They moved across the road, chattering away with their bum-bum swaying with the ‘swags’ expected from young Hausa girls. Unlike their Muslim counterparts however, they wore no hijab but carried themselves lousily, their trousers gyrating in inevitable friction. Most of the guys around were idly watching them, some of the naughty guys among them winking at the girls, causing laughter among them as they settled inside the classroom. Only one boy among the guys was not interested in them and unfortunately for the boys, he was the only one they had eyes for.
Michael Nwosu was thinking more about his life. For a 15 year old who suffered the tragedy of watching his mother and sister murdered in front of his eyes, he had rather grown up quite smoothly. Naturally intelligent with the knack of being precocious and witty, he excelled in his academics, topping the class always, to the chagrin of other parents. Not a guy to shy away from work, he had developed a wonderful physique, making him a sort of Adonis among his peers, with his ‘baby boy face’ complimenting him. This attracted young girls (and older women) to him like flies to faeces, but he had no time for them.
That was due to the pain he had suffered when he was six years old. He still remembered who caused the whole pain, a certain rich man called Musa Danladi. Musa was a wealthy businessman, known to be exceptionally ruthless when he deals with people perceived to be obstacles to him expanding his economic power. He had the ears and eyes of the governor and the hierarchy of the state and used that to wreck havoc in the state. Micheal’s dad was a medical doctor, and had no time for politics or business. They clashed due to the fact that Micheal’s dad brought a land and house that Musa was interested in. Not long after, Michael’s dad was murdered under strange circumstances which were made stranger when both the police and the state government swept the issue under the carpet. Micheal’s mum and sister followed the same route in a gruesome manner some years later and he was moved to the Catholic parish nearby, while Musa took over everything he should have owned.
Remembering all this, with the coupled injustice served by all, made Michael bitter and therefore he despised everything with a northern origin, including the girls and his teachers. All his teachers, except one.
Paul Ajayi was the history teacher at Micheal’s school. Posted as a youth Corper after finishing his university education, the political science student was retained after his service and had remained there. He picked quite an interest in Michael after he noticed the nonchalant and uncaring attitude the boy threw at his environment and everything around it, save for his books.
It was not easy though. Michael behaved snobby and ill-disciplined to start with and Paul did not have an ice-cold temperament or patience like that of a tortoise. However, after he encountered Michael in the only moment when he was emotional(while the boy visited his parents graveyard), he was able to reach Michael and understand him, thereby fostering a friendship that helped Michael to at least reduce the intensity of disdain he treated people with. Michael saw Paul as an elder brother who he could unburden his heart and mind to, without feeling like he was bothering him. Paul, for his part, saw the chance in that to discuss many things like Christianity and politics with Michael, helping him in the process. Michael felt free around Paul and that was the first place he heads to after his classes, like today.
Michael walked towards the church from school, humming along. As he expected, Paul was teaching the children at Bible study class (known as Sunday school). The current topic was forgiveness. As he heard Paul teach the kids, pangs of pain and sorrow reached his heart. Will the situation ever change? It has been some years now, but he still remembered the scenes he witnessed, as he saw his mum and his little sister Molested and killed by people who call themselves youths. All because of a lawless beast called Musa, he had turned to a homeless, distraught, half destitute, saved by d Catholic Church and surviving by the little money the mum saved up coupled with small cash gotten from jobs he did.
He was still thinking about these things when he heard, ‘hy bro’. Michael turned around 2 see Paul besides him. He greeted back and sat on one of the platforms in the church. ‘So what is going on?’ Paul asked.
‘Nothing’. Michael replied. ‘Just watching the birds fly’. ‘Michael, you can’t deceive me, I know you are thinking of something, especially with your face looking like spoiled tuwo’. Paul retorted.
Michael feigned ignorance, knowing that Paul will preach if he tells him what was on his mind. Paul, after trying to coax an answer from Michael, decided to shift focus to other matters. Actually, Paul had witnessed a massacre of a family by some Hausa youths, somewhere in Kano where he went to visit a friend. The visit was not nice at all, as the image of the slaughtered family, victims of a mini crisis, was showing up in his mind. His friend also made matters worse by relaying tales of previous cases, something that aided the retention of the image.
Paul was relaying what he saw to Michael, when he noticed a change in Micheal’s facial expression, like he was about to cry. ‘You were thinking about your family, weren’t you’? Paul said. Michael was about to say something when Paul surprising patted him on the back.
‘I understand what you are going through, it must have been terrible’ Paul stated, reflecting on what he saw.
Michael looked at Paul’s slightly mortified face, looking for some sort of fight back from Paul but found none. He wondered if he will ever lose the hatred that harbored his heart.
