The Student

CHAPTER SIX

I sat beside Seyi on a long chair in the classroom. Seyi was busy with his notes, allowing his fingers to continuously roll over it. I glanced on my phone’s screen when some of my coursemates began to talk about their letter of acceptance from the Federal Department of Fisheries. They were having discussions on the letters, how some of the students had gotten their own. I looked around, noticed Chioma was staring at my direction. Our eyes met and I looked away.

I turned again, stuttered as I tried to say something. “Have… you…” I stopped.

Chioma flickered her eyebrows, then smiled. She had been chewing gum. Her mouth moved irregularly as she chewed it. I watched her, irritated. I brushed off my gaze in disgust, then returned it after.

“Sorry. I mean have you gotten your own letter?” I asked.

“Oh. What’s that?”

“People were talking about their letters from FDF.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. She moved her hand into a bag. Her face bent into the bag with keen attention. She pulled out a big envelope.

I pushed my head forward, moved backwards and adjusted. I leaned on the chair. “…and you didn’t tell us?”

Chioma pulled out the envelope and brought out the letter. “Oh. I didn’t go, actually,” she said, opening the letters, smoothening the surface.

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They were three documents. I squinted, waiting for her to say a word. Seyi lifted his face, somehow interested in the conversation. His eyes flickered. Chioma dropped the envelope and spat out the gum. “My aunt that works at Victoria Island helped me to collect it. She was coming back from work and decided to branch there,” she said.

Seyi scrunched his nose. He pondered at the possibility, then shook his head. Someone collecting a letter of something similar to employment for someone else. He watched me keenly, our eyes met, his gaze moved to Chioma. “What?” Chioma asked.

Seyi ducked his head, concentrating on the book at his front. Na we waste our time take her to that place and she slyed us, he muttered to me. Chioma hissed. She heard him whispered but did not understand what he said. “Do you think I am lying? That’s your own business if you want to believe or not,” she said.

“That’s your own business too. I never said anything on the contrary,” he replied, bending his head.

I shook, turned my attention to my phone. I scrolled through the phone till someone shouted, “attention, please! Everyone.” I lifted my head and it was the class representative, Oyinkan. She was standing on the podium, in front of the classroom addressing us, her eyes flickering around everyone.

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“There is no lecture today. Mrs. Agboola said she won’t make it.”

Most of the students screamed. My eyes caught a message that popped into my phone’s screen. I stared on the screen, squinted. It was Uncle Nifemi. Uncle Nifemi hardly texts.

—Hey, Femi.

I read the message, swiped, and began to type.

I texted him, then somehow felt relieved.

The message sent and delivered. I dropped the phone on the desk, anticipating his reply. Seyi was packing his books into his bag. “Are you going? I am off to my hostel,” he said.

Students were walking into the lecture theatre little by little. It was like another class was about to hold in the hall. Soon, a lecturer walked in. “If you are not offering this course. Excuse us,” he said.

“Now, we can go,” Seyi said.

I smiled, picked up the phone from the table. My uncle had replied. I read it aloud.

—Get your internship letter ready. I am coming to see you now. I have something to do in your school, so let’s meet when I’m done and I will collect it. I have a place for you.

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I halted my step at the back of the theatre hall as I finished reading the message. I jumped. My voice was quite loud as it attracted the attention of people in the classroom. They all turned, staring.

“Hey,” a voice said and I turned. “What are you still doing there?” the lecturer shouted.

I glanced at him, embarrassed as I ran out of the class. Seyi was outside waiting. I walked toward Seyi and tapped him. “Where have you been?” Seyi asked angrily.

“Nowhere,” I said and stopped for a brief moment. “I won’t be following you to the laboratory again. Later please.”

Seyi stopped for some minutes, his eyes flickered at me, from head to the toe. “Where are you up to, and what are you so excited about?”

“Nothing jare,” I replied and walked away.

In the hostel, I received a call and it was from my uncle. I walked down the staircase, met him at the car park, greeted him, then handed the letter to him. He watched my gaze, then stopped and nodded. “You are now a big boy, Femi,” he said, touched my shoulder.

I smiled.

“I will get back to you,” he said.

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