For a moment, the class fell silent. Amaka fidgeted on her seat and wondered if she should answer or not.
“Sir, she’s here,” someone from the back seat shouted and Amaka turned. It was the same girl who had been on the first day of resumption. She was staring at her with a sneer on her face. Amaka looked away puzzled. It seemed the girl had taken an immediate dislike to her.
“Really?” Mr. Samson asked. “Where is she?”
“I’m here sir,” Amaka said and stood up.
He stared at her for a while. “Well, what prevented you from coming yesterday?”
She pondered one the question. What prevented her from coming? The answer came immediately. She was simply not at ease with the man but she could not tell him that.
“I’m waiting for your answer,” he said.
“Nothing sir,” she replied.
“Nothing?” he asked and stared directly into her eyes. She lowered them and said nothing. “That’s not an answer, I hope you know.” She kept quiet again and stared at her feet. Time seemed to draw slowly and she could hear excited murmurs around her. It appeared the class was enjoying the show. She felt her ears grow hot with embarrassment. For the second time that week she was the centre of attention and she absolutely hated it.
“I want to see you today by 5 p.m. during evening prep,” Mr. Samson said after what seemed to be an eternity. “Do you understand?”
Someone made a rude comment— something about the meeting being better set in the night and the class roared in laughter. Mr. Samson glared towards the direction of the voice a gleam of anger in his eyes which faded almost as soon as it appeared.
He turned back to Amaka and repeated his question.
“Yes sir,” she replied. He left the class and she took her seat shakily trying to ignore the pointed stares been directed at her.
“Hmm Amaka,” the girl sitting beside her said and gave her a friendly nudge. “This meeting, can I come along too?” The class burst into laughter again.”Ronke I don’t think you are invited. You heard Mr. Samson. It is meant to be a private meeting,” another girl said laying emphasis on her last two words.
“Hmm private meeting,” Dairo, a dark Yoruba boy said. “I’m sure you all know what happens in private meetings.”
Someone made a risque comment and the class was filled with the sound of laughter again. +
“And I’m sure you all know what happens when someone plays with what belongs to me,” a calm voice said and Amaka turned. It was the girl who had been sneering at her earlier on. She walked over to Amaka’s seat. “Well, it seems everybody knows but you. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you. Whenever people toy with what belongs to me I get really angry. And that can be very unpleasant. Actually not for me, but for you,” she pointed a slender finger adorned with a ring at Amaka. “Don’t try anything funny with Samson. He belongs to me,” the girl said and walked out of the class followed by a group of three other girls.
Amaka turned to her seatmate, Role, in confusion. “What was she talking about?”
“You don’t know her, do you?” Ronke asked and Amaka shook her head no. “That’s Alero. You should listen to her, don’t get on her bad side.”
“But I barely know her,” Amaka protested.
“You don’t need to know her. Just don’t step on her toes,” Ronke replied briskly and then added, “Especially with Mr. Samson.”
“I don’t understand.”
Ronke gave her an irritated look and opened a novel. “You will, in time,” she said her gaze still on her novel signifying the end of the conversation.
“Which of these should I wear?” Sandra, Amaka’s bunkmate asked lifting a red crop top and a bright yellow sleeveless shirt.”Are you going somewhere?” Amaka asked.
“Where?” she questioned naively.
“Somewhere,” Sandra answered peevishly. “Just tell me what to wear.”
Amaka looked from each item of clothing to the other. They both looked too open to be worn anywhere. She looked around her. Most other girls in the hostel were busy sorting out clothes, most of which looked like party wear. She wondered how they managed to sneak such large amount of contraband clothes into the hostel.
“I don’t know,” she finally said. “Just choose either of them. They are both the same thing anyway.”
Sandra stared at her for a while and then hissing in annoyance, walked out of their corner.
Amaka looked at her bunkmate’s box which laid open on the floor. It was filled with lots of mufti most of which had bright colours and looked either too flimsy, tight or revealing. There was also a lot of makeup, jewelry and shoes—mostly heels.
“I’m back,” Sandra announced smiling with a victorious look plastered on her face. It seemed she had finally made a decision on what to wear. She picked a short jeans skirt from her box and laid it on her bed alongside the red crop top. After which, she looked through a jewelry box and selected a pair of earrings with matching necklace. “By the way,” she said carelessly throwing a brief glance at Amara. “Mr. Samson said to remind you to see him today.”
Amaka nodded feeling an uncomfortable knot in her stomach for the third time that day. She was very nervous about going to see the Mathematics teacher and she didn’t know why but her instinct was screaming a Hell no! against the meeting.
“What’s the problem?” Sandra asked. “You look,” she motioned with her hands in search of words. “I don’t know, scared?” She finally came up with.
“Nothing is wrong, I’m okay.”
