WRITTEN BY: LIZZY OYEBOLA YAKUBU
(Click here for episode 12)
My dad must have intimated the school authority about the whole issue on ground because I could see everyone was extremely nice to me.
I would wake up every morning to nothing less than two pails of water and in the evening, another two pails of water would be waiting for me again.
My hostel mistress would always have my meals sent to my room whenever she realized I wasn’t coming out to the dining hall so fast.
Within three days, I had become extremely lean.
I fasted and prayed a whole lot for my father. I was so sad.
The last time I used my housemistress’ phone to call my dad’s phone, it was Moses that picked it up. He told me that all was well with my dad and that I shouldn’t bother calling his line again and face my exam.
That alone made me so apprehensive.
He said my dad was fine but I couldn’t speak with him!
He said my dad was fine but why was he even with his phone?
He said my dad was fine but why did I have such horrible feelings inside me?
I couldn’t concentrate in the class!
I couldn’t talk to anyone, not even my bestie, Dola!
I couldn’t smile, even if it was to pretend.
I was visibly shaken and sad!
I couldn’t even read for my examinations!
I saw my dreams of becoming a medical doctor collapse in my very front!
A few days after my arrival at the boarding house, I suddenly felt a warm touch on my cheeks. That was when I knew that I had fallen asleep inside Mr. Ogedengbe’s Physics’ class. It had never happened!
Dola and I were his best students and we were always very active in his class. It was so sad for me however to wake up to my Principal’s touch, Mr. Ogedengbe’s sad look and my classmates’ questionable faces.
I tried to smile slightly as I wiped my face with a handkerchief.
“Blossom, follow me!” The principal said and I nodded knowingly. I deserved whatever punishment she would give me.
I placed my notebooks and school bag in the locker, locked it with my padlock and threw the key in my pocket. I started to follow her, not sparing a chance to glance at my peeping classmates.
Immediately we entered her office, the principal pulled me close to her and gave me a warm hug!
That was the warmest hug I had ever received from a woman- a mother!
It was so soothing that I burst out crying. She patted my back continuously, sobbing too.
“Blossom, I know, I know. I know” She said, squeezing my shoulders as she did.
I couldn’t say anything but weep!
She couldn’t stop sobbing too.
“I am sorry. I am so sorry” She said after a while. I was just inconsolable!
After some minutes of crying, hugging and patting, she moved to her table, sat on a swivel chair and mopped her face with a paper towel. She handed me one too and offered me a seat.
“Blossom, exams start in two days. How far have you gone in preparing for your exams?” She asked and I sighed.
“I had been reading before the exams, thankfully but I have not been able to study really good this period. I might as well write the papers next year. I am not coordinated mentally at this point.” I said and she sighed painfully.
“Would your dad love that you postpone your exams?” She asked and tears ran into my eyes again.
“He probably wouldn’t”
“And I wouldn’t love that too. I wouldn’t watch the affairs of life crush my sweetest, most-intelligent girl! I would love you to write the exams this year” She said and I nodded.
“I will try, then, but, really, I do not trust myself” I said and she smiled.
“I trust you!” She said, confidently. I looked at her face questionably. “Oh yes, you are second to none, dear Blossom! Even when Dola comes close to you, you either beat him with a few marks or have a draw with him. I trust you this time around as well. You will not only do me proud, you will do our school, the state and the nation proud as well”
“Thanks for the encouragement ma. I am really grateful” I said, doubting everything she had said about me.
The two best students the school had ever produced were Dola and I. And we were besties. I was the Class captain for two years while he was my assistant. He became the class captain twice while I was his assistant. When we got to SS.2, he was the assistant head boy while I was the assistant head girl. And in our final year at school, he was the head boy while I was the head girl!
Talebearers even called us ‘the best couple of the school’
We both didn’t like the name because we were of course, children of God. He was the president of the fellowship and I was the vice president but we were so close.
