Last Val's day, Senior Tolu received 5 pieces. It was especially ridiculous because she was bragging on her gee and telling everyone to watch out for her truck load of presents. And we all watched out and had our fill of laughter. Too bad for Aniekan, my roommate who was sent to deliver the gift. She bore the brunt of her frustration. Now many girls are mum about tomorrow. I can almost hear the heart beats of some seniors. Guys just know how to crash our hopes and toss our reps. I have learnt not to expect much on days like this especially during love feasts. Last FCS love feast, I had given a packet of cornflakes. Guess what I received in return... An orange! —the very one that was served during lunch that day. Some of my friends received tissue paper, used toothpastes and all sorts of measly gifts. The most annoying thing was how these boys painstakingly wrapped those gifts, decorating them with colorful 'I love you' wrapping sheets. It is nevertheless easy to tell which ones recycle previous love feasts' wrapping sheets by the rumpled and overly cello-taped cover. Maybe the plan was to have vanished into thin air before you had finished unwrapping it. Such gifts were from J-boys anyway. No Senior would try that except a chronic tosser.
This term has been very interesting. It feels good to wear skirt instead of pinafore, be free from punishments forever, free from gutter and cloakroom duties. I'm a room worker. I'm more organized now. I even have a clique. I get mojos in class, I run PG, I move with the happening chicks. I wear caftan. I mime. I scale fence. I smuggle out of school to town to make my hair. I'm a big girl.
Tonight, I'm too excited to sleep. I've made a friend in class. We are like 5 and 6. He walks me down the hostel every night after prep carrying my books. My friends have asked me if we are dating but I don't know how to answer that. We are not like the others. I can't even say we are pairing. We don't hold hands or hug. We talk in open places and not only in the dark. We just enjoy each other's company. Some of our class guys still chyke me even though they see us together everyday. I know he secretly admires a close friend of mine. But he's too shy to ask her out. So I really can't say we are dating. We are just best friends. But I can't sleep 'cause butterflies are scrambling in my stomach. And I'm at a dilemma whether to give him a gift.
The sky is full of stars. The night is cool. There's always an air around seasons like this, something that tickles our fancies, pretty much like Christmas. We are sleeping on courtyard because it's dry season and we can't stand the heat inside. It's on nights like this that everyone is equal—J-girls, Senior girls, everyone's mattress outside. I like these nights because I get to spend the night with my friends. We stack our mattresses together so as to cuddle together and chitchat way into the night. Nothing like lights out. Not even the head girl can stop the stars from shining. But tonight's unusually quiet.
Noise from clanging metal wakes me up. Who is banging on the pole? When did I even fall asleep? I draw my covers above my head, thankful that I'm a Senior girl. Now I have right to extra sleep. I remember today is St. Valentine's Day. My heart skips a beat. Can't I just behave like it's an ordinary day and not sell myself out?
It's actually an ordinary day. The sun hasn't kissed the moon. And it wouldn't. That happened last term when we were told not to look directly at the sun during the 3-minute eclipse. Breakfast is as expected: Spaghetti and egg. Thanks to the new Princi, it would have been beans and gaf. There's nothing special about assembly today. In fact, it seems Library club forgot the significance of this day. I'm not the only one with mouth agape to listen to Afe deliver a speech on Phobias on Val's day! I think the library prefect should be sacked.
Class girls are all staring at me. I wonder what it is about. Has he put a surprise on my locker? And I don't have enough time to practice a surprise and oh-my-gosh-this-is-so-romantic reaction. I fix my gaze forward not wanting to glance at him, pretending today means nothing to me. I get to my locker. Nothing on top. I take tissue paper from my bag and bend to clean the chair, inspecting below to see if there is any surprise gift beneath the locker. I quickly sit hoping to have somehow masked my disappointment. So what's all the stare about?
Hassan passes me a mojo from him. I open it not knowing what to expect. It reads: 'Happy Val's Day'. That's it? I don't know how to react. Do I place a smile at the corner of my mouth. Do I turn to look at him? I can feel the eyes of our class girls on me. What's just so wrong today? I reply the mojo and pass it back to Hassan without lifting my face.
I manage to push the kooky events past me, telling myself this is a normal day. During break, I meet him at Tuck shop and we chat as usual. Class is over. He comes to pick my books and walks me down the hall for lunch. Nothing unusual still.
It's after prep. All girls are at the hostel doors waiting on J-girls coming with gifts from over the fence. The first was a flower and a card for an SS2 girl from a secret admirer. She sent them back. Next was a medium-sized teddy bear and chocolate for a JSS3 girl from her school pop who is the head boy. With every gift landing, there are frenzied screams and people running helter skelter with the J-girl from the gate to the recipient's room. It's always crazy on Val's day. Games is automatically cancelled. From Val's cards, to flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, everyone is on the look out for the biggest gift. An SS3 girl got a big teddy bear, a customized frame, Ferrero Rocher box of chocolates and some assorted biscuits from her gee. Even I went to behold the truck load of gifts.
It's bedtime. Today was normal after all. No gift. What was I even expecting? It's not like we are dating, are we? 5 of my set girls asked me what he gave me. I'm sure the gist has spread that I got nothing. But then, I gave nothing.
I take my mattress to courtyard, position it beside Sonia's. I have not slept for long and someone taps me. 'Senior Ope says I should give you this', she says. It's unbelievable. I look at her hand—a wrapped gift. I hurriedly unwrap it to reveal a fancy writing pad and felt pens of different colours. I'm ashamed and regret that I didn't give anything. I lift my head to ask her when he gave it to her but she has vamoosed. I notice he left me a mojo. I open it.
Happy Val's Day Best Friend.
Chyke: To toast a girl
Cloakroom: Toilet and bathroom facility
FCS: Fellowship of Christian Students
Fedacad: Federal Government Academy, Suleja, Niger State
Gist: Talk, news, story
PG: Abbrv. for private gist between a boy and a girl
Piece: A piece of meat or fish
Tosser: Someone who reduces his reputation by his actions
©Radiant ~November 2015