It was Ayo’s first day as a secondary school student and also in a new school. She reminded herself of the first day she was there. It was just three weeks ago during the summer break, when she came with her mom to register as a J. S. S 1 Student. On that day, she had written the school’s entrance examination as a determining factor to either accept or reject her. She was lucky to have scraped a little above the pass mark. Anyways, she was offered admission a week after that and was informed to begin registration in earnest. Since then, she hadn’t returned to the premises until today.
Judging by the standard and look of the school, it’s a school for the average family, built on a 3-plot land. It has a U-shaped structure. It is a three floor building with enough classrooms, library, 2 school halls, a dining hall, 2 staff rooms, enough offices, laboratories and so much more. Its sporting facilities are accurately equipped and the teachers are well qualified. The low cost tuition fee was the essential reason, Mrs. Cole had chosen the school for her child and Ayo knew this too.
Standing in front of the school’s gate and trying to compare it with her former school, was Ayo. Lizben School is far better than this. She furrowed her forehead as various students walked past her in a rush. She realized she was the only one who stood out. Others were in green and yellow uniformed dress, while she was in one of her Sunday best wears. She tried not to think about it because she knew soon enough, she would also be in the same uniform as them. She allowed her mind to wander off to the predicaments that led her to this point. Even though she didn’t quite understand all her mother had told her; one thing was certain in her mind, it began with the death of her beloved father. The mere thought of that brought tears to eyes and she drew it back in to avoid being seen by passers by.
The jingle of the bell interrupted Ayo’s thought followed by a loud cry “Assembly time!” It was then she realized she had been standing outside the school gate since she arrived there about 15 minutes ago. She immediately ran inside the school compound and made to join the others on the assembly ground but was suddenly stopped by a voice.
“Drop your bag there!” the voice commanded.
“Why?” Ayo retorted.
“Because you’re late!”
“But the bell was just jingled,” Ayo said, not wanting to concede. She didn’t want to put her bag on the floor. She has never had reason to do so.
“And so! You came in after that, which means you are late”
The voice stopped her as she made to talk again. The owner of the voice was getting infuriated by the girl’s audacity. Ayo on the other hand wasn’t ready to give in to a fellow student just because she’s new. What she didn’t know was that the student in front of her isn’t just any student but the head boy of the school.
“Who are you?” Ayo asked not minding the student in front of her.
“My name is Bayo and I’m the” – he didn’t want to tell her he is the head boy just yet – “I am a prefect in this school and if you don’t obey me, I will have no choice but to report you to the teacher in charge.”
“Please don’t!” Ayo pleaded. She hurriedly dropped her belongings and made to proceed to the assembly hall but Bayo stopped her again and warned her not to be stubborn on her first day in a new school. With this warning, he allowed her to go.
Bayo has been the head boy of Nightingale Academy since the inception of its secondary school in 2010. He was appointed the head boy mainly because of his brilliance and capability to lead. He was at the gate post that morning because the prefect on gate duty wasn’t around. He had not planned to meet such a girl that morning and to be honest, he felt a bit intimidated by her.
Meanwhile, Ayo couldn’t stop thinking of her encounter with Bayo. She knew deep down within herself that it wasn’t the fact that he was a senior student nor that he is a prefect that made her obey him. If not for the mention of him reporting to a teacher, she knew she wouldn’t have complied. One thing she dreaded most was being disciplined by a teacher solely because she has never been disciplined by one. At this moment, Ayo missed her previous school, Lizben nursery and primary school.
Lizben School is mainly a school for the rich and Ayo’s late father could afford the fees. The school does not discipline its students in any form for the fear of the ward’s parents. Ayo loved and missed the school for that. But here in her new school, as she was informed by her mother, the teachers discipline the student. For this reason, she was scared when Bayo mentioned the word, “teacher.”
‘Would I ever get used to this condition,’ she thought. She joined in, behind the line of JSS 1 students. Not later than she joined did the girl in front of her switched positions and moved to the back.
