At September’s mall,
Ijeoma: Seriously, I still don’t know why we have to rot in this country. Many of our mates have all gone overseas. Why should we rot here?
Gabriella: I don’t know…What better alternative do we have other than just to sit around and hope for a better future and a better…
Ijeoma: Government? I guess the ice-cream you’re taking is really freezing your sense of reasoning! Can our government ever change? Our government is characterized by kleptomaniacs and corrupt minded politicians, who have successfully deceived the masses just to get their share of the national cake.
Gabriella: Ok…Ijeoma, I think I am getting irritated by your torridity this afternoon. I came here to get my head off certain things that are bothering me and you’re here talking about…
Ijeoma: What? Huh? Don’t tell me you’re still thinking about yesterday’s test in school. Oh come on!
Gabriella: You don’t understand. I wrote that essay with so much passion. It’s so hard to believe that I; clouded in the intention of helping a friend, got into a big trouble! I shouldn’t have tried to share my ideas with her.
Ijeoma: How many marks did Mrs Okogeri subtract from your work?
Gabriella: 10 marks. And the test is over 30. She saw me talking to Kelechi. She wouldn’t even listen to my explanation. All the bone-headed woman could do was to subtract marks from me!
Ijeoma: It’s such a shame Kelechi, the girl you tried to help was not even penalised!
Gabriella: I don’t know what I’m going to do when the result is released. If I fail that test or score so low that my name does not appear among the best 10, then my hope of getting that scholarship would be an old wife’s tale…
Ijeoma: I still have hope in you, dear. You are among the best in our class. Even if those marks are gone, I trust you! You would make up with the rest marks.
Gabriella: Well, it’s so easy to say. I really want that scholarship. My parents have me on their foreheads. They believe so strongly in me. And I do not want to fail them.
Ijeoma: Don’t worry. You won’t…Did you see Frank? Gosh, that boy must have filled ten leaves!
Gabriella: Oh of course! He knows his onions better than I do. What if he scores the highest? Oh my God! What sort of calamity is this?
Ijeoma: Stop being so pessimistic! Did you read his work? You can’t be too sure, my friend. Even I, your close friend, am not even sure of what I wrote. Let’s just hope the worse doesn’t happen. I also want the scholarship too! And you should try and avoid Kelechi. She doesn’t seem like a good head to me. She is the cause of your predicament now. Oh when a good turn suddenly becomes a bad omen. Well, just have hope in yourself.
Gabriella: Thanks…I have to go now. I got some errands at home. Catch ya later! Bye!
(Gabriella exits the mall while Frank enters…)
Ijeoma: Frank, I am so sorry! I had to take care of some things! Gabriella just left here not so long ago.
Frank: Was that why you ignored my calls?
Ijeoma: Yes…I didn’t want her to know you were coming. She is this boring geek you don’t want to associate with.
Frank: Oh I know… I’m quite aware of that. But we talk in class and she doesn’t seem like…
Ijeoma: Oh please! Enough of that topic! But I did call you back, didn’t I? Anyways, how was your test?
Frank: Well, it was fine. Although the time was inadequate. But I nailed it! I filled 3 extra scripts!
Ijeoma: Hahahaha! I knew my eyes were not wrong! I saw you. You were sweating profusely like a block of ice in the sun. Guess what- Gabriella is going to fail!
Frank: Oh I wish that was true.
Ijeoma: I am dead serious. Mrs Okogeri subtracted 10 marks from her.
Frank: Fantastic! But why?
Ijeoma: She was copying from Kelechi!
Frank: Outrageous! Who copies from that block head? Hahahaha….I said it- Gabriella is only living on her past glory! She’s no match. I am getting this scholarship and Gabriella’s getting nothing!
Ijeoma: Speaking of this scholarship – how are you sure the federal government will pick from this state? Remember the government has failed to recognise this state in the competition for over 4 years now. And you think you can make it even if you score the highest in the country?
Frank: Oh poppy cock! There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Let’s have a bet! This year I’d win it. The only thing I have to do on my own is to win at the state level then my uncle will take it from there. My uncle is a minister. And he has assured me that he would make sure I win the scholarship to study in the UK.
