Friday 19 October 2018

The Precious Figure (Episode Six)

Raqibah’s eyes twinkled in amusement. I stared at her fat cheeks; big lumps of pimples surrounding them. Raqibah is a really pretty woman…if only she can take good care of her skin…and dress nicely.

“Why not? You haven’t read? You’ve been thinking about Najib?” she looked at me with arched eyebrows.

“Ah…well…” I stuttered.

“I’m right! Give me the full gist jare. Has he asked you out?” Raqibah placed her hands under her chin and stared at me.

I’ve been close to Raqibah for years and I never knew that she could very interested in a story like this. You know, she should be reading by now.

“I don’t know.” I frowned, fiddling the tip of the page that I was falsely reading.

“Don’t know what? Talk to the love doctor. You know that I’ve been reading relationship books for some time now.” She smiled proudly, revealing the upper part of her teeth that had one tooth almost sprouting out.

Oh, really? When did Raqibah start to read ‘un-academic’ books? It looks like I know only 5% of my friend. Wait! Maybe 2%

“Oh come on Fareedah, don’t tell me you read 24/7. Don’t drift from our main discussion jare. So tell me, what happened when I got down from his car?”

I cleared my throat, thinking of all that happened. No way! There’s no way I’d tell Raqibah what Najib had said…that she lacks the proper dress sense and she doesn’t care about her looks. I decided that I would start from when he parked in front of the building.

“He asked for my number…said that he would tell me what he saved my contact as later in the day. He sent a WhatsApp message calling me ‘Chocolate’…”

I noticed Raqibah chuckling in amusement. “He said that I’m…” I cleared my throat again…

Raqibah interrupted. “Beautiful? Have skin the colour of chocolates?”

I gave a puzzled look. “Yes? How do you know that?”

Raqibah clasped her hands proudly. “I told you I’ve been reading about relationships. Continue.”
She urged me.

“He said that we should meet tomorrow afternoon…”

“A date?” Raqibah widened her eyes.

I scratched my head. “Not really. A bit date-ish. His sister is back and he wants to pay her a visit…so he wants to see me too.”

Raqibah closed her book and turned towards me, such that she was facing my direction.  It’s the way she does when she had something really serious to say.

“I’m sorry to burst your brain Fareedah, but you’ve been sister-zoned. Najib probably needs someone to look over his naughty sister…someone who attends the same school as her. You’ll be her perfect school mother. You’re brainy and nice and religious. Can’t you see it all?”

I stared blankly at my phone. “Is that why he hasn’t called or sent a message since that time?”

“Yes, Fareedah. If a man really likes you and is trying to win your heart, wouldn’t he have called…at least in the morning to know if you slept well or in the afternoon to know if lectures went fine? Najib isn’t into you like you are to him. You aren’t his type, Fareedah. Just take a peek outside and see numerous beautiful ladies dressing glamorously. They are many on this campus. Why would he choose you?” she rolled her eyes at me, glancing at me from up to down. “I’m your friend and I’ll tell you the sincere truth. No matter how you try to improve on your dressing, you’ll never be Najib’s type.” She concluded.

I could hardly believe it. Why did he call me chocolate? Why would he look at me in that way, that way that’ll make me want to melt in an instant? No way, I wouldn’t believe Raqibah. Like what does she know about love? What can the books really teach her about love?

I remembered Najib asking about my dressing…is it what it really means?

“Whatever. There’s this person that stopped me when I was on the way to school this morning.”

“Who?” Raqibah asked absent-mindedly. She had opened her book and was preparing to continue reading.

“ Mustapha,” I said and Rajibah jerked on her chair.

It was like she just had a spasm of agitation. “Mustapha? The guy that lives on the same street with you?”

“Yes,…how do you know him?” I eyed her suspiciously.

“Well…I had a little crush on him last year but it’s over now.” Raqibah flushed. “He likes you?”

“I think so. I didn’t give him the chance to talk for long because I was rushing to meet up with Mrs. Lanre’s class.”

“Okay,” Raqibah replied lamely as she wore her spectacles and focused on her book.

Wait, what?! Raqibah had a crush on Mustapha? Raqibah has had crushes? Okay. Now I’m completely wrong. I know only 1% of Raqibah…who happens to be my best friend!!!
It’s a new day. The weather is frigid, yet bright. I’d opened my windows to inhale the fresh air of a new day and allow the sunlight pour into my eyes. I was hopeful…hopeful that the test would go well and my date…err, I mean meeting with Najib will go well.

OK. Truth be told. I wasn’t feeling too fine last night. As I tried to read Professor’s Audu’s ‘over-boring’ note, my thoughts were clogged with that very man, Najib. I remembered what Raqibah had said and I tried to fight all reasons to believe her.