“I like the back better,” the girl whispered into Ayo’s ears.
Ayo had no time to argue. She wasn’t one that enjoyed staying at the back of the line. In fact, all through her primary education in her old school, she has never gone farther than the first three students on a line. But on this day, she would have loved to be at the end of the line, and be overshadowed by the tallness of the girl now standing behind her. Other students in front weren’t as tall and herself was no less. So being behind the tall one would have been a good cover but it’s been taken away from her.
“Please come forward,” another girl said.
Ayo who was still trying to adjust to her new position on the line, heard the plea of the girl in front of her and was going to refuse her but the girl’s mean look made her obliged. Ayo wondered why she had bothered saying please. She could have just done like the other girl. This switch in positions continued until Ayo found herself in the middle of the line and it stayed that way, longer than the rest. She had thought it was over and was getting comfortable when the one in front of her, fat and having a round face, turned and smiled. Ayo didn’t wait for her to say anything before she jumped the line.
“I was going to ask you to come forward,” the girl said, from behind her. “But thank you!”
Ayo however didn’t respond and only hoped she would not be pushed to the front.
“You are the new girl everyone’s been talking about?” the girl kept on. “So, you are in our class?”
‘Isn’t that obvious,’ Ayo thought but kept quiet instead. She wondered how the girl managed to avoid the watchful eyes of the teachers to their left. However, she dreaded being the scapegoat and maintained her silence. Still, the girl kept talking.
“Do you ever stop talking?” Ayo said at last but she had said louder than she thought she did.
“Hey! Miss, please come forward,” a voice echoed from the podium at the far front of the line.
Just before Ayo could react to this call, she heard the girl whisper again. “Of course! I stop talking at times like this.”
“Hey! You there, come to the podium,” the principal’s repeated his statement and this too, found its way through Ayo’s discarded mind. She could hear someone talking but she didn’t know the owner of the voice was pointing directly at her, or she doesn’t want it to be her. Then, the girl behind tapped her gently. Ayo was infuriated, not because of the touch but of calling her attention to something she was trying to ignore. Now, everyone knows it’s her the principal is referring to.As if that wasn’t enough, the girl added, “He’s talking to you.”“Me?” Ayo asked, as if shocked by the girl’s word.“Are you deaf or what?” The principal adjusted his glasses to make sure he’s looking in the right direction. “You without the school uniform.”Ayo, knowing fully well she was the only one not wearing the school uniform, realized there’s no
After that brief moment of triumph for Ayo, the vice principal, Mrs. Smith, read out the school rules and regulations from the school’s handbook, among which are; lateness and laziness are not allowed, obey your senior at all time.“Failure to comply with these rules attract punishment to the deterrent.” She looked up at the students. “I mean appropriate punishment from the disciplinary committee.”Ayo knew she had violated two of those rules just this morning, her first day in school. She dreaded the idea of the senior students eventually reporting to a teacher. Yet, she felt at ease, owing to the likeness she believed they all have towards her.‘If only my mom had enough money to pay for my school’s transport! If only I didn’t have to change my school! If only we didn’t move from our old house! If only my dad was still alive!’ Ayo muttered to herself, taking herself down the memory
“Who is Ayomide Cole!?” A male student strolled into JSS 1B, uninvited.Ayo froze where she sat. 'What is it again?' she lamented. She couldn’t even raise her head up, as she recalled the face of the intruder. Getting into trouble with him that morning was just a misdeed and she wanted nothing more than to apologize. Maybe, he eventually reported her to a teacher. She got more tense just at the mere thought of that. Was she going to be caned today? She buried her face on her desk.“I asked who is Ayomide?,” Bayo, the senior student Ayo encountered at the gate, repeated.“It’s her!” A girl yelled, pointing directly at Ayo.Both Bayo and Ayo traced the owner of the voice. Ayo noticed it was the same fat girl, who wouldn’t stop talking in the assembly that morning. ‘What kind of girl is this for God’s sake?’Bayo on the other hand traced the pointing finger of the girl who s
