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[STORY] LIVING WITH MY GRANDMA (Episode 09)

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LIVING WITH MY GRANDMA Story by Frank The Writer _ AllNaijaEntertainment
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Episode 09.

Having Meska in my life lighted up my world again. I went back to the days of constant chatting and video call with him. We chatted about what we had been up to for the past weeks. And it seemed we were a lot more compatible than we had previously been. We texted like never before. I didn’t have any worries or doubts about rekindling the relationship, especially given how much we had changed.

He finally narrated his ordeal to me. According to Meska, the caretaker had seized his phone after he promised to pay but couldn’t fulfill his promises and those were the days I couldn’t reach him. He said he almost sold his phone just to settle the bill. Meska said he used the last money I sent to him to settle one of his friends who assisted him.

***

My grandma and I were back to our boring life in absence of Darlington. Thanks goodness Annabel came back. She visited our house regularly. We would talk and gossip about some of our classmates each time she visited. Annabel never lacked what to say or discuss. I always teased her with “Annabel the talkative” She deserves an award for being the most talkative friend I got.

Months later, Darlington finally graduated from UNN. He posted the pictures of him signing out on Facebook. Just like every other person in the comment section, I congratulated him and wished him success in his next life endeavors. I anticipated seeing him maybe days later, but he didn’t come as he said.
So, Annabel remained the only person that visited our house regularly.

One Saturday evening, we were together in our house talking, Annabel asked if I was going to register for JAMB lesson which according to her had started.
“Yipee! Yes! Yes!” I shouted, punching the air with my fists.
“What’s that? Why the excitement?” She asked.

I was thrilled that I wouldn’t be the only teenager in our street, suffering through JAMB classes.
“You know I have always thought about how to go about this lesson of a thing all alone,” I replied. I wasted no time telling why I was delighted. I wouldn’t like to walk in there feeling like one JJC.
“Oh! I see why you are excited. I hope you’ll also be excited when you see JAMB Chemistry questions. They can make an adult cry,” Annabel said.

“And you know Zee is not an Olodo right? I’ll definitely scale through those questions. Besides, I chose this.”
“What did you choose?” she asked.
“Phy—Chem—Bio.”
“But wait…”
“What’s that?”
“Erm, Zee, but your parents can afford to send you to Canada or The United States of America for uni right?” she said inaudibly, probably pondering whether what she just said didn’t screech insensitive.

“Of course, they can. You know my eldest sister is in the US. And likewise, my mum wants me to go there too,” I paused.
“But?” She offered, encouraging me to continue.
“But I have always told her I didn’t like the idea.”
Annabel was puzzled.
“Girllll, are you for real?”
I nodded my head affirmative.

She was literally like, what is this girl saying? Who meets such an opportunity to study abroad but rather prefers to suffer from the yearly and endless ASUU strike that for long hindered most Nigerian students from graduating as when due? She stared surprisingly.

“Why the look? It’s my choice or you’re surprised?”
“Of course. Why won’t I be? All my life, I’ve never met anyone who says such a thing,” she spat.
“Hian, has it gotten to that? Well, I guess I’m the first then, you know there is always a first time for everything right?

Silence.

“Annabel, I’m not interested in going abroad for school. Maybe after school, I’ll consider.
“Okay oo, so it’s JAMB for you then. At least for now?”
“Yeah. JAMB for now.” I smirked.

Annabel went on to enlighten me about the JAMB lesson, that although it was open to anyone taking or re-taking JAMB, there were older folks who possibly had failed severally and they were also part of the lesson.
“But our age group dominated this particular JAMB lesson,” she added.
The lesson starts at 4:30 pm to accommodate those who were in school.
So, that was how Annabel took me there the following week, and I got registered with two thousand, five hundred naira.

***

One very day, Annabel and I were on our way to the lesson. We usually trek to the venue unless whenever we were late, then, we would bike. This very day, we trekked because we went on time.

