To tell the truth, the ideas that came to her mind at first were childish. One idea was to set him up and have her parents overhear the rubbish he was saying. She decided that that plan could backfire. Boye could simply change his strategy from harassing her at home, to way-laying her on the street, something she had been spared for the time being.
After much deliberation and self-consultation, she decided to turn his number one weakness against him: women. And Seni knew just what to do. The plan was to be executed the following Monday, which happened to be Boye’s birthday.
What’s that saying again about the best-laid plans? Seni was about to learn a valuable lesson.
Nancy was one of those talkative, self-absorbed girls whose character was a direct product of over-indulgent parents. Although she was older than Seni, the latter was far more mature than her. From the moment Seni entered the house, Nancy’s mouth was working at full speed.
“Oh baby! Ah, where did you get that top? I just love it! I saw a similar one in one kain catalogue like that that my cousin brought from jand. Speaking of which, did I tell you I’ll be janding soon?”
“For real?” Seni asked, trying to sound like she actually cared. She was on her knees, digging through a pile of DVDs jumbled together in a carton.
“Yes, for real. My father said these Naija schools are just full of crap. I mean, all the strikes and everything and–”
“Really? But you’ve attended only Naija schools all your life, so what does that make you? A product of crap?” Seni said, flinging Top Gun aside. She had seen that movie four times already, and this weekend was not a Top Gun kinda weekend.
“Oh, come on, Seni. You’re too serious. You know what I mean now. Anyway, I’m going to take my SATs or A-levels … Or is it O-levels? I don’t even know which one yet. I don’t know why they can’t just accept my WAEC results. These oyinbo people with all their shakara sef. I’m not sure I want to go–”
“You mean you haven’t decided where you’ll spend the next 4 or 5 years of your life? Na wa for you o.”
“As long as it’s not in this useless country sha. Even Ghana sounds good. I heard they have good schools there, even better than these Naija schools, and my cousin–”
“Oh Lord! Not another cousin!” Seni groaned under her breath.
“What was that? You better not be abusing me o, eh-hen,” said Nancy. “Haven’t you found a movie yet? You dis girl, you’re slow o!”
And with that Nancy shoved Seni out of the way and with alarming speed and admirable agility, pulled out three DVDs: Mission Impossible, Notting Hill and Gladiator. Seni was already mumbling something about not liking action movies that much, but Nancy dismissed her with a loud “Shut up and take them!”
“I should start charging you for all this borrow-borrow!” she added.
Seni smiled. The large collection of movies belonging to Nancy alone, some of which were stored in other rooms in the house, were enough to start a video club, but she knew it would never happen.
“Oya, gist me now … I’m sure you have gist,” Nancy demanded as she handed the movies to Seni.
“There’s no gist for now, but maybe by Tuesday sha. I’ll see you then.”
She was about to turn around and leave when Nancy blocked her exit.
“What is going to happen between now and Tuesday? You better talk o! In fact, I demand payment for these movies. You must pay me with gist.”
Without even waiting for Seni’s reply, whether it was a Yes or No, Nancy dragged Seni to her bed, made her sit on it, and she herself planted her butt in a chair facing Seni and waited.
For someone who was that talkative, Nancy became really quiet at the anticipation of gist. Seni knew she had no choice. She told Nancy details of Boye and his constant harassment.
“By harassment, you mean he’s trying to sleep with you?” Nancy asked.
“If only! He wants that and boyfriend rights,” Seni replied, punctuating her response with loud hissing.
“Is he crazy? He’s your brother’s friend now. He should be trying to protect you from other–”
“Predators? For where?! He’s too busy being one himself. A real fox among the chickens.”
“You got that right. With this your fly-away hair, you resemble real chicken…”
Seni picked up a pillow and flung it at Nancy, but she missed as Nancy quickly scuttled out of the way. The girl’s reflexes sha …
Resuming her position on the chair, Nancy continued in between bouts of guiltless laughter.
“But it’s true now. Who told you to go and cut your hair?” said Nancy.
“Ask me o! I told them to cut Anita Baker for me, and this is what they did to my hair,” Seni said referring to her hair, which looked more like glorified punk than a short, layered haircut.
“If I knew short hair was this difficult to maintain ehn, I wouldn’t have bothered. Which reminds me … when you go … in fact, if you go to emmm … B & U, that salon near UNILAG, don’t let that new girl touch your hair. You can see the monstrosity she has done on my head. I mean, how do you mess up Anita Baker?”
“Na your fault now. You should have told her to plait suku for you. She couldn’t possibly mess that up.”
“Me? Suku? God forbid. It’s on my list of blacklisted hairstyles. But it might fit villagers and market women like you!”
Now, it was Seni’s turn to dodge Nancy who did not bother looking for an object to haul at her friend. She just launched forward and pinched Seni’s arm. The howling and yelping that followed satisfied Nancy that her revenge was successful.
“Oya sorry now,” Seni pleaded, seeing Nancy about to launch another round of painful pinching. Seni was sure that a second pinch would leave a scar on her arm. She silently thanked God that Nancy was not her mother. This was what Nancy’s children could look forward to.
Nancy accepted Seni’s impromptu apology and settled down to hear the rest of Seni’s gist. At the end, Seni told Nancy of her plan to crash Boye’s birthday and embarrass him there. Nancy laughed at the vagueness of Seni’s plan and declared that it was not even a plan.
“For someone who likes girls that much, it might be a huge turn on sef. Omo, you’re just wasting your time. I think you should tell your brother and parents and fashi all this Miss Independent nonsense,” Nancy advised.
“Tell my mum, you mean. You know I can’t be telling my father about boys. That’s just asking for trouble. If it has nothing to do with me passing this JAMB, he doesn’t even want to hear it. Plus he’s always away on some business trip. Anyway, I think you’re right about telling mummy and Dele, but I’m not sure it will work.”
“Well, if at first you don’t succeed–” Nancy began.
“–Hire thugs to finish the job?” Seni asked beaming with mischief.
“Nope! You already know the answer jare.”
The sound of a car horn blaring, followed by the sound of the metal gates swinging open, announced the arrival of one or both of Nancy’s parents.
“Oh, mummy is back!” Nancy squealed, abandoning her visitor and bounding down the stairs with the carefreeness of a puppy. Seni took that as her cue to leave. She greeted Nancy’s mother on the way out and declined her request to stay and eat something. She needed to get home quickly was the excuse she gave the woman, and with that she hurried home. Nancy’s advice weighed heavily on her mind all the way home.
Seni made it home before it got dark, but did not escape her mother scolding her for “branching” on her way back from lesson. Telling her that she only went to visit Nancy did not help matters. Her mother gave her a long lecture on how if she hung out with people who had actually passed JAMB, she might get lucky and pass it herself.
Of course, her mother’s fears stemmed from the fact that Dele had been stuck at home for a few years, trying to pass the same exam, before he got admitted to the university. Seni believed that her own case was different, but thought it was wise to keep her optimism to herself.
“Actions speak louder than words,” she reasoned. “They’ll take me seriously when I produce results not just talk about producing results.”
That weekend, Dele did not come home. He spent the weekend squatting with a friend on campus to study for an upcoming exam. It was not till the following Monday that she saw him again.
– to be continued –