Ola wished the ground could open and swallow him. He was ashamed of himself, he had never known how to tell lies, hence, most people tend to easily pick the holes in his extremely weak lies. Yet, he can’t easily admit to his new friend that he trekked home because they were poor. Were they poor? He even thanked God for his family’s status. At least he was in school and also his siblings were in school even though they had to sacrifice one for the other. They are what he called ‘half Poor’.
He thanked Tutu for her kind gestures and she told him that he needed not to hide anything from her. It is written all over him like a signboard and she had made her enquiries before making up her mind to become his friend. What are friends for?
They got a cab and in no time were at home. Ola thought about the day’s events and concluded that it was nothing but an act of providence, albeit, God.
That was the begining of the friendship between Ola, an almost nobody, and Tutu, a semi somebody. It grew stronger by the day. They were seen almost everywhere together, in school, at home, in the public library and wherever. Their parents knew them because they visited each other frequently. But as close as they were, Ola never for once thought of taking it above the platonic level. Tutu herself had no such intentions but believes that they already had a relationship going.
The dream of every serious minded student is always to excel in his or her studies. This was the case of Ola and Tutu, they grew in leaps and bounds in their academics except in Ola’s perpetual customer- Mathematics. He just couldn’t come to terms with the subject. He once said to Tutu, ”Why will I be looking for what is not lost? The formulae that had been propounded by somebody can’t be changed and they expect me to accept it without asking questions. I just don’t grab it.”
Their WAEC and NECO exams came and went. They read as if their lives depended on it. They left home before dawn, read through the day, kept vigils and came home late at night. Since their parents knew them, they had no problems whatsoever with their movements. All they both need to say was, ‘I am going to Ola’s place’ or ‘Mummy, mo fe de odo Tutu’ and their visas are…. Stamped!
The results came out and both did well in the two exams. Tutu passed all her subjects while Ola had F9 in his Maths in WAEC and E8 in his NECO. He never expected something better than that.
For some months after the exams, the two jolly friends see regularly and made plans for the future. They even fantasised about getting married after their University education.
Tutu had been called by her uncle in Ife to take up a diploma in Economics at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. She would then be offered admission on successful completion of the course and into 200level. Ola on his part will still have to wait while his mother gathers money to enable him further his education. He would be working while intermitently trying to pass his Mathematics exam through GCE.
The parting of two united souls can be better imagined than witnessed. They both cried and wept like babies. Tutu’s parents could not pacify them. She begged them to let her school in Ogun State which they rejected having done all necessary arrangements with only lectures remaining for her to start. Their parting was sad and heart rending!
For days after Tutu left Sagamu, Ola could not eat. In a week, he had become emaciated and looked like one that had full blown AIDS. His mother understood why but his father never knew nor asked but only compounded his woes when he announced that Ola was to soon become an apprentice to his friend, a tailor. Sadness raise to power two!
His mother pleaded with his father not to do such, he blatantly refused sighting financial incapability as the reason, since he can’t afford Ola’s University fees. His mother, who had by then got used to paying fees, said she will see to it. He said no and a row generated. It took neighbours some minutes to calm the two frayed nerves and resolved the issue for the two parties. The father alone on one side, the mother and children on the other side. Ola was highly depressed, he hated it when his parents quarrel. It usually generated noise and at time fisticuffs.
But in this, his mother had his backing. The next day, after his mother had told his father that Ola wanted to spend a week in Abeokuta with her elder sister, she took him and his baggage to Lagos.
He was to start another phase of life here. Still, he had not gotten over the loss of the first best friend he had, Adetutu Jejeloye. He still looked forward to seeing her before he packs up from mother earth…
For a teenager that has not stepped out of the confines of his home town, Lagos is a London-like city. This was the case with Ola as he made his journey for the first time out of the city of Sagamu to his dream land of Lagos.
The rickety bus they were in made the journey a little interesting to 16 year old Ola who was busy looking out of the window at the buildings which lined the Sagamu Benin express road. He kept bombarding his mother with questions till the bus came down from the bridge to join the ever busy Lagos Ibadan expressway. His mother got tired at a stage and refused him answers to his unending queries. The smoking bus later got to the popular Berger bus stop where his mother bought him a sachet of Gala sausage roll and sachet water. Afterwards, the bus continued it tortuous journey to the new Ojota garage where they board another Danfo to Oyingbo which was to be Ola’s home henceforth.
All through the journey, Ola was highly fascinated with the scenery of the Lagos metropolis. He admired the high rise buildings, the tall billboards shouting the name of different products, the smart bus conductors who jump off and onto moving buses. The passengers who ran after buses in a bid to get into it first while the bus seems not to wait for them. Ola watched in amusement as the conductors abused one another in a bid to beat one another to the few passengers waiting for buses. He concluded that this is going to be his home and Lagos is the best city on earth. He fell in love with the city at first sight. He wasn’t leaving this city again.
