Unfulfilled Promises (Season 1)
Eric scuffed his feet on the red and brown interlocked tiles as he made his way to the house remembering the first time he had come there ten years ago
His family had just moved to Port Harcourt from Lagos because his dad had been transferred by the Central Bank of Nigeria in Lagos to the branch there Eric and his elder brother, Damian hadn’t liked the change because all their friends were in Lagos but they didn’t have a say in the matter.
The first couple of weeks had been very boring for them except for television and video games but they soon got tired of them as well They decided to go out for a stroll to get to know their neighborhood one afternoon,Their mum told them to be careful.
They had walked down their street admiring the beautiful houses It was when they had gotten to the next street that Damian, fifteen years of age then had met his age mates talking in front of a house He had gone to chat with them and Eric had had no choice but to stand beside him and listen to their conversation of movies and video games.
He had gotten bored just listening to them Just as he had been about telling his brother that he was tired, he turned around and saw in the opposite compound a small girl riding a bicycle
Without informing his brother, he had gone to the house He had gone in and stared at the girl She rode her bicycle towards him and they had stared at eachOther He stopped staring and introduced himself.
“Oleng Akpan.” she had replied quietly.
He had laughed then. “Oleng. What a funny name. What does it mean?”
“Don’t worry.” she replied.
He stopped giggling then. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh at your name. It’s just that I’ve never heard that sort of name before.”
“It’s okay.” she had quietly replied again.
“So will you tell me the meaning now?”
“I told you. Don’t worry.”
“Please. I said I was sorry.”
It had been her turn to giggle then. “Oleng means don’t worry”
“Oh! Okay. I get it.” he had laughed and she had laughed too and that had been the start of a wonderful friendship.
He had been telling her about Lagos before his elder brother had come to look for him He had introduced her to the amused Damian, They had promised each other they would be friends since he didn’t have any and neither did she.
They met again in school the following week where he had gone to start primary two, where she was already in primary one, Their friendship had blossomed and now they were in the same secondary school,A distinguished private secondary school called Marvin Bay owned by a Canadian and situated at the end of their estate in Woji, He was presently in SS3 preparing for his WAEC and NECO exams while she was in SS2.
He came back to the present with a smile.
Hi. Can I come in?”
Oleng just stared at him and folded her arms across her chest. “For what?”
He was shocked but not deterred. “I came to teach you that physics you’ve been asking me to teach you.”
It was her turn to be shocked because she had only told him once that she needed help with her physics
“Well, I’m not in the mood for receiving lessons. Well, if that is all…” She made to close the door but he placed a foot against it.
“Sunshine please. At least hear me out.”
“Ric…Eric, whatever you do with your break time and whoever you spend it with is entirely your business.” she launched back furiously at him. “Just leave me alone!” She made to close the door again when he asked, “Why didn’t you tell me Oge has been maltreating you?”
She was transfixed with surprise. “Who told you?”
“Why didn’t you tell me? I thought we promised each other that we wouldn’t have secrets. Why did you keep such a thing from me?” He was angry too.
Tears came to her eyes. “I didn’t want any trouble.”
“Trouble? Did you stop to think how I would feel if I found out? How could you? You know I can handle her.” he accused.
She felt sorry that she hadn’t told him but remembered what she had seen that day.
Her anger surged. “Oh yes! You can handle her alright. You did just that today, didn’t you?”
“It’s not what you think. Nothing happened.”
“Really?” she enquired tongue-in-cheek.
Eric proceeded to explain everything that happened still, at her doorsteps,As she wanted to reply, she heard her phone ring so she ran to go and answer the call
Eric took it as an avenue to enter the house, He smiled when he saw Oleng was frowning when she saw him at the glass and wooden door to the living room. She didn’t know how beautiful she looked like that She told the person to call her back later.
“I didn’t ask you to come in.” she intoned coldly when she was through with the call.
“I know but then since the door was opened, I just had to come in.” he retorted nonchalantly as he sat down on the pale cream and black leather sofa in the tastefully furnished living room. Everything there spoke of wealth; from the Persian rug to the television to the chairs and articrafts. Her mother obviously had good taste.
“Well, I want you to leave.” she fired back at him.
“Make me.” he dared.
She sat down looking at him in anger He explained what happened again.
“Tell me you weren’t turned on when she took off her shirt.” she threw at him when he was through.
He shook his head slowly. “The issue here is that I didn’t fall for her.”
“Please!” she said in disgust with a wave of her hand and turned away from him to stare at the television.
He looked at her intently. “Frankly, there is only one girl on earth who would come on strong to me to make me fall flat.”
She slowly turned to look at him The question was in her eyes but she didn’t dare ask.
“You.” he told her shortly. “You can come on strong to me any day any time, sunshine and I’ll fall hook, line and sinker.”
Oleng could not help looking away She was embarrassed.
And as for Oge, you need not worry about her anymore. She’ll be dethroned on Monday.”
