“She will go but I must tell you she is my only daughter. She is known in this environment as a principled and hardworking girl, I do not want anything to bring a stain to her name. As you can see, we don’t have much but we are content as at now. Please, if you go out with her, treat her with respect”
The boys smiled at each other, Aisha had a look of horror on her face while Farida wished the floor would open and swallow her up. She quickly entered into the room to dress up. She took a shower, moisturized her skin, used her roll-on and body spray then she put on a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt and sneakers. All the clothes she had on were bought from the night market in preparation for the university. She put on her signature powder and lip gloss.
When she came out, the boys were no more in the sitting room. Aisha was the only one with maami waiting for her. The look of surprise on Aisha’s face when she saw her made her realize she had gotten the desired effect she wanted. Most of the time she was neat but her clothes were few and usually bogus trousers or long dresses with shorts underneath. There was a reason for that. She didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to herself. It was one of the reasons most girls looked down at her as they had begun to have boyfriends who spent on them. Also, they believed for her status, she was too pompous and carried herself too highly. She didn’t care. She had a goal in mind. She had to act the part. She wanted to marry a rich man who would love and adore her. She wanted to live in a very big house and have servants, drivers, gardeners and gatemen. She wanted people to step into her home and admire it. Looking down on her now wouldn’t stop her mission.
When she went outside to join them, they whistled, “Baby, you clean up real nice” Dominic blurted out with a lewd admiration in his eyes.
“Stop that” Wale cautioned and then turned to Farida, “you look good. Please join us. She is wearing white so I think she should take the front seat”
That didn’t go down well with the others especially Aisha. Aisha had had her eyes on Wale for a long time. She also wanted to date rich boys with nice cars and she found one in Wale. Her friend invited her to the lesson where they met. She knew even though she was from a not so rich family she needed to belong to this group. So, she took permission from her parents and relocated to her cousin’s house in Ikeja. Her cousin was about her age. They were very comfortable and their house was close to the venue of the lesson. Aisha struggled to pay the lesson fee and when it was done, she was one of them. She borrowed her cousin’s clothes and began to be friendly with the boys. She became close to Wale and his clique. When the issue of expo came up, she told them she knew a girl who was smart and trustworthy.
Now Farida wanted to overthrow her from her exalted position. It was obvious Wale liked Farida. They had made mockery of some girls in class who tried hard to “feel among” the rich kids but here was Wale almost drooling over Farida who is from a wretched home. If not that her house was always neat and tidy, she would never have visited. Aisha wondered where she got the clothes she had on. Sneakers? Farida had sneakers? Maybe she had a boyfriend she didn’t know about. She, Aisha, was still in her cousin’s place so didn’t know anything going on in the environment. She must be missing a lot from home. Farida’s word brought her back to the conversation in the vehicle.
“Thank you for the transportation you arranged for me today. It was very helpful” Farida mentioned to Wale she was sitting beside.
“It was the least I could do after taking your time yesterday. I hope he got to you in good time?” Wale responded.
“Very good time and he waited until I was through” Farida added.
“You arranged transportation for her? So, her mother was serious?” Aisha asked.
“Yes. Wale paid that bike man handsomely to pick her up and bring her back. That was a small price to pay for her time yesterday. We kept the girl awake until 1am”
Aisha was angry. She brought Farida to help not to steal her man’s heart. Wale had fallen for her poor girl act. This Farida was sly. How could she do this? She used her intelligence and mannerism to sneak into a caucus she didn’t belong.
When they got to the eatery, Farida couldn’t open the door of the 504 saloon car. It just wasn’t opening. Wale and his friends rushed to help her open it. Wale got there first and opened it for her.
“You should her told her to wind down and open it from outside” Aisha said non-challantly.
“It is easier to open it for her” Wale responded.
Farida had never been to an eatery before. The place was big. The lighting was so bright and white that it affected her eyes. It had well-arranged chairs and tables by the sides. The tables were white and the chairs were red. They walked up to the counter. There were large screens above the smiling ladies at the counter who were in white and red striped uniforms and a white cap. She looked up at the screen and saw on display several snacks and foods with their names and prices. Her eyes opened so wide when she saw the prices of the items. There was no way she was going to eat here. A meal here would feed her and her family for three days. She became withdrawn.
“What are you girls having?” Wale asked.
Aisha was the first to respond. She wanted to show Farida she was used to coming here as she sensed her nervousness. “I will have Fiesta, scotch egg and doughnut. I also want strawberry slush”
Farida’s eyes enlarged when she heard the order. There was no way she ordering like that. That order alone could feed them for …….
‘Farida, what will you have?” Wale asked.
“Nothing, I have just had a meal before we left” Farida replied.
Aisha laughed out loud. “Bush girl. They are offering you what you have never tasted before and you are claiming you have eaten. Have you eaten any of these things before?”
Farida was embarrassed. She never expected Aisha to degrade her like this not just in the presence of these guys but also in the presence of other customers. Tears ran down her cheek as she walked away from them.
Wale was mad at Aisha. He screamed at her. “What was that for? What’s wrong with you?”
He ran after Farida who was already trying to find her way home. He tried to convince her to come back inside but she refused. He opened the car for her to enter and wait for him to pick the bills. He begged her not to go. Farida couldn’t leave because she didn’t even know where she was and she had no money on her to get home. She made a mental note not to make such a mistake again.
