Ding! Ding! Ding! I heard the loud tintinnabulation of the bell and immediately jumped from my seat as I ran to the kiosk like all other students who wanted to beat the queue. I had skipped breakfast, my stomach rumbled all morning. On my way, I heard the familiar words, “BREAK TIMEEEEE!” bellowed by the time prefect. Every single time I heard it, I wondered if he didn’t love his job, as the time prefect because even though his voice was thick and loud, he also sounded bored and angry. Well, if I had to lift that heavy bell every day, I would be angry too.
There was only one kiosk available in the whole school to purchase snacks and soda, I was just in S.S.1 so I didn’t have the automatic privilege to send juniors to do the dirty work. So, I had to get to the kiosk quicker than anyone else. Even so, Mama Risi, who was the sole owner of the kiosk never respected rules. You could be the first person on the queue but if she didn’t like you, you would be the last to get served; the term, ‘first come, first served’ didn’t apply to her. For this reason, I had learned from junior class, to never piss off Mama Risi.
Someday, I must tell you about her.
When I got to the Kiosk, there were about 6 people who had beat me to it, I was still on time so I waited for my turn. Unfortunately, I saw the ‘IT’ boys in school bounce slowly towards the kiosk: Taiwo, Akeem, Hassan and Sola were all fine boys who didn’t have to bully you outrightly to get their way, one way or the other, they always got what they wanted. These boys were the most handsome, stylish and popular boys in school. They were friends with Mr Akindele, the most feared teacher, they stood at the back of the assembly, joining us but not joining us. They were school fathers to the cutest juniors, boyfriends to all and to no one. It was Tope that hung out with them today, and the next day, it was Chioma. You could never tell who was dating them for real. The best part, they were day students.
As they made their way to the side of the kiosk for special treatment from Mama Risi, I immediately accepted my fate, that my 6th position on the line had further been relegated because the IT boys would buy snacks and drinks for their friends, girlfriends, school sons and daughters.
But then, I got the shock of my life: I saw Hassan, the finest of them all directly walk towards me, 100% holding my gaze, I had no doubt I was his destination. When he got to me, he smiled and moved to stand right behind me, his voice was like a soft cool breeze behind my ear, “What do you want me to buy for you?” I knew the voice, I had heard it many times, but it was never ever directed at me.
Hassan was a tall Arab looking handsome boy with the most curly hair, his skin was the right mixture of chocolate and cream, his lashes were so long and full, they almost succeeded in shielding his beautiful eyes. He was always neat and his shorts touched his knee and fitted perfectly. Also, his white shirt was never ever rumpled and he always wore socks.
My friends and I judged the IT boys and pretended to hate them. We were in the school choir, school daughters to the head boy so we were not the IT girls but we were also not nerds. The prettiest girl in my group was Biola, she knew it and walked it. Anytime we talked about the IT boys, she would often mention that Hassan liked her, she could tell from the way he looked at her. We didn’t believe her and we were quick to let her know. because ain’t nobody laying claim to anybody.
“Ehn, tell me now, what do you want?” Hassan asked again, his voice sweetly gliding me out of my shock mode.
“Huh?” I looked around, wondering if it was really me.
“I want to buy beef roll and a drink” I said, almost whispering. ‘What is happeningggg?’ I asked my inner self.
“Okay. Oya step out of the queue” Hassan didn’t wait for me to answer, he took my hand and pulled me along with him to the big boys’ shade. Our school was covered with huge trees that protected us from the sun. The tree closest to the right side of the kiosk was reserved for the big boys.
I looked behind me, I saw my crew – who weren’t there seconds ago – looking on in shock, wondering what was happening. My mind was blank and all I wanted was an explanation. I sat by the shade and waited till Hassan brought my beef roll and soft drink. Then, he sat beside me. “I bought you chin chin too but I’ll keep it for you so you can eat it after school,” Said Hassan.
“Okay” I nodded like a sheep being led on without a choice.
“What are you eating at the hostel this afternoon?” He asked me.
“Eba and vegetable soup” I immediately responded. I hated hostel food.
“Okay, I’ll rush home now and ask them to make rice for me and I’ll bring it back, then you and I can eat together after school before you go back to the hostel.”
WHAT?! I immediately wondered if this meant we were boyfriend and girlfriend. But I kept the thought to myself.
I agreed and when I could, I rushed to my crew and stood tall in front of them, arms akimbo, smiling foolishly, waiting for them to ask me, the new addition to the IT team, what was going on. Biola spoke first and fast, “what was all that about? So you and that boy are now friends? you want to start rolling with those bad boys now abi?”
I heard it clearly, jealousy was loud in her tone. So I addressed them, my crew of 5, “Hassan has asked me to stay back to have lunch with him o. So you people should tell my sister and the matron that I stayed back for extra lessons with the maths teacher”. Anu, who was the most cooperative of the bunch nodded and said: “but you must promise to tell us everything when you get back o.”
After school hours, I waited in my class, because Hassan had come twice, making me promise to wait for him in my class. He didn’t waste time to join me and I looked on impressively as he served us in different plates with such meticulousness, I knew it could only be love.
“Hay God! I know I promised never to date anyone till I get to Uni, but I take my promise back, Hassan and I are already married.” This was me turning my back on God, who made the Arab and I.
We began to eat and after some quiet minutes, Hassan said to me, “Amongst your friends, I know you’re the leader of the pack, that’s why I’m talking to you now.” I didn’t think I was the leader of the pack, I was friends with my crew because we all had our own minds but if Hassan said so, then it is so. He continued, “that’s why I want you to help me talk to Biola, I really like her……..” I became automatically deaf. I continued to chew the forbidden rice but it now felt like sand in my mouth. I was in shock but I masked it well. So instead of plucking out Hassan’s lashes one by one, turning them into a thin rope and strangling him with it, I nodded and promised to deliver his message.
Maybe someday, I’ll tell you how I delivered the message.