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Monday, 15 October 2018

BEYOND HATE CHAPTER 4



Chapter Four


Toby.

Jerome had left me behind to talk to Afam. What their discussion was about, I knew not. Afam and Jerome were childhood friends, Infact, they were best of friends when i arrived in SS1. Then, they were inseparable, doing everything together. However, things changed when I started walking with them or rather trying to be in their clique. Afam didn't like me (I think) and Jerome as usual was welcoming. A month after, a huge fight ensued between them. They'd exchanged a few punches with strings of insults and that was the end. The next day Jerome started calling me his best friend. He and Afam never spoke until SS2 first term, and their fight had been in SS1 third term. I had no idea how they started talking or what even caused their fight.

Although Jerome seemed closer to me, and he called me his best friend, I still felt that we could never have what he still has with Afam. Most times I'd catch them talking privately, smiling knowingly or exchanging glances. There were certain things he shared with Afam that we never had.

As usual, the boys dorm smelt horrible. Perhaps the boys who were assigned to wash the toilet had not. As I stepped in, and sighted Jerome with Afam. They stood at the entrance to sapphire house, laughing. I walked towards them. I watched as Afam tapped Jerome, telling him about my approach. Jerome quickly turned.

"G,sup." He smiled.

I shrugged. "Just tired."

I walked past them.

"Black, I'll see you later!" I heard Jerome say.

Black was a name he'd given Afam. Afam was as black as kwame ( chris Attoh) in tinsel. People often asked if he was Ghanaian. Afam was black and surprisingly handsome as well, very handsome.  When I arrived in SS1, everyone often called Jerome and Afam 'Black and white squad' because Jerome was fair skinned, compared to Afam's black colour. I had no idea Jerome still called him Black. It made me feel uneasy.

"Alright na, carry your white ass dey run." Afam snickered.

"Bastard!" Jerome laughed.

I felt him beside me before I could even look at him. His perfume was hard to miss.

"You guys now, this stuff is not funny. Be washing the toilet na." He spoke.

Wale, the acting house captain turned. "Jerome, you! You are giving speech, you didn't even clean when it was your turn."

Jerome raised his hands in the air dramatically. "Am too fresh for that."

Wale chuckled. "Cocky bastard."

David whistled from the corner. His tiny voice filled the air. Wale and I exchanged glances. David was an unash. He was dirty, annoying and puny. I found it funny that he even responded to our talk.

Wale shook his head."Dave why are you whistling?"

"Abi?" I chirped in.

Jerome ignored us and walked into the corner. He took off his daywear shirt and trousers.

"Dave!" Wale called, trying to annoy him.

"Free me oh. Man has freedom." Dave responded.

Wale snickered. Ignoring David, he walked over to my corner. His white heart boxers had already been stained with oil. He gestured for me to come in. I walked in and stood in front of him and jerome.

"You guys are going out tonight?" He inquiried, his voice merely a whisper.

Jerome turned to me. "You want to go?"

I shrugged. "Yes na,"

Jerome nodded to Wale. "Sure."

Regan boys were regular customers of Iya Kemi, a woman who owned a restaurant outside of school. It was a tradition at Regan memorial school that some boys -who were rebellious - jumped the school fence and escaped school at night to catch fun or to get better food,  better than the ones given to us by the school. Almost all boys did this,  even some in the third class.

Wale nodded. "Ok na. After eleven, we will ball. But for now, Let's gist."

Wale grinned evily as he sat on my bed. Jerome pulled off everything he wore, except his boxers and his stockings. He never pulled it off, except when he wanted to have his bath.

Wale cleared his throat. "Oya. Toby, How far Zara na? How is the parole going?"

His question caught me off guard. I hadn't spoken to her in three days,  last i saw her was a day ago. When she argued with Jerome. She had been with Jacqueline so i didn't want to approach her.

"Just there men. I hope she'll fall for me sha. I'm ready to catch her." I stated dryly, taking a sit next to Jerome.

Jerome snorted. "As you were falling did she catct you? "

I gave him a stony look. The anger I had done well to conceal over the past days suddenly surfaced. "what the hell! Guy I like this girl very well oh. And you being my bestie and not liking her is ruining a lot of things."

