”When the good man aims to reform the societal ills, carefulness should be his watchword, else, he ends up being the duster to clean up the mess…” Yoruba Proverb…
Ola picked up his pen to write his reply. He had never in his life written such, so what to write is somehow beyond him.
The girl to whom he is about to write to belongs to a well known family in the Sagamu metropolis, the Jeje family. They lived in the Ayegbami axes of the town which co incidentally is the axis where Ola’s maternal grand parents lived and also his own parents rented the room and parlour in which they presently lived. The only difference is the streets.
The Ayegbami axis is made up of nine streets, hence each street is used to identify which of the Ayegbamis you are headed to.
The thought that he is about to become a friend to one of the progenies of the Jeje family highly honoured him and made him happy. He was dancing Makossa internally, although, he was and is still a poor dancer.
His pen touched the paper and started scribbling. After about five minutes of non stop pen pushing, he read what he had written:
Hi Cool Crown, (Adetutu)
I saw your note and all I can say is that I am flattered by your proposal. Do not look at my unscrupulous and idiosyncratic handwriting. I know it’s below standard to your own cursive style, it wasn’t my fault, my teacher in pry school failed to beat me enough to change it.
I am glad that you found me worthy of friendship, albeit, studymateship. And I hope this will last for a long while as we both help ourselves to the pinnacle of success, which is to pass our WAEC with distinctions.
I also marvel at the extent to which you went to find out about this short and block headed boy. Thanks.
I live in Idera street part of Ayegbami, so I hope we can head home together and thus start our talks from there. Hope you don’t mind. See you after classes.
Olaoluwa Ibrahim Adeona
a.k.a. Obe Kote.
He folded it and put it in his English Language textbook for onward passage to the receiver who by then was on her seat.
”Please, help me pass this book to Tutu.” he said to the nearest person to him. And thus it was passed till it reached Tutu who collected th book and smiled when she saw the name on it.
She stylishly removed the note and sent back the text to its source. As she was about to read the note, the next teacher walked in…
The teacher did not stay long in the class just like the others that had come before her that day. She just came to introduce the subject to them and encourage them to work hard at the subject and what it will entail. The subject was Home Management.
Immediately she left the class, Tutu speedily brought out the note which she had kept in a book under her desk and glanced furtively around the class before placing her head on the desk as if to have a short nap before reading the note. This, she thought to herself, is a precaution necessary to be taken to prevent prying eyes of her classmates who might want to know what is crying in the radio.
She had feared that the short boy will decline her the requested friendship because he might think her too forward. But she had to do it in order to place herself in the pilot seat of the boy’s plane before others beat her to it.
As she opened the note, she had her heart in her mouth but her fear turned to happiness as she read each line which further inforned her of Ola’s acceptance of her proposal. She would have shouted and jumped for joy, had it not been that she was in the class. She was so happy that she was grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day. When her seatmate inquired into her sudden happiness, she said, ”Ko le ye e” (You can’t understand), hence, she didn’t press it further.
The rest of the day went like a bullet from a loaded gun. The closing bell sounded. Ola was packing up his books into his bag. He had a lot of space to himself since he was the only one who sat on a chair meant for two students. Though it wasn’t of his making, the other students detest sitting in the foremost part of the class. Thus, it afforded him the privilege of scattering his books all over the available space only to pack them when going home.
A tap on the shoulder made him look up from his business and he beheld the smiling face of none other than his new found friend beaming down on him. He was shocked but he masked it with his own smile too and motioned her to seat beside him which she did.
They both packed up the rest of the books and in no time, they were outside the school gates heading for home.
For the first few metres of their journey, silence ruled the air. Each of them wishing the other to break the ice. They both moved their lips but no words came out. After about ten minutes of walking and no talk, one of them spoke.
The silence was becoming too much for both of them and each was willing to break it only that the right word to say is beyond them. But Ola who was the most uncomfortable decided to break the ice. He felt that since Tutu had helped him in the first part by proposing the frienship’s genesis, he should follow up with its exodus. Thus he said:
”Erm… How do I say this? Okay…. Lemme say it this way, can I meet you? Sorry, we have met. I should say… Can I know you?… Or erm… Okay… What do you think?”
