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EZE GOES TO SCHOOL (Episode 49)

“Eze, how are you doing?”

At the warmly-uttered inquiry, I looked up from my food and into the liquid-dark eyes of Enajite Ovoh, the Peace House SS2 girl everyone knew aspired to take Senior Chioma’s place as the next Dining Hall chief female prefect. She was a wisp of a girl, slender and porcelain-featured, with short, dark hair she wore in plaits like most other girls, and a face that radiated intelligence and warmth. There was nothing remarkable about her looks, but that liquid quality of her eyes, eyes that made her look like she was perpetually on the verge of tears, made her one of the most popular girls in her set. That peculiar girl whose set boys just couldn’t resist wanting to please or be around once she rested her eyes on them. Coupled with her porcelain features, she was really quite irresistible.

“I’m fine, Senior Enajite,” I replied, feeling a small smile creep up over my face.

Her gaze flickered over my dish of jollof rice, and her brow furrowed. “Ah, is that what you’re eating? That’s too small nau. Hold on…” As she looked away and signaled to somebody in a distant section of the dining hall, I felt my smile widen. She moved her hands at the person, making small miming gestures to relay her instruction, and moments later, a junior girl who looked like she was in JSS2 hurried over to her side, holding a plate that brimmed with an impressive mound of jollof rice. Two pieces of fish were perched on top of the mound.

Being a dining hall prefect’s protégée must have its perks, I thought as I watched Enajite take the plate from the junior girl’s hands. I could instantly feel the eyes of my table-mates on us, on me, as Enajite tipped the plate toward mine, and with my spoon added a generous portion of her food to mine. One of the fishes followed suit. I heard Chibunna sigh with some envy on my side.

“Is that okay for you?” she queried. The plate hovered over mine.

“Yes, senior, it is…” I replied modestly.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” I nodded emphatically.

“Okay.” She handed the dish back to the junior girl and dismissed her. Then she chatted a bit with me, before walking away.

“Hmm, nawa o,” started Chibunna once she was out of earshot. “Eze, since when did Senior Enajite become your school-mother?”

I chuckled in response. Chibunna was the boy whose company I was keeping these days. Joseph and I were still not speaking to each other, and Ibuka was still not speaking to us. And the strain in our relationship had become apparent to everyone who knew us. That made us susceptible to poaching by all the other hostel mates who wanted either of us as friends. Chibunna started spending his time with me; Hassan and Jisike drew Ibuka into their clique; and Joseph went back to Richard Ubazuo and co., the group of snotty, rich brats who he’d been friends with in JSS1. Presently, as we had the Tuesday dinner of jollof rice and fish, Ibuka was on the other side of the table chatting animatedly with Hassan and Jisike. Joseph sat at the next table where Richard was holding court. One time, his gaze drifted from his group, and clashed with mine, and in an unguarded moment, I saw the longing in his eyes, the want for the way things used to be. An echo of what I felt. And then that moment passed, and his expression became flat before he turned away.

“So, talk now,” Chibunna urged, drawing my attention to him. “So Senior Enajite is now your school mother, eh? Since when?”

“Not long sha,” I answered, spooning rice into my mouth. “It’s last term that she started showing interest in me, calling me to her class to give me money for snacks during break time. Then this term, when she started sending me small-small provision and giving me food, I knew I had become somebody’s school son.”

Chibunna chortled. “Lucky you o. If she becomes dining hall prefect, hmm, na so-so belleful you’ll be eating every time.”

“Yes o!” I concurred with a grin.

“Plus she’s very popular with her set boys, so if they know that you are her school son, they may not worry you much when they enter SS3. Especially Skinner.”

“What about Skinner?” I asked.

Skinner was the moniker borne by the SS2 boy, Nonso Obasi, who was in Unity house and had a growing reputation for ruthlessness. He was the one we all speculated would sit on the throne of the baddest boys in school once the present SS2s graduated into the ruling class of the student body.

“Skinner loves Senior Enajite,” Chibunna said. “Ah, you don’t know? The guy is scatter-tripping for her.”

“Skinner? As in the same Skinner that they say Principal is already threatening with indefinite suspension if he commits another offence – that Skinner?” It was hard for me to imagine the quintessential bad boy being the Romeo to any girl’s Juliet.