The past few days of not being myself however affected our friendship a whole lot. And to cut the long story short, I couldn’t bring myself to giving him details. This I knew would hurt him deeply but I was not ready to talk about it.
“Should I ask Dola to study with you?” The principal asked and I smiled.
“Ma, if it becomes necessary, I will ask him myself ma.” I said and she smiled. “If you wouldn’t mind ma, I would love to go to my hostel now since it’s the closing hour already. I am having this splitting headache that can only go away when I rest my body” I said, corteously.
“I feel so sad that you have built a wall around yourself and I can’t seem to get in. Please, if there is a way you would love me to help, talk to me. I am your mum here. Your dad has handed you over to me” She said and I smiled.
“I am much honoured ma and I wouldn’t hesitate to come to you if the need arises” I said and she nodded. She stood up and moved close to me.
“I have three boys. I do not have a female child. Since JSS 1 when you became our student here, I had always seen you as my daughter. You know that, right?” She asked and I smiled slightly.
Of course, I knew!
She was always calling me ‘My baby’ and she would always send me precious gifts during special occasions like my birthday, Christmas, Easter and so on. She had been such a sweet friend to my family that I had even considered her getting married to my father if needs be since she was a widow.
But, it didn’t work!
“I will do all in my capacity to help your dad come out of this whole issue successfully” She said, placing the back of her palm on my forehead as if in a bid to feel my temperature.
Immediately those words of hers greeted my ears, I quickly stood up from the chair and went on my knees, holding her feet.
“You know how close you and my dad are. Please, get him out of this mess. Please. That is the only help I need from you, mummy” I cried out, squeezing her shoes out of sheer anxiety.
She bent and brought me up before her.
“You called me, mummy? Wow! That sounds so amazing!” She said and I wiped my tears.
“Now, who loves Mr. Fries more now? You or me?” She asked and I looked into her eyes to see pain. I realized that her eyes were red and veins popped out of the sides of her head visibly.
That was when my suspicion was confirmed!
She had loved my dad so much but my dad probably didn’t even see it!
She cleared her throat and walked back to her seat.
“Your dad is a wonderful friend of our family. It worries me that he is in this condition as well. But, I assure you that I am doing everything in my power to ensure that he comes out of that cell soon and unhurt” She promised and the glitter of hope and assurance in her voice, made my spirit quicken.
“Thank you so much, mummy!” I said again. Since she wanted me to call her that, and seeing the fact that she was playing the mummy role well, I decided to give her the honour she deserved as well.
“Do you have a Bible?” She asked.
“Great! My children, some selected members of staff and I would be waiting on the Lord concerning this case next tomorrow. You can also fast, pray and study your Bible in your own hostel. As we raise our face to God in Heaven, we are sure that He would hear us and favour us”
“Amen! Thank you so much ma. I will definitely join in this. I am so glad that you are going all the way to pray for my dad. God bless you ma” I said and she smiled.
“The best you can do for your dad and I is prepare for this exam and ace it!” She said and I sighed with a newer resolution.
“God will help me ma. I will definitely try my best” I said and as I walked out of her office, the breeze felt so cool, the weather smelt so nicely and my heavy heart became so light.
I thought there was no one in the world who loved my dad besides his staff and I but to see someone so influential, standing up for him in love, I felt so relieved. It felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I was almost turning to the right, towards my hostel when the familiar voice of my best friend stopped me.
“How long will you run away from me, daughter of God?” He asked and I turned to look at him.
Dola had changed into his hostel wears and he looked as handsome as ever in them. He had a smile on but on a closer look, he looked worried.
“You left your bag in your locker. I brought it for you” He said and I smiled.
“So, you wanted to see me that badly?” I teased and he sighed, looking relieved.
“You seem to be in a very good mood now, Blossom. Please can we talk?” He asked and I nodded.
“Let’s go to the chapel” He said and we started walking towards the school chapel that was situated close to the dining hall.
“Why won’t you give my bag to me?” I asked and he smiled.
