Ep 3 – PAY BACK TIME
“Nkem oh! Chioma n’akpo gi oh.”
It was my grandmother calling me to answer a phone call. She had come from the village to visit and her favorite past time was answering phone calls in Ibo regardless of what language the person on the other line spoke. It was quite entertaining listening to the monologs she had sometimes with people who called our house line.
Receiving a phone call was quite surprising considering the fact that my sister Urenna was the one who usually got all the phone calls in the house.
I came downstairs and cautiously answered the phone not knowing who this Chioma was.
“Yea hello? I don’t know if I have the right number but I’m trying to reach Nkemjika Agu.”
I almost chocked on my saliva laughing. The voice that responded to me on the phone was certainly not that of a girl and I recognized it as soon as he started talking. It was Obioma.
“Obioma it’s me,” I replied still laughing.
“Oh. Hi Nkem. I couldn’t understand what the older lady was saying. I don’t understand Ibo”
“That was my grand-ma. She doesn’t speak English so yea I’m sure she didn’t understand what you were saying either.”
“I thought you gave me the wrong number to mess with me.”
“Now you mention it I should have let you talk with her a few more minutes to really mess with your head.”
We had a good laugh about it together. This was the first of many phone calls that were to come that week while we were home for the midterm break.
A few weeks before Obioma had given me a memorable slap and now we were talking like old friends. Why? You might ask.
I had pondered for weeks how best to pay Obioma back for the embarrassment he had caused me. After considering “arranging” him, that is getting other boys to beat him up for me, and some other ridiculous plans, I finally decided to do things the quiet way, to act like a slow poison. To carry this out I had to find a way to thoroughly frustrate him in class. I went out of my way to become friendly with the people he got along with in class just so that I could very conveniently interrupt whenever he tried to have conversations. I involved myself into everything he got into just to put sand in his garri so to speak. Maybe it was a bit harsh but I didn’t care. It was payback time and revenge is a meal best served cold.
After a while I noticed that the usually pompous bully had deflated quite a bit. His voice was less audible in class, and his whole demeanor had changed somehow. I still didn’t relent just because of this; after all, it could all be an act. I made up my mind to completely break Mr. Obioma Okorocha.
Six weeks had gone by already and midterm break was just around the corner. I decided to go back to school after hours with my friends to clear my school desk on the day before we were to leave school for the break. I took my time unpacking the locker while chatting and laughing with my girlfriends Ezinne, and Crystal; all the while I did not notice that Obioma was standing by the class door. I only noticed him when we turned to leave the classroom but I acted as if no one was there as usual.
As we made our way out of the door Obioma stepped in front of me making him very difficult to ignore. My girlfriends also stopped to help diffuse the situation in case Obioma decided to make a scene. He just looked at me straight in my eyes but the look wasn’t in anyway threatening.
Crystal was one of my closest friends at Lariba and strangely she was also one of the few people that Obioma related with on a civil level. During my operation to frustrate his life, I had also made sure to frustrate his relationship with her.
“Hey Obi what’s up?” Crystal said.
“Nothing, I just need to have a quick word with Nkemjika. Would you girls please excuse us?”
Obioma replied very calmly not taking his eyes off mine for even a second, and mine not wavering either. It felt like we were in a competition to see who would blink first and I wasn’t about to lose.
“It’s alright girls, I’d be fine. Just go ahead and start packing, I’d meet you girls back in hostel,” I said trying to reassure my friends.
“Are you sure?” Ezinne asked not quite comfortable with the situation. She kept looking at him as if she expected him to pounce on me the next second.
“I’m gonna be fine, just go ahead.” I said trying to reassure her again.
After Obioma was sure Ezinne and Crystal were out from ear shot he said, “Why don’t you ever talk to me?”
The question caught me by surprise and I had to think of a quick response.
“Well I don’t talk to people who don’t talk to me.”
“But I try to talk to you sometimes but you just ignore me,” Obioma replied.
I had never seen him sound so sincere and emotional before.
“If it is about that incident that happened the other day, then I’m very sorry, I shouldn’t have gone that far,” he continued.
At this point I was sure I was dreaming because “Sorry” was a word I did not believe could exist in Mr. Okorocha’s dictionary.
After that heartfelt apology I could not help but feel sorry for this boy. I knew I couldn’t continue holding a grudge against him.
“It’s alright Obioma, I guess this thing has gone on for longer than necessary,” I said.
“Friends then?” Obioma said stretching a hand out to me.
“Friends,” I replied shaking his outstretched hand firmly and flashing one of my gorgeous smiles.
“So now we’re officially friends would it be ok to ask for your number so I can call you during the break?” Obioma asked.
“Sure, it’s not a problem.”
I wrote my number on his palm but I really didn’t expect he would call so it was quite surprising when he did.
That day we spoke for hours about random things and it turned out that we actually had a lot in common. The days started and ended with a call to me from Obioma. His name became a familiar one around my house; my sisters teased me incessantly accusing him of being my boyfriend. The week went by very quickly and soon we would have to see each other again.
It started out as a mission to destroy but in the end, one very bad situation had brought together two very different characters. This was just another string to bind the destinies of Obioma and Nkemjika together. It was a very innocent friendship that would change my life in a way I never saw coming.
(To be continued)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Property of Pretty of Pot Of Africa.