girl home. She put the exeat in her uniform pocket as two of her classmates offered to see her off to the school gate. Two junior girls held the sick girl’s hands and walked ahead of the senior girl and her friends.

The senior girl stopped to have a chat with another set of friends and she informed them that she was taking a sick junior home. The junior girls and the sick girl had gotten to the gate but they had to wait for the senior girl who had the exeat so it could be presented to the gate man.

They decided to sit down under the palm tree that towered over the school gate while they chatted. The sick girl rested her head on the shoulders of one of the girls. A stalk from the palm tree fell on the shoulder of the second girl and she swiped it off with her hand. As the stalk fell to the floor, it circled round her feet. That is strange; she thought. She looked down at her feet to kick the stalk away and saw a thin long black snake at her feet. She screamed. The two girls and the sick girl jumped on their feet and ran.

The gate man ran towards them on hearing their screams. The girls pointed towards the location where they sat but the snake had slithered into a tiny hole in the ground. The experience remained indelible in the mind of the girl who had had the encounter with the snake and she made a mental note never to sit under palm trees.

——-

Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com

The Victim

Hey,

I’m sorry I could not start the new series on Monday. We had some technical glitches.

But not to worry; here’s bringing you a true story for this week.

Do enjoy!

———————————–

She was young and beautiful. She was the darling of everyone around. When she joined the boarding school with her elder sister, she was a boisterous soul.

But everything changed all of a sudden. She became a recluse. Depression set in and she became a shadow of herself.  Night time became a nightmare for her. She mentioned that some forces were oppressing her in the dead of the night but no one believed her. It wasn’t that they did not want to believe her. They were also scared and would rather she did not talk about it.

One night she was praying aloud. Most of the students in the dormitory could hear her because it was not yet lights out. She finished her prayer and expected others to join her in saying “Amen.” But most students were quiet. Her prayers were strange. She prayed not to experience another oppression that night. When she mentioned that if they did not say an “Amen”, they may be subjected to oppression, the whole dormitory immediately chorused an “Amen.”

The lights went out at 10.00pm and the whole hostel went to bed. A student in the same room as the oppressed girl stood up groggily in the dead of the night to use the restroom. She had no idea what time it was. She just wanted to use the restroom and go back to sleep. She sauntered back to her bed and was about dozing off when she heard the door to the dormitory open with force; almost like a wind had blown it open. She felt the hairs on her neck rise. She became scared and lay still in bed unable to look at the direction of the opened door.

Then it happened. She saw the oppressor hopping in on one leg with different little children also hopping behind her. She was an old woman. The student froze and could feel her heart in her mouth. She began to chant prayers in her mind; her lips unmoving so as not to attract attention to herself. The woman dispersed the children to different corners of the room with her hand.

The oppressed girl had not been lying. She was truly a victim of dark forces. The oppressed girl started crying but the student who had witnessed everything was too scared to say a word. The oppression was soon over but this time, there had been a witness.

The student related the experience to the oppressed girl’s elder sister the next morning and that ended their stay in the school.

——

Photo Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com

Blind Pact – Chapter 1

Bola is seated in the back seat of her father’s Peugeot 504 dressed in her red checked hostel uniform. Her father who is dressed in a navy blue buba and sokoto is standing outside the car while her mum sits quietly in the front passenger seat. A female porter walks towards the car to inform her father that Bola’s portmanteau has been placed at her corner. “Thank you”. Femi says as he dips his right hand into his sokoto. He hands over a five hundred naira note to the porter who dramatizes her thanks kneeling and bowing at the same time. “It is okay. It is okay”. Femi says in an attempt to dismiss her.

The porter walks away still looking back and bowing her head in thanks. Femi looks at his daughter and smiles. “Okay dear. It is time to go to your hostel”.

“Dad, I still have more time”. She pouts.

Her mother who had been quiet throughout the exchange looks back at Bola. “You know we have to get going. It’s a long drive back to Akure”.

“Yes mum”. Bola says unhappy as she steps out of the car.

Femi smiles as he touches her on the cheek. “Take care of yourself. No fighting…..”

“No troubles, no bickering and no gossips”. Bola finishes her father’s sentence.

Femi laughs. “Naughty girl. Anyway, have I settled you?” He asks.

“C’mon Femi, I thought you gave her some money at home”. Banke states.

“Mummy?”

“Yes?” Banke looks at her daughter with a stern face. “You keep spoiling her, Femi”. She says looking at her husband.

