Eric sighed a little. He could count the number of times he had seen Oleng’s mum. She owned chains of boutiques where she sold both English wears and all kinds of materials. She also dealt in jeweleries; gold, diamond, sapphire, rubbies, platinum, whatever; which made her travel all over Nigeria and the world. She was rarely at home.
He never knew Oleng was neglected until he got very close to her. Her mum would travel out of the country for over two weeks and leave her alone at home assuming her distant relative, Tessy would take care of Oleng not knowing that Tessy would also travel and leave Oleng all alone. She always came back before Oleng’s mum. Oleng not wanting her mum to send the girl packing, never reported because at least she was at home sometimes and she didn’t want to be all alone again since her mum didn’t have time for her.
Eric had visited her one day and found her crying. She said her mum didn’t love her because times without number, she had tried talking with her mum but the latter was always too busy to talk to her. He had told her that she was the one not trying her best to get close to her mum but she had replied that there was no time to get close to her because if her mum wasn’t in Kano or Kaduna today, she would be in either one African country or the other or Dubai the following day and when she was even at home, she was too tired to talk to her when she came home at night, tired from running her numerous boutiques.
Eric had tried to make his mum her mum also but she was too scared of his mum, saying she was too much of a society lady for her to get close to. Eric knew that at first sight his mum appeared that way but inwardly, she was a very sweet person.
Eric was the first person to know when she started menstruating. It had been one of those periods when both her mum and Tessy traveled. She had thought she was sick having never been told anything about adolescence and feminine changes.
She had called Eric who in turn told his mum. It was his mum who had come over to lecture her and buy her her first sanitary towel before she told her mum when she came back. Her mum hadn’t told her anything but made sure she had a regular supply of sanitary towel as she did with her clothes and money. Oleng didn’t lack anything except motherly love. She had money, clothes, and jeweleries at her beck and call but a mother’s love.
That was why Eric was so important to her because he had always been there for her especially when she was all alone at home. He insisted she come over to his house but she always refused saying her mother wouldn’t appreciate it if she suddenly returned home to find the house empty. She hadn’t told him though when she started developing breasts but he had noticed and teased her about it then but not anymore now that they where both very conscious of each other.
“Welcome ma.” Oleng greeted as her mother entered the luxurious living room, standing up.
“Good afternoon ma.” Eric greeted standing also.
“Good afternoon……Hmm…what’s that your name again?”
“Eric ma.” he politely answered.
“Yes, Eric. How are you?”
“Fine, thank you ma.”
“How is your mum?”
“She’s fine ma. She sent her greetings and said you should get her a diamond necklace when next you go to Dubai.”
“Hmm! Soso and diamonds! I’ll get her one. Tell her I’ll bring it at the next club meeting.”
“I will ma. I was on my way out before you came in.”
“Alright, dear. Extend my greetings to your mum.”
“I will ma.”
“I want to see him off.”
Eric and Oleng walked quietly from the living room.
“Your mum seem so nice that it is hard to believe she ignores you.” Eric observed when they were outside. Oleng shrugged nonchalantly for an answer.
“Well, anytime I see her; I always understand where you got your beauty from. You look very much like her.”
“You’ve told me that so many times.” she acknowlwdged, smiling shyly.
“Because it’s the truth.” he retorted smiling.
Oleng couldn’t deny that fact. Her mum was indeed beautiful and looked younger than her age. She was chocolate skinned like her, slim and petite also. It took her awhile to accept it but she knew she was a replica of her mother though she didn’t have that air of authority her mother had.
They had gotten to the gate and opened it.
They both went outside and stared at each other.
“Let’s go out tomorrow.” Eric finally suggested. The following day was a Saturday.
“I’ll be here in the afternoon.”
She went back inside. As she was heading for her room, her mum called her. She sighed. She rarely went to her mum’s room.
“Yes ma.” she answered when she got to the room after knocking and asked to come in.
“What was he doing here?” Mrs. Linda Akpan asked as she sat on her king size bed.
Oleng looked at her toes. “He came to teach me physics.”
“Is he your physics teacher?”
Oleng was silent. She looked at her toes from her flip flops.
“I asked you a question, young lady.”
“Then how come he came here to teach you physics?”
“Because I asked him to.”
“Why did you do that?”
“He is very good in physics and I’m having a bit of difficulty understanding it so I asked him to help me out.”
“Why didn’t you tell me so I can hire a private teacher for you?”
“I haven’t seen you in three days.” she defiantly remarked.
“You haven’t seen me in three days.” her mother echoed in ringing disbelief. “Is that your excuse? Couldn’t you have waited for a time like this that I’m at home?”
Oleng was silent at that.
“Let me warn you. If you get pregnant, don’t bother coming back here. Just go to his house. Afterall, his parents are wealthy enough to take care of you and the baby. Just don’t come and saddle me with a bastard.”
Tears streamed down Oleng’s lovely face.
Is this the way a mother is supposed to tell her daughter about the dangers of premarital sex and the consequences of unwanted pregnancy? She vowed right there and then never to be like her mother.
“By the way, where’s that useless Tessy?”
“She’s in her room.” she replied still in tears.
“Go and call the idiot for me. She’s supposed to be your chaperone not the queen of this house.”
Oleng walked dejectedly out of the room. She went to Tessy’s room. The latter was reading a magazine and listening to music from her phone. She delivered the message and walked quietly out of the room.
She went to her room, laid down on her bed and cried her eyes out. Tessy later came in anger to her room and warned her never to bring Eric to the house again before banging the door rudely after her.
Oleng only stared at her because she knew it was an empty threat. They were both never at home and expected her to die of boredom? They were joking. Eric meant more to her than both of them put together. He gave her a reason to live.
Eric came as promised the following day and of course both Tessy and her mum weren’t at home. After playing video games, they went to Mr. Biggs to get some snacks. They went back to her place, ate the snacks, watched some movies and later went out for a stroll in the evening. She was sorry to see him leave but knew they would see in church again the following morning.
Monday came and as Eric said, the principal announced to the whole assembly that the board of trustees had a meeting on Saturday and have decided to strip Oge of her post. There was much shouts of joy to her surprise. Oleng didn’t know people hated her like that. Her fellow prefects were the most joyous with an exception of a few who just stood looking indifferently. Eric showed indifference also as he stood before the assembly as he usually did, being the senior prefect.
Oleng could not however help feeling sorry for Oge when she saw her crying. She was human after all. Another girl was named the senior prefect. The students clapped with joy because Antoinette was a very nice person. Her post was given to someone else too. Oge’s friends or better still her goons abandoned her since she didn’t have any power again.
Oleng was glad that the second term ended peacefully because Oge never disturbed her again though some of Eric’s female classmates still despised her for having all his attention. She shrugged. It was their funeral.