Friday, May 1, 2009

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 5)

The moment Tunbosun left Shade, she had found a solitary spot. She wasn’t interested in talking to anybody or watching any game. She also needed time to be alone. She had always heard that there are some things money cannot buy. Now, experience had taught her that. Her dad, a Senator, had being diagnosed of cancer of the liver just a month back.
She had always told him she hated his smoking habit, but he had always said there was nothing he could do about it. Now, he had landed himself in an incurable disease. No day passed that she didn’t dread what would become of her if her father was to die. She was almost changing her mind lately about continuing in the medical career’ but her father diagnosis revived her desire to further the cause of ensuring health for many.
She had been so consumed in her thoughts she hardly heard when the whistle went.
“Hey pretty!” Tunbosun was distracted from her thoughts as she saw an image walk in her direction. ‘Not this guy again’ she thought to herself.
“What are you doing here all alone? The whistle has gone.”
“Really?” she asked, looking round and feeling stupid. “Oh! Thanks” she said, standing from the stump of the tree she was sitting on.
“You didn’t watch any game. You missed!” Tunbosun kept walking without responding. “Why are you refusing to talk with me, Tunbosun?” Stanley asked, calling her name with his Igbo accent.
“There’s nothing we have to talk about.” Tunbosun said, and then stopped to face him. “See I know your type, okay? I’m a wrong target! Please, as you could see, I was alone, and won’t mind walking alone to the hostel.” She said, and walked away.
Stanley was too embarrassed to try again. He decided to let her go. He had to think of a way to get her. She was pretty but he didn’t like her; she was too proud and sure of herself. ‘Tunbosun, I’ll surely get you, and when I’m done with you, you’ll be worse than a piece of rag’, he thought to himself.
Uche lay on his bed, waiting for the whistle to sound for dinner. He felt so relieved. He had a time of his life with Fatima. She had listened to carefully to everything he said. He had never thought he would it.
He remembered the look on Fatima’s face when he told her what happened to him three years back. He was very close to his only sister; they were just two. Their parents usually came home late from work. She was basically all he had, and he loved her. They played together, read together, and ate together; they were inseparable. She had long hair, and he made it a hobby, plaiting her hair.
However, when he became a teenager, they started having quarrels. He would insist on watching a sports channel when she wanted to watch a Nollywood film, he would shout at her for giving him small meat, not taking the time to see that hers was even smaller. He made her cry at different times, and would later apologise. They were still close but not as before, and the teenage hormones in Uche didn’t make him care.
Then, someday, they had another quarrel, the worst ever. She had scolded him for coming home late. She had wanted to go to the market but had been waiting for him. He insulted her in many words, telling her she wasn’t his mother and would never be. And as she was about leaving the house for the market, he said words he’d never forget. “Ada, I hate you; don’t even come back home!”
As he said it, he had regretted it, and worse was he saw her eyes were already filling. He had wanted to apologize but his male ego restrained him. After a few minutes, he became sober and longed for her to return so he could apologise to her. He hated hurting her but wondered why he kept doing so.
He waited an hour but she didn’t come back. Two hours. Three hours. He became worried. He was going to go out and look for her when a neighbour brought him the news the changed his life. Ada was dead. The Okada she was on had been hit by a vehicle and both she and the rider died on the spot.
He had become numb immediately, unable to respond past a nod. The neighbour tried to comfort him but he asked her to leave. He shot the door behind her, sat on the floor and just stared blankly. He remembered his last words to his sister and he wasn’t to scream, cut himself, cry, or just die but he did not but stare. And that was the beginning on his solitary, depressed and insecure life. He never wept for his sister until the moment he had opened up to Fatima.
He shed tears, there in public. It was his first time truly mourning his sister who had died three years ago. He had blamed himself with every passing day for her death and felt he didn’t deserve to be happy for the rest of his life. He still felt the guilt and was still angry with himself but he felt much lighter, now that he had offloaded the weight and shared it with somebody.
She just listened to him, and didn’t have time to respond because the whistle went shortly after he finished his story. She told him she had a secret to share with him too, something he needed to hear. That was what was on Uche’s mind now. He wanted to hear what Fatima had to say. ‘Does she have a secret similar to mine or is hers even worse?’ They had agreed to talk during dinner. Uche looked at his wristwatch. ‘The whistle would be blown anytime soon.’ He thought to himself as he sat up, looking forward to see Fatima again.
“You should have seen him, he’s so skillful.” Shade was saying to Tunbosun who was clearly uninterested in her conversation.
The whistle sounded. “It’s time for dinner.” Tunbosun said as she made ready to leave the room, hoping Shade would stop her tales at least for a while. She had known the girl would fall for the Utibe guy when she saw her naïve reaction to the guy during lunch. She had seen girls hurt before and hoped Shade wouldn’t add to the number. She hoped the girl would soon come to her sense, because as at now, she wouldn’t listen to anybody’s advice.
“Um, Tunbosun” Shade called
“I would be sitting with Utibe at dinner today”
“Okay” Tunbosun said, happy she won’t be bugged by Shade’s stories but still bothered for the girl. “So, we meet at the lecture hall?” Shade made a face and Tunbosun understood clearly. “Oh sorry, I forgot; it’s an all night conversation. We’ll see in the hostel then, after tonight’s Talent Hunt screening.”
“Mmhmm” Shade said smiling.
They both walked out of the room and the only thought on Tunbosun’s mind was ‘Why do girls fall so easily for boys, can’t they just sit down and think a little? Can’t they see all boys are flirts?’
“Oh boy! I dey lucky o! That girl don trip already. Wetin I go do now?” Utibe was asking his friends as they sat down at a table in dinning hall.
“Na small small you go start?” Stanley replied.
“How?” Utibe asked, genuinely interested.
Stanley smiled and slapped him on the back. “JJC!”. He faced Okpara. “Abi, you too be JJC?” Okpara shook his head. “Then, tell him how he’ll do it”
“You’ll start by looking for an opportunity to touch her. When, she comes, shake her hand and hold it a little longer. Then, when she sits and you talk, while laughing or expressing yourself, keep touching her hand or shoulder. Then, possibly when in the lecture, try to get a seat behind, then put your hand across her chair, then eventually on her shoulders. Abi?” Okpara asked, facing Stanley.
“Yes. Try not to exceed the shoulders part today. If you do, she’ll know what you want but hands on the shoulders could be interpreted as a friendly gesture. See how she responds to it. If she’s okay with it then, tomorrow we’ll progress to the more intimate body parts.”
Utibe nodded, taking in all the instructions. “What about you, how far with Tunbosun?”
“That girl is one hard nut to crack. But now, I don’t even want to crack her, that would be too dignified for her”
“So, you want to leave her?” Okpara asked, disappointed.
“No, never. She’s humiliated me. I want to crush her. leave her wounded; unable to ever lift her head again. Make her wish she was never a female.”
“Hey! I don’t like the way you’re sounding. Don’t hurt that girl” It was Utibe voicing out now.
“You leave that to me and mind your own business with…” Stanley hushed when he saw Shade walk in their direction. “Remember the process!” he hissed into Utibe’s ears as he and Okpara moved to another table.
Utibe couldn’t help noticing that Shade wore a dress that brought out her full shape and she had added a little twist to her walking. ‘All for me?’ he thought. ‘This would definitely be a great night’.

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