I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, took a quick glance round the classroom-everybody seems interested in what the teacher was scribbling on the black board.
I summed Madame Diallo with a look, I couldn’t help smiling at her fat legs…
“Le langue Francaise… Repeat after me.” madame Diallo began.
“Le langue francaise!” the whole class throated.
I hissed quitely, do we have to say this? We’re in J.S.S.3 for crying out loud! Besides, why do we have to learn french this hot afternoon? I am a Nigerian! A Yoruba for that matter…
“Il ya des ecole, eu du mangue.” the teacher said again.
“Who can tell us what that means?” her cat eyes searched the class.
Bisi stood up, I trust her now- over sabi-sabi. I hissed again.
“it means, in front of the school, there is a mango tree.” Bisi said smiling like a donkey
“Clap for her.”
I didn’t clap, i looked out of the window instead.
“Madame et monsuier Akosua, il habite poto-poto-braza ville.” I heard her say.
“who can translate that?”
I kept my eyes glued to the window.
“Teju can you help us out?” I heard her definitely, me translate french? Rubbish.
“Tejumola Benson!” she shrilled
I jumped up, pretending to be startled.
“translate that!” she pointed her cane at the black board.
“Which one of them?” I scratched my cornrows.
“Teju!” she scowled.
“Errrm…madame …errn, it means..erm,mr and Mrs..Akosua, have children,called….erm, poto-poto and brazaville…” I stammered.
She stared at me in disbelief.
“Teju!” her eyes almost popped out
“You’re sitting for your Junior WAEC & NECO very soon, and you can’t translate this?”
I looked away.
“I’m so disappointed!” she added.
That one is your headache, I wonder if french is a necessity.
“Sit down, class lets continue.”
Rubbish! I hissed
“Bring out your notebooks, and copy these down.” Madame Diallo ordered before she started scribbling some notes on the board.
I copied the note for copying sake, i had no intention of reading it. We copied and copied endlessly till a bell rang.
“End of period” Ayo- a fat chubby boy yelled from outside. We all laughed. Ayo-the time keeper, we told each other.
“Lets call it a day, aurevoir” madame Diallo packed her books.
“Au revoir” we all throated, my voice at its peak. Loudest.
The whole class became a noise den, some of them even played ten-ten. I watched them all, with no intention of joining them. I’ve not eaten since last night, I don’t have the strength to play…
“What’s the noise all about?” Eric the headboy roared.
They didn’t even notice him.
He banged a table loudly.
They all came back to their senses.
“Good afternoon Senior”
“What’s good about the afternoon? Ehn? Why were you making such noise?” Eric’s massive voice thundered.
Nobody replied him
“Who’s the class captain?” he asked again, infuriated.
I quickly adjusted my skirt, tucked in my shirt properly.
“I said where’s the…”
“Sir?” I chirped cutting him short.
“i want the list of noisemakers now” he ordered
“List?” I wore a puzzled look
“oh so you just watched them abi? What’s your job?” he queried.
Na today? ThankGod say I no join them sef, if not this building for fall- I hissed within me.
“Are you deaf or dumb?” He yelled at me.
“None of the above.” I replied with a frown. Some students began to giggle
“oh really? Okay, come out here.” he ordered.
“go and kneel down under the sun!” he declared my punishment.
Mo kpe! I thought quitely as I knelt down.
This hot sun plus kneeling down plus hunger again? I’m finished.
I didn’t spend a minute kneeling down when I saw David the assistant headboy walking towards me.
I looked away, David was very popular in the school, he became the assistant headboy the very day he stepped his foot into S.S.S.2. Maybe cos he’s brilliant or cos his father was rich- very rich-a senator. Maybe cos of his looks, he is toon beautiful to be called handsome, those full eyelashes, the dimples….
“What are doing here?” David asked
“punishment.” I replied.
Go back to your class, this sun is too hot.” He said quitely.
I stood up, murmurred a thankyou, andwalked quickly to my class, who said my God isn’t mercifull..
“stop there!” Eric roared from behind me.
“Who asked you to go back to your class?” he gnarled.
“I did.” David sauntered towards us. “Guy
free the girl, this sun is too hot.” David patted Eric’s shoulder.
“Go to your class” he said to me.
Oh yea! I felt so fly as I hopped to me class.
I trudged into our flat, as usual Maria-my step mother was sitting; crosslegged in the parlour.
“Ekun le oo” I said trying to sound cheerful
“Maami good evening.” I greeted her again, She did not reply, she glued her eyes to the television.
That’s your problem, I shrugged, and walked towards my room.
“Oshi!- Devil!” I heard her say, I quickly turned to look at her.
“Aje- witch!” she added again.
I became apprehensive, trouble in the air.
“go and tell your fellow witches that my head is too strong for them o” she clapped.
Is this woman okay? I asked myself, I moved towards my room but stoped again when something struck my head from behind.
The sharp pain surged through my body, I let out an ear-deafening scream- thats my major talent.
She pulled me roughly, “let me warn you, if you tell your father anything, I’ll kill you!”
I stood still, staring at her.
“Take your winchy eyes off me jare! Oya go and fetch water for me.”
“okay, let me pull off my uniform.” I moved towards my room, tears streaming down cheeks.
“which uniform? Go like that jor!” she pushed me roughly.
I dashed to the kitchen, picked a bucket and made for the bore-hole, to prevent more beating and insults.
The borehole was about 20 blocks from our flat, I filled my bucket and made towards home. I wished my Dad would just come back, he’s gone for his so-called ‘business trips’. If he’d been around, I wouldn’t fetch water, he made sure we buy from water vendors.
“Tejumola Benson!” someone called from behind me. I turned sharply and saw Bisi my classmate running towards me.
Here comes the over sabi-sabi, I rolled my eyes.
“So you fetch water too?” she asked. I didn’t reply.
“you should have changed from your uniform first now.” she added.
Over sabi-sabi mind your business now, I wanted to tell her.
“Thanks for your concern” I replied with sarcasm
“Its alright” she gave me a donkey smile. Eeewww!
“Let me help you, I’m going down the road.” she collectedd the bucket of water, balanced it on her head and we walked home.
“Teju, you were funny during french class, that day, hmm.” she said.
I simply grunted.
“You see this house?” she said as we walked past a huge mansion.
“shey you know David ko? The assistant head boy, ehen, the house belongs to his father, they all live inside.” Bisi explained.
“Ehhn! Tell me something.” I said in a gossip like fashion.
“Hmm, you mean you don’t know? His father has three wives now, David is the only son, with about 15 sisters. My dear, each of them have a well furnished room. You know their father is a senator” Bisi rattled on.
“Thanks for the info” I was sarcastic again. Thank God she didn’t notice
“not atall, if you need any story, just call me, I know almost everything.” she said dropping my bucket of water right in front of my house.
“Thanks” I wore a plastic smile.
Amebo number 1, I wanted to tell her
I watched her leave before taking my bucket of water into the house.