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EZE GOES TO SCHOOL (Episode 48)

In the following week, Ibuka found himself in unfamiliar territory – as the one who sought to reconcile Joseph and I. I was the one whose job it was to settle the infrequent bursts of dispute that erupted between him and Joseph. And despite his efforts, the tension between Joseph and I grew with each passing day. We stopped speaking to each other, resorting to grunts and mumbles each time a situation forced us to interact. We stopped sharing a desk in class; I moved out to go sit beside Boska, the only student in our class who didn’t have a seat partner. That made for an awkward moment when Mr. Okafor, during his Social Studies class, looked in the direction of my former seat to ask me a question.

“Eze, what is…” He stopped and frowned. “Eze? Where is Eze?”

“I’m here, sir.”

He turned his head to his right and settled his eyes on me at the other end of the room. The entire class turned to seek me out. Boska shifted uncomfortably beside me.

“What are you doing there?” queried Mr. Okafor. “Isn’t this your seat?” He pointed at the corner where Joseph sat, wooden-faced.

“It is. I just want to sit here small,” I deadpanned, uncomfortably aware of the inquisitiveness that burned in the collective gaze of the class. Joseph and I not sitting together was as curious as Tatiana aka Tatafo and Scholastica not huddled together in gossip, or Dan and Chidiebere not being sycophantic towards Toby. Very curious indeed. And even though Mr. Okafor didn’t pursue the matter and continued with his lecture, everyone else kept looking back at either me or Joseph, trying to glean from our wooden expressions if the separation was a dare or something more serious.

“So what is happening between you and Joseph?” Ebenezer pounced on me immediately Mr. Okafor’s class ended and the teacher walked out of the room.

I stared at the boy with a disbelieving expression. Was he serious? There was absolutely no love lost between the two of us, and he expected me to confide in him?

“Get lost, Ebenezer,” I growled.

“So there is something going on between you two,” he said enthusiastically, my rancour bouncing off him. “And it’s serious too. Hmm, seems I’m going to win my bet with Obioma.”

“I said, get lost,” I snapped, getting to my feet and glaring at him.

“Ah-ah, Eze! Calm down nau. Okay, I’m sorry I mentioned my bet with Obioma, but really, I’m just trying to be your friend. I can see you need one right now.” His insincerity oozed from his pores like an airborne disease reaching out to infect another from the ailing carrier.

I stepped closer to him, staring at him like he hadn’t used any mouthwash in a month, and I said grimly, “If you don’t get out of my face right now, Ebenezer, I will make sure your name is on every list of noisemakers I write for the rest of the term, and you will forever be on the duty roster as the one who wipes the blackboard before every class.”

The smug complacency fled from his eyes and his face shuttered with a familiar animosity. “You can’t try that,” he rasped.

“I’m the class captain,” I shot back. “Would you like to try me?”

That ended his interference, and he turned and stomped back to his seat just as Mrs. Uwazuruike, the Igbo Language teacher walked into the classroom.

Mrs. Uwazuruike rounded up her class an hour later to the sound of the break-time bell, and upon her exit, the entire class was roused with the anticipation of an entire thirty minutes that would be spent doing nothing as remotely tedious as receiving lectures. Loud chatter broke out in the room, desk tops were banged shut, and there was an unhurried exodus to the door.

“Eze, will you like to go to the canteen with me?” my new seatmate, Boska piped up as I started away from the desk.

I turned to look at him. I heard the hope in his voice, the need in his question. He was one of those boys who didn’t have much friends, and didn’t quite know how to easily make any. I, however, still had a friend – Ibuka. And so I couldn’t give him what he wanted.

“Sorry, Boska,” I said with an apologetic half-smile. “I’m supposed to go to the ice cream stand with Ibuka.” His face fell, and I added weakly, “Maybe some other time.”

He nodded, and his eyes slid away from mine. “Yes, sure, some other time,” he muttered.

I hurried out of my classroom to JSS3A. it was empty, except for two boys. Ibuka was putting away his things into his desk, while Joseph waited, his bottom propped up against the top of another desk. The moment I walked in, they both saw me and froze. I stiffened too. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees.

