Bolade winced. Not again! “You said?”
Funke frowned. “You don’t believe me?”
Bolade looked around, and was relieved to know that eyes weren’t on them. He looked at her. “Why are you telling me?”
“Because I don’t want another girl stealing you from me again. I barely survived seeing how Salewa took all your attention almost immediately she got to this school and I have been here with you all these years and you never even gave me a second look.”
Bolade was speechless. And so was Funke. Silence hung between them like a heavy cloud. It was just too awkward. Bolade looked up and his eyes met Funke’s and they averted their eyes at the same time, but not before Bolade saw Funke’s grin. He grinned too.
“Can we talk after school?” Bolade said the first thing that came out of his mouth.
“I would love that”, Funke said, smiling. She stood up and patted him on the back. “Break over. See you after school.”
Bolade smiled back. “Sure.”
The hitherto boring and slow day now seemed to move so fast. Bolade hardly heard anything any teacher said. He was confused. He had mixed feelings. Funke had just given him a lot to think about.
Bolade shook his head, as he stared blankly at the scribbling of the Mathematics teacher. Maths, Bolade’s best subject, had started looking and sounding like Spanish to him. He remembered promising his mother that he was going to improve his grades. He knew he had to but he couldn’t get his thoughts straight. For over a month, he had been unable to get Salewa off his mind. And now he was having to add Funke to his list.
Funke had always been a smart girl; the best female student in his class but she was not in any way like Salewa. Physically, she was both big and tall, that is, tall for a girl. She wore glasses and always looked bookish. Funke was quiet, tending more towards shy. The only time her voice was usually heard was when there was a question to answer in class; she almost always had the answers.
Funke likes me. Bolade wanted to laugh. In retrospect, he remembered how he had seen her as competition after their first term together. And that was what she still was; academic competition. Seeing her in another light was totally absurd. Bolade couldn’t even imagine.
Impulsively, Bolade turned sideways, wanting to see what Funke looked like again, to help his head process the confusing thoughts better. And there she was. Bolade just stared and analyzed. Funke was on low cut, as she had been since he knew her. She was totally engrossed in what the teacher was saying. Bolade noticed how composed she looked.
Bolade averted his eyes for a moment and looked at his notebook. He knew he would be in some trouble if the teacher came anywhere near him. He had a lot of catching up to do as regards copying his notes.
Bolade couldn’t help looking back at Funke. This time, she was looking at him too. He looked away, embarrassed. He didn’t find Funke attractive or even intriguing at the moment, but there was always something tickling about knowing that somebody liked you. Salewa had been his first. Now, knowing that another girl liked him made Bolade feel good about himself.
Just as Bolade was about imagining what their conversation would be like after school, the bell sounded. Bolade was surprised to notice his heart was beating a little faster. The only reason he could pin to it was apprehension. Bolade, relax. It is just going to be a friendly talk. Be in control. Remember Mr. Raymond’s advice that helped you with Salewa. Use it again.
With that resolve, Bolade made to pack his bag. He started putting his books together but stopped short when he saw something from the side of this eye. He turned to see better.
Bolade couldn’t believe his eyes. Worse was, he couldn’t believe he was actually feeling jealous. Supo was talking to Funke. After Victor mysteriously left Hilltop College, Supo made himself the new don in the school. A brief stab of guilt hit Bolade as he momentarily remembered Victor, his bestfriend.
Since the day he left school, nobody had heard anything about him. Bolade had been too caught up in his loss of Salewa, that he hadn’t even grieved his loss of Victor. Bolade wondered where Victor was. Victor’s parents had threatened to sue the school but Bolade heard they changed their minds. Rumour had it that they wanted to avoid the publicity it would bring. Victor’s parents hired a private firm to look for him. Bolade missed his friend.
Funke laughed. Her laughter brought Bolade’s mind to the present. Supo was sitting on Funke’s table and was saying something that was tickling the girl’s fancy.
Bolade cautioned himself, reminding himself that Funke had a right to laugh if something she heard was funny. He decided to wait a few minutes, sure Supo would soon be done. Bolade used the opportunity to look back at the board and scribble a few things in his note, reducing how much writing he would need to do later.
Ten minutes passed and they were still talking. The last two students to leave the class had been Supo’s friends and he had waved them off, telling them he would see them tomorrow. That meant Supo was in no hurry. That was Supo, what of Funke? Bolade looked at the girl and she seemed in no hurry either.
Bolade was feeling stupid. Did we agree to talk after school or was I daydreaming that too? Bolade decided to do something to get her attention in case she had forgotten. He pushed his chair backwards, intentionally making it drag, noisily slapped his books on top of one another as he stacked them before putting them into his bag. He glanced at them again but they didn’t act like he existed.
Bolade carried his bag and started walking towards the door. He looked back one more time. Then, she looked. Bolade was about smiling, glad she had noticed him and would excuse herself, apologize for delaying him, and they would have their promised talk. But that wasn’t to happen.
Funke looked away immediately, just as if she saw no one at the door. Bolade was trying to shake off the feelings stirring up in him until the last straw dropped on this camel’s back. Funke smiled at Supo. It was the same sheepish smile she had given Bolade during short break; just that this lasted a little longer.
Bolade felt like dying. He bowed his head and walked out of the class, silently hoping that Funke would call out after him. But she didn’t. And it was at that point that Bolade finally knew that nobody wanted him. He was not good enough for any girl.
Salewa had walked out on him. Now, Funke had just humiliated him. Unbidden, tears trickled down his face as he walked out the gates of Hilltop College. He knew God loved him but he needed human affirmation, other than his mother’s. Would any girl ever love me?
The tears kept coming and Bolade didn’t stop them.
…..to be continued.
I apologize for not posting yesterday. Thanks for bearing with me.