Seconds became minute, minutes became hour, hours turned to day, days rolled to week, our class became more lively and noisy, the new comers started to cope with us, I got to know that Joel was a brilliant student as well and he was my main competitor then apart from other silent competitors (Joe and Quazeem), Joel and I became good friends, Bukola and I would sit and talk for long which I would make her laugh her lungs out, Deborah and I were now very very close like kerosene and stove, I would spend most of my pleasure time laughing out loud with her since I was not used to playing football in school so that I won’t sweat and stain my school uniform (as per neat boy #wink). Taiwo too became freer with me, some friends have started saying I was dating Deborah which I knew too well that ‘chief’ David started the rumour though he knew the truth that the girl and I were just friends.
It was on Friday after about three weeks of resumption, they announced in the morning that they wanted to assign the real timekeeper and must be from SS1, I have been hearing it earlier that anybody that is assigned as the timekeeper in SS1 has 90% chance of being the senior prefect boy in SS3. “Can it be me?” I silently asked myself without a response and I immediately changed my mind and took my mind to something else. We got to the class, Mathematics teacher entered, (my best subject) the topic “set” was introduced to us which we found interesting at first but the story changed as time went on due to the complexity of the topic, the class went fine, Joel and Kayode were the sound students in the class that morning as I was just looking quietly and assimilating as it was hot. Quazeem too was an enthusiast in term of Mathematics while we all have one silent Mathematician (Joe), but most people didn’t notice due to his silence and that was the opportunity and the priority I had over him as he was a bit better than I was at Mathematics.
Mr Iroko (the Maths teacher) finished teaching, he gave assignment and left the class, I did the assignment and kept my note immediately, other classes held well but Joel and I did not enjoy most of the classes that day, they would send for us time to time from staff-room, interviewed us at random, the female teachers would examine our body as if we were carrying hard drugs.
Silent rumour everywhere;
“Joel and Henry are going to be the next head boy and the assistant,
“But do you think Joel that just joined us will defeat Henry?
“Can’t you see that Joel is brilliant too? And the other thing Joel will use is his body, he’s taller and hugger than Henry, Henry can’t control anybody with that stature of his,
“Anybody that wants to win should win after all it is not head boy post yet, it’s still timekeeper which is just about 90% or less assurance,
“Why is Azeez not among self? Is he not brilliant too?
They won’t just check other departments, let’s wait and see how things will go”
That was the series of questions, arguments, complaints, and discussions among the students that day, David would ask me every time I returned to the class;
“Henry, are you leading Joel?” Which I would respond, “I don’t know”.
The time came, the closing bell was jingled, after everything, the principal came, notified us what what was about to happen, all SS1 students were eager to know, SS2 and three were waiting to see the newly discovered talents among the new comers.
“Good afternoon once more” the principal greeted. “Good afternoon sir” we echoed in response, he continued;
“It’s not that these students we’re about to call out are the best in their classes, but the school has concluded that they are the ones that are capable of having the posts. The first person I will call out will be our assistant timekeeper while the second person will be our timekeeper, they will be helping eachother in carrying out the assignment. The first name here as the assistant timekeeper… (the principal has not pronounced any name when my heart started beating faster as if it wanted to jump out of my chest, I started talking to myself;
“What is it self? Is it presidential post! I was not scared since morning and now is the right time? Henry, you need to calm down joo” I placed my left palm on my chest to feel the heartbeat and to calm the beating and the principal continued)
…is Williams Henry Opeyemi, SS 1A, Science Department” some students shouted “ehhhhhh!…” to show their happiness while some faces were neutral (not that happy and not sad) my heartbeats came back to normal immediately as the result has been heard, and I put on my smiling face as I climbed up to stand,
“Chai!!! See heads!!! I don die!” I exclaimed in my mind as I saw numerous students, and the principal continued
“…and the timekeeper for this session is Adewale Joel Johnbull, SS 1A, Science Department” some set of students shouted and jumped up to show their gladness and some faces still remained neutral as usual. Joel climbed up with big grin on his face exposing his white set of teeth on the black teeth-gum. “…these are the timekeeper and the assistant, the posts can still be withdrawn from them if they go against the school rules and regulations” principal said,
“God forbid” I responded in my mind.
“…obey them and listen to them” the principal concluded and handed the microphone over to Joel, he greeted, said some other things and ended with thank you. He returned the mic to one of the teachers while I was just standing, looking and smiling. The teacher dismissed the school, Joel and I had a handshake and jumped down, I went to carry my bag, Dave came to meet me with pity and unhappy face when even me was not unhappy,
“Come-on! Change that face” I said and smiled, I was looking for my dear friend, Deborah, when a tiny voice called me from the crowd,
“Opeyemi!!!” I looked back and saw her among the crowd struggling to find her way out, I used hand to demonstrate “come”. She survived at last, we crossed the main field and headed home, Deborah got to where she would depart and I was feeling like not leaving her or like following her, she waved goodnight and Dave and I continued…
I got home, told my mom about the post, called my sister and told her too on phone, my sister showed some happiness before she said “why are you not the timekeeper?” I hanged up.
The work began as the school prefect. Actually, we didn’t have much to do, especially I, as an assistant, Joel would be the one to jingle the bell, he had got a wristwatch while I bought a N200 worth of wristwatch as well, all we had to do then was to control others to sweep, to cut grass and we also catch the latecomers, but remember we were still in SS1, the juniors we were to control were our mates, that made it somehow difficult, we would just jingle our dear bell and continue resting while others work.
