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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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EZE GOES TO SCHOOL (Episode 19)

Ibuka enveloped me with his arms. “Don’t cry, e hear? Everything will be alright.”

I seriously doubted it, but I let myself be consoled.

However, my disconsolation did not lift throughout that day. No matter how hard I tried – and I didn’t try very hard – my despair stayed locked inside me, reaching out gloomy fingers to snuff out any flicker of elation I felt at any moment. Joseph would tell a joke, I would start to laugh, and then a kaleidoscope of images would flash through my mind’s eye. Sir AA ordering me out of the class. Sir AA marking my script. Sir AA handing me my test paper. A bold, red-penned ‘Zero’ staring back at me.

And my laughter would become stillborn.

“Eze, cheer up nah,” Ibuka groaned for what must have been the umpteenth time. It was Friday afternoon, a few minutes to the end of break-time, and we were loitering on the pavement beside the door of JSS3B.

“Leave him joor,” Joseph snapped. “Let him keep doing face like shit.” Yes, Joseph had long since stopped being apologetic for what happened. He walked into the classroom.

“Joe, don’t talk like that,” Ibuka chided after him. “He just needs something big to cheer him up.”

I hmmph-ed and rolled my eyes.

“Yes nah,” Ibuka maintained. “It will be alright, I keep telling you. You just need something to take your mind away from what happened.”

“Come-come-come…” Joseph was back outside, his eyes shining with glee. “I have found what will cheer you up, Eze. Come and hear what the girls are saying about Senior Uduak.”

Ibuka disliked gossip. I was feeling sullen. But in spite of ourselves, we hurried after Joseph into the classroom. There was a cluster of my classmates – girls – in one corner, some sitting, some others standing, and the atmosphere around them was astir with the tension of those peddling something scandalous.

“Heu! Ashiri gbakwute!” Amaka burst out with a clap of her hands, as we edged closer. “Tatiana – tufiagi – you can like to talk. How are you sure now that Senior Uduak is pregnant?”

The three of us froze, and our faces sharpened with interest.

“Of course, I’m sure,” Tatiana Ekeh protested. She was a wisp of a girl, unattractive, buck-toothed with vicious little eyes that seemed to know everything about everyone. She was also a notorious gossip, and in JSS2, Bola from Ibuka’s class had irritably nicknamed her ‘tatafo’. The moniker stuck. “See this girl oh,” she continued, her small lips peeling back from her buck teeth in what was supposed to be a knowing smile, but looked like a grimace. “I heard when she was discussing it with my school mother. You know, she and Senior Ugochi, my school mother, are five and six.”

The remark sanctioned her story as the truth, and the girls standing around her leaned in with more interest.

“Ehen, so, what now come and happen?” a girl said from her right.

“Hmm, she was vomiting, vomiting. Every morning. And you people kukuma know that vomiting in the morning is a sign that you don carry belle.”

“Eeh, it’s true,” Njideka piped up. “I saw it in that film that Ini Edo acted – what is the name again oh? Ini Edo was just vomiting anyhow, and that’s how her mother now come and know she is pregnant.”

“You see? Plus I heard her telling Senior Ugochi that she has not seen her period.”

The girls drew a collective sharp gasp.

I looked a question at my friends. Her period? Ibuka returned a blank stare to me. Joseph grinned and winked. He would explain later.

“Who now come and impregnate her?” another girl asked the very important question.

All eyes turned to Tatafo aka Tatiana for the answer. She smirked and said, “Hmm, I hear she has many SS3 boyfriends. And even some boyfriends in town sef. You know these Calabar girls and how they use to do.”

The girls nodded, as though perfectly understanding ‘these Calabar girls and how they use to do.’

“Tatiana, that’s a lie,” Anulika interjected reprovingly from where she sat beside Amaka. Her voice drew my loving gaze on her instantly. “That’s a lie. You and your talk-talk sef.”

“What do you mean – I’m not lying!” The girl shot Anulika an affronted glare.

“Eh, what you’re saying is not true nah,” Anulika insisted. “Senior Uduak does not have plenty boyfriends. She has only one – Senior Darlington.”

“Who is Senior Darlington abeg?” one girl wanted to know.

“He’s that tall, black Senior in Peace House,” another girl supplied, “that use to go everywhere with Head Boy.”

“Oh that one. He’s fine sha. So he’s the one doing boyfriend and girlfriend with Senior Uduak.”

“Eh, they have do finish, and now she is pregnant.”

Everyone broke out into a fit of sniggers. The school bell tolled just then, signaling the end of break time. The gossipy crowd dispersed. The classroom began to fill up. Ibuka left, Joseph and I went to our seats, and I returned to my funk.

The next day was Saturday. After breakfast, the three of us started for the staff quarters. Ibuka’s guardian, Mrs. Kanayo, made pancakes every Saturday morning, and we had an open invitation to her dining table.