Back at the eatery, Wale’s friends had made orders too. So, Wale made his, paid for everything and took his own order. He gave them cash to take a cab home as he wanted to drop off Farida.
“Why do you want to drop her off. Put her in a cab if she really wants to go and join us. She is spoiling our fun” Aisha was irritated with Wale’s concern for Farida.
“I brought her here and I promised her mother I will bring her back which is what I am going to do. You caused this problem Aisha. I never knew you were this callous and rude. How can you treat your friend like that? How can you embarrass her like that? I’m out of here guys. Please make sure Aisha gets home safe” and he walked away to the car.
Farida was still in a sober mood on the way home. Wale tried to make small talk but she wasn’t having any of it. He needed to talk to her and assure her he wasn’t in agreement with Aisha. He stopped at a quiet spot. He opened the bags he came out with, brought out ice-cream in a cup and handed it over to her.
“No thank you. I am on a diet” she said pushing it away.
Wale laughed before replying, “Come on, you are slender and have an impressive figure what more do you want? Having this ice-cream today won’t cause you to be fat”
“I really don’t want to have anything”
‘Because you are angry? There is always a first time for everything. The first time we took your friend to the eatery she could not hide her amazement. She was touching everything in sight. We laughed silently and didn’t make jest of her or embarrass her. I knew it was your first time there but you handled it well. I also know it was the food prices that made you not want to order. You are a good girl from a very good home. I like you. I want us to be friends.”
Farida turned swiftly to look at him. Why would he want to be friends with her? They had nothing, absolutely nothing in common. She became apprehensive.
“Relax. I want us to be just friends. We will hang out once in a while with our other friends when you are free. Just as friends. I need to move with serious-minded people like you so I can also become better. You know what I mean?” he asked smiling.
Farida smiled back. He made her feel comfortable. If they were to be just friends then she could consider and see another aspect of the lives of the rich. To her, he was a rich kid.
“Have this ice cream, it is melting”
She took the ice cream cup from him and the spoon. It tasted nothing like the ice cream those men pushed in carts; it was creamy and sweet. She didn’t want to lose her manners while ravishing the sweet taste so she acted like she had always done; she was ladylike in her consumption.
Wale watched her in admiration. It was either she was oblivious of her enchanting beauty or she was just humble and cultured. She was a dark-toned girl with very lovely radiating skin. She was tall and had an oval-shaped face, small eyes, a pointed nose and surprisingly full lips. She was slender with a small waistline and full hips. Her hair was silky and long. She looked like she had Fulani blood in her because of her nose and hair. He was struck by her the first time they met. She wore a baggy dress but he was attracted to her facial beauty. Today, as she came out, he knew she was a complete package. She didn’t have on designer clothes but what she wore sat very well on her body. She was too engrossed with looking around at the eatery to notice how people stared at her. She was way below his status but she was someone he liked and would love to be friends with.
They sat in the car and talked for a while before she checked her wristwatch and screamed.
“It is late. Maami will be mad at me. Please take me home”
Wale drove her home without hesitating. As they got there, he made an attempt to come down from the car.
“Don’t worry,” she said to him “I will go in on my own”
“I took you out. Do you want your mother to feel I am irresponsible by dropping you at the gate? I will escort you in and let her know I have brought you back safe and sound. I also got somethings for your brothers. They are twins right?”
Farida was bewildered by Ade’s action. What did he really have in mind? Why would he buy things for her brothers? Farida had never been in a relationship or had boys try to talk to her. Initially, they felt because she did menial jobs around the neighbourhood she was like a maid or something. Later on, when she polished herself, they felt she carried herself too highly and was snobbish. What they didn’t realize was that she was on a mission and they were far below that league.
The problem now was Wale. She appreciated the hand of friendship he had extended but she didn’t want him to misunderstand her acceptance. She knew they were not of the same status. They could be friends but does she really want to be friends with someone who gets examination questions before the examination? He will be a distraction which she didn’t need right now. She had to concentrate on achieving her goal. She knew she had to discourage him from just badging into her home.
“I do not think it is a good idea for you to come in. Not just because of my mother but my neighbours. They would think otherwise and I don’t want to give them a wrong impression”
As she was still speaking, he came down from the car. She thought he wanted to help her open the car door but instead he opened the back door and picked some of the branded nylon bags before opening the door for her and walking ahead of her into her compound. She was too shocked to move initially until she realized he had gone in and practically ran after him.
He greeted her mother. Then he apologized for bringing Farida home late and dropped the goodies he brought for them. Her mother also had a confused look on her face. She looked at her daughter standing behind him now expecting a sign from her but she too also looked confused. Iya Farida thanked him while her brothers jumped about happily. Maami asked Farida to see him off. They did not speak until they got to the car.
“See you then” was all Wale said and he drove off leaving her staring after the car.
Maami asked what how it went but Farida was still too confused to tell the story. She changed out of her clothes, washed her face and laid on the mattress in the room. Her brothers brought her own share of the goodies but she was not interested. She asked them to keep it in the fridge for her. Her mind was wondering why Wale would defy her words and do what he wanted. Had she given him a wrong impression? She wasn’t a pushover. He could not buy her family either even though she knew her brothers might not count. She resolved to keep her distance while she wanted for the result of her WAEC and Jamb results.