“Yes o – him. Obieze told me, he heard it from someone in Skinner’s dorm who heard when some of his guys were teasing him, saying that since their junior days that he has been monkeying for Senior Enajite, she has never once agreed for him. And yet, he still likes her.”

I winced inwardly as Chibunna continued talking, feeling my heart constrict at the thought his words called up in my mind. Involuntarily, my face turned to where she sat, three tables away from me. Her friends were there with her. Matthias was also there, and as I watched, he lifted a spoonful of rice and attempted to lovingly feed the food to Anulika. Amaka and Nkeiru found his theatric amusing and were smiling. Anulika however shot him a reproving stare and pushed his hand not-so gently away from her face. The rice spilled from the spoon, and Matthias’ face fell.

I’m not even sure I said yes to being his girlfriend…I mean – well, I’m not sure what I said yes to… I remembered her words, and I felt satisfaction. I felt melancholy too, but I felt deep satisfaction as I returned my attention to Chibunna.

“Say your prayers!” hollered Senior Ogbonna. There was a subdued ruckus as the clink of cutlery diminished and bodies adjusted on their seats to bend over the tables. A few seconds of pin-drop silence lasted before Senior Ogbonna’s voice reverberated again, “Leave the hall!”

***

“Fight! Fight! Fight!”

I heard the chant as I approached my classroom during what was supposed to be afternoon prep the next day. Clearly, the activity wasn’t being observed, which was not surprising, considering the fact that immediately after lunch, the Vice Principal Admin, Mrs. Ihejirika had called the prefects to her office for a quick meeting.

“Fight! Fight! Fight!”

The raised voices did not drown the sound of a punch connecting, a pained gasp, and the screech of metal on the floor as someone was shoved against a desk. The crowd in the classroom roared with approval.

I came to the doorway, and angled my head up and above someone’s shoulder in time to see Joseph slap an open-palm strike on top of Matthias’ head, as the other boy grappled with him. Matthias rode the pain of the blow by hunching his shoulders, and tried to grip Joseph’s midsection harder, limiting his options of lashing out at him. Both boys stumbled noisily about, with Joseph savagely struggling to unlock Matthias’ grip around his body.

“Oh Joe…” I heard someone murmur beside me.

I turned and saw it was Ibuka, staring with some distress at the altercation.

“Ibu…”

He flinched when he recognized my voice, and darted a quick look at me. He said nothing in response.

“Ah-ah, Ibu, you’re not even going to answer me when I call you?” I aimed for a smile as I spoke.

“What is it?” he mumbled, not looking at me. “Is it not because of you they are fighting?”

“How do you mean?”

Another roar of approval drew my eyes back to the spectacle. Joseph had heaved their bodies forward, slamming Matthias’ back against the wall. Matthias yelped, but the lock of his grip stayed fastened.

“What do you mean they are fighting because of me?” I turned back to Ibuka. He said something unintelligible, and I said tartly, “Speak up please.”

He shot me a glare. “I said, not you technically. It’s because of Anulika…well, not her exactly…it’s just…Matthias is just an idiot.”

“Can you just say something somebody will understand?” Exasperation coloured my voice.

His lips tightened in that familiar way he had whenever he had something unpleasant to say, but couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“Listen, Ibuka,” I began, intuiting his thoughts, “if what you don’t want to say is that Anulika has finally agreed for Matthias, then you don’t have to worry. I already know.”

He gave a start of surprise and turned to stare at me again. “You know?”

I nodded.

“Since when?”

“She told me three days ago.”

“But how come…” He stopped.

“How come what? I didn’t tell anyone?” I finished for him. “Who could I tell? You’ve decided not to talk to me again, and Joe – well, Joe must really hate me now.”

“I don’t think Joe hates you.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because the reason he’s fighting Matthias is because Matthias entered you people’s class some minutes ago when prep started to go and talk to Anulika. And Joe now go and tell him to leave and go back to his class. Matthias told him to go to hell, that he can come to JSS3B anytime he wants to see whoever he wants. That after all, Anulika is his girlfriend.”

What – he said that?

“Yes o! I came to your class to take my HB pencil from Ememesi when he said it. You can imagine the shock in the whole class. That Anulika agreed to be the girlfriend of that stockfish. Can you imagine!”