Tutu was threatening to burst with laughter as she watched her new friend stutter and pick up in a bid to start the conversation. In their present situation, she knew she would’t have done better herself, so she gave him the credit for being so audacious.
She let out a small chuckle which she couldn’t help, cleared her throat and said:
”Erm… Where do I start from? Okay, I will let you into the basics and as we progress in the friendship, you get to know the rest. As you already know, I am Adetutu Jejeloye of the famous Jeje family of Ayegbami Sagamu. I am fourteen years old.”
As she said this, Ola looked at her with disbelief written all over his face. He had looked at her as someone older than him. She looked well over that age, say, fifteen plus. But here is she telling him they were age mates. He found that hard to believe.
She sensed his disbelief and said,
”You won’t be the first not to believe my age, but take it or leave it, ojo ori mi niyen (that’s my correct age). So as I was saying, I am the second child and first daughter of Mr and Mrs. Timothy Jeje. As you know,we are christians, though there are muslims in my extended family. We live in Ayegbami, Akeredolu Street precisely. I love reading and singing. And I like dancing. So what else o…. Okay, I like making friends, but sensible ones and I can go to any extent to get what I want. Now your turn.”
Ola told her about himself and added that,
”I like walking, reading, meeting people and helping people. I also am a kind of timid or say shy around people, maybe cos of my height, which is why I have less friends and lastly, I hate lies. It turns me off people. So you are welcome to my world…”
Tutu knew she had found a loyal friend because as he spoke, she could see the sincerity and humility with which he spoke. She also noticed that he had seen the rough side of life. The white shirt he wore could easily sieve yam flour, she guessed he must have bben wearing it from his junior days. His trousers were altered and a little size too big or small. It has ‘my brother dash me’ written all over it. Yet, he never complained. And she now got the reasong why he said he loved walking. What other options has he? He confirmed the yoruba proverb ‘One with a cap has no head, while one with a head lacks the cap to wear.’ She made a mental note to help her friend in any little way she can.
By now, they are at the ever busy Isale Oko motor park. Ola on his part is fighting an inner battle on whether to use the five naira with him to take transport or trek. If he spends the money today, he might need it tomorrow. His buttocks still hurt, though little, from Mr. Standard’s cane of the previous term. He was always late to school that term and every one before it. Anytime he treks in the morning, he was doomed to be punished. That was why he made a resolution to avoid late coming in this second part of his sojourn in the school. He had prayed that his mother should be able to afford five naira a day so that he won’t get late to school anymore.
”A penny for your thoughts,” he heard as he realised that he had been long gone from where he was. Tutu was staring at him expectantly which made him cringe. He instantly loosened up and said hoping to cover up,
”My thoughts are worth billions of dollars.”
He saw that it made no difference then he asked, ”Did you ask me a question?”
Tutu replied, ”Yes now, mo ni ko je ki a lo wo moto. Abi o fe fi ese rin ni? (I said let’s get a cab, or do you want to trek?) and you didn’t answer me. That’s when I knew you weren’t here with me.”
”Ah.. Tutu ma binu. I was just lost in thought. Okay, your answer now. Go and take a cab, I will trek and we shall see in school tomorrow.”
”Why trekking?” asked Tutu. The answer she already knew, but she had to ask.
”I want to see someone along hospital road and I want to read newspaper at the Local Government Library, so I have to trek. Besides, I love trekking. Remember I told you before.” Ola lied.
”Ola… Ode lo pe mi, abi? (Do you think I’m a fool?) your lies are too porous. I know why you want to trek and again in this hot sun, even when you are very hungry. Can’t you see that your tummy is almost like your back? I like that, shy and not wanting to cause me inconveniences. Okay o. Let’s get a cab and go home so that you can eat o.” Tutu concluded.
…to be continued