Maybe she was wrong. Maybe Najib truly likes me…no…I don’t think so…yes, he does…no! You’re just a school mother…you’ve found lo…don’t even complete that…you’re sister-zoned Fareedah…or rather mother-zoned….no… you’ve got to read your book…test first…

Several thoughts had filled my mind and it would take a great effort to fight them and skim through my book before falling asleep.

“Today is going to be a great day,” I said to myself, walking towards the mirror and running my fingers across my face.

I had a quick bath and wore my red and white gown, which had a belt by the waist (Okay, a friend, who graduated last year gave as a ‘passing gift’ and I had sworn that I would never put it on. But here I am!). I ran my lotion on my skin and wore the beautiful gown, putting on the same veil as yesterday and wearing a light pink lipstick.

Mom was still fast asleep and so, I left without bidding farewell to her. I got to the library early and I revised my books till it was 11:00 am. I had seen when Raqibah walked in an hour after I had arrived, putting on a white long-sleeved gown and gray-coloured skirt, but I didn’t want to call her over or I’d be intruded.

Raqibah had confessed that she had read the book over and over for a thousand times. This morning would be a revision for her.

When it was fifteen minutes to eleven, I gathered my books and prepared to leave the library. Raqibah was just leaving her seat when I stood up.

“Asalamu ‘Alaykum Fareedah.” Raqibah greeted from behind me, flashing me one of her brightest smiles.

“Wa’Alaykumu salam.” I replied coldly, gripping the pile of books in my right hand.

No negative vibes…no negative vibes Fareedah. This day will go as great as you have thought. You won’t give Raqibah a chance to spoil your day or discourage you from being happy.

“I thought you will ignore me. You don’t look fine. Hope it isn’t about knowing the truth?”

I tried to comport myself. Which truth?

“No. All I’m concerned about is doing well in my test.” I replied, reassuringly.

Raqibah ran her eyes across my lovely outfit, giving a look that says sarcastically. “Of course…with the way you’re dressed beautifully.”

“Okay, let’s get to class.” She said and I tailed behind her, trying to recall the difficult sentence that I had to cram.

Most of our course mates were already seated and it was not long we entered that Professor Audu came in with a pile of white sheets.

Professor Audu is a northerner (don’t know the precise state) but his thick Northern accent would glaringly categorise him as a Hausa man. He was always dressed in a large-sized shirt and loosed trousers. He was a bespectacled man that wore rimless glasses, the rope hung across his ears.

“Hello, class. Let’s move to the auditorium immediately. The invigilators await us.” He said in his stern and high-pitch voice.

We stood up immediately and scurried our ways to the auditorium. I could see Raqibah holding her books carelessly and racing to the hall like she was engaging in some marathon race.

“Front seat or nowhere else. I cannot afford to be distracted by those course mates who wouldn’t read and would expect answers from others. The front seat is the best. Full concentration.” Raqibah would say and I totally agree with her.

One examination where I accidentally sat in the middle row, a lady pestered me in a way that I could hardly write. I ended up forcing myself to complete my work on time without glancing in her direction.
After the examination, the lady, Hadiza spited me in front of her friends and started to keep malice with me. That was a year ago so let’s forget about that.

So there I am, at the second row, reading through the questions and writing down words as they come to my head. The test wasn’t as difficult as I had thought. In fact, I was happy that I didn’t have to read over my note a thousand times.

I completed the test questions in less than thirty minutes and walked out of the hall to sit outside, waiting for Raqibah and supposedly expecting a message from Najib.

Weren’t we supposed to meet this afternoon?

I occupied an empty seat to see a new message pop up on my screen.

Hi Chocolate. I’m in your school now and I want to know if you’re done with your test. Call me when you receive this SMS. CheersJ

My hands trembled as I dialed his number. He picked at the first ring. “Hey dear. How was your test?”

“It went well,” I replied brusquely.

“Great…I trust you. You’re super intelligent,” he laughed. “I didn’t call or send you a message because I wanted you to concentrate for your test. But now that you’re done, I guess we can see.” He said triumphantly.

I smiled in relief. In fact, I was really relieved. Raqibah was wrong. Najib didn’t avoid me because he didn’t like me. He only cared that I perform well in my studies. “Nice. Where are you?” I asked.

“Tantalizers. I am waiting impatiently for you, chocolate. Don’t keep me waiting for too long.” He said almost in whispers.

I giggled amusingly. “Be there any moment from now.”

Tantalizers? The same eatery I had thought that I would never visit? Because I am not beautiful and rich enough? This really isn’t happening. I exclaimed.

I reached for my powder and re-made my look, re-applying my light-pink lipstick and adding brown powder to my face.

“This is just perfect,” I muttered, smiling broadly and walking to Tantalizers.

Don't miss out on the previous episodes:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

Episode Four

Episode Five