said I could take Friday off? I’ve had all weekend to recover. I feel much
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?”
we’re getting dressed.”
after the call. It was Chika this time.
not so far from yours. How about we try it out for dinner?” he said.
the coincidence of her whole family dining out that night.
hour. We’re strolling.”
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.”
town. You should see other parts, like where I stay. Gombe is really not a bad
my accommodation isn’t the best, you don’t have to rub it in.”
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.
the Nigerian President, you can talk about how you grew up without shoes too?
Goodluck with that.”
replied, laughing. “Speaking of presidents, have you ever thought about being
one when batch A passes out? You’re B, right?”
quickly pulled her away from the road so they switched positions. He looked at
her. “No, I haven’t. Why did you ask?”
think you’d make a good CLO or CDS president, whichever one you prefer.”
be a CLO, trust me. President might be cool though. What inspired that
thought?” He looked at her again, still surprised.
and eloquent. You have the ability to carry people along, and you seem to have
very good rapport with people.”
asking me out?” Chika said with a wide grin.
his arm playfully.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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 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.
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.
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.
on her feet.
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.”
for a minute.” He waited till they were both out of earshot, and then the
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.
“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.”
asked Chika, genuinely surprised, as many other people voted her.
could you not shine?”
had secretary or provost in mind, but vice president it turned out to be.
today?” Chika asked after the elections.
digging into her doughnut, “Nothing really. You have anything in mind?”
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.
could plan our tenure too, God knows this CDS could use a bit more fun
straight from here or you want to stop over at yours first?”
this uniform first—“
are quite uncomfortable to move around town with. I’ll call you when I’m set so
you can give me directions.”
anyway. And if I have enough time, I might cook your favourite, noodles.”
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.
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
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.
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
I’m totally jealous,” she answered, feigning a sulk.
got inside and gave her a grin. “I was just about to start making lunch. Wanna
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.”
how to dance.”
waste.” He continued dancing in front of her, mimicking the ‘body rocking’ in
the music video and making her laugh.
noodles, “Would you like some wine? I got this bottle from my uncle when I went
to Kaduna last month.”
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!
and without glasses.”
washing the pot and plates they had used.
working and planning. You don’t party, you don’t drink, and you can’t even
leave used plates unwashed.”
like they’re bad habits.”
fun? What unserious thing excites you?”
then froze entirely when she realized the hot air she was starting to feel on
her neck was actually his breath.
damn serious and controlled all the time. Hmm?”
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
kiss on the back of her neck.
suddenly turned very thin.
turned her around so she was now facing him. “Don’t you like it?” he whispered.
he smiled. “That’s a first. You usually know a lot of things.”
removing his hands from her waist the same instant he tried to reach for her
lips, she moved a foot away.
like me?” he asked, putting his hands in the pockets on his trousers.
for more. When it didn’t come, she replied softly, “Not this way. Please.”