Nkechi was totally drained. The hot afternoon sun drummed into her ears. The walk from her school seemed longer than usual, the long winding path was unending. The relief she felt when the cool water from Mr Mondi's tap streamed down her head could not be explained. She dropped her back pack & leaned against the white washed wall of Mr. Mondi's shop.
"Good afternoon ", she greeted startling Adaku, Mr Mondi's eldest daughter from sleep. Adaku always does what Igbos call sleeping muranya with her head straight up and her hand supporting her chin resting against the counter, she would sleep, unless you look well, you'd never know she was sleeping. "How are you?" she stuttered recovering from her slumber. Nkechi muttered a fast response and quickly walked past to the gate leading into the main house. She wasn't ready for Adaku's incessant complaints. She complained about everybody in the compound. She was a school drop-out who did nothing but stay in her father's shop catching the latest gossips and news. She had more issues to deal with.
Mr Kweku caught her cheating in the physics test today. Funlola had shown her the test questions & answers, she said she got it from a form one student. She was totally lost in the act when Mr Kweku crept up behind and caught her red handed!, A lot of oohs & aahs arose from her classmates, she tried hiding the paper but it was too late, he collected her answer sheet, tore it & dragged her to the principal's office. The principal demanded to see her parents. She will never forget the looks she got from her classmates when she got back after seeing the principal, everyone frowned and looked at her as if she had committed murder. Even funlola hissed at her!, she couldn't believe it, the same person who gave her the expo?, it was unbelieveable! How will she explain this to her father??, she was in soup, he’d kill her!
Nkechi missed her mum so much and at moments like this, she missed her even more. She died during childbirth. She was the only child of her parents for a very long time before her mum conceived but died during child birth. She and her father lived together alone, he refused to re-marry. Out of desperation, she tried calling Funlola but her phone was switched off. She needed to speak with her, she had long legs, she could pull strings and things would happen. She was dating the senior prefect who had his way with most teachers. She knew Funlola deliberately switched off her phone to avoid her. An idea came to her, she would feign illness and skip school for few days, maybe when she gets back, the whole incident would be forgotten. The plan worked perfectly, she succeeded in deceiving her father and skipped three straight days of school but by the time she resumed, her fame had spread across the entire S.S. 2 block - The girl who cheated!. Funlola did not make it any better, she ignored her and carried on as if they were never friends.
"Nkechi Chukwu!", Mrs Owolabi, her class teacher came in and called. The principal wants to see you now. Everyone turned to look at her, cold beads of sweats broke out on her fore-head, she was shivering, her throat constricted. She got up slowly and trotted towards the front. Kudirat squeezed her hand and gave her an understanding nod as she walked past, she felt better, somebody pitied her. As she got into the principal's office, her heart stopped beating. Seated backing her, was her father!. The principal had summoned him. "Goodafternoon," she greeted in a quirky voice gaining their attention. "Yes, Miss Chukwu, how are you". Mr Lawrence the principal spoke. She refused to look at her father who was throwing daggers at her. "You have brought shame to yourself and to your family, science students are known to be very responsible people..…....” he went on and on admonishing her. Hot tears stung at her eyes. If only she had refused attending Bola's birthday party, she would have read and not involved herself in this, if only she did not always look for the easy way out.......she was ashamed of herself. Her father did not talk to her but gave her a long hard stare before walking out after Mr Lawrence office. She was given two weeks suspension and it was going to appear on her testimonial. How would she ever live through this period of her life???....