I kept my face firmly averted from Joseph as I addressed Ibuka, “Ibu, are you ready? Remember we’re supposed to go to the ice cream stand.”

“Er…” His gaze skittered from me to Joseph, back to me, and back to Joseph. “Um…Joe –”

“Don’t even think about it, Ibu,” he cut across Ibuka’s hesitation. “You promised you’ll follow me to go and see my guardian so I can collect money from him that we’ll use and go and buy snacks.”

“It’s true…but, em…” His gaze slid back to me. “You see, Eze –”

“We talked about this last night,” I interjected. “I even have my money for the ice cream.”

Ibuka suddenly looked as though he would rather be anywhere in the world but here, before his two best friends. He shuffled his feet and struggled to make eye contact with either of us.

“Ibu, if you follow me,” Joseph coaxed, “I’ll collect enough money to buy snacks for me and you –”

Not to be outdone, I cut in earnestly, “Ibu, see – I already have money to buy the ice cream for the two of us –”

“Stop interrupting me while I’m talking,” Joseph spat, not looking at me.

“Were you talking?” I fired back. “I didn’t even realize that.”

He turned to me, his face pinched with anger. “Maybe it’s because you are now deaf, which is not a surprise, since you have already been blinded by Anulika.”

“You’re the one who is blind,” I snapped. “Otherwise, why don’t you go to your guardian’s office yourself? Or do you need Ibuka to take your hand and show you the way?”

“You’re very stupid!” Joseph exploded. “Go and buy your ice cream yourself nau – idiot!”

“Please, stop shouting at me, so I can know what is smelling, your mouth or the rubbish in that wastepaper basket,” I sniped.

Joseph went from angry to livid, and roared a rejoinder. I sent a salvo back at him, and within seconds, we were embroiled in a shouting match, hurling invectives that reverberated on the walls of the classroom. It lasted for a few moments, before Ibuka’s loud protestation cut through it and silenced us. The air in the room was charged with electricity, creating tensions I could feel like a touch against my flesh.

“I am tired of all this nonsense between the two of you,” Ibuka said heavily. There was a film of unshed tears in his eyes as he looked from me to Joseph. “Honestly, I am tired. Since you fought days ago, I’ve been dividing my time between you, going from one person to the other. No matter how much I’ve tried to make peace, none of you will listen to me. Well, I’m tired. I can’t continue like this. I can’t continue to be a part of this. You two are my best friends, but if you won’t be friends with yourselves, then there’s no need for me to be friends with you.”

“Ibu, please…”

“No. I’ve said my mind.” He shoved the last item into his desk, slammed it shut, and his key rattled as he padlocked it. Then he took in a breath, and upon exhalation, he said, “I think I’ll go and make new friends for myself.” And he walked out of the class, leaving Joseph and I to stand uncomfortably in each other’s presence.

***

“Eze…Eze, you’re still here…”

I was pulled out of my reverie by the softly-uttered words. My head turned in the direction of the speaker. My eyesight swam into focus, pulling at the mist of colours whirling in my vision into a defined picture. And hovering centrally in the picture was Anulika’s face.

That bone structure that was remarkable, even at her young age, with its well-proportioned features – the high cheekbones, the widely-set luminous eyes, the pert nose, the full, sensuous lips, all of it coming together to form a visage that was on the brink of bloom, waiting for time to perfect the beauty of it. She was quietly beautiful now, at age thirteen; she would be a very sensual woman by the time she was past twenty.

“What is wrong, Eze?” she said again.

I blinked and cleared my throat, and looked away, around at the empty classroom. “Nothing. Nothing is wrong. Why are you here?”

“I could ask you the same. It’s been school over for the past twenty minutes, and everybody has gone to the hostel. I just came out to fetch water for my school-mother quickly before they ring the bell for afternoon food, when I saw you still here as I passed our block.”

I noticed then that she was clad in her day-wear, the blue check of the dress flattering her light complexion. She held a bucket in her right hand.

“So why are you still in class?”

“Nothing.”

“Is everything okay?” Her voice was soft, cottony with her concern.

“Yes, why wouldn’t it be?” I said curtly as I got to my feet and picked up my school bag.

“I don’t know…” She hedged. “Are you and Joseph quarreling?”

“I don’t want to talk about that.”