Femi smiles at his wife as he hands over some notes to Bola. “Be careful with it and spend wisely”.

“Thank you daddy”.

“What you have should be enough till your holidays?”

“Yes daddy. I love you”. Bola says hugging her father.

Femi nudges her and nods towards his wife. Bola walks towards her mum. She stands before her and smiles. “Mum, you know I love you, right?”

Banke stretches out her arms and Bola hugs her.

“Dad, don’t forget our holidays are in three weeks’ time. I’ll be expecting you”.

“Of course”. He says smiling. “Now off to your hostel, Senior Bola”.

They all laugh as Femi gets into the car. He starts the engine and Bola waves as they drive off. When they go out of sight, she walks towards her hostel.

*********

It is 3.00p.m on a Sunday. The students have just had lunch and are meant to be observing their siesta. While some lie on their beds reading, some sit in a corner gossiping while some are sleeping. The room has five double bunk beds making a total of ten girls in the room. Bola’s bunk is at the far end of the room. She lies on her bed reading a tract. She had earlier in the day attended the student fellowship organized by one of the Pentecostal churches which had a mission to youths, especially secondary school students. It was her first time attending and she had been blessed. She had been given the tract on her way out and she had shoved it in her uniform pocket. After reading it, she gets into a kneeling position on her bed and prays the sinner’s prayer written behind the tract. She smiles as she opens her eyes. Joy fills her heart and she can’t wait to inform her parents about the good news during her next holiday.

 

Bola’s parents are overwhelmed with joy when she shares the good news with them. They had been invited to an interdenominational programme a week before and they had also accepted Jesus and surrendered their lives to Him. It was a joyous day as Bola and her parents lock in each other’s embrace, praying and sharing from their bibles.

The one week holiday comes to an end and Bola is about to leave for school. She drags her portmanteau into the living room. She is dressed in her hostel uniform. “Mummy, Daddy, I am ready”. She calls out to her parents.

“A minute, please”. Banke replies from inside.

Bola rolls her eyes and shakes her head. She knows a minute for her mum is equal to thirty.

Femi steps into the living room trying to wear his wrist watch.

“Let me help you with that”. Bola says as she walks towards her father. When she is done, she looks up at her dad. “You know mum will take forever to get dressed, right?”

Femi laughs. “Better don’t let her hear that”. He says whispering.

Bola smiles.

“Your mum and I will be travelling next week. We should be back in a week. We would check on you on our way back from the airport”.

Bola looks at her dad sheepishly.

Femi sees her expression and laughs. “I know. I will get your chocolates”.

“Did I hear you talking about getting chocolates there?” Banke asks as she walks into the living room.

Bola looks at her mum with a wide grin.

“We are running late. We should go now”. Femi pulls his wife by the hand as he turns her towards the door. He picks up Bola’s portmanteau and winks at her. They both share a smile of victory.

 

Two weeks later, Bola is summoned to the Principal’s office. As she is ushered in by his secretary, she notices that the secretary avoids looking at her face. She wonders why the lady is quiet today. She is usually very chatty. The principal looks up from a stack of newspapers on his table as she walks in. The glasses on his face looks like it will fall off any minute but he pushes it back with his forefinger. He forces a smile which end on his lips. It does not reach his eyes.

“Good afternoon sir”.

“Afternoon Bola, please sit down”.

Bola begins to fidget. She has never been summoned to the principal’s office. She wonders if she has committed an offence. Her eyes are trained on the principal’s face.

blind-pact-1

The principal looks at her. “Your parents asked that we grant you permission to go home”.

Bola has a worried look on her face. “Go home? I don’t understand, sir. They promised to check on me on their way back from the airport”.

“Yes, I was told. They could not make it and decided that you came home instead”.

“I…sir….”

“I would personally drop you at home. You can go back to your hostel now to pick up your bag”.

“Okay sir”. Bola stands up. She is confused as she walks out of the principal’s office. It was strange that her parents would ask her to come home.

 

As she eases into the front passenger seat of the principal’s Mercedez Benz 230, the driver kicks the engine. The principal is seated in the owner’s corner behind.

“Excuse me sir, I hope there is nothing wrong. My parents have never sent for me like this”. Bola asks turning back to look at the principal’s face.

“Bola, you would be fine”.

