Friday, May 1, 2009

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 2)

The session was over and Shade was pressed; she had to use the ladies. While announcements were going on, she left her seat and walked towards the facilities. On her way up the hall stairs, he noticed a familiar face. ‘Where did I know this girl?’ The girl was talking to the boy by her side and didn’t notice Shade. She wanted to call her but just then, her bladder told her she had to hurry. She hurried along, proposing to see the girl when she returned.
Getting to the toilet, she noticed it was much neater than the toilet in the hostel so, she decided to have a relaxed bowel movement, not the type with one hand on the nose and the other chasing away flies. As she eased herself, she tried to remember the girl’s name, or least recall where they met but the memory seemed very hazy.
When she was out of the facilities, most of the students had left the hall, including the girl she had hoped to see. ‘I’ll see her some other time’, she told herself. “Tunbosun!” she called to her friend, sitting rows away, where she’d been. “I’m done”
“Na wa for you o!” Tunbosun said, when she was closer. “Na thirty minutes you dey use piss for your school?”
“Sorry jare.” Shade said, collecting her writing pad from Tunbosun. “I decided to do the two together when I got to there.”
“Ah! Okay I for say o!” Tunbosun said, smiling.
“Na you sabi!” Shade responded as they walked out of the hall together. The organizers had consciously mixed up the participants so that no two students from the same school were bunk mates. Shade and Tunbosun had been paired, and they had kicked off well. Shade was from Federal Government College, Ipetumodu, Osun state, while Tunbosun was from Standford College, Abuja.
“How come you speak broken English often? Is it allowed in your school?” Shade asked Tunbosun.
“No, it’s not. I could be suspended if caught, but I live in Warri and that’s how I talk with my friends at home. Don’t mind me, I’m a tush girl o” Tunbosun said, smiling.
“You don’t have to tell me. I know. Anyone from Standford has to be tush”
“I agree. The money we pay in that school is too much. I told my parents over and again to take me to a Federal school were the standard is the same and fees are cheaper but they insisted, claiming they wanted a Christian private school for me.” Tunbosun paused, then added. “But do you know what?”
“What?” Shade asked.
“I think they put me in that school for prestige purposes. They couldn’t imagine the only child of Senator Badmos going to any other school than the most expensive in Abuja.”
“You cannot blame them”
“I agree but that is not the kind of life I want for myself. I want to grow up to be independent, exposed and mature; able to do what is right by choice not because somebody somewhere is monitoring me.”
“Don’t be biased. There are some good sides to been in a private school; no strikes, close monitoring academically, and nice environment especially in the Christian ones like yours.”
“You’re right Shade. Maybe, I just feel the money is too much. I guess I should read Economics, and not Medicine” Tunbosun said, laughing at herself. “I get too calculative when it comes to money. Do you know how many hungry people my school fees for a session would cater for?”
“I can’t imagine”
“You’d better not. People have different opinions and are permitted to and I have mine too.”
“You’ve given me something to think about” Shade said as they entered the dinning hall. They had barely entered when Shade heard someone call Tunbosun. She looked at Tunbosun and saw she didn’t respond. “That guy is calling you” she said.
“Let’s get a seat first.” Tunbosun said, ignoring the boy calling her. When they were seated, she started. “That guy has been disturbing me since yesterday, when we got here” Shade looked in his direction but Tunbosun didn’t as she continued. “I have been around guys enough to know what he wants.”
Shade, who was a student of an only girls’ school, was at a loss. She kept listening.
“I noticed he hit it off with Okpara right at the parking lot before registration.”
“Who’s Okpara?” Shade asked.
“A fellow prefect from my school, who has been asking me out since our SS1 days. I’m sure Okpara has told him about me. Maybe he wants to show how macho he is. He likely wants to prove to Okpara he can have any girl he wants.”
“How are you sure? Do you even know his name? What if he just wants to be nice?” Shade asked.
“I know some things, girlfriend. You can count the reasonable guys we have now adays. And those few, you’ll know them when you see them. I’ll show you one when I see one”
“What’s his name?”
“Stanley. I don’t even like his name”
“You’re funny Tunbosun”
“Don’t mind me jare.” Just then, they called the table they were seated on. “It’s our turn.” They stood and walked towards the serving point. When they reached the serving point, the join the queue; there were two lines. Shade was in front on Tunbosun.
“Shade!” the guy beside her on the other line called. Shade was taken aback; she didn’t know this guy.
“Hello” she managed to say. Looking at the guy, she was barley able to breath. The guy was fine! And he was so close. She looked away.
“I have heard so many nice things about you” he said, trying to continue the conversation. Shade felt a little embarrassed because people close by could hear him. “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
Shade simply nodded.
“I hope we’ll get to see some other time. My name is Utibe” he said, extending his hand for a handshake. Shade accepted it.
“Guess you already know my name.” she said, trying to look affected by his stare. His handshake lingered and Shade seemed unable to withdraw her hand.
“Hey girlfriend, it’s your turn”, Tunbosun said, poking her from behind; rescuing her.
Shade withdrew her hand and collected her food, still flushed from her conversation with Utibe. She waited for Tunbosun to get hers and they walked back together.
Tunbosun had a smile on her face as they walked back. When they reached their seat, she giggled. “You should have seen yourself, Shade.”
“I beg. Don’t tease me. I don’t know what happened to me there.”
“Would you believe me if I told you that guy had rehearsed all that?”
“He seemed so nice. No guy has spoken to me like that before.” Shade looked at Tunbosun and saw her mock face. “I’m serious. I have two brothers and we quarrel often. I hardly go out, so contact with guys is minimal. Some guys have asked me out, but there’s nothing about them to trip me.” Shade paused, momentarily lost. “Did you see how he looked at me? Did you hear his accent? Did you notice how fine he is?”
Tunbosun, tapped her shoulders repeatedly. Shade looked at her but Tunbosun continued. “Hey, watsup?” Shade asked, bemused.
“Wake up! Wake up girl. Don’t just fall for a guy because of his outward qualities. There’s more to everyone than meets the eye.”
“Tunbosun, I understand, but this guy seems okay. If he wants to make friends with me after now, I’d gladly accept.”
“Be careful dear.”
“I will” Shade said. She had discreetly traced where he was seated. As she tasted the jollof rice they had been served, she stole a glance in his direction and saw that he was staring at her. She was so taken aback, she choke don her rice. She had to cough, to clear her throat. She stole an embarrassed peek at him again and saw he was smiling. She felt like a fool. ‘This is crazy’ she thought to herself, as her heart still beat wildly. ‘Why did God create human with emotions?’ she asked herself, as she drank the water Tunbosun offered her.
“Are you okay dear?” Tunbosun asked
“Yes I am, thanks.”
“Guy power dey do you. I pity you o!”
“Leave me jo!”
Tunbosun laughed at her friend. “You’ll get over it” she said and slapped her friend at the back, still laughing.
Shade shook her head, managing a smile, yet wondering how she would face Utibe afterwards, she had just embarrassed herslf. ‘I’ll avoid him. I won’t even talk to him again’ she thought to herself but as she was thinking it she knew it wasn’t possible. She was dying for him to come looking for her. She hoped it won’t be too long before he did.

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