It rained last night, and the morning’s atmosphere was brisk and slightly chilly. Neighbourhood creatures rustled about in the bushes that flanked the pathway we were trekking on. We chattered until we broke out unto an avenue of the staff quarters. At this time, the neighbourhood was relatively quiet; the only sounds we could hear were the intermittent calls of birds, the distant rush of water and the occasional squeals of children from the houses nearby. The houses were boxy bungalows with lawns and graveled driveways, separated from each other by low hedges. The lineup of houses at the end of the street was the residence of corpers, and we were cutting across the backyard of one of the buildings when the backdoor was jerked open.

“Baby, wait,” a male voice carried through the open doorway, “wait, let’s discuss this–”

“There’s nothing more to talk about,” a female voice cut in, and her figure emerged.

The man followed quickly after, saying, “Baby, wait, just wait. Ah-ah, don’t go like this.” His hands pulled her body close to his and his head bent toward hers. She struggled feebly. “Stop nah,” he murmured. “Let me kiss you small.” And he did, claiming her mouth with a touch that made her melt into his embrace and cling to him. She kissed him back, and for a while, the quietude was disturbed only with the sucking sounds of their kiss and their heavy breathing.

We stood, transfixed, our eyes rounded with astonishment as we watched Corper Anderson kiss Senior Uduak.

For several moments, they kissed, oblivious to our presence. Then they broke the embrace and turned around. And saw us. And froze. They stared at us and we stared back at them. Something slithered in a nearby underbrush. Male voices roared in sudden laughter in the neighbouring house. A flock of birds took flight from a tree branch in a sudden flurry. And time returned to the five pairs of eyes staring at each other.

Then Joseph smiled. The smile progressed slowly and smugly across his face, sweet enough to send a diabetic into a coma. And he said in a voice that was perfectly – and suspiciously – innocent, “Sir AA, good morning. Senior Uduak, good morning.”

Both of them mumbled something incoherent that could have been a greeting. Or could have been something else.

Joseph continued brightly, “Sir, we were just coming to your house to know if you’ve finished marking our English test you gave us on Thursday.”

The corper’s face was stony and his voice flat as he said, “No, Joseph, I haven’t.”

“OK, sir. We just wanted to make sure that we – me and Eze – passed.” He dropped a delicate stress on the last word, and pointedly glanced at Senior Uduak, before saying, “Ibu, let us go to your guardian’s house.” He started forward, and we followed, astounded by the boy’s audacity and trying hard not to laugh at the expressions of outrage and mortification that were etched on the faces of Sir AA and senior Uduak respectively.

On Monday morning, during English period, Sir AA distributed our scored English test papers. 8/10 was boldly scrawled with a red pen on my paper. Joseph got the same score. That made us very happy.

And during break time, when I asked Tatafo for the latest on Senior Uduak’s pregnancy news, she said dismissively, “Mscheeewww! She’s no longer pregnant jaré. She saw her period on Saturday. That senior Darlington is a lucky guy. He dodged a bullet.”

No, Sir AA is the lucky guy, I thought. He’s the one who dodged a bullet.Eze Goes To School

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16 Comments

  1. chika

     /  August 22, 2013

    BADOOO! Whew! Dat was close oh…Corper Anderson

    Reply
  2. Excellency

     /  August 22, 2013

    What a twist… Blackmail?! Now, where did Joe learn dat from? Well I guess we get blackmails cos someone 4got to keep it white…
    Nice one Waltz, keep ’em coming…

    Reply
  3. kene kingsley

     /  August 22, 2013

    Mehn…..What a twist to the story….
    9ce one Walter…

    Reply
  4. Toby wildsaint

     /  August 22, 2013

    Hmmm..,,,Nice story..kinda TWISTED

    Reply
  5. Sallie

     /  August 22, 2013

    Heuu! Joe joe is a crook oooooo! *cackling*

    Reply
  6. You are just good Walter! I love the intrigues with its unexpected turn and twist!

    What a subtle way to threaten your teacher and get away with it! Hilarious jare my bro. Kudos

    Reply
  7. nik

     /  August 22, 2013

    no belle again? was waiting for the scandal. now anderson wont find trouble again cos joey knowssssss

    Reply
  8. Folu

     /  August 22, 2013

    Nice one, walter. She, na the abridged abi na reviewed version of this story go go to print ooo because shildren of nowadays get sense pass their grand papa ooo. So, we wont be showing them how to blackmail and to subvert authority. Well, just my take.

    Reply
  9. anderson

     /  August 23, 2013

    You. Sneaky. Bastard. Wait till I catch u. Meanwhile, nice tale.

    Reply
  10. Adeline Kasper.

     /  August 30, 2013

    Hehehe! Corper! corper!!

    Reply
  11. Maureen

     /  September 3, 2013

    My first tot exactly @ Anderson when I saw d corper’s name, and the description that followed.
    tho it seemed nobody pieced that together.
    Uchenna jisike 🙂

    Reply
  12. I intended to hold every comment till I’ve read the latet episode available but the twist in this one cannot be passed by without saying an emphaticWELL DONE. One day, I hope soon, I will write as good as you do.

    I doff my hat.

    Reply

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