Mr. Akande, principal of Abagboro Community High School calls for a meeting in the staff room and cancels all the classes remaining for the day. It’s Friday so the students close an hour earlier. I have only one period left, and glad I can return to my room and rest. The painkillers I took have worn off and I feel a fever coming.
The staff room fills up, and Mr. Akande walks in with three young men clad in the national youth service uniforms. A lady joins in later.
My heart jumps into my throat. We have youth corpers! I pray one can teach English and I can have some rest.
Mr. Akande steps forward. “Are we not lucky in this town? The National Youth Service Corps sent us four. Four. Four new arrivals. Abagboro Community, you are blessed.”
Did he just say, town? How could a learned man be so deceived? Mr. Akande is in his sixties, and looks like the typical principal of a local school. His fashion is old and dated and he does nothing to tend to his shaggy hair or potbelly.
“The first is—” Akande looks into the sheet of paper in his hand. “Fortuna Osu—Usunna.”
“Osondu, sir.” The lady amongst the four step forward. “Fortuna Osondu.”
“Miss Fortuna Osondu will teach biology for senior classes and integrated science for junior classes.”
Akande smiles at her. She steps back. I’m amazed Mr. Akande doesn’t use glasses considering the number of times he squints and blinks.
The current biology teacher Mr. Ojo, a tall, thin man in his forties, clap. Alone.
“Mr. Steve Eko.”
Steve Eko steps forward. He is tall and well built, and good-looking. A small sound escapes from somewhere beside me, and I look at Toro. Her jaw is slack and there’s this lost look in her eyes.
“Eko? Does your name mean Lagos?”
Steve arches his eyebrow. “No, principal.”
Not a very friendly guy, I think. At least he could have taken a joke.
“Mr. Steve Eko will teach biology.”
Mr. Ojo clap louder and laughs.
Toro frowns. “Ah, biology again. What about math?”
Mr. Akande beams. “We have math teacher. Mr. Kenny Taiwo.”
Kenny Taiwo is short and thickly built. He steps forward. “Good afternoon teachers. I’m glad to be here.”
A few teachers mumble a response. I look round the room. Altogether with the new arrivals, we’re less than twenty. Imagine the pressure the teachers in this school have had. How did any education department in the state expect these teachers to achieve any form of success?
“Last but not least, Mr. Christian Jang. He will teach physics and chemistry.”
No English. I’m so depressed I don’t know what to do with myself.
Mr. Akande clasps his hands. “So let us welcome all the teachers and help them to enjoy this service year. I hope you will apply to stay with us after your one year of service.”
Toro snickers and I chuckle. Mr. Akande is about the most deceived man on earth.
“We will make their tables and chairs available in the staff room in another week. Meanwhile, please share your space with them.” He looks round. “They will join Mr. Abbey Ilori and Miss Toro Adelu at the quarters the school provided for accommodation.”
I speak without thought. “There’s no water there, sir. How will we all cope?”
“The plumber is working on it now as I speak.” Akande claps. “So let’s welcome them, introduce ourselves and what we teach.”
“Thank God,” I mutter.
I can’t feel any gratitude toward Akande. He’s old and sloppy and this environment can only dictate why.
We all did the introductions. I watched the young men and woman with pity in my soul. One year in this rotten village didn’t seem like a pleasurable thing to wish anyone.
“Huh, Mr. Abbey, let me see you in my office.” Mr. Akande beckons. “Miss Toro, please show the new arrivals to the accommodation.” He turns and leaves.
The teachers throng round the youth corpers. I remember when I first arrived too. Then Toro was given more attention though because she’s a babe to look at.
I walk over to the corpers and shake them each. I notice the short stocky math corper seem to coo over Toro while the hunk named “Lagos” stand too close for comfort.
“You’ll please excuse me. I’ll join you later after I see the principal. Welcome again.”
I doubt they heard me. Toro is engaging them all, even the Fortuna. I walk to the end of the corridor and knock on Mr. Akande’s door.
I take a deep breath and open the door. I have no idea what he wants.
“Yes. I would have asked you to sit but you may not be able to do so.”
He presses his lips together. I dread what he wants to discuss. Toro! I could kill her.
“Open your yansh, Mr. Abbey. I want to see it.”
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