Jerome sat up, ready to say something,But Wale beat him to it.

"Jerome, it's true. You've done nothing but rebuke this chic. What did she even do to you sef? "

Jerome suddenly shrank back.

He slumped on the pillow leisurely."nothing."

I snorted. "then why don't you like her? "

Jerome shrugged again. "she is super smart, I like her."

I glared at him. "you know what I mean. "

Jerome huffed. The bell rang out vigorously, signalling that prep was about to start. Jerome grunted.

I moved closer to him. "why do you hate her? "

Jerome huffed. "let's drop it."

He voice wasn't the usual soft tone, this one was cold and straight. It often came when he was angry or uncomfortable.

I moved back. "If she is going to be my girlfriend, then maybe you should try to put your differences aside."

"yes. Try." Wale said.

Jerome shrugged. "I'll try. "

 Silence evaded our corner. I sat still, pondering on what could possibly make Jerome hate Zara so much. I decided to ask him on my own, when wale wasn't present. When I came to Regan in Ss1, I never heard anything about he and Zara. He never mentioned anything about Zara. However, in Ss2 when I started noticing her, I expressed my feelings to Jerome. I remember him going all stoic and then saying she was no good. I'd been angry, we'd argued. However, he never told me why he hated her.

"guy, dress up. OJ is coming." Jerome tapped me, smiling  smugly. He was back.

I jumped to my feet and quickly slipped on my trousers. The boys from Topaz house erupted in a loud bass noise. I looked back, truly OJ, Mr Ojo, a math teacher and the ruby house master, was walking towards us. As usual, his steps were cool and calculated. He didn't run or rush, but we all knew that behind the cool stoic expression, his cane was painful.

Wale groaned. "run go oh!  O. J is here."

We all took to our heels as the man walked closer. His eyes were suddenly trained on Jerome. He raised a brow. "Ezeh," he spoke up. "Come here."

"Fuck. My hair." Jerome cursed.

He buttoned up his shirt and ran to OJ. Once he got to where the man stood, Jerome greeted. OJ ignored him and gestured to his hair.

"I want it shining like your best friends own by tomorrow." OJ said.

Jerome turned to look at me. His eyes scanned my not so low hair. "Like that."

"No," OJ said. "That your blacky friend. Avam."

Everyone snickered.

"Sir, you mean Afam." Jerome stated.

OJ nodded. "That one."

Wale smirked. "That's not his best friend sir."

OJ raised a brow. "Says who?"

Jerome nodded. I was almost certain it was reluctant. "Says me."

OJ turned to him. It seemed as though he wanted to say something but he stopped himself. "Sha let your hair be as low as his own."

OJ's expression changed. "Get out before I scatter your head."

We all took to our heels.

          ______________

Wale stared at us. Prep had not yet started, there was still so much noise around the classroom.

"Let's go now." Wale insisted.

"No, it's too early. We might get caught." Jerome countered.

I shook my head. "Jerome, Wale is right. Highest thing we'll eat the spag there or we'll bring it back and hide it then show for night prep, to take attendance."

Jerome looked skeptical about the idea. However, he agreed. "Ok."

Wale stood up instantly. He looked around the classroom. There was so much chatter and it was already seven.

"Ok. Let's go."

We all stood up and walked out of the class. Firstly, we headed to the restroom, to strip ourselves of our day wear. We were left in our boxer shorts and the black singlets we had worn within. We slipped out of the restroom and went through the back door,  following a short cut to the boy's hostel area. Once there, we dumped our clothes by the corner and set out for town. We passed through the staff quarter, hiding when someone was coming and tiptoeing. Once we got to the wall, we jumped over.

"Iya kemi. We them boys are coming." Wale screamed once we were a good distance from school.

Jerome and I laughed.

As we walked on, the lights in town glowed. We came closer to a bungalow, infront of it was written Iya kemi. We walked in freely. The place was still opened. Iya kemi often left it open, in anticipation of Regan boys who often came late at night.

"Regan?" She asked as she stepped out from a door.

