“Zainab, can you just do me a favour by attending the class together with them? It will not speak well to fail the whole class. Had it been I have been taking them before, it would have been easy to reject today’s offer. I promise to retake you if you don’t get it in the class”, I pleaded to convince her.
“I have heard you o. Oya let’s go because it’s already past six”, she replied satisfactorily.
I was so happy and gave her a nice peck on her cheek.
“Thank you dear”, I appreciated her and we zoomed off to school.
We met full house at the venue of the tutorial, everyone was set waiting for me.
“Pardon me for coming late. I’m really sorry”, I apologized to the whole class for coming late.
“Apology granted. We have known and even said it before your arrival that Zainab must be the one delaying you. So just carry on with the tutorial”, said Aisha, a class member.
I looked at Zainab’s face and saw her smiling, and then I thanked the whole class and started the tutorial.
We finished the tutorial around 7:52pm and they appreciated me for opening their eyes to many hidden facts about the course.
I was dragged out of the place by Zainab and asked me to follow her back to her house. I accompanied her and petted her to let me go home because grandma must have been expecting me since I didn’t tell her I was not coming home on that day.
“Call her you are not coming home today now”, she said.
“She is not connected”, I replied.
“You mean, she doesn’t have phone?” she questioned doubtfully.
“No jawe, she doesn’t”, I replied.
She kept mute for some seconds.
“Don’t let me delay you then, we shall talk tomorrow. Remember me to her and take care of yourself too”, she said and handed a note book to me to keep for her till the following day. I was in hurry so I couldn’t question her on the book.
“Thanks for the understanding. Take care of you too” I replied and stopped a bike which took me to my abode.
I was seriously tired and wanted to rest, but it was hot so I decided to put off my wear. In that process my phone started ringing, I checked who was calling and it was her. I managed to pick up the call…
“Hello dear, hope you are now at home?” she asked in a caring tone.
“Yeap, just now. Thanks for the care”, I replied.
“You are the one to thank most. How is grandma doing?” she asked.
“Fine, she is on bed already”, I replied.
“Ehyah! So, what are you gonna eat tonight or she has prepared you something to eat?” she questioned in a caring tone.
“I have not checked. I’m gonna take care of myself. Thanks for the care. What about you?” I asked in return.
“I’m ok. Have you opened the book?” she asked anxiously.
“No, what is it for self?” I curiously asked.
“Whatever you see when you open it is yours. Good night”, she said and hung up the call.
I quickly picked up the book and checked. I couldn’t just believe what I saw…
This is serious! Five thousand naira notes! Is she trying to bribe me or she did it out of love? “Definitely, Zainab wanted to hang up on me but just trying to pretend. Even the way she reacted to me today shows she is in love with me”, I have the thought in my mind.
I was so happy and decided to put a call to her, but her number was not reachable and I later dropped her text message of appreciation.
I had a splendid night rest that day.
I called her very early in the morning to ask about her night and also thanked her and she was very happy to hear from me at that very moment.
I prepared for school and ate the food prepared for me by grandma and left for school.
We had non-stopped lectures from 8:00am till 4:00pm that day and the remaining two hours was used to revise with Zainab in her room before we went back to school for the test.
While in the test hall, I had finished my work within a short period of time and cross checking was on when I heard a lady’s voice calling my name and I was about to turn my neck to the direction where the voice came from when Mr. Popo caught me and asked me to submit. And since I have finished it, I didn’t bother to say anything; I just submitted it and left the hall.
After some minutes, he instructed everybody to submit and they started coming out one after the other. Most of them came to thank me because the questions were almost the same as the ones we solved at the tutorial. The man only changed some values.
When Zainab came out, she was over joyous and hugged me so tight in the presence of other members of the class. I felt embarrassed but nothing could be done than to take it that way. She held my right hand and dragged me towards her house.
We kept on chatting as we were going and we were about to exit the school gate when I heard a deep voice call my name. We both looked at the back at a time and it was a huge Igbo guy putting on a blue jean and a black round neck top, Uche, a member of the class.
Zainab and I halted while he worked to us.
“Zainab, excuse us. I wan talk to Afeez”, he commanded in pigin and she abided immediately by taking some steps forward.