“I am helping my bestie. You look so lean and I do not want you to be stressed” He said and I chuckled.
“I guess you enjoy the rumours really well” I said and he laughed.
As we entered the chapel, he drew out two chairs and signalled for me to sit in one of them. He sat in the other and placed my bag on one of the tables.
He looked into my eyes deeply and my stomach flickered. I blushed.
“Why are you looking into my face that way? I look really ugly now, right?” I said and he shook his head, still looking intently at me.
“You want me to start praising you ba?” He asked and I threw my key at him, feigning anger. We both laughed as he threw it back to me and I put it in my pockets.
“I want us to have a talk. Shall we?” He asked and I nodded.
“Okay. Thank you” He said and bowed his head. “Shall we pray?” He asked and I sighed.
The prayer man!
“Lord of life, thank You for my lovely friend, Blossom Fries and her beloved family…” He started to pray. I closed my eyes halfway so I could survey his face as he prayed.
He prayed so fervently, raising his right hand up intermittently as he did. His eyes were firmly shut. I felt guilty immediately and shut my eyes.
“Take over our discussion Lord Jesus. For we have prayed in Jesus Name. Amen!” He rounded off and I echoed a loud ‘amen’ as well.
“Thank you, Dola. I am so grateful” I said and he smiled.
“I have missed you” He said and I smiled again. We had been together for so many years but I just couldn’t get used to his compliments. They made me feel so beautiful! I knew however that the compliments didn’t mean so much to him as that was how he complimented everyone! So that was why I wouldn’t allow any of them to get into my head.
“I know you must have missed me. I do too, of course. It’s not easy actually. Sometimes, I would put myself in your shoes and I would cringe. It would be unbearable for me” I said and he smiled.
“Yes, I know, right! Something would be happening to me and I wouldn’t tell you? I would be quiet with you and oh my, I can even imagine the way your eyes would be rolling in disappointment” He said and I chuckled.
“Thank you for understanding me and giving me that space, then. It was seriously necessary”
“You are welcome” He opened my bag and brought out a big notebook. “I put this notebook in your bag as a gift to you” He said and I collected the book from him and started opening.
The over 500 leaves in the book were fully inked.
“I read the whole of our notes from the beginning to the end three times and wrote out the summary here. This is what I use for revision also, please use it.” He said and I was dumbfounded, tears rushing into my eyes.
“You are giving me your revision note?” I asked and he shook his head.
“I have another copy that I am reading. This one is mainly for you” He said and I started to rub my eyes so that the tears wouldn’t fall.
“Dola, you are amazing! Oh my, goodness! Would I have done the same if I was in your shoes?” I asked, doubting my generosity.
“You would have done more than this, I trust you. So, please, start reading from the beginning. I am sure you have read, so this is just a revision. Let us meet in the library every evening for examination prep. Are you in?” He asked and I smiled, gratefully.
“Of course, I am. Now, I have hope again that I can make it in this exam! Being coached by the most intelligent guy in Nigeria is such a privilege!” I said and he started laughing.
“You can so whine, ehn! Anyway, to the discussion of the day” He said and I sighed.
“Yeah, ask me anything.”
“Daddy is not fine, right?” He asked and I nodded.
“How did you know that?”
“I know he is the only one who can shake you this much. You even came to the boarding school after all your boasts. It’s not normal” He said and I chuckled.
“Yeah, dad got married without telling anyone. The woman was introduced to him by his mum and he succumbed to the pressure of getting married to her”
“Hmmmm” Dola sighed, rubbing his bare chin as if some strands of fine hair graced the site.
“From the day of the wedding, there had been problems. One day, dad got angry and lashed her. Well, the woman called the cops on him and exaggerated what had happened and…” I was saying when the continuous shaking of his head made me stop.
“Why is the devil determined to fight you?” He asked, somewhat lost. His eyes, though looking at me were so distant. I was startled.
“What do you mean?” I asked to be sure I heard him correctly.
