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?”
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.
“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
After the midterm test, the students of JSS 1B changed academically. Though, it was slow-paced but was worth it. They make less noise also. In addition to their new now turned leaf, they now behaved themselves and listen attentively in class when a teacher is teaching. Ayo wasn’t an exception, she took to her studies like never before especially when she came to know that she would be representing her class in the coming annual mathematics quiz amongst the junior school students. She tried as much as she could to solve any mathematics problem she encountered. If she’s unable to solve any, she either seeks assistance from Mr. Dammy or Bayo. She sometimes goes to Funmi in JSS 1 A, who is also good at solving mathematics problems and was always willing to assist her. Ayo had long swallowed the dislike she had for the class. She thought if she was going to be better, she needed to mingle with the best.During break in school, one afternoon. Ayo was faced