Read Parts 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Pristine series herehere  Here Here here here and here

“Hey sis, how’s it going? Are you
good now?”
“Yeah. I told you the principal
said I could take Friday off? I’ve had all weekend to recover. I feel much
better now.”

“Good. Hope you aren’t too lonely.”

“Well, I’m the only corper in my
school, because the school’s still quite new. I get to see other corpers,
though, during CDS, clearance, in church on Sundays… I’ve friends already, it’s
cool. How’s home?”


“Dinner at the Johnson’s tonight,
we’re getting dressed.”


“Alright. Enjoy.”

“You take care too, Dara.”

“Thanks, Giddie.”

Her phone rang again almost immediately
after the call. It was Chika this time.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“So I discovered this cool place
not so far from yours. How about we try it out for dinner?”
he said.

“Okay,” she replied, smiling at
the coincidence of her whole family dining out that night.

“I’ll meet you at home within an
hour. We’re strolling.”


“See ya.”

It was a beautiful night, the
breeze was just perfect. When they walked away from her street, she observed,
“It’s like there are traffic lights every few metres in this city.”


“Yet you stay in an uncool part of
town. You should see other parts, like where I stay. Gombe is really not a bad
place.”


Dara rolled her eyes. “I already know
my accommodation isn’t the best, you don’t have to rub it in.”

He chuckled.

“Being too comfortable during my
service year would just feel like I never left home, anyway. This’ll give me
some experience to share later in life,”
she said with a defiant shrug.

He snorted. “So when you become
the Nigerian President, you can talk about how you grew up without shoes too?
Goodluck with that.”
“I see what you did there,” she
replied, laughing. “Speaking of presidents, have you ever thought about being
one when batch A passes out? You’re B, right?”


A car sped past then, and he
quickly pulled her away from the road so they switched positions. He looked at
her. “No, I haven’t. Why did you ask?”

“You should think about it. I
think you’d make a good CLO or CDS president, whichever one you prefer.”


“Nah. I’m too much of a rebel to
be a CLO, trust me. President might be cool though. What inspired that
thought?”
He looked at her again, still surprised.

Dara shrugged. “You’re likeable
and eloquent. You have the ability to carry people along, and you seem to have
very good rapport with people.”


“Why does it feel like you’re
asking me out?”
Chika said with a wide grin.

She rolled her eyes again, hitting
his arm playfully.

He told her after some moments of
silence, “Dara, you’re a great girl and you seem like a go-getter yourself.
I’ll only think of running for president if you consider a post too.”


“Okay. That’s fair enough.” She
smiled.

                                                                          
***********
The headmistress’ office was
unpainted, like the rest of the school. It contained only a shelf of files,
three wooden chairs and a table behind which the headmistress, a tiny,
middle-aged woman with thick glasses, sat. It was Dara’s second time there in the
two weeks she had spent. The first time had been when she first reported at the
school and had needed the head’s approval to get her acceptance letter signed.
She had been in a hurry to report back to the NYSC secretariat after camp, to
notice how poorly equipped the school was. All she had wanted was to be
accepted at her PPA so she could travel back home to Kwara, to rest off the
three-week orientation camp stress.

Now she was being careful not to
show an iota of condescension. She kept a straight face as the headmistress
looked up from what she was writing and said, “Corper Dara, I hope the malaria
has left for good.”


Dara  smiled. “Thankfully, it seems so.”

“We bless God. I just called you
here to commend you. You have been active and hardworking in the little time
you have been in the school, everyone—staff and students alike—felt your
absence when you were not around on Friday. It shows that you are dedicated,
please keep up the good work.”


“Thank you ma.”

“I know we pay so little here,
being a new school, compared to what your other colleagues must be receiving at
other places. This is what makes it even more commendable that you are putting
in so much effort. I want you to know that God does not leave any good deed
unpaid. Please, this our little chat is just to encourage you. Do not relent.”


Dara was humbled. She had vowed
since her first day in the primary five class of students that could barely
spell basic words, to make a difference. And making that difference she
obviously was.
“I believe that every child
deserves quality education. I’m only trying to make my own little contribution
to the cause,”
she replied the headmistress, who then nodded and remarked
proudly, “More young people should think the way you do, corper Dara.”
                                                                   *************
The sendforth/welcome ‘party’ held
the first Thursday in February, a week to the batch A passing out ceremony.
Dara had looked forward to the day with much excitement, and the doughnut-and-drinks
wasn’t even half the attraction for her as was the election that took place the
first few hours.
There were five posts to be
filled. Chika was sitting next to her as usual, and Dara nudged his arm with a
knowing look when it was time to nominate a presidential candidate.

“The role of the president would
be to head this CDS group and preside over all its meetings for the next four
months, so please ensure that the person you’re nominating is someone fit for
the job and that will dutifully carry out the roles of a true leader,”
the
outgoing president began. “This administration has attempted to create enough
awareness on environmental health issues in the state by organizing public
lectures and carrying out periodic sanitation exercises, but there’s still a
lot to be done to achieve the aim of the group. Whoever you choose as the next
president should have all it takes to steer the group in the right direction,
and as a rule, he/she must be from batch B. 



Suggestions?”

“I’m nominating Chika,” Dara said,
on her feet.