We nodded.

She offered us a toothy smile and ushered us inside another room. She gave us pot, spaghetti, tomato and all other ingredients for us to cook. Then Wale handed her five hundred naira : courtesy of us three.

She stared at the money. "No reach."

Jerome smirked. "Mama the mama. You know say we be small boys. Abeg na."

She shook her head. "Things are cost."

I sighed. Slipping my hand into my pocket, I handed her a five hundred naira note. She grinned.

"Be fast oh."

Then we started cooking. Jerome was an expert in the kitchen. He was the only son of six children, so his cooking skills were great. On the other hand, I was the only child, pampered and all, I was never allowed to do any domestic chores. We had maids doing everything.

As we were done cooking, the door burst open. We looked up to see Dandy, - Damola Sage, our school mate and the ruby house captain - alongside his best friend, Lala - Fola Muiz, tall and black, noise was what kept him going.

"Ok. Oya!!! Them boys." Lala screamed.

Jerome smirked. "Lala!"

"Omo igbo. Baddest. You guys don ball since abi?" He inquired, stepping into the room.

They were both dressed in black vests and black knickers. Iya Kemi walked in soon.

"See you guys later oh." Wale stood up.

Jerome and I did the same. The next moment, we were heading back to school with our nylons filled with spaghetti.We passed through the same routine of scaling fences and tiptoeing past staff quarters. Staff quaters was where we were most careful. If anyone was caught, it was trouble.Once in the hostel, the time was half past eight. The prep ended by nine.

We branched at the corner where we'd kept our clothes. It was a dark spot where the hostel Porter's used to live in. Three years ago, the building was abandoned after a fire out break and now no one neared here.

"I'm going back for attendance." Wale announced.

Jerome and I exchanged glances.

"I'll stay back oh. The stress of going there ehn." I whined.

"I'm going back for attendance." Wale insisted.

Jerome nodded. "It's true, attendance."

I shrugged. "Ok, you guys can go, I'll chill back, with the spag."

Jerome and Wale quickly wore their clothes. I packed the nylons well and with my clothes on my left hand, I headed back to the hostel.

 

Zara.

Mrs Ade, our economics teacher and prep supervisor walked into my class, Ss3A. Her tiny voice rang out, in the small classroom. Everyone looked up instantly.

"You all should stand up and return to your hostels now. The school generator will be switched off any minute from now, you all know of the fuel scarcity in the country. We do not have enough fuel to carry on for the night. So stand up now and go."

Murmuring were heard. I knew why. The school generator used disel, not fuel. They just had to give an excuse for depriving us of reading. The teacher in charge of utility was known as a very greedy man, Mr Danju. So probably he'd pocketed part of the money given to him for disel and then went on to give flimsy excuses. He'd be toast when the principal found out.

"Zara, let's go." Ene murmured.

"Stupid people." I said as i stood up.

"Abi oh. As if they use fuel." Ene concured.

Grace walked over to my locker. She stood infront of me."let's go before the light go out. You know this light out will be an opportunity for guys to look for girls to press."

I swung my bag pack over my shoulders. "Yes, let's go."

Just then, the lights went out. Noise erupted from every angle. People started screaming.

"Zara, give me your hand." Ene spoke up.

I could see nothing. I suffered from a disease called nyctalopia, night blindness. I groaned in frustration. I should have left earlier. I couldn't make out anything, everything just seemed black.

A hand slipped into mine.

"Ene, is that you?" I inquired.

"Yes. Ok lets move." She said.

I didn't have time to process her words, she just dragged me forward.

"Is grace still here?" I blinked.

"Yes, I'm beside Ene."

Gradually, we made our way out of class and to the corridor. As we walked, I felt a hand grop my ass, I screamed.

Ene chuckled. "They are lucky we can't see, I'll just slap somebody."

We moved further. Suddenly, a bright light came on. I sighed in relief, the light shone through the corridor, it was a rechargeable lamp. I turned to see who held it. Behind the light I couldn't make out anyone. It suddenly went off, followed by a loud bass noise. Boys.