I couldn’t imagine.

“Anyway, Joe now come and push him to get out. He pushed Joe back. And that is how the fight started.”

“A fight that will end with my anger,” a cold voice drawled behind us. A second later, a hand came down on my shoulder and pulled me roughly out of the way. I staggered backward, and then regained my footing in time to see a bigger boy shove his way past into the classroom. He had a wiry build and a head whose hair had all been barbered off, leaving behind a shiny pate. It was the trademark look that belonged to only one person I knew. Skinner.

The moment everyone in the room realized who had walked in, the chants died down and the fighting boys stopped struggling and stood apart from each other.

“No, no, no, don’t let me stop you,” the SS2 boy said in taunting protest. “Continue fighting. I love a good fight. Go on, go ahead.” Thin-lipped and dusky skinned, he stood over Joseph and Matthias, his eyes narrowed malevolently at them. “Oya now – fight, fight, fight…”

Neither boy made a move toward the other.

“I said, fight!” barked Skinner.

They moved their bodies clumsily, and that was it.

“Either you fight, or both of you will go to my class where I will personally deal with you.”

Panic widened Matthias’ eyes, and he made a whimpering sound of slight hysteria. Joseph, however, gave the senior boy an unflinching look and said flatly, “Senior Nonso, I don’t want to fight anymore.”

“What did you say?”

“I said I don’t want to fi–”

The SS2 boy’s open palm struck Joseph’s cheek, cutting off the rest of his words. Joseph faltered back a few steps, rubbed a hand over the bruised cheek and returned a flinty stare to the senior boy.

“I heard you the first time,” Skinner said in a steely tone. “I was simply giving you the chance to not be stupid again. And since you want to act like a wise guy, maybe what you need is some special treatment from me. Now, run to my class, ask anybody you see there for my locker, and lie down on the ground beside it.”

Joseph spared a millisecond to glare at him some more, before he started out of the class. When he got to the door, eh saw me standing beside Ibuka. His gaze caught mine, and held. There was that unguarded moment again. That unfathomable expression. That identifiable emotion. And then he walked past me, and was jogging off in the direction of the SS2 classroom block.

“Today is your lucky say,” Skinner hissed at Matthias, wagging a finger in his face. “If to say you sharp mouth for me, you for follow that one dey go my class.” Then he turned to the sea of faces watching him apprehensively and snapped, “Don’t you people have an afternoon prep to observe?”

There was an instant rush of feet and the creak of seats as the class righted itself. Moments later, he was out of the room. Seated beside Boska, my hands on my desk, I was still, feeling a turmoil rage inside me. My mind was besieged by a slideshow of snapshots, snippets of memories that condensed the past three years into a delineation that sped through my mind. The day I got acquainted with Joseph. The first time he got us into trouble. The first time he fast-talked us out of trouble. The roguish grin that lit up his face when he was excited. The daredevil edge that sharpened his features when he was on a mission. The carefree din of our camaraderie.

I don’t think Joe hates you.

Our laughter. Our conversations. Our tears. Our companionable silences, even.

I don’t think Joe hates you.

Then came the dawn into my head, a few bright streaks painting the dark sky of my mind. And I knew what I had to do.

“Where are you going, Eze?” That was Boska.

I didn’t answer as I stalked out of the classroom. I was walking fast across the pavement when I heard another call. I turned. Through the window of JSS3A, I saw Ibuka rise from his seat and hurry forward to intercept me at the doorway of his classroom.

“Where are you going to?” he asked.

“I want to help Joe. And then, hopefully, he’ll see my help as my way of trying to reconcile with him.”

A smile erupted over Ibuka’s face, one that kept going until it was a grin. And then he said, “good. And I thought you were going to remain foolish all your life.”

The retort surprised a laugh out of me, and I grinned back as he joined me in my trek to the SS2 classroom block. My destination was SS2A, and I spotted her immediately we clambered onto the pavement of their class. Enajite was standing amidst a bevy of her friends, all of them oohing and aahing over something one of them was showing the others. Ibuka and I stood uncertainly outside the classroom, and I was starting to wonder how I would get her attention when she looked up, and her liquid gaze fell on me.

“Ah, Eze…” she said, breaking away from the gathering and stepping toward the door. I walked forward until I met her at the doorway. “Did you want to see me? Is there a problem?”