“Really, I can see that you are such a glorious lady, that is why the devil is fighting you so much. I think he is even fighting your dad because of you!” He said again and I blinked a million times in a second to be sure I was listening right.
“Dola, talk to me. I do not seem to get all you are saying” I said and he sighed.
“I just didn’t tell you, Blossom, I have been having very deep and strange revelations about you. I have fasted and prayed for you, even yesterday, I still did! The devil is not happy with you at all but he has failed! Even my parents are praying for you” He said and I sighed loudly.
I couldn’t believe that my friend was being real!
“Share the visions with me, will you?” I asked and he smiled.
“I definitely will but not now. After our exams, I will share them with you. See Blossom, the devil wants to take away everyone that is close to you. He wants to take away your clothing and leave you naked so you can die of the blowing, whistling and wheezing winter!” He said and my heart wouldn’t sit still. It wouldn’t stop racing as if being pursued.
I had never had a very serious discussion like that with Dola in our six years friendship!
There was a deep light in his eyes that I had never seen before. I knew what he was saying was revelational. I knew it was indeed for me but I was so scared! The sayings were too much for me to bear.
“Even I might be taken away from you sooner or later” He said and my eyes widened.
“What are you saying?” I asked, my throat, dry all of a sudden. “Have your parents finalized their plans that you would be travelling abroad for your first degree?” I asked, suddenly afraid that the worst might have happened.
His parents had always wanted him to go to Harvard University to study Medicine and Surgery but I had always been praying against it. I knew it was not too good for me to do that but I simply couldn’t imagine being far away from Dola!
He burst out laughing- making jest of my funny face, obviously.
“You don’t want me to go?” He asked and I looked away from him, becoming weaker all of a sudden.
“Dad would never leave you alone! I am going nowhere! I prayed about it and told my parents that I would love to be near them and you, for my first degree at least, they saw sense in it! It was God anyway! It was…”
“You told them you would love to be near me too?” I asked and he nodded. I smiled, “I didn’t know they know me that well”
“Oh really!” He said and laughed shortly. “They know you o. So, do not be scared, daughter, dad is going nowhere” He said and I paused for a while.
“Dad? Who is that? You?” I asked and he started to laugh.
“Since daddy is not around for now, I will be responsible for you, I promise. Just let me know if you need anything” He said and it was my turn to laugh out loudly, slapping my laps as I did. He watched on with a funny grin.
“Do you know how old I am? Dola, I must be definitely older than you. You do celebrate your birthdays 5th May. I celebrate mine 10th January. Do you even know what that means? Five months no be moinmoin”
“What are you saying? I am older o. I was born in 1983, you were born in 1984, right?” He asked and my laugh melted away.
“Seriously? Are you for real? You are older than me?” I asked and it was his turn to start laughing.
“I do not find it funny, Dola!” I said and he mopped his face with his towel and looked into my face squarely.
“Will it be possible for you and I to do some intensive studying between today and tomorrow?” He asked and I sighed.
“Sure. What paper are we having on the first day?”
“Physics practical and Mathematics” He said and I nodded.
“I give you the chance this time, elder brother, get your first class grade!” I said and he smiled.
“I do not trust that. With what I know about you, in one hour, you can even learn everything I have learnt in four days!”
“Ah, exaggeration is a sin o” I said and he smiled.
“I know you are just good. That is it. We need to intensify our prayers for you and your family also, so, let’s try to wait on the Lord in fasting” He said and I nodded.
“The principal also asked me to wait tomorrow. Isn’t the Spirit of God one indeed?”
“Wow, that is fiery! Glory be to God”
“Thanks for being so revelational today, my friend! I am so proud to be your friend. Thanks for praying for me. Thanks for telling your parents about me. Thanks for giving me your revision notes. Thanks for fasting on my behalf. Thank you so much!”
“C’mon, don’t make me cry.” He said and feigned a tearful face. I chuckled. “Let’s go to the dining hall for our lunch. Afterwards, we can skip afternoon siesta and just start to study, right?”