It was about 2 PM before Mrs. Cole got to work that day. She proceeded to her boss’ office, without delay, to let him know she had arrived. Her boss, Mr. Badmus was not happy about her late arrival. Though, he was aware she went to her daughter’s school and he had permitted her to go. But he never expected her to arrive this late when it’s just 2 hours to closing.“I thought you promised to be at the office before 12,” Mr. Badmus said, rather calmly. He didn’t want to upset her. He knew all about what she has faced and what she is still facing. She saw him as her comforter and benefactor. Still yet, as her boss, he ought to let her know what she did wasn’t right.“This is past two, and you are just coming in!” he queried. “You know it’s not polite.”“Please sir, I’m really sorry. It wasn’t totally my fault. The traffic was just too much,” explained Mrs. Cole. “B
Ayo couldn’t wait for school to be over. To her, the time was getting slower by the minute. She knew her mates were talking about her and she could not wait to get out of the class. Throughout the rest of the lesson for that day, she paid less attention. She just wanted to get home. Not only did she want to avoid them, worms are beginning to bite at her stomach. All thanks to her timid self for making her lunch spill. At that moment of thoughts, she heard the jingle of the bell.“At last, it’s 2 O’clock,” Ayo stated.“Are you in a hurry to get home?” Bukky asked curiously.“Not really.” She carried her backpack and lunch bag.” I just want to get away from school.” She walked past Bukky briskly on her way out of the classroom. After she left the class, she went to stand by one of the school buses on which ‘School Bus 3’ was written boldly. She has been told earlier by the
When Bayo got home, he became restless. He couldn’t help but think about the events of the day, which had left his mind at a cliff. From when he pardoned a junior student to when he was told to call the same student. He was even surprised she was in a B-class, judging from how his classmates had praised her. They just wouldn’t stop talking about how brave she was, that morning. He was she most of them had exaggerated but he had no choice but to listen, since he wasn’t there to witness it himself.That same Monday, he had also encountered a woman while on gate duty, one that wasn’t his. The striking resemblance of the Nightingale girl, as she was now called, and the unknown woman didn’t escape his notice. And he couldn’t help but think she was her daughter. The woman had even complimented him without him knowing her. She had also told him to take care of her daughter like her big brother and smiled down at him. In his mind, he
Knock! Knock!! Knock!!!This was the sound Ayo heard from her sleep. She stood up reluctantly and realized she had slept off without even reading the book with her. The book which was not soaked with her sweat. She still couldn’t believe she fell asleep, as she stood up reluctantly to open the door. Ayo was one who had always loved reading and had never fallen asleep while doing what she loved best. But everything had dramatically changed since the death of her father. Sleeping was now her regular habit and she loved it. It helps to ease the painful memories she felt. Especially that one Sunday when the death of her father hit her like a hurricane. Loneliness was also one of the reasons she took to sleeping on days like this. On that day, she had also slept in class but blamed it on the constant staring of her classmates.“Ayo, are you in there?” Bukky shouted. “Or did I come to the wrong apartment?”Just then the door creaked
Mr. Badmus got home a couple of minutes after he dropped Mrs. Cole off at her house. He was late than usual and he knew he had a lot to explain to his son. But on entering the house, he saw no one in the sitting room. It was where his son usually sat to await his arrival. He decided to go to his son’s room to see if he was asleep. He found him reading a book instead. Bayo was so engrossed that he didn’t notice his father, standing at the door to his room. Though, he heard him drive into the compound but he decided not to go and welcome him.“Bayo!” Mr. Badmus called after standing at the entrance for about a minute, realizing that his son hadn’t seen him and probably didn’t hear him come in.“Oh! Daddy, you are back! Welcome sir,” he greeted without much enthusiasm, as he was used to whenever his father returned from work. His father, who was still standing by the door, remains unchanged by his son’s r