There was nothing unusual about that Saturday. The birds sang harmoniously in the branches of the mango trees, the way they always did; junior girls with torn sandals and slippers gathered around the shoemaker who came to campus once a week; girls gossiped while waiting for the hairdressers to make their hair; at the bottom of the hill, some girls bought snacks from the convenience store; even the kulusors still walked backwards and made perfect round holes in the dusty sand. I sat alone on a bench in the middle of all these people, under one of the cashew trees, meditating the way dad taught me to on the Math, Physics, and Chemistry I’d just finished studying in my class for the past two hours. Occasionally I lost focus and my mind wandered. I felt my throat and tongue get wet when I thought of my mom’s Jellof rice and chicken. At other times I was distracted by the three JSS 1 girls who played ten ten a stone throw away from me. I wondered how two of the girls managed to fall far behind the leader –a thin girl, who wore a severely oversized pink checkered dress and had a protruded back skull (ogo) — despite her obvious left leg, left leg, and right leg pattern.
I closed my eyes and tried to return to my mediation, but the noise from their loudly clapped hands and vigorously stomped feet hindered me from doing so. I sat up on the bench and after 5 minutes of contemplation, I walked back to my class, envious of the other girls who could afford to spend their weekends however they pleased.
I used to have that privilege until the end of last term when I went home with a report that showed I failed my Math, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology classes. And for the first time, I wasn’t positioned in the top twenty out of the 60 girls in my class. My father was furious. He said I needed to excel in those classes if I ever wanted to fulfill his dream for me to become an engineer. He hired a private tutor for me and together we studied every day of the week from 10 am till 2pm throughout my holiday. My father also contacted all my teachers at school and he concluded from those discussions that I needed to study more. So he ordered me to study more when I returned to school, never mind that I already spent the compulsory Monday-Friday afternoon and evening preps studying.
My classroom was a square room with open and missing louvers on two opposite sides that extended from the middle of the wall all the way to the ceiling and spanned the length of the wall. The other two walls at the front and the back of the class had huge blackboards. There was one ceiling fan at the center and beneath it were 30 neatly arranged desks and chairs for the 60 girls in the class. I sat at the back of the class, on the last desk furthest from the door.
“I knew I’d find you here,” Yinka laughed, then placed two cold bottles of mineral on my desk. I was surprised to find her in my classroom. I’d been so engrossed in my chemistry textbook and note taking that I failed to notice when she walked in, and now she sat on the desk directly in front of me with her legs resting comfortably on the chair. Yinka was a senior girl in SS3 and two years older than I was. But because of a school tradition that required everyone to refer to anyone two grades ahead of themselves as aunty, I called her Aunty Yinka.
“I bought you something from the convenience store,” she added, pushing a bottle of Miranda towards me and handing me a packet of Gala.
I felt discomforted by the situation, because it went against the established school code which allowed senior girls to treat anyone below their grade level as they wished and that included possessions as well. Aunty Yinka could very well take my textbooks and pocket money if she wanted to. She was also permitted to send me on any errand she wanted to. In fact that was how I’d met her. The first time she spoke to me was on the second Saturday of the term, the day she sent me to the convenience store to buy her a bottle of Pepsi and biscuit. She asked me to keep the change when I returned. We started waving “hi” to each other after that day even though she continued to send me on many errands. A month later, she asked me what my name was and where I lived. I was surprised the day she informed me of how much she disliked studying, but was forced to since her father expected a stellar academic performance from her and insisted that she became a doctor. That was also the day I told her of my dad and his expectations for me. Eventually, we started smiling at each other whenever we greeted, another anomaly for a senior girl at my school.
But nothing about Aunty Yinka had ever been normal. She, just like me, was usually the only one studying in her classroom, which was two classrooms away from mine, on Saturdays. She was also renowned for winning the all the prizes for academic excellence every year since her freshman year. Despite her devotion to her studies, she was popular on campus for her partying and cute face.
“I wonder how much you’ll study when you have to take the SSCE and Jamb like me,” she said, grabbing my pen from my hand. “You’re just in SS1. You need to relax and take a break. If you want your pen you’ll have to take it from me.”
She dangled it in front of my face, but each time I tried to snatch it from her, she pulled it away quickly. She did this repeatedly and soon we were laughing away at my futile attempts. I ended up chasing her around the classroom trying to get my pen back. I grabbed it and tried to run back to my seat, but before I made it there, she’d grabbed it again. This led to a small game of “pen tag.”
I don’t recall what happened next, but a few minutes later I was in Aunty Yinka’s embrace. I felt a meandering hand gently squeeze my breasts. The meandering hand was followed by meandering lips that strategically kissed my neck and eventually my lips. Later I felt the meandering hand grab my hands and place them on her breasts.
I averted my anxious and shy gaze away from hers. I didn’t know what to do, but Aunty Yinka didn’t mind. We both laughed and carried on fully aware of the pleasure we experienced and the risk and repercussions of our action.
That was the start of our secret Saturday relationship that was forced to end only when Yinka graduated the next term.