“You can talk to me about it.”

“Why?” I suddenly barked, facing her again, trying to be impervious to the force of her loveliness.

She blinked, startled by my abruptness. “Why what?”

“Why should I talk to you?”

“Well…be-because we are friends?”

“Are we, hmm? Are we friends, Anulika?”

“Why are you sounding like this, Eze?” Her brow had furrowed delicately.

I reined in my temper, and tried to still the choppy current of my emotions. Dear Joseph . . . Signed, Your Secret Admirer. I remembered that note. The words. Her handwriting. I remembered Matthias. His desire. Their companionship.

I slung my bag over my shoulder and started out of the class. I was angry. I was confused. And I didn’t want to be here with her.

“Eze…”

That soft call again. I stopped walking and turned to her. Her eyes pulled at me. I resisted. She opened her mouth to speak, and I cut her off with a question. “Are you and Matthias boyfriend and girlfriend?”

She shut her mouth. Something quick and indecipherable flitted past her face. And she said slowly, “Why are you asking me that?”

I shrugged, trying not to reveal how much my life depended on her answer. “I just want to know…you know, as a friend.”

A moment ticked by, before she released a tremulous sigh. “I said yes to him yesterday before night food.”

The words slammed into me with the blunt force of a sledgehammer. I might have staggered back a step, I wasn’t sure. My head spun, and my breathing turned raspy.

She was still talking. “We became friends after inter-house sports, and three days after that, he asked me out. Of course I said no. but he kept on asking me and asking me. Plus, he’s a really nice boy, a good person. And Amaka and Nkeiru were saying I should give him a try, that he really likes me…”

Her words kept coming at me in a rush. I battled to absorb them, to digest them. I tried to maintain a calmness I didn’t feel. Deep breath in, deep breath out. I stared at her, willing the tears that were welling into a hard lump inside me under control. I would not cry in front of Anulika. I just simply would not.

“And so, finally, yesterday, he pressured me and pressured me, and I told him yes. But that we have to start slow and quietly. I’m not even sure I said yes to being his girlfriend…I mean – well, I’m not sure what I said yes to…” She gave a small, self-deprecating chuckle, and looked at me, inviting me to share in her mirth.

I didn’t. I stared stonily back.

The school bell clanged. Time for lunch.

None of us moved. None of us seemed affected by the bell or its import.

“Eze, I’m sorry,” she finally husked.

“For what?” My voice was equally hoarse.

“I don’t know. I feel like I’ve hurt you, and I don’t know why…”

“Hurt who? Me? No, you haven’t.” I chuckled this time; but there was no amusement in the sound. I turned again, away from her. “But I have to go now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Are you sure you are alright?” she asked as I walked to the door.

“Yes, I am.”

But I wasn’t. I wasn’t alright as I trudged alone toward my hostel. Everything she’d said about her friendship with Matthias hammered at me. The words broke a dam in my soul. And I didn’t have Joseph or Ibuka to unburden it all on. So the moment I got to a sturdy tree behind whose trunk I could squat and hide from sight, I set my elbows on my knees, lowered my face into my hands, and started to sob.

 I am @Walt_Shakes on twitter

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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67 comments

  1. Are suppoz to congratulate you for leaving us in midstride?

    Poor Eze, whatta you gonna do now?

  2. Okay

  3. Delay is dangerous Eze!

  4. Chai! Sorry bro, make sure you still take first in class this time o. You’ll be fine eeyah… 😀

  5. Eyaaaa…..sorry jare Eze. What dis four letter word can to one ehn…hmmmm…sorry

  6. Hmmmmmmm. I’m trying to decide if i should kill Walter or not. I waited for you to post this all morning, with my fingers crossed if i might add and you give me this!!!!!! Firstly, it is too short. Secondly, you made my Eze cry and thirdly, you are going to make me wait until Easter Monday for my full dosage. Tell me what i’m supposed to kill this suspense with ehhhhh.
    To save yourself from my wrath, you will have to give me another this week{Remember it is a solemn week. Be gracious enough to do so as a proof that you are a true child of God}

