Oyiza was super excited about going to school today. After all, she was going to get to see Brian again. When they got into the car, Inya jumped into the front seat as usual but she couldn’t care less. Inya could have Uncle Idris all to herself for as long as she liked.
In the front, Idris debated internally on whether he should try to ask Inya on the ride. He decided that it wasn’t a good idea. Oyiza was known to be one who could repeat any conversation she had heard almost word for word if she wanted to. Even if Oyiza didn’t quite understand what they said, if she blurted out to his sister or her husband, they would surely decode it. He played loud music on the journey and drove as if he was in a hurry to get to their school on time. And he did. They arrived in the school about fifteen minutes earlier than usual and the school car park area was not yet as rowdy as it would be in a few minutes.
Immediately the car stopped and the pop sound informed the girls that he had unlatched the child lock, they threw the doors open, each for different reasons. Inya wanted to get away from Uncle Idris fast, and Oyiza simply couldn’t wait to see Brian. The way they bolted surprised Idris. He hadn’t been expecting them to leave so suddenly. Leaving the engine running, he undid his seatbelt and tumbled out of the car to try to catch Inya. Oyiza had already left her behind. Inya was asthmatic and she couldn’t keep up with her sister. Idris caught up with her in three quick bounds. For the first time since yesterday, they were alone.
He fell on one knee and came to the level of her face. She trembled all over, unable to still herself.
“Inya, why are you shaking? Are you afraid of me?” Idris asked
“No Uncle,” she managed to whisper in a small voice. Fear was good, Idris thought. He could use that. “Did you tell your mummy our little secret?” he asked. She didn’t answer. “Oh my God” he thought. Her hesitation meant she had said something.
“You couldn’t keep a secret. I’ll just ask Aisha to teach Oyiza herself so she can be the one that becomes Brian’s friend,” he said.
“I did not tell on you Uncle. But I don’t like this thing, it doesn’t make me feel pretty at all. I felt dirty,” she said.
“Do you think Aisha is dirty?” Idris asked her.
She shook her head vigorously. Aunty Aisha was always pretty just like Genevieve.
“Good, and she does that everytime, and even more. You try it with Brian and if he becomes your friend, I’ll teach you more to keep him if you want.”
Inya was confused. If what Uncle Idris was saying was true, then she just didn’t know again. There was only one way to be sure if what he was saying was true.
“So we are cool again, yeah?” he asked.
“Talk to me now, Inya,” Idris said beseechingly.
“Okay Uncle Idris.” She said and then raced away. Idris heaved a sigh of relief as he watched her go. That had gone well. He had established she hadn’t told anyone and he could manipulate her to keep it that way. He gathered himself together, got up and walked back to the car slowly.
When Inya got into the classroom, she spotted Oyiza playfully chatting away with Brian, looking all cheery. Jealousy welled up within her but she held her nose in the air and acted like she didn’t take any notice of them. When she got to her seat, she said hello to all her friends and they began to chat about the iCarly episode of the previous day on Nickelodeon.
“Brian is going to be our friend by the end of today.” Inya declared suddenly in the middle of their chit chat. The other four became quiet. They hadn’t forgotten how he embarrassed them the previous day.
Basirat spoke up “how are you so sure Inya?”
“Because Inya always gets what Inya wants. And Inya wants Brian to be our friend.” Inya responded. Then like a little general marshalling her troops, she began to dish out directives.
“Basirat, tell Kingsley he will be leaving his seat to go and be with Oyiza after break time.” Kingsley was the boy that sat next to Basirat and he would do what she asked. Inya turned to Charles and continued “Charles, you will help me go and tell Brian something. I will tell you quietly in your ear and you will tell him quietly too. No one else must hear it. After break time, we will change how we are sitting like this,” she pointed as she spoke to make it clear “so that I will be next to Brian when he comes to seat with us.”
They all didn’t move at first. Inya urged them on “go now, before Miss Kunat comes in”. That spurred them on and they all set about carrying out her instructions.
Oyiza watched Charles come and whisper something to Brian. She didn’t say anything about it. She didn’t want to do anything to make him angry, and she had seen her daddy get angry at her mummy at times when she asked many questions. She simply smiled and they continued talking until Miss Kunat came in and took the roll call. By the time they were doing social studies, she had forgotten about Charles’ whispering.
When it was break time, Brian escorted her to the playground and they went back to the swings, giggling. After a few moments, Kingsley came to call Brian. He said Miss Kunat was calling him. Oyiza thought the day over to see if they had done anything bad that would make their class teacher want to see Brian now. As if he read her thoughts, he said reassuringly “I’m sure it is something about my transfer. I’ll be right back.” Then he was gone. Oyiza had never felt so alone before. And she waited and waited, but Brian did not come back before the break was over. To her little mind, the fifteen minutes she waited till the end of the break time seemed like an eternity.
When Brian got to the classroom, it was empty. All the pupils were out for break and the teachers had gone to catch up on the latest gossip. In the corner at the back of the room, Inya stood. He went to her with a little scowl on his face.
“So what do you want?” he said with as much sternness as he could muster in his pre-puberty voice.
“I can give you something that your girlfriend cannot give you,” Inya said with a knowing smile as she moved closer.
“What is it? Let me see it,” he said skeptically.
“I’ll have to show you.” She responded. By now she was in front of him, transformed from the little girl to a manipulative woman by the knowledge she had while he lost all the manliness he was trying to put forward and became a little boy. Even before she did anything, she knew the tables were turned. She was now in the driver’s seat.