‘Michael, Father Pius is calling you.’ A feminine voice rang out.
‘I have to go now.’ Michael told Paul. As Michael went past the young girl to the Parish house, Paul shook his head sadly. He had noticed the girl’s unusual attention to Michael and knew what was on her mind. , If only he could go past the pain.’ Paul thought.
An opportunity came for him to escape from the hate and it came in the form of a girl, Aminat!
She was Micheal’s classmate, who finally caught his eye. She was first treated with disdain, as Michael did with every other girl. But an incident changed his perception of her
She had owed the school some fees and her dad was trying to plead with the principal to give him more time, especially as he was uneducated and had to do menial jobs so money was a problem. The reaction of the principal and his ranting brought her plight to Michael’s attention.
He felt sympathy for her and that brought them together as friends. Adversity opened a link of friendship and as she was also intelligent, he enjoyed her company. Love was blossoming!
The transformation in Micheal’s life was evident. The once moody, unfriendly kid seemed to have brightened up, to the extent that he started making friends in his class. Aminat’s friendship seemed to have fanned embers of love in Micheal’s heart, much to the relief of his teachers and boys and to the chagrin of the girls. Jealousy, like an uninvited guest entered the hearts of the other girls, who started to view Aminat with spiteful eyes. Not that she cared anyway. It seemed that the storms that had hit Michael were gone for good.
But they came back!
Michael, all this while, had not yet asked Aminat out, partially due to the Christian/Muslim barrier and his shyness. Emboldened by one of his new friends, he went to express his love to her.
He found her in the tuck shop located just in front of the classes. He then started his ‘proposal’. ‘Aminy, I have struggled to hold this back but I can’t, I am in love with you and I want you to be my girl’, Michael said in a soft, cool manner.
Aminat looked at him, small tears running of her sad face. ‘You came too late, Michael, i am engaged’.
Aminat’s dad had married her out to one of the wealthy men in the state, Alhaji Kagoura. Alhaji was influential with the civil service and the local community, helping the community out in various projects and virtually rebuilt the city when some youths went on rampage. His influence may have reduced,but his name still opened doors, something that her dad was aware of. A year before her ‘marriage’, Kagoura had asked her dad for her hands in marriage for his son, Usman. Aminat’s dad did not object,but rather chose to name a hefty dowry which was completely paid by Kaugora. However, Usman was not interested in Aminat and so she ended as a ‘protege’ wife.
But nobody cared to know her feelings about everything! Nobody except her dad, the Kagoura family and now Michael knew about the marriage.
Michael was shocked and baffled at the situation. He could see that her emotions favored him, but the circumstances were daunting. He then asked her a question.
‘What are your feelings for me, Aminat?’ ‘I like you, she replied weakly, but i am married already, there is nothing I or you can do about it’.
‘Don’t say that.’ Michael quipped. ‘There is still hope. We can still be close without anything happening’.
After much coaxing and persuasion, Aminat agreed to his proposal, maintaining that it won’t last.
If she only knew how right she was!
As the saying goes, jealousy is the fuel for a heart of spite. Aminat’s close association with Michael had caused her to be enemies with the rest of the girls in her age grade, especially one girl. Her name was Isidora.
Isidora was a paragon of beauty, so beautiful that a joke was made as regards a person stranded in the desert, who instead of choosing water will pick her above the water. She was that beautiful and twice as proud as well.
She did have reasons to be proud, well that is, according to her. Her mum who was from the east, was a special adviser to the President, while her father, who was an educated northern, owned one of the largest oil refineries in the world, among other large businesses. She was their own child and was therefore a spoiled,spoiled brat. She had all she wanted materially and more and as she reached adolescent age, she started getting a taste of the boys, virtually becoming the toast of the school. She had known the taste of almost all the ‘big boys’ in the school, except Michael.
And that was when her eyes were fixed! The tall, handsome, poor prince from the east, whose Adonis elegance was only superseded by his supposedly Einstein brain and Martin Luther King Jnr’s character. She was infatuated with everything about Michael and could not stand the fact that Michael did not care a hoot about her. She was determined to go all out to get him and in the process, destroy all the obstacles on her way, including Aminat!
She discovered about Aminat’s ‘protege’ marriage and used that as a fulcrum to uproot the love that has developed between them. She needed an accomplice though, someone who will risk the wrath of others for her sake.
Preye was a long time admirer of Isidora, who took away his virginity. As always, she ignored him after the experience, but she kept a close eye and a hot booty on him, in case he got other ideas and went after other girls apart from her. However, he was love struck (or so he thought) by her beauty and had remained faithful, although once in a while she had to give him the deal if his eyes starts to wander. She knew that he will prove useful some day.