“Yeah, right! I am so grateful”
Everyone that saw me after my discussion with the Senior Prefect Boy knew that something must have happened to me!
I became more radiant, cheerful, friendly and hopeful. I would pray for my dad anytime his thought crossed my mind and I would force my mind to believe that all would be well with him.
Soon, it was the examination day! I was so glad that I could finally put my situation aside for a while to write.
I had just finished pressing my school uniform when my school daughter, Cythn walked in.
“Mother, good morning” She greeted.
“Good morning my baby. How was your night?” I asked, pecking her on the cheek.
“I am fine, mama. You?” She asked and I raised my hands to Heaven as I started putting on my uniform shirt and skirt.
“Have you had breakfast?”
“I took some tea, momma. I am actually feeling cold. I hope it’s not a flu” She said.
“Oh my baby girl” I pulled her close, hugged her and prayed for her. I rubbed her chest with some mentholyn and made sure her shirt covered her chest. I doubled her socks and wore her some thick mittens. When I was satisfied that she was well covered, I moved to my table to make a cup of coffee for her.
“Oh my, I forget to tell you, mother. The SP asked me to come and check on you to know if you are fine. He then told me to meet him at the dining hall before the morning bell is rung”
“Dola, ehn!” I exclaimed. “Thank you my baby. I am actually set to go now. After this cup of coffee, we are good” I said, stirring the content of the first tea cup and handing it over to my baby. I soon downed my own portion and moved to my bed to make it.
That was how my day started. Beautiful, with my loved ones, hopeful and gracious.
Until the external exam invigilator asked me to go get one of the teachers who was also supposed to help in the invigilation but hadn’t arrived.
I saw Dola signalling to me that he would go instead but I smiled at him to forget it. I was not ready for the jeers of my classmates who would start saying ‘Couple of the Year’ again.
I scurried to the staff room and as I approached the door, I slowed down, in an attempt to catch my breath. I knew how attacky my teachers could be.
“What was pursuing you?” would be one big question all of them would have asked.
As I was catching my breath, something drifted to my ears from the blaring TV that was in the staff room.
Mr. Fries, who is also the father of the overall UTME best student in the Nation, Miss Blossom Fries will have his first appearance at the Federal High Court, Ikeja for the allegations against him by his wife, Romoke Fries who he allegedly stabbed four times in the back and strangled till life almost went out of her for not preparing lunch fast.
My heart sunk!
In the past few days, the news media has been set ablaze by the news. Many activists have come to the support of Mrs. Fries. Nigerians are looking up to the government to take this case very seriously and not allow it slide. Domestic violence is becoming the order of the day in many states of Nigeria and the citizenry hopes that the government will discipline Mr. Fries appropriately once found guilty.
“Jesus!” I exclaimed, holding my rumbling stomach in pain.
So far, no witness has come forward and all the evidences on ground are pointers to the fact that Mr. Fries might have to stay for nothing less than 10 years in prison for attempted murder.
The volume was drastically reduced just then and I could start hearing my teacher’s voice.
“I like Blossom but if her dad is such a beast, he should be punished” Mrs. Ada said.
“And he is a Christian o” I heard Mr. Ogedengbe, my Physic Teacher’s voice.
“Ah, Christians are the major perpetrators of domestic violence o. That Mr. Fries ehn, I had always suspected him. He would be acting like an angel up and down. I knew he was just a hypocrite. He must even be sleeping with Blossom sef. Who knows?” Someone said but I couldn’t tell who it was.
“Miss Amaka, God will forgive you o!” Some of the teachers said. So, I knew who had spoken. Miss Amaka, our church’s choir leader!
I had a splitting headache all of a sudden.
I just wasn’t set for such news!
Immediately I heard someone approaching the door, I ran behind the staff block to hide. I squatted there and wept!
My poor father!
My heart ripped open at once and it felt like blood was gushing out of my body in quick succession!
