A Friend Like Her

“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 spoke. He found out the finger was pointing directly at the girl who had refused to drop her bag at the gate.

“So, you are Ayomide Cole?” he asked, walking towards Ayo, slowly.

As he moved closer, with smiles on his oblong face, making it look like the smile was forced, Ayo reminded herself he was the reason for her spilled food and dust stained backpack. If only he had just let her go, her things would still be intact. But then she recalled she was solely to be blamed for not entering before the jingle of the bell. She smiled back at him, heavily.

“Are you Ayomide Cole?” Bayo repeated.

‘What sort of question is that?’ Ayo thought. ‘Oh! He wouldn’t know because he wasn’t in the assembly hall that morning but rather at the gate,' she concluded in her mind.

“You are the one my mates have been talking about?” Bayo stopped now, in front of her. “The one who became popular on her first day in school.”

‘Is that a compliment or an insult?’ She dared not say that out. It would be an act of disrespect or so she thought.

“Anyway, you are called by the cashier.” He finally told her the reason he came looking for her and left immediately. 

Ayo was relieved. She could now breathe normally again. All the while Bayo was talking, she just looked on in silence. She felt the boy was taunting her but something kept bothering her mind after he left. She had expected him to scold her for not answering him the first time he called but he didn’t. Maybe, this morning was just a show off after all. With these thoughts, she left for the cashier’s office, not after giving the fat girl a scornful look.

Some minutes later, Ayo came back into the classroom wearing the school uniform and holding the dress, she wore from home.

“Oh! Look at you,” a feminine voice exclaimed, stopping Ayo from stepping further into the classroom, with her robust body. “You look beautiful in the school uniform.”

Ayo didn’t have to look up before she realized it was the same fat girl that had been taunting her all day. “Thanks and no thanks,” she replied coldly and peered into her eyes, curiously, as if to say 'what's wrong!’

“What’s with the attitude?” The girl said, shocked by Ayo’s response. But then she remembered rattling her out to Bayo. “Don’t tell me it’s because I called you out for senior Bayo.”

Ayo sighed and gave a wry smile. She didn’t hesitate to show her distaste to the girl's choice of preposition. She, however, didn’t give a verbal response. She was eager to get to her seat. So, she pushed her off her path and walked past her, aa though she wasn't there to begin with. Nonetheless, the girl wouldn’t relent and still went ahead to sit beside Ayo after the latter was seated.

“I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to annoy you,” she apologized sincerely.

“Uhm,” Ayo sighed again and looked at her carefully. It was then she realized the funny face the girl had. It was round and robust just like her body, and it appears like she was always smiling. Ayo wanted to laugh at this but instead she frowned. “Can you stand up, please.”

She stood up at Ayo's request and this made Ayo feel less comfortable. She looked at the fat figure from head to toe and realized she wasn’t that after all and not even as fat as she presumes. It was only an oversight on her part, probably because of her small little eyes. Her mother had always said, things appear big in front of those who are little. She smiled at this.

“Thank you,” the fat girl interrupted Ayo’s thought, almost kneeling on the floor.

‘She must have thought I smiled at her.’ Ayo smiled again when the girl hurriedly sat beside her. She didn’t want to put off her mood. “Why did you thank me?”

“I asked if I may sit and you smiled. I assumed it was a yes –”

Ayo must have missed the girl’s question but she didn’t say so. Instead she nodded her head and smiled, yet again. “Of course! I meant yes.”

“My name is Bukola Johnson and you are Ayomide Cole right?”

“No! Wrong,” Ayo responded.

“What!” Bukky opened her mouth and swallowed the pill. Her jaw dropped, literally. “But if you are not Ayomide why did you answer senior Bayo? Oh! You didn’t, I pointed at you, but still yet you answered and also you mentioned your name on the assembly this morning or am I Mistaken? It can’t be.” Bukky kept talking without seeking a response or expecting one either.

Ayo noticed the confused look on Bukky’s face and couldn’t help but laugh. “You should see the look on your face right now. I’m Ayomide Cole. It’s a pleasure knowing you.” Ayo extended a hand for a shake. Bukky took it gladly and they both smiled.

“Does it mean we are friends?” Bukky asked eagerly. That was what she wanted all along. She was curious and wanted to know more about the most popular girl in school just on the first day of resumption.

“Of course.” Ayo looked at her and smiled. “Friends laugh together, right!”

“And sit together too!” Bukky added, excitement written on her face.

“Sure!”

“Does that mean I get to sit here?” Bukky asked with pleading eyes.

Ayo just looked at her and nodded her head signaling yes. “You talk a lot. I hope you know that?”

“They say that.” She shrugged and disappeared without a word.

As soon as she left, Ayo began to miss her absence. She looked around for her new friend and just when she was about giving up the search, she saw her coming towards her, with her bags, which was heavy with books.

“This bag will not kill somebody!” Bukky said, dumping the bag on the table top beside Ayo.

“You didn’t have to bring all your…” Bukky dashed out in the opposite direction, before Ayo could complete her sentence. This time, Ayo followed her with her watchful eyes until she returned with a lunch bag packed for two. “You have a sister in the primary section?”

Bukky, who was sweating all over, collapsed on the chair before she answered. “No! Why did you ask?”

Ayo pointed at the lunch bag, now laying on the tiled classroom floor. “Appears to be packed for two.”

Bukky smiled. “Your eyes is sharp o! Is me that have the two of them.”

“Really?”

“You don’t know anything!”

Ayo only gave a heavy smile while Bukky began telling her about when she recently came to Nightingale.

‘What a friend?’ Ayo thought.

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