Her plan had revolved round Usman. The young boy, though not interested in Aminat was arrogant and proud, which was normal for boys of his calibre. He had already gained a reputation for tidying girls with the extra bonus of mating with a virgin when he marries, the virgin been Aminat. The last thing he would want to hear is that he is being fooled and his heifer is being toyed with, especially if the culprit was an Igbo boy.
Isidora licked her lips in excitement, making her lips look succulent. She then adjusted her clothes to look provocative and went to search for her ‘prey’.
Preye was gisting with his clique of friends when she walked into their midst, causing innocent lustful stares from the boys. She then walked to Preye’s desk and stood before him, leaning her arms on his desk and making sure that her twin bombers were staring infront of him.
‘Preye, I want to see you’.
Preye suffered a momentary brain shutdown due to excessive cleavage been displayed by Isidora. She then took his hand and walked away, with him following like a sheep going to the abbatoir. She led him to a tree not far from his previous location and told him her plan. He listened, nodding at intervals. He then patted her back and kissed her lightly on the lips, before heading to his group of friends. He entered the class, packed his books and said ‘Am coming’ before heading out.
Michael and Aminat were talking about class work just outside the school,when a jeep passed them. Isidora looked at the couple from inside the jeep and hissed. Not long after though she smiled smugly.
The reason for that smile was bringing great sorrow for Michael and Aminat.
Micheal was about to kiss Aminat in the lips when she heard her name. As soon as she saw who called the name, her face turned sad and troubled.
‘Michael, am in trouble o!’
Michael noticed her change of attitude and withdrew from her and then he noticed the man staring at them
He was what you call averagely tall, not short but neither was he majestic in height. His dark face was somewhat covered by a face cap as he stood astride, staring at them. His dark body shone with sweat as his T-shirt was unable to disguise his protruding belly while his lower part was covered by a jean trouser and shoes. He looked at them for some minutes and then left.
Aminat suddenly started to pack her books, clearly distressed while wondering how he got to know their location. Michael helped her,trying to ascertain the identity of the man. She kept mum though and after gathering her books, started walking out of the school like a car that has lost its brakes. Michael walked after her, trying to get her attention until he dragged her arms back.
‘Aminat, I deserve to know what is happening, you know.’ he blurted out. She looked at him in a ‘if-I-blow-your-face’ manner, then responded, ‘That is my husband’s father, so if you don’t mind, leave me alone’. Michael however continued to struggle with her, totally oblivious of the jeep that was adjacent to them.
In the jeep, Isidora smiled sweetly.
Isidora had obtained Kagoura’s number through her network of friends. She then went to Preye specifically.
Preye was the only boy in her class who knew how to navigate the web and operate ‘runs’ from the net ( Isidora herself did not bother because she had people to do things for her). She met Preye when her elder sister had to register online for the JAMB exams. Preye did all the paperwork effortlessly and got her sister registered within ten minutes, which was a feat in the north, due to lack of knowledge about the internet. She had since kept him in cordial terms, knowing that he will prove useful someday.
She had met Preye and had given him Kagoura’s number. Then Preye left for the cybercafe and logged into his bulk sms account. He then sent a disturbing message to Kagoura, telling him about Aminat’s adventure with Michael and giving him details about their meeting place. It was convincing enough for the man to leave his house and meet the girl, not knowing that he will meet them in a ‘compromising’ situation.
It was enough for the man to realise the authentic nature of the story.
Aminat had expected the anger of her father but what she met baffled her.
Her dad was sitting comfortably on the sofa, looking at her as she entered. She greeted him and made for her room,when his voice stopped her.
‘Aminat, you are not going to school again’.
She felt like she was hit by a cyclone. ‘Baa mi, ki lo so sir? Before she said the next sentence a hot slap descended apparently from the skies to her, sending her sliding across the sitting room. When she looked up, she saw an angry beast instead of her father.
‘I should have listened to the people around here and the Kagoura’s about sending you to school’ he fumed. ‘O ti baje,omo jati jati, you can talk to me like that, that school is spoiling you’.
‘Baa mi, it is not like that, I just wanted…
Will you shut up there, silly girl, you are going to where you belong, in Usman’s house! I sent you to school so that you would be a bit literate, that happened despite the pressure from everyone else to stop your education at primary school level and upon what i have gone through, yet see what you went to do. Pack your things now’. He bellowed. ‘And as for that boy, his punishment is waiting for him, walahi’. He swore
Aminat looked stunned with surprise as she looked at the man she called her dad, who went inside after his ranting. Then like small drops before a shower of rain, she started to sob quietly. If only she knew what will happen next, she may have saved those tears for later.