Sunday, August 23, 2009

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 8)

The morning was rather cold and Uche wondered why he felt so uneasy. He tied his towel round his waist and walked towards the bathroom, choosing to discard the unpleasant feeling that something bad was going to happen. On entering the bathroom, many boys were in the shower, most talking, while others were either singing or just enjoying their morning bath in silence.
There were many shower stands in the bathroom, so he didn’t have to wait for anyone to be through. He found one in the far corner, and decided to use it. As he had his bath, he remembered the events of the previous day. He smiled as he remembered his first encounter with Fatima at the lecture hall. One thought led to the other, and he finally ended up thinking of the last conversation they had where she told him about Jesus. Her story had sounded too good to be true; he longed for such a life of peace and joy as Fatima had.
Through the night, he had quite a restful sleep compared to what he had had for years. Uche could only attribute it to his opening up to Fatima and the hope she had brought into his life through the words she had spoken to him.
Walking out of the shower stand, he was ready to take the bold step. He was ready to let go of his past and embrace Jesus. The thought of doing that brought a smile to his face – a heart-felt smile.
Tunbosun had been too eager to get her clothes off the night before that she left the hall immediately the talent hunt was over. As she got to the room, she had changed into her night gown and slept almost immediately. The question that was on her mind as she tried to sleep was ‘Isn’t there more to life than money and education?’
She was still plagued with the fact that her father was so rich and educated, and was about to die like a chicken in the cruel claws of cancer. She didn’t bother fighting the tears; there was no one to see her tears. She only wondered what life was all about. As she thought, she remembered the lines of the girl who acted the one-man drama. ‘Could a relationship with Jesus be the solution?’ She however discarded the thought as soon as it came. ‘I don’t need a God who allows people to die of terrible diseases. Science is even doing more for people than God is’ she convinced herself.
She had slept in that state last night and woke up, hoping to have a quiet morning. She tossed on the bed and looked at her wristwatch. “6am!” She bolted upright and looked round. Girls were moving to and fro the room, some in nightgowns, some in towels, some already dressed in their uniforms. ‘How on earth did I sleep so long?’ she asked herself as she stood. She checked her Bunkie, Shade on the top bunk, and saw she wasn’t there.
Still wondering why nobody had tapped her, she saw Shade walking back from the bathroom.
“Good morning, sleepy head” Shade said, smiling at her.
“Good morning Shade”, she said, not the least happy. “Why didn’t you wake me up now?”
“I didn’t want to disturb you. Felt you must have been very tired.” Tunbosun gave her a questioning look that made Shade explain herself better. “You were already asleep before I came back to the room yesterday and when I saw you didn’t stir at the sound of the whistle this morning, I assumed you were really tired.”
“Thanks.” Tunbosun said, putting a hand to her head. She wondered what the sleep was about; she hardly slept that long. Looking back at her bunkmate, she added. “Please wake me up if such ever happens again”
“Sure” Shade said.
After a few minutes of silence in which Shade got dressed and Tunbosun prepared to use the bathroom, Shade voiced out. “I have gist for you” she said giggling.
Tunbosun guessed where her new friend was going with the conversation and she was totally not interested. Before she could tell Shade to keep the gist till when she was done bathing, her Bunkie had started talking already. She was indeed love-lost.
‘Why on earth am I stuck with this girl’, Tunbosun thought to herself as Shade ranted on and on about the wonderful time she has with Utibe the day before. When Tunbosun couldn’t stomach the girl’s naivety anymore, she politely told Shade she would listen to the rest when she was back from the bathroom.
As she picked her bucket and walked out of the room, she remembered what had made her sleep so long and deep. She had had a dream. As she remembered the dream, she immediately had goose pimples. Her knees knocked, she had to lean on the door for a few seconds. Tunbosun was afraid. ‘Oh God! If at all you’re there, please don’t let it happen to me’ was all she could say as she tried fruitlessly to calm herself.
“Oh boy, I saw you yesterday o!” Okpara was saying, as the trio sat on Utibe’s bed, waiting for the whistle.
“That girl seems too easy. Guess I’m fortunate to be the one who got her first” Utibe said, looking particularly at Stanley, who had proved himself so far to be girl-crazy but he noticed Stanley wasn’t saying anything. “How far man?” he said, poking Stanley.
“Don’t mind me. Just thinking.” He smiled. “I liked your moves yesterday. You played according to plan. You must proceed today. By the time you two have the chance of sitting together, you’ll go deeper.” He said, doing some motions with his hand and the three boys burst into laughter. “After that first time, she’ll be the one begging to have more.”
“Stanley!” the other two chorused, still laughing.
“That’s me! Girls are to be used and dumped. That’s what my brother taught me, and I believe him. You should see how that guy is enjoying life.” He paused his lips. “If you see the babes, I mean, babes that he carries, you’ll salute. He even told me one day that since I’m finer than him, I had better do better than him. And I’ll live up to that challenge. He had three girls when he came for this conference. My own will be five!” he said, confidently.
“Stanlo bobo!” Okpara exulted. “How about Tunbosun now?”
“I still dey plan for that your school mate” he said, facing Okpara. “Did you see what she wore yesterday?”
“No, I was too busy looking at all those girls who were dancing and showcasing their stuffs yesterday”
“Na that one you know how to do – looking.” Stanley said, and then faced Okpara. “What about you?”
“You know now! I was too engrossed with Shade.”
“You two missed!” Stanley said, clearly excited. You should have seen that short and tight black gown she wore. I swear, I thought I was not seeing clearly. That girl is hot.”
“You thought I was blind when I tried my possible best to get her in school?” Okpara said.
“Now, I know why she’s playing hard to get. She wants it and wants me to pursue her but I’m bigger than that. I’m already planning how I would get her to walk by that uncompleted hall tonight.” As he said that, a thought flashed through his mind. Before he could voice out, the whistle sounded.
“I have an idea” he said as they got down from the bunk. “Remind me to tell you guys something in the dinning hall after we’re done with the briefing” he said to his friends. The plan was beginning to come together. Stanley smiled to himself. ‘I’m a genius’.
Walking to the lecture hall for the half-an-hour briefing, George kept praying. He still felt burdened in his heart for Fatima. He looked forward to seeing her in the hall. ‘I would call her and we would pray together about this burden I have’ he thought to himself as he stepped into the hall. He walked down the stairs and found a seat in the front.
He was so pre-occupied in thoughts that he didn’t notice the girl sitting next to him. She flipped over a page of the book she was reading. That sound caught George’s attention, and he suddenly remembered his manners. He turned to his right and greeted her.
“Good morning” he said. As he looked at her, he felt the face was familiar. But she didn’t respond like she knew him; just gave him a polite reply. It was as he thought a little more that he recalled where he saw that face. She was the girl who was shedding tears when Fatima acted her drama yesterday. He knew deep within that God would have him do something to help her. He stole a glance at her and saw she seemed the shy type.
‘How on earth am I going to talk to this girl?’ George contemplated in his heart. ‘Fatima, where are you. Come and help me with this girl’. He discarded the idea of talking to the girl immediately. He couldn’t stomach the courage to talk to her. He decided he would talk to Fatima about it; he was sure she’ll know just the right way to go about it.

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