  7. Awwww…..poor eze, look wat delay has caused U now

  8. Walter why have you decided to be doing somebody long-throat everytime you write these stories, eh? As you stopped this thing here now, and its sweeting you is it good? God dey watch you o…. Nice coining jor Now, to you,chicken-shit Eze, next time try and be a man and go get what you want,….if you like don’t go and apologise to Joseph, you’d loose even your friends the way you’ve lost Anulika. Coward#

  9. Awwww my darling Eze *hugs* oya stop crying naa..issokay! Gaan talk to ds geh, talk to her. Na one head she get!

  10. Sigh!!! First things First, Walter what is it?? Biko answer me ooo… ahn ahn.. what kinda cruelty is this?? ehn!! Anyway, this was too realistic, like I was standing by and watching the exchange. The way u tell a story ehn Walt.. welldone!!! On point.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Thanks a lot. 😀 Dont worry, I will not do this to you people again. *crossing fingers behind my back*

  11. Awwwww….. Dat was so sad. Beautifully sad. Walter…u r a genius!

  12. Oooooooh finally!!! I’m happy for Anulika joor. Eze is not serious. Now he’s learned the hard way that “every opportunity has a shelf-life” . Can’t wait for what’ll happen between Joseph, Ibuka and Eze now that Anulika’s dating Matthias. @Walter,lovely story-telling. I could feel the tension and everything else.Gosh,you’re really good. 🙂

  13. Eze goes to school and has his first heartbreak.

  14. AN OPEN LETTER TO EZE

    Dear Eze,

    What’s with you as in, what the flippin’ heck’s wrong with you?! Anulika offers up herself to you on a platter of platinum, as a final resort to getting you to sing and what do you do, you silly sissy?! You totally blew her off, shut her out and shoved her away. Just like that! You shoulda screamed, shouted, raved and let it out LOUD, no holds barred that she knocks you off of your feet and rocks your boat, heck, your world like no tomorrow! And now, you’re under some tree, curled up like the cry baby that you are, sobbing. Like weeping will change the situation. You suck, Eze, you totally, absolutely SUCK to the high heavens! You make sucking suck! Whatever the heck that means! Shame on you, Eze, shame, shame, shame!!! But, I’ll give you one more chance to redeem yourself and manhood, out of the goodness of my kindly heart. You see, Anulika’s not feeling Matthias, she just said yes out of obligation, pity. So, there’s still a flicker of hope for you, if only you’d get your acts together and quit with the stupidity and foolishness. Make up with your buddies and go get your munchkins, Anulika; she awaits. Matthias is just an ‘abelejayan’, more like the torchbearer paving the way for your grand entrance. So, ‘git’ going now and make me proud. You can do it Eze, yes you CAN!

    Nice job, Walter and do ensure Eze gets this. Plus, lend him a helping hand and make it happen. I trust its no biggie for you, small thing! ROTFLMAO!

    • shakespeareanwalter

      *drafting an email to forward this open letter to Eze* 🙂

    • Hahahahahaha. Walter, i will send money for your internet subscription so Eze gets this open letter….{making sucking suck; this cracked me up big time}

  15. First, he is 13 first crush/ first love jitters and second d last sentence made my eyes glister thank God I held back the tears. Good job walter

  16. Eeeeeewu mozambique like that Eze no dey market at all! I said it! God please continue to save us from road blockers that deserve to be ‘friend zoned’. Nice work, Walt! I really enjoyed this read. But, biko, I don’t enjoy the fact that the 3 musketeers are seperated or is this Sisiri’s grand plan in the scheme of things? Well, hhere’s hoping we get an extra dose of Eze’s antics before Easter. You na, in the spirit of the thing. I wonder what an Eze-Anulika combo will feel like…

  17. First and foremost, “Please, stop shouting at me, so I can know what is smelling, your mouth or the rubbish in that wastepaper basket,” ۳º̩̩́_º̩̩̀)۳ Joseph no use blow cover one of Eze eye!? Chai.
    Secondly…Walter!! Walter!! Walter!!! You r lucky that in an arsenal fan. I’ve the patience n courage to bear all this suspense u r dishing out erry monday. Beht all the same, gym class is almost over for the thunder that will fire u

  18. This Anulika and Eze love story is getting heated up and we might just have another Twilight story in the making. Secondary school crushes have to be one of the biggest adventure of high school. Good job Walter…but I no fit wait make another monday reach o

  19. Once in a while, love hurts…..sorry ehn, eze. Well done, walter

  20. Imagine when you’re so much in love with a girl & she doesn’t have a clue…not even from his body language, since he’s yet to confess it with words.