The male uniform was a shirt tucked into a pair of shorts. The waistband was elastic and did not require a belt. She easily pulled this down along with his underwear. He was nowhere near Uncle Idris in size. She could definitely get him to shake like he did. He tried to resist half-heartedly before he relaxed and fell into a chair. Then she really began. When he shook, she knew it was his first time. Uncle Idris was right. She had him in her power now and would be hers alone.
Oyiza walked slowly to the classroom after the break. She kept looking around as she went, expecting Brian to join her so she could walk into the class majestically with him by her side. It didn’t happen. She peeped into the staffroom to see if he was there. Miss Kunat wasn’t there and neither was Brian. They had probably rushed to the class after break, she reasoned.
When she got into the class, her eyes went straight to her seat. In place of Brian, she saw Kingsley seated beside her desk. She bounded over to him and demanded angrily
“Why are you sitting on Brian’s chair? Get up before he comes or I will report you to Miss Kunat!”
“It’s no longer Brian’s seat. He exchanged with me.”
Oyiza’s head immediately shot up and she looked towards Inya’s side of the class. She knew that was where Kingsley normally sat. He was one of those who wasn’t cute enough to be amongst Inya’s four but still hung on to them. Sure enough, Brian was there, right beside Inya. Kanayo had moved to Kingsley’s former seat and Brian had taken his own to Inya’s left. She rubbed her eyes in disbelief. What had happened to “No! Never!” from yesterday? No wonder she had waited and waited. She knew immediately that the whole Miss Kunat is calling you thing was planned and that Brian had been in on the plan. It must have been what Charles had come to whisper to him in the morning. Hot tears welled up in her eyes. Inya had done it again; she had stolen the only friend Oyiza had. She began to walk angrily towards them when Miss Kunat walked in and said firmly “children, the break is over. All, to your seats and keep quiet for the next lesson.” She stopped in her tracks and turned back slowly. She had never felt so alone before in her life. In the space of twenty four hours, her little heart had fallen in love, and then had itself blown to smithereens.
Oyiza sat through the rest of school that day impatiently. The moment the closing bell rang and Miss Kunat left the classroom, she sped towards Inya’s corner. Ignoring all the other kids, she addressed Brian.
“Why did you lie to me? You did not go to Miss Kunat during break.”
Avoiding her gaze, Brian answered “I had to do something and didn’t want you to be there,” he blurted out.
“So you just left me alone? And now you have moved to this place to sit with them? You have left me alone!” she waved her hand around as she spoke, her little body shaking with the emotions she could not understand at that age.
When he didn’t answer, her eyes flashed and she continued “I did not ask you to be my friend. I was happy the way I was, and you came to make me think you would be my friend. Why? Why didn’t you just leave me alone? And now you have left me alone.” Then to Inya, she said “are you happy now?”
Then she turned away before the tears came. She would not let them have the pleasure of seeing her cry. She went back to the swings in the now deserted playground and let the tears come. They would soon come to get them. She dried her eyes and decided there and then that it would be the last time she cried because of anyone. They all just always left.
“Normalcy restored” was the first thought that came into Hajara’s mind when Inya was the boisterous one when she got home that evening. She quickly mentally corrected herself. “Where is your sister?” she asked Inya when Oyiza didn’t come to the door to greet her.
Inya pointed to the corner where Oyiza was curled up with a copy of her fairytale. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that she would have normally shut the book to greet her, but now totally acted like she hadn’t heard her come in.
“Oyiza, you won’t come and greet mummy?” she said.
This time, it was Inya that was dancing around the living room while Oyiza slammed the book closed angrily and letf the living room. Hajara was about to get angry and follow her to scold her when Idris quickly gave Hajara a rundown of how Brian had now decamped to Inya and how Oyiza was taking it. Hajara calmed down. She was glad that today, unlike yesterday, she would be here to be the one to comfort her daughter.
When she got to the room, the lights were turned out. She sat beside on the bed and lifted her sobbing daughter to her laps, rocking her back and forth, whispering soothing words to her. But Oyiza had already made her mind up. She would get back to Inya.
Now that they were alone, Inya told Idris about how she had tried the things with Brian and how he had been following her around like a puppy since then. When she was done, she asked him intently
“When do I learn more things?”
Idris was almost taken aback by the boldness with which she asked. She had gone from the shy and angry girl in the morning to an enthusiastic “student” now. He smiled that lascivious smile again and said “we will find a way to create your lesson time.”
Hajara walked in with Oyiza just as he was saying this and she smiled “someone is changing and is now interested in her lessons! Uncle Idris is a miracle worker.” She smiled.
Idris heaved a sigh of relief. That was close. He hadn’t heard Hajara come in, but he was glad she hadn’t heard the earlier parts of the conversation. He put on a plastic smile and said “yes o, she wants to be top of her class from now on and Uncle Idris has no choice but to help her.”
As they laughed, Oyiza’s little mind seethed. Even though mummy had promised to never leave her alone, the moment they came into the living room, it was as if they forgot she was there and the whole talk became about Inya. She would get back at her for always stealing everything to herself.
That night, after dinner, their mum tucked them in and Oyiza acted as if she was asleep. The moment her mum stepped out of the room, she checked to make sure Inya was really asleep. She was. She reached under the bed and retrieved the can of odorless insecticide she had brought into the room. She shook the can well as she had seen her mum do and then sprayed it directly over her asthmatic sister. It didn’t take two minutes before Inya woke up to a violent asthma attack.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.