“I reported her to the principal There have been numerous complains about her This was the last straw.”
“How could you? It will only worsen matters.” she lamented.
“No. She’ll only be a toothless bull dog now.”
“No! She’ll use her prefect friends against me. All of them will hate me for making the principal dethrone her.”
Eric studied her calmly before smiling.
“These are the very same prefects who have been complaining to the principal about her They’ll be glad when she’s dethroned.”
“Really? But she’ll still have some loyal friends.”
He smiled again and she had to look away, He didn’t know he looked more handsome whenever he smiled.
“You underestimate me, sunshine. I think you sometimes forget I’m the senior prefect.”
“I’ve never forgotten. It’s the reason why I don’t like drawing attention to myself in school at all. I don’t want people to say I’m taking advantage of the fact that my best friend is the senior prefect. Now they’d go about saying such.”
“But they don’t know what happened. It was Zinny who told me about what she has been doing to you.”
“Zinny?” she asked in bewilderment.
“Yeah. When I asked of your whereabouts and when she asked what happened between Oge and I No one knows she’s going to be dethroned on Monday except you and I.”
“Thank God. That’s a relief. I don’t want to be the talk of the whole school.”
“Neither do I but the thing is, people will still talk.”
“Well, that’s true.”
There was a moment of silence between them. Eric got up, sat on a stool beside her chair and took her hand.
Sunshine, am I forgiven for what happened this afternoon? I swear, nothing happened between us It was a set up but I didn’t fall Don’t allow a nonentity come between us.
Please don’t throw away our friendship of ten years.”
Oleng fixed her gaze on the hand he held while he talked, She lifted her head to look at him. “I heard her talk about the plan with her friends but didn’t know it was to try to seduce you for me to think you had s£x with her I was so angry seeing both of you coming out of the toilet, dressing up.”
“She was the one who……” he tried to explain but she placed a finger on his lips.
“Ssh… You’ve already explained yourself. I’m glad you didn’t fall.” She smiled shyly.
“Thanks. Me too.” he said smiling and pulled her to give her a hug. They hardly hugged these days so she was glad when they did and they stayed like that for long minutes until she pulled away, wondering at the sensations running all over her body, Eric felt it also and was lost for words before pulling himself together.
“So, what about the physics lesson?”
“Certainly not I’m not in the mood. Maybe another time.” she informed him smiling.
“Alright.” he said with a slight shrug.
“I don’t know. Maybe she’s in her room.”
Tessy was her mum’s distant relative. She was twenty two years old and was studying at the Rivers State University of Technology. Her mum had brought her to live with them when Oleng was ten and to take care of her since she constantly traveled but Tessy always ignored her. Whenever she was around which was seldom, she would lock herself up in the room and behave as if Oleng didn’t exist. It hurt Oleng a lot because she had been so happy when her mum had brought the latter thinking she would no longer be lonely She was used to her now anyway. Besides, she didn’t need her as far as she had Eric.
She was surprised to hear her mum’s car horn She got up and went to the window to lift the linen curtain to make sure and saw their gateman running to open the gate.
“My mum is back.” she informed Eric.
Eric sighed a little,He could count the number of times he had seen Oleng’s mum. She owned chains of boutiques in some parts of Nigeria and some African countries where she sold both English wears and all kinds of materials She also dealt in jewelries; gold, diamond, sapphire, rubies, platinum, whatever; which made her travel all over Nigeria and the world. She was rarely at home.
He never knew Oleng was neglected until he got very close to her Her mum would travel out of the country for over two weeks and leave her alone at home assuming her distant relative, Tessy would take care of Oleng not knowing that Tessy would also travel and leave Oleng all alone She always came back before Oleng’s mum though Oleng not wanting her mum to send the girl packing never reported because she felt sorry for her.Tessy was from a very poor home.
Eric had visited her one day and found her crying She said her mum didn’t love her because times without number, she had tried talking with her mum but the woman was always too busy to talk to her. He had told her that she was the one not trying her best to get close to her mum but she had replied that there was no time to get close to her because if her mum wasn’t in Kano or Kaduna today, she would be in either one African country or the other or Dubai the following day and when she was even at home, she was too tired to talk to her when she came home at night, tired from running her numerous boutiques.
Eric had tried to make his mum her mum also but she was too scared of his mum, saying she was too much of a society lady for her to get close to Eric knew that at first sight his mum appeared that way but inwardly, she was a very sweet person.
Eric was the first person to know when she started menstruating It had been one of those periods when both her mum and Tessy travelled She had thought she was sick having never been told anything about adolescence and feminine changes.
She had called Eric who in turn told his mum It was his mum who had come over to lecture her and buy her her first sanitary towel before she told her mum when she came back. Her mum hadn’t told her anything but made sure she had a regular supply of sanitary towel as she did with her clothes and money.Oleng didn’t lack anything except motherly love. She had money, clothes, and jewelries at her beck and call but a mother’s love.
