Bukky instructed her sales girls on how to sell the bean cake, bread and corn pap. She had just increased the prices of her wares and her customers were already complaining. It wasn’t her fault. Everyone knew how hard things had become in the country. Everything from foodstuff to social amenities had gone up. At times, she wondered how people were coping. Taking her compound for example, she noticed that most families barely ate thrice a day. Breakfast and dinner had become the order of the day. Many avoided coming to the kitchen because they did not want others to know what they were cooking. The landlady warned her tenants that anyone caught cooking in their rooms would be sent packing, but, people paid no attention to her.
She hoped that the situation of things in the country would change for better soonest. The masses were suffering while a few people squandered the nation’s wealth. She wished super heroes like Superman and Captain American were really in existence. The country needed to be rescued from the fangs of greedy and selfish people who think of themselves and loath the common man.
She did a quick estimate of how much she might earn that day and left her sales girls in charge. She wasn’t going to be around. She was taking her examinations that morning at the Adult Education Centre. If she passed, she would be issued her First School Leaving Certificate. If she failed, she would be asked to retake the examinations over and over again, until she passed it. Initially she had been afraid, but, after series of study section with Chike, she became confident. She was sure that she was going to pass. She had also prayed and asked God for success. Although she was nervous, she believed that everything would work out for her own good.
Gbemiga called his girlfriend’s number again and again, but, he couldn’t reach her. He was beginning to suspect that she probably blocked his line. Why did she do something like that? Was it because they slept together? At least, he didn’t force himself on her. She gave him access. What did she expect? They were not made of wood. They had emotions and desires. The thought that she had actually barred his number on her phone infuriated him. He threw his phone on the bed and leaned against the wall.
He loved the girl. He craved for her in such insatiable way each time he was alone with her. She was like a drug he was addicted to. The God that made the rules that unmarried people should avoid sleeping with one another would definitely understand that it was a near-impossible task.
He hoped his girlfriend would come around soon. He was finding it hard to resist the advances of girls in his class and those that live in his hostel building. If Bukky kept giving him a hard time, he might eventually turn to these girls for sexual satisfaction. After all, they were around him almost every day, while his girlfriend avoided him most time during the holidays.
There were times he wondered why he asked her out in the first place. The initial feelings he had for her were beginning to wear off. Come to think of it, does he really love her? Or was he just driven by the fact that she wasn’t an easy prey like the girls he was used to?
Bukky returned home tired and hungry. She met her aunt’s absence. The woman sent her a text earlier that she had an occasion to attend and might not return home until the next day. She had her bath and changed into a white sleeveless knitted blouse and a pair of blue knee length shorts. She prepared a meal of plantain flour, popularly called amala, and ewedu soup with meat stew. She settled on the carpet floor, in front of the flat screen television and ate with relish. She finished the meal in a matter of minutes, set the plates aside, washed her hands and returned to her position in front of the television. It’s been a while since she had the television all to herself. Whenever her aunt was around, the woman colonized the T.V set.
She heard the knocks on the door and groaned. She got up and dragged her feet to the front door. She turned the key and opened the door. She gasped in surprise when she found her friend by the doorway.
“Hello stranger,” he smiled at her.
“Where have you been?” he walked into the room,
She scratched a spot on her head and closed the door.
“Every time I come to your shed, I meet your sales girls,” he sat on the plastic chair adjacent to the television.
Bukky returned to her spot in front of the television, “I had exams.”
“Oh…” he searched her face, “I didn’t know that you have started.”
“Four papers to go.”
“Nice, my second semester examination is starting next week.”
She met his gaze, “Good luck.”
“Thanks. How has the examination been?”
She shrugged, “More or less like what we have been taught and drilled with for months.”
“Okay,” his eyes remained on her face.
“I believe that I am going to pass. God owes me a birthday gift.”
“Oh really? See levels,” her confidence gladdened his heart. He had been a bit worried about her.
She laughed lightly and returned her attention to the T.V screen.
“You and Zee World,” he eyed the T.V set.
“I use it to relax,” she defended her actions.
He rolled his eyes.
“You and Sports channel,” she turned to look at him.
“It is better than all these fictional pretentious non-existence love portrayed on Televista, Telemundo, Zee World and what not.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Have you called your boyfriend and wished him luck in his examinations?”
She blinked and turned her head. She didn’t want to talk about Gbemiga. She had a lot of things to iron out with him when he returned home for the long holiday.
“Hmm…” she looked up at him.
“What is it?” he sensed that something was bothering her.
She shook her head.
He got up and came to sit by her side, “Bukky…”
“Chike, I am not in the mood.”
“You know that you can always talk to me,” he observed her pale face.
“I am fine. He is fine. We are fine.”
He raised an eyebrow. Doubt clouded his face. “Bukky…”
She hissed, got up and went to the bed. She lay down, hoping that he would get the message and leave.
“Bukky…” he got up and came to sit by her side.
“Chike go away!” she lashed out at him and turned on her side, facing the wall, “I said I am not in the mood.”
He stared at the back of her head, sighed heavily and got up. He found his way out of the room and shut the door.
Bukky stood with a group people in front of the notice board. She scanned the white sheet listed with names of students who wrote the Common Entrance examination. She found her name and saw the bolded letters beside it ‘PASSED’. She screamed with joy and pulled away from the crowd. God had answered her prayers. He had just given her an early birthday gift. She looked up and stared at the blue sky, face brightened with joy. Her dream of getting educated was unfolding in leaps and bounds.
She pulled her phone out of her jeans pocket and called her mother. The woman was excited and impressed that her daughter was leaving the illiterate class. Soon she would be able to boast and tell all who cared to listen that her daughter was now educated.
She thought of calling Chike, but, wasn’t sure if he would pick her call. It had been a while since he came to her shed. She had a feeling that he might be upset at the way she treated him the last time he visited. She heard from students in the area that the second semester examination had already started. Maybe he was probably busy studying.
She missed his company. She hoped that he wasn’t angry with her.