“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.
“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.”
“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.
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
Finally, the day has come, for the much awaited mathematics competition in Nightingale Academy, tagged ‘Annual Mathematics Quiz’. Of all the 6 participating students, only Ayo was visibly nervous before the start of the quiz. She had no idea why. Maybe, it’s because this was her first time participating in a mathematics-only competition or it was because she didn't believe in herself. The prying eyes of the JSS 1 student didn't leave her body too. This added to her anxiety.Ayo was with her classmates when the quiz master finally called on her name. Her body shook with vigour, as she was being invited to the podium. She started to fidget and looked like someone who was terrified.“You can do this, Ayo,” one of Ayo’s classmates encouraged.“Don’t be scared!” another said.“Ayo, don’t put us to shame. Go there and make us proud,” Bukky added.“I believe in you, Ayomid