As we trekked, there was this combination of nervousness and excitement that had been simmering on Annabel all day, causing her to walk a little faster than usual. If she didn’t notice the marked increase in her pace, I certainly did.
“Girl, wait for me naa!” I groaned, panting as I jogged a short distance until I caught up with her. That was the fourth time I had to catch up with her that afternoon, and we had only been walking for ten minutes. I wasn’t happy with her power walking.

“What exactly is chasing you?” I demanded when I caught up with her.

Silence.

“You’ve just been walking faster as if they are going to share free food at the lesson hall.”
She laughed.
“It’s not funny, and you know.”
“Um, nothing really. I just want to seat in the front seat today,” she said.

“Story. We’ll surely get there on time. That’s certainly not the reason.” I refused to believe any of the rational but completely bogus explanations.
“My mummy won’t be happy if she finds out I got late to the lesson,” she added, hoping that would get me off her back.

“We’ll surely get there on time and still have time to relax before the class kicks off. So you better tell me what is chasing you.” I checked my brown leather wristwatch, it was three minutes before 4:00 pm.
“I have told you but you have chosen not to believe me,” she replied.
“Lair!” I said, accusingly.
“Zee, please, leave me alone. Stop pestering me!” she snarled.
“Hmmm. Do you call this pestering, ehn? You better talk and stop this your grammar. And you know I’ll still find out.”

Annabel stubbornly refused to tell me what was responsible for her rush to the JAMB lesson that afternoon. Instead, she temporarily abandoned the topic and switched to telling me another thing entirely. But my occasional “Um—hmm” and “Okay” I uttered now and then did not satisfy her, and she accused me of not paying attention.
Of course, she was right. But I was so aware Annabel was a certified talkative and no secret, not even the ones which appeared to be harmless on the surface, were safe with her. I was also getting tired of her constant talking more than anything else.
And no matter how hard I wished, a large man-sized bird didn’t swoop down and carry Annabel away and dump her on a deserted Island where she would have coconut trees and rushing waves for company. It didn’t happen. They were mere wishes. Annabel kept talking until we reached our JAMB Tutorial hall.
Then I was relieved that Annabel instantly abandoned me as she found other people she knew and went to fraternize with them. “Peace at least!” I sighed in relief.

I went straight inside the tutorial hall, few people were seated already. It was a spacious hall with wooden chairs arranged in rows. The time was 4:15 pm and about fifteen minutes more before the tutorial would start. I watched through the open windows as people loitered about. I have always enjoyed my space more than anything. I sat there quietly, observing movements.

Moments later, I felt the urge to drink something cold. My throat was dried. I quickly stood up and headed towards the canteen which was behind the auditorium. The sun had gone down, but not completely.
Aunty Oge was the lady that sold foodstuffs and provisions there. A single mother of two. That was exactly what Annabel told me the very first time we went there, even when I didn’t ask her about the woman’s status. Apart from provisions, she had a small space where people relax and enjoy small chops and drinks. She also made pepper soup at night.

“Aunty Oge, please, give me one cold Fanta,” I stepped inside the canteen, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was frozen for some seconds. Yes, you guessed right if you guessed I met Annabel. But I’m sure you’d never guess right whom she was with. My cousin’s brother, Darlington! They were both seated having drinks and small snacks. Heii God! I couldn’t believe Darlington could be this shocking and unpredictable.

They saw me and I saw them too. Our eyes got locked in contact—and nobody uttered a word. I should have known why Annabel was pacing faster. I then remembered that very day I took grandma to the hospital. I remembered they didn’t exchange contact while Darlington and I waited outside for grandma to get ready. How on earth did these two people connect?

I left with the cold drink but suddenly lost appetite. I didn’t open it. I held it as I returned to my seat. Lots of thoughts clustered in my head, I was so annoyed. I was ashamed of Darlington. It simply implies that was how he goes about with everything he finds on skirt. He didn’t visit us as he promised but there he was, sharing drinks with my close friend. I was enveloped with anger and jealousy. I was boiling inside. Like Darlington had the gut to go after my friend, after napping with me.

Annabel later joined the tutorial when Mr. Iyke had taught Geometry in Mathematics for almost thirty minutes. Throughout the time we were there, I couldn’t concentrate. My mind drifted, with voices saying this and that.

To be continued…


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