Unexpected Turn

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 lane on why she was late that morning. But here she was, with only one reason as zero choice. Her mom had told her that she would have to be trekking the distance to and from school every day, as she couldn’t afford to pay the tuition fee, let one for transport. Ayo doubts if she could cope. ‘If only school wasn’t a necessity!’

As the students marched into their classes, Ayo paid no attention to what was going on around her. She just followed Funmilayo, all the way to JSS 1A classroom. She had even taken a seat behind the latter and was already indulging in a conversation with her, which was more of getting to no one another, when a lady came by. The class went dead as soon as she entered.

“New girl!” she gestured towards Ayo. “You are meant to be in the other class. 1B. Pack your things and join them now.” She informed her.

As soon as the female instructor left, the whole students burst into a roar of laughter and Ayo was ignorant of the reason. All she knew was they were laughing and pointing at her. Some even called her brilliant dullard. She thought she was finally liking it here but making jest of her wasn’t just part of what she bargained for. Ayo ignored them, while she looked around her in search of her backpack and lunch bag. It was then she remembered she had left them at the gate. Some of them were still laughing and this only brought tears to Ayo’s innocent face. Even Funmilayo, whom she thought she'd found a friend in, couldn’t stop laughing as she hung her head low and walked out of the classroom to get her things at the gate.

Reluctantly, Ayo proceeded to the gate. She prayed silently that she doesn’t encounter senior Bayo. That way, nothing would be added to her current situation. She got to the gate in no time and the scene she met was worse than meeting Bayo. Her backpack was covered in dust and some of her books were laying on the floor. As if that wasn’t enough, her lunch bag wasn’t what it was when she left home. It was unrecognizable, even to her eyes, while the food flask was also out of its place and turned over. As Ayo neared the scene, she feared her presumption becoming real but it is what it is. The meal her mother had carefully packed that morning was now mixed with grains of sand on the floor.

“So, you own this?” a voice startled her.

She hadn’t seen the man before. Judging by his appearance and uniform, he appears to be the security guard in charge of the gate.

“You should have come to take this immediately after the assembly,” he advised.

Ayo thanked him, while she packed her books and dusted her backpack. She returned her flask to the normal position, in her lunch bag, leaving the spilled over food. “Do you have a broom sir?” she asked the guard.

“Just leave it! The janitor will come take care of it.”

“No sir!” Ayo protested. “I made this mess, I should take care of it.” Ayo has learnt from her mother that cleanliness is next to godliness and as a well-mannered girl, she shouldn’t let others do what she was meant to, irrespective of the situation. Prior to their previous status in the society, Mrs. Cole never hired help in the house and made Ayo do things herself such as cleaning. Ayo took a look at the mess in the sand and repeated, “I’ll clean it sir!”

“You should go now! Class would have started. Besides you mustn’t be seen here at this hour.”

Ayo sighed and could only imagine what would befall her if the man’s word was true. She thanked the man and hurriedly left for JSS 1B.

***

Ayo’s mother, after the death of her husband, had managed to secure a job as a clerk in an organization, far from their new home and well into the city. She was employed based on the knowledge of computer training she acquired during her pre-university days. Before her husband’s death, she never bothered to work and because her husband provided all that she needed. Besides she believes there was more work to be done in the house than outside for it. So, she was a dedicated full time housewife. Things have changed since then! She was now a single mother, with a ten year old to cater for.

Due to the distance of her workplace from where she resides, she always leaves home at exactly 5 O’clock in the morning and comes back between the hours of 7 O’clock and 9 O’clock at night, depending on the traffic she encounters. Although that morning, she didn’t go to work early. Reason was that she was going to reach Ayo's school to pay all necessary dues. She already took permission from her boss at work, which he granted, else she wouldn’t have decided that.

Mrs. Cole left home more an hour after her daughter did and headed first to the latter’s school. She got there when the students were just marching into their classroom and entered into the cashier’s office where she met Miss Bimpe, a young lady in her mid-twenties.

“Good morning ma,” the cashier greeted with smiles on her face as soon as Mrs. Cole entered her office.

“Good morning,” she responded.

“I’m Miss Bimpe,” the cashier introduced.

“Erm I’m Mrs. Cole,” she reciprocated.

 “What can I do for you ma,” Miss Bimpe demanded politely after offering her a seat and welcoming her to the school.

“I came to pay my daughter’s tuition.”

“Okay, may I know your daughter’s name?”

“Ayomide Cole.”

The cashier looked up the name on the laptop in front of her. “JS 1 student right?” she demanded from Mrs. Cole.

“Yes JS 1.”

“Okay, her bill is 35,000 naira with additional 6000 for transport if you’re willing ma,” Miss Bimpe explained.

Mrs. Cole paid a sum of 30,000 naira to the cashier and promised to pay the balance of 11,000 before the month runs out.

“I hope you do know that your child will be sent home if you don’t balance up within the first four weeks of resumption,” Miss Bimpe reminded her.

“Oh! Yes I’m aware and I promise to pay before then,” Mrs. Cole said. She initially wanted to pay the whole sum of 35,000 naira at once but after trekking the distance to Ayo’s school herself, she realized it’s really far from home and wouldn’t want to put Ayo through such stress on a daily basis. She had decided to pay for transport but the money with her couldn’t cover all the expenses just yet. She hopes she can pay the rest before the end of the fourth week. Her thoughts were interrupted by the cashier.

“Ma, your receipt!”

“What about her uniform?” she demanded.

“That would be given to her, along with other necessary things.”

“I can take my leave then?”

“Not yet ma.” Miss Bimpe handed over a form to her. “You still have to fill this.”

Mrs. Cole filled the form hurriedly while constantly checking her wrist watch.

Miss Bimpe, noticing Mrs. Cole’s uneasiness said, “You can pay the fees via mobile transfer or by going to the bank,” Miss Bimpe advised. “The account number is below the receipt note. And here is the method of payment.” She handed over a slip to Mrs. Cole and collected the filled form from. However, she returned the form to her almost immediately. “Ma” – she used her pen to touch a part of the form – “you have to sign here!”

“Okay.” She signed where the cashier indicated and returned it to her. “Thanks for your assistance.”

“You’re welcome ma. Enjoy the rest of your day.”

Mrs. Cole hurriedly left the cashier’s office. She glanced at her wristwatch. It’s past 9 already.

Comments (1)
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Dina Husseini
This book needs editing. If you're looking for a development editor, or any other editor, I can be of service and give you a good price too.
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