His mother held his hand firmly as they walked through the streets of Oyingbo. They were headed for Kano street. That was where Ola’s aunt and uncle lived. His mother’s younger brother and her youngest sister lived there with two of their friends.
The cream coloured house was a three storeyed building and they lived on the second floor. It was a two bedroom flat with a tiny kitchen, better called a kitchenette, and a tiny bathroom and toilet. The males occupy a room and the females did justice in the other room. The sitting room was for the whole house. It contained a three seater settee and a single seater arm chair which were arranged beside each other to give access to the balcony which has a door leading to it from the sitting room. The room also boasts of a 21′ television set with a DSTV decoder and a Compact disc player. Ola was elated because that was the first time he would see these things. His parents could only boast of a 20 year old black and white television which hardly shows anything but generates a hell of noise.
‘Lagos is the brother of paradise.’ he thought. ‘Thank you mum for bringing me here.’ He said to his mother after dropping his bag in the boys’ room as it was called.
He was too excited that he hardly touched the food given to him by his aunt. She was happy to have him around and had been telling her sister to let the boy visit in a long while. Ola’s father had been the stumbling block to his coming to Lagos then. But at long last, without his assent, here is Ola in Lagos!
His aunt promised to make his stay comfortable. His uncle also said he would try his best to make sure he has something doing while trying to pass his Mathematics. ”He cannot stay idle all the time,” reasoned his uncle.
Two days later, his mother left him to begin his new life in a new city called Lagos.
The first few weeks were boring to him. He does nothing except sleep, eat, clean the house, watch films and play. When his guardians are out of the house, he will leave home as well, and explore the surrounding streets of Oyingbo. In no time, Ola had become familiar with his neighbourhood. He had traversed the area and could go out by himself.
One day, he got lost between two streets. He was confused by a couple of buildings which he had used as landmarks to aid his identification of the route back home. Some of them looked alike and he took the wrong turn only for him to realise a little later that he was lost!
Luckily for him, being an intelligent boy, he asked around and was shown the way back home. His guardians were already at home when he got back and he had to explain to them. But they didn’t get angry with him, they only told him to be more careful and that he was welcome to Lagos!
Ola began to enjoy Lagos and looked forward to new challenges in this very big city. His aunt and her friends spoilt him. They took him almost everywhere. His uncle and his friend too were not left out. In less than three months, he knew the major places in Lagos. He had been to the two islands, Lagos and Victoria, Yaba, Obalende, Ojuelegba, Surulere, Ikorodu, among others. His uncle, after being sure that he can navigate his way around Oyingbo without stress, found him a teaching job in a private school not too far from their house. Thus, Ola began working and earning the sum of six thousand naira every month. Soonest, he had a bank account where he saved his money and once in a while, he sends little amounts to his mum for her upkeep and that of his siblings.
The year’s GCE exams came and went with Ola writing it. The results came out months later and as usual, he passed all and failed his nemesis. His guardians never allowed him the space to brood as they consoled and praised him that he will make it soon. He made up his mind to concentrate on his work and attend evening and weekend classes for a year or two before attempting it again.
All along, he had not forgotten Adetutu in the inner recess of his mind and this affected the view he had of other ladies. He kept them at bay. Seeing himself as unworthy of them.
Change of environment can do a lot of changes to man. By his seventeenth birthday, Ola had changed drastically from the short boy into a tall handsome man. His height shot out to five feet nine inches. He developed a broad chest and boasts of a six packs abs. Thanks to the beans he eats regularly and the weekend weight lifting he does with his uncle and his friends. Anyone who knew him a little over a year ago will find it hard to recognise him save that his face did not change!
This change triggered a bout of confidence in him and he decided to try once again to move close to the feminine genre of the human species. He got close to different girls, ladies and women both in his place of work and in his immediate neighbourhood. He started on a platonic level and then tried building it from there. His uncle and his friends never helped Ola’s case at all. They came home with tales of their girlfriend and their escapades. They brought them home and at times the girls sleep over and when such occurs, the owner of the girl had exclusive VIP access to the room all night leaving the rest to scuttle for spaces either in the sitting room, or on the balcony. His aunt admonished him severally not to be like his uncles because it does not pay. She said it was better he kept only a girl at a time so that he can have his self respect.
Every other evening, his uncles gather either in the room or on the balcony to tell tales of their escapades and make jest of the women folks. They talked of different things ranging from their love for material things. Lack of indepth love, to even the intimate aspect of their relationships. All of these to Ola’s amazement. His aunt on the other hand debunked their claims at every available opportunity she gets. Thus Ola’s view of the female folks is in a confused state as he knows not which was true or not. He reasoned that his uncles were partly right because they gave examples and he saw some of the ladies exhibit the things said about them. He also knew his aunt was correct because of the stint of friendship he had with Adetutu. He concluded in his mind not to be a bad boy like his uncles and that it was better to tread with caution.
As time wore on, he got attracted to a girl who lived just a stone throw from his house. He decided to try his luck at a real relationship for the first time ever. He decided to ask her out.
Did he succeed?
…to be continued