Ijeoma: Wow! I wish I had someone to help me too. You know in virtually all establishments in Nigeria, you need an upper hand to get to the top. Oh what a corrupt nation!
Frank: Oh well! I want to ask you a question…You don’t seem to like Gabriella…And I thought you guys were best friends. Why?
Ijeoma: I don’t know. She always act too intelligent and makes me feel like a coward all the time. She tops the class and feels that’s her permanent position. Someone has got to let her thick skull know that nothing is permanent and the earlier she knows that, the better!
Frank: Hmmm…Well said…Let’s take a walk, love.
Ijeoma: Okey dokey!
(The two exit)
At Crimson’s Avenue,
Mrs Obiora: Helen? Helen?
Helen: Yes, ma’am?
Mrs Obiora: Where is Gabriella? This is so unusual of that girl! How could she spend so much time outdoors on a Saturday?
Helen: I have no idea of her whereabouts.
Mrs Obiora: And you couldn’t ask your younger sister where she was headed to…Oh here she is. (to Gabriella) Gabriella, where have you been?
Gabriella: I went to the mall with Ijeoma. I….I…
Mrs Obiora: Shut up! The next time you would spend so much time outdoors, I would bury your skull! Now tell me, how did your test go yesterday?
Gabriella: I…I…I didn’t write well.
Mrs Obiora: Eeeerhhhhhhhh? You didn’t what? Oh my enemies are at it again! You didn’t what? Oh well…It’s your life. I can’t force you. You’re no longer a kid. My friend’s cousin’s aunty’s friend’s son got the scholarship last two years. I never expected less from you really.
Gabriella: Ma’am, It wasn’t my fault. I…I…tried to help a friend and got caught in the act. The invigilator subtracted 10 marks from me and…
Helen: 10 what? Foolish girl! How many times have I warned you about these friends you keep? In what way are you benefiting from them? This is more like a symbiotic relationship!
Mrs Obiora: Gabriella is a big disgrace! Now how can you get the 28 marks I told you to get when you have already lost 10! Huh?
Gabriella: Mum this is out of my hands! The woman is a new teacher in my school. Other teachers know I can’t cheat and mum, I had pity on Kelechi. I only wanted to explain to her how she could answer the question…
Mrs Obiora: And it dawned on you, right? Just wait till your dad gets back from Lagos, I swear you would eat your brains when he comes back! Idiot!
(she leaves in rage as Helen tries to have a conversation with Gabriella)
Helen: Gabriella, you can’t fail so easily?….Oh my God, I don’t even know why this would happen to you. I feel so bad for you.
Gabriella : It is my dream to study in the UK and get that scholarship. I made that wish on my 18th birthday.
Helen: I still have hope in you. Do not make your second year in the university a total waste. You can do it my sister. I have hope in you. You would appear among the top ten. Just pray and believe in yourself.
Gabriella: Thank you sister. Sometimes you make more sense in your speech than mum….
Helen: What? Please don’t say that again! I just want to fulfil all righteousness. I don’t want you to commit suicide. You’re the only sister I’ve got! Ok? Now prepare your things…I hope you’re ready to go back to your hostel tomorrow?
THREE DAYS LATER.
Kelechi: Hey…Ermmmm Ijeoma, I have been searching all over the place for you!
Ijeoma: Oh really? What for?
Kelechi: You’re Gabriella’s closest friend. I want you to help me apologise to her. I was the reason why Mrs Okogeri deducted some marks from her…And I just…
Ijeoma: It’s alright. It’s alright! You don’t have to get all worked up over it. If Gabriella sees you here now she’d like you for sure!
Kelechi: Oh you mean it?!
Ijeoma; (with a straight face) Of course not! That was an irony!
Kelechi: Ermmm…Oh Irony means trying to make a joke?
Ijeoma: (to herself) Oh I forgot…This head in front of me is a large vacuum…and…and with lots of cobwebs and dead ants and roaches in it.. eww why did I…
Kelechi: Hey Ijeoma, are you ok?