“Wetin make you submit quick quick like that? Because you sabi am wella abi, then you con dey show abi? Or you no no say na wetin you do make the man collect the booklets from us sapali sapali? I just wan advise you not to do such again. If you finish, keep am and make we finish too”, he advised in threatening tone.
“Bro, abeg no vex jawe. Me self no wan submit, but when I wan discuss with someone who ask from me, na him the man com see me and he say make I submit. E no go happen again bro” I explained and pleaded.
“No problem, I just want you to adjust”, he said emphatically.
“Trust me bro”, I replied optimistically.
He handshake me and headed back to where he was coming from.
I went back to Zainab and we zoomed off to her house.
“What was he discussing with you?” she asked inquisitively.
“I will gist you when we get home jawe”, I replied.
“Hope no problem o?” she inquired.
“Not really dear”, I replied.
When we got to her house, I was seriously tired and at the same time feeling hungry, so I just stretched myself on the chaise lounge.
“Oya tell me what you promised me o”, she curiously asked and I tried to explained to her.
“What did he mean? How does your own life affect his? I can’t take this. Never! Authority must hear this! And if anything should happen to you, I will hold him responsible and his family gotta pay for it as well”, she lamented angrily.
“Take it easy dear. Nothing will happen by God’s grace. It’s only that I have to know how to be playing my games in the class”, I calmed her down.
“Alright then, I heard you. Just lend me two minutes to get pepper at the gate. I supposed to buy it when we were coming, but I was carried away by your words”, she said and rolled her eyes.
“Ok o. May I accompany you?” I asked with weak voice.
“Don’t bother joor, I can see you are very tired. I will be back shortly”, she said in a caring tone, pecked me and left…
It was getting dark. I waited for her arrival for some minutes but I couldn’t hear her foot step. I picked up my phone so as to call her and I heard her phone ringing on the bed.
Oh my God! She didn’t go with her phone.
I decided to trace her to gate where she claimed she wanted to buy pepper.
When I got to the school gate, I couldn’t just believe what I saw. The obituary of Mr. Popo was pasted at the entrance of the school gate. How come? Mr. Popo! He conducted a test for us today! Never! I wiped my face with my volar to confirm if I was dreaming, but it was not. I felt like crying, then, I managed to control myself and asked one of the on- looker beside me what caused his death.
“I learnt that he was murdered by a sect of cultist when he was heading to his house”, she said gently and left the spot immediately.
“Oh my God! Why this?” I said with full sense of concern.
Then, I was trying to search for Zainab amongst the crowd when my phone started ringing, I looked at the screen and it was an unknown number, then I picked it up the call…
“Hello, is this Afeez on the line please?”
“Yes, I’m Afeez. Who’s this please?” I replied in an effort to recognize the voice, when he spoke out again.
“It’s me Aisha, your course mate”, she muttered.
“Oh ooh, Aisha, how are you doing?” I asked, even when I was surprised at why she would be calling me at the late hours of the day.
“Where are you?” she curiously asked.
“I’m at the small gate of the school”, I replied.
“Ok, about that of Mr. Popo?” she asked in a sympathetic way.
“Yes jawe, in fact it shocked me”, I replied in pain.
“You know what? You will have to meet us at the school medical immediately!” she exclaimed rushing to hang up, but I quickly asked her to hold on.
“Wait, wait, what’s the problem, what happened?” interrupting her just before she hung up.
“Zainab was found almost lifeless at the school gate and she has been rushed to the school medical centre. Please meet us up at the medical centre immediately.” she said and hung up.
Her last words hit me hard; I was shocked and almost fainted at what she just disclosed.
Could it be that Uche had started out his plans against me through Zainab or because of Mr. Popo’s death? I reasoned with shock, my brain had gone blank as I pondered over it.
I left the spot where I was and picked a race to the medical.
On getting there, I met almost every member of my class outside. Most of the ladies there started crying when I arrived while the guys quickly held me.
“Please, what has happened to Zainab? Where is she?” I questioned with tremble in my voice while my hands and legs were shaking like a vibrator.
In that process, a doctor came out and told us that she has started responding to treatment, but we need to leave the premises or we keep mute.
“I need just only two guys to follow me”, he said.
Then, everybody got relaxed. Funsho and I decided to follow him and he took us to where she was receiving treatment.
Her head was bandaged. It was not more than two minutes that we got there, she started breathing heavily and we quickly called on doctor, but before the doctor could come around.
…to be continued