"Eh..Obuse! Obuse!!" They chanted. Their voices raised in a sing song harmony. "Your mama Obuse, your papa Obuse."

Everywhere was dark, but i knew they were getting close to us. I held on to Ene tight. Someone crashed into us, eventually my hand slipped from hers. I was pushed to the corner, the voices got closer and immediately, the once manageable free corridor was so packed. I could feel it, and I could hear the voices. I just stood by the corner, frustrated.

Someone suddenly fell towards me. I could feel their breathing and I could smell their perfume. I flinched, anticipating someone to bump into me. No one did. I could however, still feel them close.

"Who is there?" I whispered.

Silence. The background noise continued.

"Can you please help me out of here? I beg you, just help me, don't even try to feel my womanly assets." I said sharply. "Just please, help me."

I was met with silence again but i could smell and feel that someone was close by.

"I have night blindness, I can't see shit, please." I pleaded.

A hand suddenly slipped around my waist. I flinched.

"Hang on to me." A voice grunted.

It sounded so familiar, but with the noise everywhere and the person's rough grunt - an effort to disguise his voice, I couldn't recognize him. "Afam?"

The person said nothing.

The perfume smelt familiar.

The hand tightened on my waist. Gradually, I clung to the person. The hand went around my leg and scooped me up. I felt myself moving. Moving, the person was walking.

The person said nothing and his silence irked me. I started trying to figure out the perfume. If it was familiar, then it had to be owned by someone i talked to often.

It smelt of smart collection.

Me,my best friend, my bunkmate and my side bunky love smart ehn. It's the only lasting perfume.

Afam! He'd been the one who said that in Ss2 third term, except I had no idea who the best friend was or his bunkmate and side bunkmate. The only person I knew he referred to as best friend was Jerome. And they had separated in SS1, after a fall out that Afam didn't want to talk about.

"Afam. If this is you ehn. I'll kill you oh."

The person only snorted. I felt myself being lowered, everywhere was still dark. I stood on my feet, steading myself. My hands were still pressed on the person's chest. The chest seemed firm. Afam had a firm chest.

"Afam? If this is you, thank you. If it isn't, whoever you are, thank you. But please, where am I?" I asked.

I felt him slip something into my hand. Before I could get a hold of it, I felt lips press against my cheek. I stiffened. My heart beat pounded. The person stepped away. I fumbled with what he had slipped in my hand. It was a torchlight. I quickly struggled to switch it on. I succeeded.

Once it was on, I found myself alone, beside the girls hostel building. On the right side were about five trees, adjacent to it was the school park and beside it, on the left was the classroom area. I was alone. Where could the person probably be.

I sighed, slipping my hands into my pocket, i turned to walk to the hostel. I stopped when I felt a paper in my pocket. I slipped it out.

I froze at what I saw. It was a red note, a red note that I had last seen two years ago, in SS1. A red square shapes paper.

Like always, there was a short poem written on it. This time, the poem did not describe my beauty or how they fell for me, it described hurt.

Just watching from afar,
every single move you tend to make,
reading in on every of your expression
only now i realize i can't keep away.
maybe someday you'd know who i am
Every word here is filled with hurt.      

                    For, Zara.

The last time I'd seen this red note, I'd replied and called the person immature, on Ene's advice. Although I found it cute, Ene insisted that it was immature and that if anyone wanted to talk to me, then they should do it to my face not hide behind stupid poems.

I'd concluded that she was right, so I wrote it bluntly that way and slipped my reply into my locker, where I had found the one sent to me. After that day, i never received any more notes. And it had hurt me. I would have loved to know who had been sending me poems.

My mind clicked. The person who had just carried me was the writer. He was the one. He'd carried me slowly, while everyone was running to the hostel, he'd carried me slowly so he could do this. My heart beat frantically.

I squealed in delight. I loved romantic gestures. If I could find out who carried me, I'd know who had been admiring me and sending poems since JSS 3 third term.

A brighter touch light, than the one I held shone towards me, from the girls hostel gate.

It was the female hostel caretaker.

"Heys! Madame, you are not a girl abi? You get peepee?"

     *********           

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