“I need to make this woman confess! I need to make everyone know that she was not stabbed. I need to defend my dad. Oh, daddy!” I lamented again, shaking vigorously as I wept.
“He will be in court tomorrow?” I asked myself suddenly. I jumped up at once.
“Then, I have to go and get that woman to confess! Oh my Jesus!” I exclaimed badly. I was so weak.
Where is the woman?
How will I find her?
How will I leave the school compound without anyone knowing?
I started hurrying to my hostel to at least pick some money.
Thankfully, my housemistress was not on the seat. I picked all the thousand naira notes I had in my box, tucked them in my purse, brought out my phone that I had hidden in my bag and placed them all in my small bag.
“Is someone inside the SP’s room?” I heard my housemistress’ voice. I froze all of a sudden!
Immediately I heard her approaching, I quickly passed the back door and jumped out.
I knew how much they would stop me from leaving the school premises!
I needed to go defend my dad!
I needed to be his witness!
If the news said no witness had surfaced, it meant that Moses and Yekini had probably fled or betrayed my dad. I needed to combat the evil!
I started running towards the bush at the back of our hostel as fast as my legs could carry me. I clutched my bag to my side and as I sighted the lower part of the school fence, my heart leaped for joy because I knew I could scale through that.
I heard the back door of the hostel open and I knew that before long, my housemistress would catch up with me.
“Blossom, c’mon, is that you?” I heard her ask but I couldn’t even turn back. I was busy trying my best to climb the fence and jump to the other side. “Shouldn’t you be in the exam hall?”
My left leg successfully crossed over to the other side and I was about to lift my right leg to the other side so I could jump down when I felt a tight squeeze around my leg, the one that had crossed over.
The squeeze was tight and painful, it felt that my bone would crush. Looking down to check what it was, I received a hot spit in my eyes that blinded me immediately and I fell over, back into the school compound.
“Snake!” I screamed as my voice could carry me. “My eyes!” I cried, so stupefied.
“Yes, I saw her. She was climbing over the fence. Oya, please, Mr. Abraham, help us jump and bring her back. So that…”
“I could hear my housemistress saying from afar. Couldn’t she hear my shout?
“HELLLPPPPPPPPPP!” I cried all at once. “A snake is holding my leg. I cannot see. Sand and petrol are in my eyes ooooo” I screamed with all my might as the squeeze tightened around my leg.
I felt a deep sting all at once and knew immediately that I had been bitten.
As I let out a deafening shout, the squeeze on my leg gave way and I could feel the snake slide away.
The door to my ICU opened and my personal nurse walked directly to my side, looking so worried. I had to pause the audio.
She walked to the monitor immediately and then walked to my side.
I couldn’t wipe my tears so she noticed it at once.
“Were you crying? What is the matter? Why is your blood pressure so high? The alarm blared so loudly in my room just now and I had to come, rushing over” She said and I smiled.
“Oh my, Kate, it’s really nothing to worry about. I was listening to a life story and the suspense and emotions in it must have caused that. I am so sorry.” I apologized but she wouldn’t be appeased.
She walked to the walk and switched off the control box.
“You are not listening to that thing again! Do you want to wound yourself?” She asked and I smiled.
“Promise that you will come back immediately my BP normalizes to switch the TV on for me again” I said and she shook her head, helping me to lay down in bed.
“Never. If this will wound you, then, it should be done away with” She said and I started laughing out loudly, coughing as I did.
“Then, Kate, you would need to kill me!” I said and she sighed.
“I will think about it then. Please, rest. For the sake of your baby” She said and I nodded.
My heart wouldn’t stop racing as I imagined the whole scenario.
“Oh my goodness, what has Blossom done? Why is her life so difficult?” I asked myself as I pulled a throw pillow to my chest and hugged it.
Tears streamed down my face as the reality of what had happened to Blossom gripped my heart.
So, what is gonna happen?
CLICK HERE FOR EPISODE 14
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