I nodded, and told her. About the fight. About Joseph. And about Skinner. She listened to the short narrative, saying nothing to interrupt me, and when I was finished, she put a hand on my shoulder and smiled at me.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “Just wait here. I’m coming.” And she headed off to SS2D, Skinner’s classroom.

Ibuka and I waited. The minutes ticked by. It had been a mildly cold day. Presently, however, the weather was starting to change. The sun, long hidden behind the clouds that banked the sky all morning, came out of the shrouds gradually, lighting up the sky from grey to watery blue.

We waited, trying not to be apprehensive over the fact that we were standing – audaciously, it might be perceived – on the porch of a senior class. Hoping no peeved SS2 student would suddenly decide to have a problem with that.

And then two people turned the corner Enajite disappeared through several moments ago. It was her and Joseph, and when he saw us – Ibuka and I together – he stopped and stared. His face remained shuttered for a short moment, before it was split with a broad grin, the kind of smile that showed all of his teeth and lit up his face. And then he hurried to where we were, and pulled us into an embrace. It was a deep-tissue hug, the type that drew warmth as well gave it out.

I clasped the bodies of my friends tightly to me, and felt myself overtaken by a powerful and unfamiliar emotion that tightened my throat and forced from my chest a sob that I tried hard to contain. I felt a compound of joy and relief, followed by a floating, expansive sensation of lightness at the fact that right here, with these two boys was all the home I could think of right now.

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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90 comments

  1. Ah! Thank God. I really thought they were going to continue dat stupid malice. The three musketeers right were they belong, TOGETHER!

  2. Wow. Beautiful. 😀

  3. Awwww!! They made up!! Gud! Very gud!! Really gud!!

  4. awwwww….this is most touching story i av heard in a while…it actually brought a tear to my eyes…Nice one Walter

  5. Good boy Walt. You’ve paid homage to your elders. 😀

    Quarrel have settle. Hope we’ll see more of the senior with the luminous eyes in the future.

  6. Walter God bless you for not keeping us waiting too long.. 🙂 and hurray! Peace at last.

  7. awwwww, so cute. mehn dis na the best combo, went nice with my jollef rice and fried fish with my malt on d ice winks*. prefect story for easter, thanks walter, u re a sweetheart. happy easter.

  8. Thank God, I just can’t stop smiling! Well done Walter!

  9. at last….. *Grinning broadly**

  10. Chai! Finally.Now walter when will Anulika dump d supposed boyfriend?

  11. Wow!So happy! The trio are back and better. Waltz onto the next one.

  12. Beautiful episode. Cant wait for Anulika to dump that Matthias guy
    …n this is the first episode in God knows how long without suspense.
    Enajite…nice name…I wonder what it means.

  13. Oh Walter! They finally made up……soo sweet! Next tin is for them to grab anulika from matthias…well done!

  14. Nice one

  15. Had me giggling like a fool. Aaww! Doin skips in my head,

  16. Thank God the stupid fight is over. Women! We can cause wahala for guys sha. Good job Walter!

  17. Awesome episode

  18. Eze,wot took u so long to cum out of ur moody and childish foolhardy. It is so gud seeing fighting friends becoming companions again, tanks Walter.

  19. *music* I’ve got joy like a river….in my soul *nodding joyously*
    *ahem!* Eze my boy! I’m proud of u *hugzzz* Joe ‘isi okpukpu’ *grins*ruffles hair* Ibuuuum *mwaaaahh* I’m glad u boiz are back together!
    O Walter, thou hast done great and pleasantly wonderful in ds episode! Keep it up!

  20. WELL DONE SHAKESPEARE. Now am not disappointed. I love this

  21. Thank God!!! Finally, the three friends are back together!! I missed the trio..muah

  22. Oh n pls when are u concluding d story of d human cat?

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Anytime I tell the story of the human cat, just know the series is drawing to an end. #Spoiler

  23. I can finally release the sigh I had been holding for days. Good one Walter

  24. Nice write up Walter and just to chip in I believe if eze goes to school is published as an E-book,novel or adapted into a drama series.
    Now let the musketeers go get their man his girl…

    • shakespeareanwalter

      As for the publication ish, yea, I’m thinking about that.