Ijeoma: Oh sorry about that. Irony means saying something and meaning the opposite. Like “Kelechi is the smartest in my class” for example.
Kelechi: Oh thanks for the compliment. But you know I’m just trying my best. Anyways, will you help me apologize to her?
Ijeoma: Why can’t you do it yourself?
Kelechi: I tried to…She told me it was alright but I knew it wasn’t. But before then she gave me the biggest embarrassment that could last a life time. She said it so bluntly; “You wanna drag me down to your level and beat me with experience “…I felt bad though but when I thought of the gravity of what I made her do and how it’s gonna affect her, I felt sober again. If she fails because of me, I would feel guilty for the rest of my life.
Ijeoma: Oh what nonsense! If you were to ask me, I’d say you really don’t need to apologize that much to her. For goodness’ sake, I think you need some gratitude! That girl has too much guts and it’s high time someone pulled them down. Oh I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she finds out that she didn’t make it into the top ten…Hahahahahaha. Why would you let her insult you?
Kelechi: I thought I deserved it .
Ijeoma: Oh you don’t. Don’t apologise to her anymore. Do you know she even told me worse and scaring things about you?
Kelechi: I thought as much. Even before she answered me in the hall, I had to count my sweats.
Ijeoma: You see where i’m driving at- that girl is a proud chicken! Oh I can’t wait to comfort her while she cries that day! The day the results shall be announced.
Kelechi :I thought you were like her. Now I know you are quite different. She always act like I am not serious with my studies. Ah, Ijeoma I am glad I saw you. At last, someone shares the same views with me. Gabriella has got to go down. It’s high time! She’s only living on her past glory…Mtchhewww…
(Unknown to the girls, Ethan has been eavesdropping on them. He finally walks up to them)
Ethan: Hey girls!
Ijeoma: Hey secretary general!!!
Kelechi: Did you apply for the scholarship when you were in your second year?
Ehan: Nah…I didn’t…Urhmmm speaking of it, I heard the results will be pasted this afternoon.
Ijeoma : OMG! How did you learn of such information?
Ehan: Your class rep just informed me .
Kelechi : (suddenly feels bad) Why is it so soon?
Ijeoma: The sooner the better!
ONE HOUR LATER.
Ethan: Hmmm…Gabriella I have been all over the place for you.
Gabriella : Did you find her?
Ethan: Well, I couldn’t. She hasn’t been in school since the day of the test. If I was around that day, I would have begged her to go back on her decision. But you need not worry. I hope you’ve been praying. With God all things are possible. All you need to do is just ask. You know the bible says that “the counsel of the lord standeth forever and the thoughts of his heart to all generations”
Gabriella : Where is that found in the Bible?
Ethan: Psalm 33 vs 11.
Gabriella : Wow, I have even forgotten so many verses in the bible! Forgotten? That’s an understatement…I barely know more than ten verses in the bible. This is doom. Nothing can be done now. The results will be announced today anyway.
Ethan : I am sorry you couldn’t reach me on monday…My battery was dead. They were so fast this year. They normally take a week to mark the scripts…But this time it’s totally different!
Gabriella : They just took four days! Do you think God has given up on me?
Ethan: Don’t say a thing as such! God has not given up on you and he never will. (Suddenly remembers something) Oh I have to run out now. I am having a class by 3pm. As the class rep I have to call the lecturer and settle some issues…Just fear not and wait for the salvation of the Lord.
Gabriella: I will try my best. Bye!
(Three minutes later, the H.O.D enters the class with the directors of the scholarship programme to announce the results. The air of suspense fills the room as the chief director with a file in his hands opens his mouth to speak.)
Chief Director: Good day class. As you all know, this scholarship programme has been taken for granted for the past few years. Due to the fact that no one has been picked from this state over the years. The bitter truth is that no one has ever scored high enough to be selected from this state to compete at the federal level. But I do hope that this year will be different, for the scores I see here are so excellent. You all did well but unfortunately only ten will be selected from the best. This is called primus inter pares. -The first among equals. Now starting from the bottom. The 10th position with 19 over 30 goes to….
TO BE CONTINUED…