The only thing I loved about being the prefect was I stopped sweeping, cutting grass, taking cutlass to school and receiving irrelevant cane/punishment, school became something easier and sweeter for me, the class captain had no right to write prefects’ name among the noise makers, unless a teacher catches the prefect him/herself. “Wow! Sedentary life from SS1” I’d say in my mind, David too stopped doing all those hard school works that prefects should not do by forming strong-head even though he was not a prefect yet, sometimes he would be caned, sometimes he would escape it and go free, everything was going perfectly well, Deborah was my best female friend and after her, I preferred Taiwo again, David remained my loyal 6 while I was 5, other friends were just normal with me… ******fast forward******
The first term exam came, it was not that hard as I was able to read and understand most, I crammed some and was able to remember it in the exam hall, (la cram la pour), the exam went fine… inter class matches began, due to the fact that I didn’t like playing football in school, some friends didn’t know that I was a talented footballer (attacker). I told Joel I would like to play for our class, he doubted me but with the support of Quazeem and David who knew me then, they tried me in the first match against art department I played skillfully well and scored one brilliant goal, I surprised many students with my brilliant finish even though I played the shot twice as the goal keeper pushed it back to me, I was able to play just three matches during the tournament because I was helping some teachers to record marks, I scored two goals in three matches and SS3 won the cup at last.
The last Friday in first term, the day we collected our report cards, I was somehow scared but not too much, I had used all that day chitchatting Deborah, I asked her the grades she was expecting, she would mention A1 and B2, I’d laugh and ask “what of C4 and C5?”, she’d deny them talk less of D7, E8 and F9. Joel went to jingle the bell, we prayed on the assembly ground, principal came, talked, advised and dismissed the school to go and get the report cards from our perspective class teachers, I collected my report card I was shocked when I saw English Language F9, “Kwat!!!” I shouted and quickly folded it into my pocket to check other grades somewhere else, I got to under one cool tree, brought it out and saw;
Agricultural Science A1
Computer Science A1
Yoruba Language A1
“And what happened to my English answer booklet? I scored 17/20 in the test given, I did my assignment and got 8/10, that is 25/30 in CA only, this F9 can’t be my handwork am sure”, I said to myself, I was not that worried because I was sure of the lowest grade my English could be, not F9, I kept my result and started checking friends’ results one by one.
It was a pity, my closest friend and also my seat mate (David) had about seven F9’s, in short, what he collected as report card that day was nothing but “red card” upon our class teacher was not a football referee. Quazeem had fine result too, Joel had no F9, on knowing this, my F9 in English started aching my mind and I was not happy with it anymore, Joe would never show his result to anybody, he has even disappeared, (probably gone home),
“Where is this Deborah now?” I asked in my mind and decided to check around for her, she was in SS1B Science Department, that was the reason we didn’t collect card from the same class teacher, finally I found her holding a white paper, pointing to me as if she has been searching for me also,
“Miss Portable, let thee checketh thy result for thou might have performed less than expectation”, I said, jokingly, she smiled and gave the result to me, while I was still unfolding the result,
“Jesus!” I shouted to scare her,
“What is it again? Have my grades changed? (Smiles)” she uttered with no trace of fear. I was not that astonished seeing her grades, I knew she was the serious type and could even score more than that, the lowest grade she had was C5 in physics, I returned her result to her and I was somehow quiet,
“Hope no problem” she queried indirectly,
“Where is your report card?” She asked, I slotted my hand into my pocket and gave it to her,
“Ah! You too! God knows who Miss Adelaja gave our report card to for recording, Joe too had F9, the boy went to complain and she told him not to worry that she’ll check it next term”, as I heard that, my mind came down a bit,
“Really! Which Joe?” I asked immediately because we had almost three students bearing Joe in our class,
“Ajibade of course” she responded quickly,
“Ah; that’s serious o”, I said as I looked worried,
“Don’t worry baby” she said, (smiling), I laughed out loud and looked at her face with the face of (are you joking?)
“You’re calling an adult, your big bro, even an ancestor, you’re calling him a baby”, we both laughed as she put her hand around my shoulder and we stepped on the field to start going home.
I didn’t even bother to ask of David’s whereabout, I knew Quazeem was busy abusing him and mocking him that he was not a good defender, he collected red card.
Deb: Why are you not talking? And how is David’s result?
I: My own result is making me to be Moody somehow and leave David and his result alone for now. (straight face)
Deb: Come-on! Cheer up joo. I already know that David had bad result, but you’re not trying at all o.
I: (surprised) Who told you I marked any of our scripts? Am I the one that caused his failure? You better don’t start.
Deb: Start what? Let me tell you the fact, your result supposed to be influencing his result positively, so that…
(I didn’t allow her to finish the statement before I interrupted)
I:… so that he will stop reading totally and depend on me finally, right?
Deb: No. Don’t misunderstand me. Just influence the boy positively, that’s all.
I: Alright ma. (She smiled and we changed topic), she was about to branch as usual, we said the normal goodnight, she was about five meters away when I called her back and opened my arms for hug, she gladly threw herself into my arms and I whispered into her ear, “see you when I see you again”. We departed.
…to be continued