      As for getting their guy his girl, well…that remains to be seen. I think we all know now that Matthias will put up a mean fight. Lol

      • If he does that would be an interesting twist,but aunlika said yes to uncertainty remember. Yet her crush for joe is still there. Fingers crossed.

  25. Well, what do you know?! All’s well that ends well! Next stop, finding and keeping Anulika! Its a very thin line between love and hate. On the heels of successfully woeing and winning Anu’s heart, the lovebirds should not get too comfy. Matthias will certainly descend on to the dark side and his full wrath will come down hard on them. Now that’s pretty scary cos apparently, scorned guys are practically wreaking more damage these days than the proverbial ‘scorned woman’ and there’s no telling how far he’d go to get his pound of flesh from those he once considered his buddies *shivering*

    Thanks for this Walter, you do great always!

  26. Very well written…glad my hommies are back 2geda, nxt mission is prying anulika away from matthias…Bless up walts

  27. HB pencil! Wow. . Walter… you. ..amazing!

    • shakespeareanwalter

      That awakened a memory right there, didn’t it? Lol. Twas intended. I’m surprised you’re the only one who picked up on it.

      • Am surprised as well. I wonder if they are still nuts about that pencil as they used to be. Lol. And guess what I actually prefered 2B pencil

  28. This brought tears to my eyes.Dey really missed each othdr.Waltz I see u getting a Noble prize in d future dat isn’t so far away.Nice one!

  29. Wow!! I’m deeply touched. *wipes tear*

  30. This episode is sweet! U spinning good Waltz! Encore…

  31. Finally someone has borrowed himself brain! Nice one, Walt! My hubby’s niece still uses 2B and HB pencils o! Lol

  32. Walter dont eva tell dat story.inshort cancel dat story. Any story dat will bring Eze goes 2 sch 2 an end is nt wtd. Eva. If Eze nd his friends ave 2 keep repeating classes 2 make dre story endless pls do.

  33. So Enajite could get Skinner to do her biddings even though she’s been turning him down for years. Yet they say we’re not powerful. Its a woman’s world joor! :D.
    And all of you who are asking for Anulika to be snatched away from Matthias should be careful of what you ask of because the wrath of a scorned lover could just catalyze the revelation of a human cat. #Just saying#

  34. Keep ur human cat story Ude, eze goes to school had better not finish! This is so awesome especial as I can relate *wink wink*

  35. awww…so eze can do mushy..lol
    it is always nice when warring friends make up…
    I love the conclusion of the episode…friends can be a great blessing, a solace and a safe haven…

  36. Niceeee. Two good things happened. First, someone beat that Mathias for me. Secondly, the boys are back. someone mentioned that human cat thingie *looking around nervously* Err…can we call the Rev guy already? This is god stuff Wally.

  37. Ah! At last. I was already thinking of how to send sum beating to those two o, thank God for dem they came back to their senses. Weli done jare Oga Walter

  38. Oh yes!! Walter you pleased a whole lotta peeps with this beautiful episode. The trio is back, now let’s go get Princess Fiona.

  39. Walter!!! Walter!!!! Have i told you how much i love you. Thanks for bringing my boys back together. *wiping away the tears of joy* God bless you darling. Now, i trust you will make Anulika see the love Eze has for her

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Didn’t you hear? The snatching of Anulika from Matthias might result into the manifestation of a demon-cat. 😀

  40. Wow!!! Walter Thanks for always making my day…always

  41. 81 comments and counting…..walty you outdid yourself this time, I throway my cap tuale. This needs to be a book divided into book 1 book 2, and book 3. Made compulsory for all junior students in every school.that will happen soon. Welldone bro

  42. Awwwwwww

    Have got Enajite kindof eyes right now.

    The pleasure I feel right now, is priceless

  43. **pants like a water-boarded goat** Well, I promised to catch up real soon (it only took a 3-day marathon), and here I am, just in time for a dramatic reunion. I must say it’s been an awesome read so far and I believe this is going past the 100 episodes mark (we’re at the 50th already and they’re still juniors). So much for stating the obvious, eh? Great job man, keep it up.

  44. The final episode subtlely radiate a strange kind of power, like a god’s. You breathed life into the letters I read only on a screen. That paragraph gave them features, and I suddenly felt like an angel, watching God’s creations make God smile.

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