That was why he was so important to her because he had always been there for her especially when she was all alone at home He insisted she come over to his house but she always refused saying her mother wouldn’t appreciate it if she suddenly returned home to find the house empty She hadn’t told him though when she started developing [email protected] but he had noticed and teased her about it then but not anymore, not now that they were both very conscious of each other.
“Welcome ma.” Oleng greeted and stood up as her mother entered the luxurious living room.
“Good afternoon ma.” Eric greeted standing also.
“Good afternoon…hmm…what’s that your name again?”
“It’sEric ma.” he politely answered.
“Yes, Eric. How are you?”
“Fine, thank you ma.”
“How is your mum?”
“She’s fine ma. She sent her greetings and said you should get her a diamond necklace when next you go to Dubai.”
“Hmm! Soso and diamonds! I’ll get her one. Tell her I’ll bring it at the next club meeting.”
“I will ma. I was on my way out before you came in.”
“Alright dear. Extend my greetings to your mum.”
“I will ma.”
“I want to see him off.”
Eric and Oleng walked quietly from the living room.
“Your mum seems so nice that it is hard to believe she neglects you.” Eric observed when they were outside. Oleng shrugged nonchalantly for an answer.
“Well, anytime I see her, I always understand where you got your beauty from. You look very much like her.”
“You’ve told me that so many times.” she acknowledged, smiling shyly.
“Because it’s the truth.” he retorted smiling.
Oleng couldn’t deny that fact. Her mum was indeed beautiful and looked younger than her age. She was chocolate skinned like her, slim and petite also. It took her awhile to accept it but she knew she was a replica of her mother though she didn’t have that air of authority her mother had.
They got to the gate and opened it. They went outside and stared at each other.
“Let’s go out tomorrow.” Eric finally suggested. The following day was a Saturday.
“I’ll be here in the afternoon.”
She went back inside. As she was heading for her room, her mum called her. She sighed. She rarely went to her mum’s room.
“Yes ma.” she answered when she got to the room after knocking and asked to come in.
“What was he doing here?” Mrs. Linda Akpan asked as she sat on her king size bed.
Oleng looked at her toes. “He came to teach me physics.”
“Is he your physics teacher?”
Oleng was silent. She looked at her toes on her pink flip flops.
“I asked you a question, young lady.”
“Then how come he came here to teach you physics?”
“Because I asked him to.”
“Why did you do that?”
“He is very good in physics and I’m having a bit of difficulty understanding it so I asked him to help me out.”
“Why didn’t you tell me to hire a private teacher for you?”
“I haven’t seen you in three days.” she defiantly remarked.
“You haven’t seen me in three days.” her mother echoed in ringing disbelief. “Is that your excuse? Couldn’t you have waited for a time like this that I’m at home?”
Oleng was silent at that.
“Let me warn you. If you get pregnant, don’t bother coming back here Just go to his house. Afterall, his parents are wealthy enough to take care of you and the baby Just don’t come and saddle me with a bastard.”
Tears gathered in Oleng’s eyes. Was this the best way for a mother to tell her daughter about the dangers of premarital s£x and the consequences of unwanted pregnancy? She vowed right there and then never to be like her.
“By the way, where’s that useless Tessy?”
“She’s in her room.” she replied in a low voice.
“Go and call the idiot for me She’s supposed to be your chaperone not the queen of this house.”
Oleng walked dejectedly out of the room. She went to Tessy’s room. The latter was reading a magazine and listening to music from her phone. She delivered the message and walked quietly out of the room.
She went to her room, laid down on her bed and cried her eyes out. Tessy later came in anger to her room and warned her never to bring Eric to the house again before banging the door rudely after her.
Oleng only stared at her because she knew it was an empty threat. They were both never at home and expected her to die of boredom? They were joking. Eric meant more to her than both of them put together. He gave her a reason to live.
Eric came as promised the following day and of course both Tessy and her mum weren’t at home. After playing video games, they went to Mr. Biggs to get some snacks. They went back to her place, ate the snacks, watched some movies and later went out for a stroll in the evening. She was sorry to see him leave but knew they would see each other again in church the following morning.
Monday came and as Eric said, the principal announced to the whole assembly that the board of trustees had a meeting on Saturday and have decided to strip Oge of her post There were much shouts of joy to her surprise. Oleng didn’t know people hated her like that. Her fellow prefects were the most joyous with an exception of a few who just stood looking indifferently. Eric showed indifference in his position in front of the assembly.
Oleng could not however help feeling sorry for Oge when she saw her crying. She was human after all. Another girl was named the senior prefect. The students clapped with joy because Antoinette was a very nice person. Her post was given to someone else too. Oge’s friends or better still her goons abandoned her since she didn’t have wield power anymore.
Oleng was glad that the second term ended peacefully because Oge never disturbed her again though some of Eric’s female classmates still despised her for having all his attention,She shrugged. It was their funeral….(It’s their business)