Someone else got up to nominate
Usman, an extremely quiet Hausa guy Dara thought incapable even though he
attended meetings regularly, and she whispered to Chika with a grin, “That’s no
match, you’ve got this.”


“Chika and Usman, please step out
for a minute.”
He waited till they were both out of earshot, and then the
voting began.

Dara counted. There were seven
votes for Usman and eighteen for Chika. It felt so good to know many people
believed in him as much as she did, and she couldn’t resist the I-told-you-so
look she gave him when returned back to his seat.

The outgoing president continued,
“Every president needs someone to assist him. Who will be the vice president of
the group? The VP can be from either batch B or C, male or female, and you’re
free to nominate yourself if you’re interested.”


“Dara,” someone from the back
said.

“Dara,” another person agreed.

“When did I get so popular?” she
asked Chika, genuinely surprised, as many other people voted her.
He shrugged. “You’re a star, how
could you not shine?”


It was unopposed. She had actually
had secretary or provost in mind, but vice president it turned out to be.

“What’re you doing the rest of
today?”
Chika asked after the elections.

She shrugged and replied before
digging into her doughnut, “Nothing really. You have anything in mind?”

“Well…I made president and you
vice. I think that deserves a little private celebration. You’ve never been to
my place before. Today’s a good day,”
he said persuasively.

She thought about it. “Yeah. We
could plan our tenure too, God knows this CDS could use a bit more fun
activities.”


“How’s it going to be? We go
straight from here or you want to stop over at yours first?”


“I should probably change from
this uniform first—“


“You look good in anything. You
know that?”


She smiled. “These jungle boots
are quite uncomfortable to move around town with. I’ll call you when I’m set so
you can give me directions.”


“Cool. I need to clean my room
anyway. And if I have enough time, I might cook your favourite, noodles.”


“Yayyyy.”

“Cool. It’s a date.”
                                                                              *********

It was no date, just a visit, Dara
told herself as she dressed up in her room. The striped maxi she’d worn at
first felt too dressy, so she opted for her usual jeans and tee instead.
There was denying that Chika had
always flirted with her since the very first time they’d met, albeit subtly.
And even though he had never really said anything to that effect, she felt
nervous about going to see him. It might be different this time, since he would
be in his territory. But what if she was taking his friendliness way too
seriously?

She took a final glance at herself
in the mirror before she stepped out and scolded herself the red tee was too
tight around the bust line. Later, in the cab, she convinced herself that the
looser, darker-coloured top she had eventually worn was more appropriate,
although she asked herself why so much fuss. It was just Chika afterall.

“What do you think?” he asked as
he met her at the gate and proudly showed off the chalets in the compound. He
stayed in one of them alone, and Dara had to agree—it was indeed a finer part
of town.

“That you’re a bloody show-off and
I’m totally jealous,”
she answered, feigning a sulk.

He turned on the stereo when they
got inside and gave her a grin. “I was just about to start making lunch. Wanna
come?”


She leaned against the kitchen
wall and watched him chop up some vegetables. When the food was on fire, he
said as he danced towards her, “Come on, show me some moves.”

Tiwa Savage’s Eminado was playing. Dara shook her head regretfully. “I don’t know
how to dance.”
“With a body like yours? What a
waste.”
He continued dancing in front of her, mimicking the ‘body rocking’ in
the music video and making her laugh.

He asked, while she served the
noodles, “Would you like some wine? I got this bottle from my uncle when I went
to Kaduna last month.”


“I don’t take alcohol,” she told
him.

“Ok. Juice then.”

Chika listened to her talk about
her sanitation idea while they ate. He did appreciate her zeal, but they had
been president and vice for barely four hours, surely there would be plenty of
time later on to discuss CDS!

“You’re like a nerd—only prettier
and without glasses.”


“What?” She was at the kitchen sink,
washing the pot and plates they had used.

He shrugged. “You’re obsessed with
working and planning. You don’t party, you don’t drink, and you can’t even
leave used plates unwashed.”


She laughed. “You make it sound
like they’re bad habits.”


“It depends. What do you do for
fun? What unserious thing excites you?”


Dara paused to think about it,
then froze entirely when she realized the hot air she was starting to feel on
her neck was actually his breath.

“Tell me. You can’t just be so
damn serious and controlled all the time. Hmm?”


She had finished rinsing the last
of the utensils, but she remained facing the sink. He was standing too closely
behind her. Half an inch and she would be pressed into his body.  She didn’t know what to say. Finally, she
croaked, “Chika.”

“Yes, baby.” He planted a soft
kiss on the back of her neck.
“What’re you doing?” Her voice had
suddenly turned very thin.
He put his hands on her waist and
turned her around so she was now facing him. “Don’t you like it?” he whispered.
“I-I don’t know.”
Another kiss on her neck and then
he smiled. “That’s a first. You usually know a lot of things.”

She shook her head. Gently
removing his hands from her waist the same instant he tried to reach for her
lips, she moved a foot away.

“What’s wrong, Dara? Don’t you
like me?”
he asked, putting his hands in the pockets on his trousers.
She looked into his eyes, waiting
for more. When it didn’t come, she replied softly, “Not this way. Please.”
 *********************************************************************************
Morountodun is a writer and a microbiology ‎ graduate of University of Ilorin.
Twitter: @Morountosweet




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