_A Friend like Her_*
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“Who is Ayomide Cole?” Bayo asked as soon as he entered JSS 1B classroom. Ayomide became scared instantly. She couldn’t even raise her head up as she remembered getting into trouble with the same prefect that morning. She thought he eventually reported her to a teacher or maybe the principal. She got more scared just at the mere thought of that.
“I said who is Ayomide”, Bayo repeated.
“It’s her”, a girl pointed directly at Ayomide
. Both Bayo and since traced the owner of the voice. Ayomide noticed it was the same girl who tapped her on the assembly this morning. “What kind of girl is this?” she thought.
Bayo on the other hand traced the pointing finger of the girl who spoke. He found out the finger was pointing directly at the girl he encountered this morning.
“So, you are Ayomide Cole?” he asked walking towards where Ayomide was sitting.
“What sort of question is that?” Ayomide thought. “Oh! He wouldn’t know because he wasn’t in the assembly hall that morning but rather at the gate”, she concluded in her mind.
“You are the one my mates have been talking about?” Bayo continued when she didn’t respond. “The one who became popular on her first day in school”.
“Is that a compliment or an insult?” Ayomide thought to herself
. She dared not say that out. It would be an act of disrespect or so she thought.
“Anyway, you are called by the cashier”, Bayo finally told her the reason he came looking for her and left immediately. Ayomide was relieved. She could now breathe normally again. All the while Bayo was talking, she just looked on in silence. She felt the boy was taunting her but something kept bothering her mind after he left. She had expected him to scold her for not answering him the first time he called but he didn’t. Maybe, this morning was just a show off after all. With this thoughts, she left for the cashier’s office.
Some minutes later, Ayomide came back into the classroom wearing the school’s uniform with her own cloth on her hand.
“Oh! Look at you”, a girl exclaimed stopping Ayomide from stepping further into the classroom. “You look beautiful in the school’s uniform”.
“Thank you and no thanks”, Ayomide replied coldly.
“What’s with the attitude?” Bukky was shocked by Ayomide’s response, then she remembered rattling her out to Bayo. “Don’t tell me it’s because I called you out for Senior Bayo”, she said innocently.
“I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to annoy you”, the girl apologized sincerely.
“Uhm”, Ayomide sighed and looked at her carefully. “Okay apology accepted”.
“Thank you”, Bukky said almost kneeling on the floor.
“My name is Bukola Johnson and you are Ayomide Cole right?”
“No! Wrong”, Ayo responded.
“What!” Bukky was shocked by Ayo’s response.
Ayo noticed the confused look on Bukky’s face and couldn’t help but smile.
“Hehehe”, Ayo laughed eventually. “You should see the look on your face right now. I’m Ayomide Cole. It’s a pleasure knowing you”. Ayo extended a hand for a shake. Bukky took it gladly and they both smiled.
“Does it mean we are friends?” Bukky asked eagerly. That was what she wanted all along. She was curious and wanted to know more about the most popular girl in school just on the first day of resumption.
Ayo smiled again.
“Yes, we are friends”, Ayo responded
“…and also your seat mate?” Bukky added
Ayo just looked at her and nodded her head signaling yes. She smiled yet again as Bukky began telling her about when she newly came to Nightingale.
“What a friend?” Ayo thought.
Getting to know each other*
It was about 2 PM before Mrs. Cole got to work that day. Her boss Mr. Peter Badmus was not happy about it. Though he was aware she went to her daughter’s school and also he permitted her to go. He never expected her to arrive this late when it’s just 2 hours to closing hour.
“I thought you promised to be at the office before 12 PM”, Mr. Badmus said rather calmly
. He didn’t want to upset his clerk. He knew all about what she has faced and what she is still facing. She saw him as her comforter and benefactor. Still yet, as her boss, he ought to let her know what she did wasn’t right.
“This is past two, and you are just coming in”, he queried.
“Please sir, I’m really sorry. It wasn’t totally my fault. The traffic was just too much”, explained Mrs. Cole.
“It’s Okay. I hope you have paid Ayo’s fee”
“Yes I have”, she responded and further explained her meeting with the school’s cashier.
“Remember I told you the distance is a bit far. My son attends the same school and he goes with the school bus”, Mr. Badmus pointed out.
“Yes sir, even too far for a 10 year old”
“Then 35,000 wasn’t enough after all?” Mr. Badmus asked.
“Yes, it wasn’t
“You would have called me, I…”
“I didn’t want to bother you”, Mrs. Cole quickly said interrupting her boss “You have helped me enough and I’m grateful for that sir. How many employee will get a salary advance just after 2 months of working with an organization like yours?”
“Still yet, you would have called me”, said Mr. Badmus. “I do this because I care”.
Mrs. Cole sighed while avoiding eye contact with her boss.
“Okay! Never mind. I will see what I can do before the deadline”, he said.
“Alright, thank you sir. I have to go now. There a lot of files on my desk”, Mrs. Cole said, leaving the office. “And I must input them digitally before the end of the day, even if I have to work extra time”.
“You don’t have to do that”, Mr. Badmus said behind her.
“I know but I have to”, she said and left.
* * *
“Good morning Class”, a young man in his late 20’s greeted as soon as he entered JSS 1B classroom.
“Good morning sir!” the students stood up and responded in chorus.
“You may all be seated”, the teacher commanded and they obeyed. “My name is Damilola Oluwatosin. I will be your class teacher throughout your junior secondary school days in Nightingale Academy”.
“Now you will introduce yourselves one after the other stating just your name and your age”.
“My name is Oreoluwa Adams”, the first boy to his right stood up and introduced. “I am 10 years old”
“Good! Sit”, Mr. Dammy said. “Okay next person”.
It continued this way until it was Ayomide’s turn. She stood up quietly.
“My name is Ayomide…” She stopped as she heard giggles amongst her peers. She could hear some audibly, others were just murmurs.
‘It’s the girl on the assembly this morning’, a boy said.
‘It’s like she can’t pronounce her surname’, another added.
‘Maybe she wants to pronounce it as Ko Le’
“Your surname please”, Mr. Dammy said.
“She can’t pronounce it sir”, a student said from behind.
“Quiet everyone”, the teacher shouted for all to hear. “If I hear another word, you would all be punished. Is that clear?”
Now facing Ayo, he asked “Are you not the girl on the assembly this morning? The one who told us the meaning of Nightingale”
“Yes sir, I was”, Ayo was more ashamed now. Though the giggles from her mates has subsided, she could still feel the heat from their stares. She tried as much as she could to avoid eye contact with any of them.
. Mr. Dammy noticed this and he tried making her feel better.
“Ayomide Cole, please sit”. He noticed the surprised look on her face as she sits and added “You were brave this morning, why wouldn’t I know your name. I keep tabs of brilliant student”.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed about and you are all wrong to make her feel so. Now apologize to her”.
“We are sorry”, they all chorused.
Ayo became cheerful once again, she was touched by the teacher’s comment not their apology.
“Less I forget, I’m also your Mathematics teacher”, Mr. Dammy said when the class was quiet. “Meanwhile, we won’t do anything for today. So, let’s continue with getting to know one another”. He looked around and focused his eyes on the girl beside Ayomide. “You! Introduce yourself”.
The introduction continued until the whole 30 students in the classroom had taken turns. The teacher left the class thereafter and the next subject teacher came in without delay.