Mr. Akande is insufferable. Could have been better if he had anything to offer. I am beside myself with anger and humiliation as the old man inspects the yansh. I plan all the words I will give Toro. It’s just been three days since the flogging. I’ve not let her see it since that first day but she’s been busy with her plan, obviously.
“Aha? Na rod they use beat you?”
I begin to pull up my trousers. He yelps. “No, let me look. Aha. These useless village boys. I told you they are demons in human form.”
I roll my eyes. I’d tried to catch a glimpse of the damage done to me but could see a part only. It looks bad. Deep welts cut across my butt and part of my lower back and upper thigh. I’ve been forced to clean it by myself with antiseptics every day, and prescribed antibiotics for myself.
“Did you see their faces?”
“Yes, but I can’t recognize them if I see them now.”
Mr. Akande looks at me. “You have to recognize them o. Your colleague wrote to state department and copied federal. With pictures! The commissioner called perm sec, who called DG who called my boss, who called me. Showing me pictures of your—your yansh.”
I pull up my trousers. “Well, maybe if there is a line-up at the village square, I may know them. For now—”
Mr. Akande frowned. “Let me see it again.”
“It’s healing now. I don’t feel so much pain. I’m taking antibiotics.” I clench my teeth. “Can I go now, sir?”
He raises his eyebrows. “You don’t want to make a big deal about this, I see.” He smiles and exposes a surprising set of even, white teeth. Interesting I never saw him smile before.
He pats my back. “Smart boy.”
I walk my ‘cast’ walk out of his office, fuming. Toro has to pay for this. Well, she’ll definitely have to prove to the state department my butt is not photoshopped. I wonder how she got to send the pictures. She must have travelled to Ife to do that because there’s no business centre here.
I had totally forgotten about the new arrivals, consumed by my plans to retaliate, until I approached our accommodation.
I hadn’t been gone that long and they are still packing their stuff into the rooms. Since there are three guys and a girl, and only two rooms, I suppose the girl will take a room and the three boys will share a room. How that sounds a little selfish to me. I begin to realize I may have a roommate from tonight. Awful.
They are all graduates, older. The youngest of them look at least three years older than me. The Chris Jang or what was his name. The stocky math teacher look at least eight years older. Maybe more. I swallow and advise myself quickly. I will not argue if they ask to share.
Fortuna notice me first. “Hi, Abbey right?”
I nod. “Yes. Welcome again.”
“Ah we’ve been waiting for you. The guys want to see your room so we’ll know how to share.”
“Oh of course.” I rush to my door.
“Though the other girl, what’s her name?”
“Yeah, she says your room is the smallest.”
“I never knew that.”
“So I’m thinking I should take your room, and you can move to a bigger room with one of the guys.”
I open my door wide, and go to inspect the other rooms. There’s one big one, double mine, and the other is the same as mine. The Jang guy and short stocky are in the room. Toro and Mr. Lagos are nowhere in sight.
The two turn.
“Ah, you’re here,” Jang says.
“Sorry what are your names again? I’m Abbey.”
“Kenny Taiwo. I teach math.” He stuck out his thick hand to me and I shook him.
“I’m Christian Jang from Jos.”
I’m impressed. “You’ve come a long way.”
Kenny claps. “So how do we share this space? I think Fortuna should take this one. Three of us can share the bigger one.”
I shrug. “I can share my space with one person.” It’s only polite to offer. I remember they are my seniors. I’m just a student teacher. And when I’m gone in five months’ they’ll still be here.
“That’s so nice of you, Abbey,” Kenny says.
“I’ll move in with Abbey,” Jang says.
“That’s settled then. So Fortuna can take this room and Steve and I will use the bigger space.”
Fine by me. Where is the nonsense Toro? I wish I could attack her in front of these strangers. Humiliate her. Say a few nasty things about her so they know the kind of silly person she is.
But I know I cannot. The yansh war will have to wait till we’re alone.
Image of man courtesy of Photo stock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net