“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 denying this. Before she could utter any word, the principal ordered her out to stand right in front of her fellow students. She climbed up to the podium slowly with fear enveloping her thoughts. Not only was she scared, she was also ashamed. No one had told her she would be made an example of, else she wouldn’t have resumed on the first day.
Ayo, who had always been a carefree girl, without worries and had never experienced what was happening to her that morning, couldn’t imagine herself having a stage fright. She had always loved being the center of attraction and in her old school, she never failed to do just that, as per her academic excellence. But today, on her first day in a new school, she was being singled out for the direct opposite of this.
Prior to Ayo’s thought, the principal said, “Kindly tell us the meaning of Nightingale.”
“Night-in-gale!” she pronounced the word as though it were three separate words. She hadn’t expected that but here it was. It took composure for her to gather her thoughts into that single word but still, it broke into three.
The senior students burst into laughter when they heard her. The JSS 1 students didn’t know the cause of their laughter but some of them could be seen smiling. This, weakened Ayo’s enthusiasm to speak and went dumb for seconds.
“Quiet everyone!” the vice principal, who has been quiet since the beginning of the assembly that morning, commanded.
“Nightingale,” the principal corrected Ayo, ignoring the student’s laughter.
The principal, Mr. Gbadamosi is a man of discipline. He never tolerates indiscipline, especially in the part of his students. It’s been his tradition every session, since he joined the school, to ask the new intakes the meaning of Nightingale, which happens to be the name of the school. Every session has always been the same, no JSS 1 student has been able to provide the correct meaning. Then, he will always take it upon himself to tell them the meaning but he has never met one who could not even pronounce the word, let alone give the meaning. He was amazed and was already planning on the best discipline method when he heard the girl’s voice for the second time that day.
“Singing bird,” Ayo said. “It means the bird that sings melodiously. It serves as the subject in a given sentence. Example! Nightingale flew…”
Applause from the senior students rented the air and consumed the rest of Ayo’s word. The principal, on the other hand, was astonished. He couldn’t believe that the girl whom he corrected just now, on the pronunciation of Nightingale, could actually know its meaning. The whole student in the assembly hall was quiet. If a pin drops at that moment, it won’t escape the hearing of both teachers and students of Nightingale Academy. The JSS 1 students were oblivious to the happenings around them and were made to join in the unending applause, at the signal of the principal.
Right from the moment she answered the question, Ayo knew she was right. She remembered reading it somewhere in a story book. ‘Nightingale flew across the sky.’ That was the sentence she was going to state, before it was cut short. She could remember vividly. As inquisitive as she was, she’d immediately checked up the meaning of the word in her dictionary. Still, when the students applauded, Ayo let out a soft smile. Nonetheless, she wanted to leave the podium as quickly as she could but it seems the principal has other plans.
“What’s your name, young girl?” Mr. Gbadamosi, the principal, demanded interestingly.
“Ayo!” she responded immediately, as if the question would automatically take her back to her line or so she thought.
“Ayo?” He repeated. He wanted to scold her but acted otherwise. “You need to tell your name and surname, my dear. You’re not among your friends.” He bent a little to peer into her worried face.
“My name is Ayomide Cole,” she responded with a smile.
“Okay! I see you have potential. Keep it up,” he commended. “It’s good to have you in our school. Go back to your line.”
Ayo kept smiling as she descended the podium. All eyes happen to be on her and she feared she was going to miss a step if they kept on. She decided to stop at the front of the line instead of going back, only to avoid the fat talkative she had encountered previously. The girl in front of the JSS 1 line happens to be the shortest and Ayo immediately understood why she was placed in front.
“I’m Funmilayo but most people call me Funmi,” the short girl introduced and offered her hand. Ayo took it and smiled coyly. “Mind staying in front,” she offered.
Ayo looked at her and assumed they would be of the same height but she didn’t want to be the first in line so she opted to stay behind her instead. ‘’Excuse me please!” she told the girl behind Funmi but the girl seemed not to be willing. She happens to be the first, who wouldn’t want someone to be in front of her. Ayo, in the previous school she attended, wouldn’t have conceded either. She was going to move to the next girl when Funmi pleaded with the other girl to let her stay.
“Thank you,” Ayo thanked the girl and smiled. She smiled back and that happened to be the best feeling since Ayo stepped foot into the school.
‘Could it be I’m beginning to like this school,’ she thought.
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
It was a Monday morning in Nightingale Academy. The school felt like it was mourning the death of someone, with the downcast look of virtually all the students. They had just completed their Midterm test, the week before and the results were out. Most of them already knew their fate, hence the face. The principal was not impressed either, with the performance. That fateful morning, after usual programs for that morning’s assembly, led by the vice principal, the students were once again vibrant. They chanted the marching in song with glee on their faces, prior to their previous melancholy look.“We are marching to our classesTo receive understandingFor learning is better than ...”They chanted joyfully.“Halt,” the principal commanded. They all stopped marching and singing at the same time. “Where are you marching too! No, tell me! Where are you marching to with dull heads!“Good