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 cashier that she would be boarding the bus; another reason she was excited by the jingle of the bell.
Ayo entered the bus and chose a seat at the far corner. She was thankful the bus was still empty when she boarded. She wished the bus driver didn’t have to wait for other students and drop her first. Then, come back for the rest later. But she knew, that’s never going to happen. However, she was surprised to see Bukky and Bayo coming towards the same bus she was in. ‘Maybe they live along the road’, she thought. She dreaded the idea of Bayo living close to her house.
Bukky was the first to enter and was surprised to see Ayo also. “Oh! What a coincidence!” she exclaimed. “So you live around Unity Estate also?”
“Yes.” Ayo tried to sound as surprised as her. ‘How did she know that?’
“I know because Bus 3 goes towards that area,” Bukky revealed after seeing the surprised look on Ayo’s face. “My house is at Plot 10, Johnson Avenue.” She sat down beside Ayo.
“Really! Mine is Plot 11. Same Johnson Avenue.”
“Is a lie!” Bukky turned to look at Ayo. “So, we live in front of each other? As in we are street mate,” she cried excitedly.
Ayo nodded her head while trying to comprehend Bukky’s spoken English. She feigned a smile instead but it soon turned into curiosity when Bayo entered the Bus. She turned to look out the window, away from Bukky.
• * * * * *
“Esther, are you not going home?” Mr. Badmus demanded as soon as he got out of his office and still saw Mrs. Cole, busy with the computer in front of her.
“I would” – she punched a few keys on the keyboard – “right after I finish with this.”
“Okay.” He rubbed his hand on his chin. “Do you mind if I wait and give you a ride home, since we live just a street from each other?”
“I wouldn’t want you to bother. I could be delaying you.”
“That’s true but I’m not complaining.” He moved closer to her desk.
“Okay, I give in” – she raised both hands – “just give me a few more minutes. Please.” And resumed punching in keys on the keyboard.
“Okay,” he said smiling. His mind drifted away – Since the first day Esther walked into his office seeking employment, he had always felt something for her. But he didn’t know what it was. He still nurses the pain of his wife’s death from 5 years. How could he be so friendly to another lady? – He wondered.
“And I’m done.” She stood up and picked her bag. “Let’s go” – she tapped Mr. Badmus lightly, interrupting his thoughts – “have you been sleeping?”
“I guess I was.” He feigned dizziness before getting up from where he was sitting. “Let’s go.”
They left the office afterwards.
• * * * * * * *
It was half past two by the time Bukky and Ayo alighted from the school bus. As soon as they were alone, Ayo took the opportunity to ask Bukky a question that has been bothering her mind since Bayo entered the school bus.
“Bayo” – she looked in the direction of the moving bus – “does he live around here?”
“Why do you ask?” Bukky queried.
“I saw him earlier in the school bus and he’s yet to alight.”
“Yes, he live in the next avenue, Badmus Avenue”, Bukky said. “If I’m to be exact” – she pointed towards Ayo’s house – “his house should be at the back of your own.”
Ayo grunted. “Do you mind if I lend your English textbook, so I can copy the question to the assignment?”
“Don’t you have the textbook?” Bukky was shocked. “I think all JS 1 students are suppose to have the textbook.”
“My mother doesn’t have enough money to get me the required textbooks,” Ayo responded honestly.
“Okay. I will bring my own to your place later. We can do it together,” Bukky suggested. “I don’t understand the question.”
“I will bring my own to your place later,” Ayo mimicked. “Do you even know our apartment in that house?” She pointed in the direction of her house. All the while they have been standing in front of Bukky’s house.
“Ehn and you will tell me.” Bukky hissed. “Which one is that one now?”
“Sorry.” Ayo smiled. “It’s just the first apartment to your left.”
“Okay.” She turned to leave but Ayo stopped her.
“You were saying something about not understanding the question.” She held onto Bukky’s bag. “Have you studied it?”
“See” – she removed Ayo’s hand from her bag – “Life is too simple to worry yourself about studying especially English and mathematics.” She left Ayo at their gate and went inside their apartment.
Ayo ignored her and left for their own apartment. She went straight to the kitchen and brought out garri from the cupboard as that was the only food at home. And she needed to quench her hunger. It was becoming unbearable. She soaked it in water, added the little sugar she could find and drank it hungrily.
After the light meal, she brought out a storybook from her school bag and opened it. She smiled and remembered Bukky’s word – ‘Life is too simple to worry yourself about studying…’ She smiled again and afterwards slept off without reading a word in the book she was holding. All she dreamt about was a fun filled evening when Bukky arrives.
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
At the end of the first stage in the quiz competition, Daniel Chisom was disqualified. He left the stage, slowly, while looking at his feet as he walked. As for Adura and Ayo, they went into a tiebreak to know who will progress to the second stage. Ayo was still in her thoughts when the quiz master announced the beginning of the next round. She had felt bad to see Chisom leave but if he hadn’t scored so low, she would have been the one to leave, and that would have been terrifying. So, she braced herself up and looked eager to see what the tie break with Adura will hold.“In this tiebreaker round” – the quiz master pointed to the ground – “the first of you two, to provide a wrong answer, will be disqualified. Is that clear?”“”Yes, sir!” Ayo and Adura said, almost at the same time.At this very moment, every student believed that’s the end for Ayomide Cole except two. Bukky never doubted her and B
The next stage began on a very interesting note. All remaining four contestants were up to the task and none wanted to concede to the other. They all knew, one wrong answer could deny them entry to the next stage. Hence, they all answered correctly to the first set of questions asked.“What do you think about the competition now?” Mr. Dammy asked Mrs. Folarin, who looked rather calm, watching the contestants relentlessly provide correct answers to their questions. He felt it was the right time to close the rift.“I think Ayo would be among the top three finalists” – she nodded her head slowly – “Funmi won’t last any longer than she already has. She’s becoming nervous just like Adura.” She fixed her eyes on the quiz master as he decided on Funmi’s response to the question.“Wrong answer!” he announced.“Geez!” Funmi said, with an American accent. Not that she wanted t