She knows the principal knows more than he is saying but he is refusing to give her more information. She has a bad feeling about this but she cannot place her finger on it. She has no choice but to wait till she gets home. In the meantime, she can only do one thing. She clasps her palms together and says a silent prayer to God.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.deecrowseer.wordpress.com

Blind Pact – Prologue

“Lord, what have I done wrong? Why is this happening to me? Where did I miss it? I need your help, Lord. Please strengthen me”.

Prologue

Banke looks at her daughter helplessly. Tears pool in her eyes as she sees her hurting. “Bola, I understand how you feel. But you cannot continue to beat yourself over this”. Banke says holding her daughter’s hands as she struggles to put her own emotions in check. She wishes she could erase the pain her daughter is going through. How did the course of their lives suddenly go downhill?

Bola looks at her mum but sees no one. Her mind is faraway. Tears stream down her cheeks and her mother looks away trying to hide her own tears which were beginning to make its way down her face. I have to be strong for her. I cannot breakdown. Oh Lord, please help her ease her pain. She closes her eyes as she does a little prayer within the confines of her heart.

Bola kneels down in a bid to pray but breaks down into uncontrollable tears. “Oh God, why-why do I have-have to suffer this-this way?” She struggles to say in between body wracking sobs.

If only the last few days of her life could be erased. If only destiny would allow her remake the turn of events in her life. If only her life could go back to being perfect the way it was about three years ago.

********

Three years ago, Bola attended an upscale secondary school in Lagos state. She was in Grade 12 and was preparing to write her certificate exams in a few months. Being the only child of her parents, they doted on her and gave her all she desired. She lacked nothing and in return, she ensured that her parents were never disappointed. She gave her best in her academics and stood out among her peers. She was the typical well-behaved, obedient and good child.

———
Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

In the land of the living

Her fork dropped to the floor. She continued chatting with her friends as she bent down to pick it up from under the table. She was smiling at what one of them had said and was about to respond. Suddenly, her smile turned into shock. There were hooves on the other side of the table. Her friends sat across from her. How come they had hooves instead of human legs?

She slowly raised her head from the table and everywhere turned dark. It was daylight just before her fork dropped to the floor. What happened to her friends who were having breakfast with her just now in the dining hall? She heard wicked laughter. She screamed and ran out of the hall as fast as her legs could carry her.

In the land of the living

She did not stop until she got back to her room in the girls hostel. Even the gates of the hostel had been open. It was usually locked at night by the house mistress. All the friends she saw some minutes ago in the dining hall lay on their beds sleeping quietly oblivious to her predicament. She burst into tears and awoke a few. One by one, they woke the others.

She had been sleeping on her bed. Her friends had woken her up informing her that the wake-up bell had rung. She had not heard it. She had hurriedly taken her bath, done her morning duty and gone with her friends to the dining hall for breakfast. Nothing had seemed different. Everything was a normal routine.

She was pulled out of the school by her parents after that term. She had become paranoid. She jumped at every sound and was always hysterical.

What actually happened? No one knows.

It could best be described as a horror movie.

Photo credit: https://www.teenink.com

CUSTOMER SERVICE AS A SCHOOL SUBJECT.

Have you walked into an organization to receive a service and the personnel attending to you picked up a call on his/her mobile phone and started chatting away without regard for you? Have you walked into a bank and greeted a teller who frowns back with a response or probably ignored your greeting? Have you purchased an item in a service company and when it is time to get your change, you are told “I don’t have change, ma/sir”? Have you called an organization on the telephone and asked to receive a service and you are told to call the mobile phone of the staff who is meant to render the service. I am sure a number of us can relate with these scenarios.

Some time ago, a customer service personnel in a bank refused to look at me while he attended to me. In my part of the country, we say “Ojú lòró wà – Talk is in the face (literal meaning)”. You communicate better when you look at the person you are talking to. The excuse I got from his boss later (who by the way was also clueless) was that he was fasting and did not want to look at a woman.

Really??? My response to his boss was that he should have taken some days off work during his fast, since his mind was so small. Alternatively, he should have asked to be moved to another department for the period of his fast where he does not have to look at a woman. Ridiculous, right?

I think customer service should be a subject taught in secondary schools. Secondary schools because, not everyone has the opportunity to attend a tertiary institution. Secondly, for those without this opportunity who go straight into the labour market, their mindsets would have been ingrained with the ethics of customer service.

It is sad and annoying when a customer service personnel treats you like you are being done a favour. Without the customer, would they still be in employment? It would make a lot of difference if all organizations went an extra mile to provide quality customer service ‘cos as they say “The customer is King”.