“Suit yourself,” Sandra replied and zipped up her box. “I’m going to sleep,” she laid on her bed and closed her eyes. “See you in dreamland.”
Amaka checked her watch. It was 3:30 p.m., already siesta time. Around her, most other girls were falling asleep. She climbed her bed and closed her eyes but sleep refused to come. Instead, she was filled with a strange sense of foreboding. She shut her eyes tighter and willed herself to sleep to no avail. She was still that way when the 4:00 p.m bell rang indicating the end of siesta and beginning of prep.
Amaka stepped into the empty staffroom, her eyes trying to adjust to the to the partly dark room. It was raining heavily and the weather had made the environment darker than usual. She ran her hand blindly over the rough surface of the wall in search of a light switch. Her palm brushed against the object of her search and she switched on the light. The room was immediately filled with the warm glow of electricity. But only for a while as the lights flickered for some seconds and went off. Her shoulders slumped in disappointment as the room was enveloped by partial darkness again.”I see you finally made it,” a deep voice from behind startled her. She turned around swiftly and trained her eyes on the figure of the owner of the voice. It was Mr. Samson. He was standing a few metres behind her and she wondered how he had come so close to her without making a sound. +
“Good evening sir,” she greeted.
“It is indeed a good evening,” he replied his eyes fixed on her in a manner that made her skin crawl. “How are you?”
“I’m fine sir,” she answered politely.
“You look fine,” he said. “To be frank, you look dazzling.”
“Thank you sir,” she said uneasily.
“You are welcome. This way,” he motioned to her. “Let’s go over to my desk.” He began to walk and she followed behind reluctantly. It wasn’t so bright and she didn’t want to be in here alone with him.
“Here, sit down,” he pulled out his seat for her, dragged over the seat next to his desk and sat down beside her. “You are shivering,” he commented. “Are you cold?”
“Not much sir,” she replied.
He pulled open a drawer in his desk and produced a bottle of Chelsea with a glass. He poured a generous amount into the glass. “Take this,” he handed it to her. “It will make you warm.”
“I don’t drink sir,” she stared at the glass in his hand.
“Okay then,” he replied and chugged down the contents of the glass in a loud gulp. He slammed the glass down on his desk and returned his attention to her. “What’s your name again?” he asked.
“Amaka,” she answered. “Amaka Uchendu, sir.”
“Amaka,” he rolled the name around his tongue. “Nice name. I like it. How old are you Amaka? ”
“Sixteen, you are now a big girl. You know that, right?”
“Yes sir,” she nodded wondering where the conversation was headed towards.
“What do you intend to study Amaka?”
“Accounting. That’s a good one,” he nodded thoughtfully. “Mathematics is a very important subject in Accounting. You can’t do without it. I hope you know that.”
“I do sir.”
“That’s good to hear,” he said slowly staring at her lasciviously. “I’ll most probably be your Mathematics teacher till you graduate. My service is ending by this term but the Principal has pleaded with me to remain and work here. I’m sure you know how hard it is to get a Mathematics teacher with my qualifications and one who knows his work as well as I do.”
Amaka nodded slowly while wondering why he was giving her such information. He stared at her again and slowly began to rove her body greedily with his eyes which finally rested on her full chest.
“What size of bra do you wear?”he asked out of the blues and Amaka nearly choked in surprise.
“Excuse me sir,” she said shocked.
“Come on, tell me. Don’t be shy, what size?”
“Sir, I think I should be going, it’s almost prep over,” Amara said nervously and stood up but he stood too at the same time and held her waist from behind.
“Why are you running away?Are you not a big girl? Come on, don’t be shy,” he said his breath hot in her ear.
“Please sir, let me go,” she said in a shaky voice.
He chuckled lightly and let go of her waist. Immediately, she scampered away from him and began to walk hurriedly towards the door.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” his cold voice stopped her in her tracks and she turned around to stare at him from a safe distance.
“You need me,” he said. “You can’t cross over to the next class without a pass in Mathematics and you know that. The only way you can pass my subject is if you please me. If you really want to become an Accountant like you said or even move on to the next class in this school, you need me. I would advice you to make the right choice and save yourself a lot of unnecessary trouble and headache.”
“I can’t do what you are suggesting sir,” Amara said trying to steady her quavering voice.
He stared at her coldly for a long time in a way that made her wish for wings so that she could fly away from this terrible man who was asking her to do the impossible. Away from his penetrating gaze and coldly calculating demeanor.
“Well, I’ll give you some time to think about it,” he said breaking the strained silence. “But, be wise and make the right choice. You may leave.”
Hastily, she turned around and increased her pace to get out of that place as quickly as possible. As she walked, she could feel his eyes on her back following the movement of her body and she could hear him chuckling softly to himself as he watched her leave.
“I’m expecting your response soon,” he called out after her and began to laugh maniacly. She broke into a run, the harsh sound of his laughter echoing in her head.