    This friend zone wey Eze dey ehn, na 15-foot tall fence na im surround am sha!

  21. AN EMOTIONAL PIECE!
    Act like a man and stop being a dumbass Eze! I don’t care if you cry a lagoon,If you would never pick the courage to set the ‘P’, then forget about anulika.
    There is still much space for you eze,cos anulika accepted matthias out of pity.In her words,she wasn’t even sure of what she said yes to.
    ”i don’t know.i feel like i’ve hurt you,and i don’t know why” the handwriting on the wall is clear.There’s a soft spot for eze in anulika’s heart.
    So Eze go…i mean arise…be not of faint heart,match forward,sashay and posses your possesion.

  22. Oh Eze! My dear Eze!! *tears in my eyes for you* So sad. First love is always the hardest….

  23. I got a feeling of nostalgia as I read this piece esp the last parts. It reminded me of myself in my teens and I could only envisage the all too bitter lump that got stuck in Eze’s throat as he cried his frustration n heart break out. I love this Walter, you are a genius!

  24. Walter, sniffs, why, why, why do u do dis all d time? what’s wrong with u? Y re doing me long throat oooo? i didnt even wait for my free MTN MB. i went to buy data bundle. u na give me rice no meat. Not fair o. Ehen Eze, one word for u. read between the lines. she said, “i said yes” then said “i think i said yes”, then said “am nt sure”. Is it until she begs u? Oppps, i said one WORD.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Hahahahahaa @rice no meat. Heu! Dupe, you won’t kill me biko. And here I was thinking that I added salad on top sef

  25. Sometimes we miss what’s right in front of us! It’s amazing how many adults still make this mistake. To Eze: men don’t (only) cry…go do something about it. Figuratively, of course…this dude is just 12. *shouting* face your books! *in low voice* but do something about it *winks.
    some ladies actually do ‘the Anulika’ just so the bros can make up his mind. Lols. Funny world. This episode is thrilling tho. Loyalty, love, friendship, conflict, suspense. Walter I don’t just tip my hat, I dash you the hat jare.
    The boys will be fine tho. Bros before Anulikas!

  26. I got tears in my eyes. Poor Eze :'( This was a beautiful one, Walter. More grease to ur elbow… Or is it more ink to your biro? 😉

  27. Eze, your mummy and daddy sent you to school to study. Now you have gaan allow Anulika break your heart. Be kiaful. U will not hear now. Better gaan tell Joe sorry. Maybe he will evma help u get Anuli since u don’t have liver. Try na. U re smarter than Matthias masef! If she dino gree, bully her the way u normaly bully Ebenezer…%-)anything for love shebi? Do anything but pls stop crying. You knw dat I don’t like it when you cry… It gives me indigestion. Pls Ezeboy oh?
    Sir Walt Shakes, Knight of of the Order of Pen and Paper! Na you biko.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Hahahahahahaa @knight of the Order of Pen and Paper. That sounds like a good place to begin my knighthood.
      Thanks Judith. Eze, I’m sure, is grateful for your wisdom in this comment. 🙂

  28. Wonderful, wonderful! You want to over-burden us with suspense? Nice work here Mr Walter, keep it up.

  29. first of all, sorry am reading this late and Eze am bringing your bucket for you so u can use ur tears to do ur laundry.

    This is good, really good…… am not taking this episode funny at all Waltz.

  30. I’m actually feeling like Eze right now. Where are my friends? Ibuka, Joseph, I’m sorry. Where are you? **Looking around** I won’t stop crying and I’ll pass the night in the company of this tree trunk if you don’t come now!

    Thank God I prepared well for suspense this time. As usual, boss, my head is bowed.

  31. Typing from the stand point food the avid youth who doesn’t have Time for blogs. I’m stuck on u #teamEzegoes2school. Waltizzle keep doing what u do best. I’d never forget to add that I still do like eze till now. Thank God I’m learning #teamLearners.

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