Federal Government College Vandeikya.
Jss1- Ss2 girls of Mande house lined up in front of their hostel, this was their custom whenever announcements were to be made.
Senior Caroline, the house captain climbed upon the stage.
“Good morning girls. We don’t have time so let me just tell you, people, sharp sharp. Today is another Inspection day. Last week, Pine house came first and we took the second to the last position! To me, that is as good as carrying the last position sef. So today, ” She tugged at her earlobe “I don’t want that to happen again, you hear?”
“Yes Senior!” the girls chorused.
“You people should do your morning piece of work well. Jss1 students, those of you picking and sweeping, do your work. Toilet washers, you better wash those toilets well o, I don’t want to hear, I flushed once then somebody came and used it, if it is like that, lock it with a padlock. Room moppers, those of you that will carry half bucket of water and use it to mop all your rooms, let me catch you first! Everybody should gather their cutlery, cup, and tissue. Make your beds well, there should be straight, do you understand me?” She resonated.
She turned to Esther who was also on stage. “Do you have anything to say”
“Yes, o!” senior Esther replied casually, not moving from the pillar she was leaning against.
She waved a pile of envelopes at the girls. “I have your letters here…”
Karen’s ears shot up from the crowd.
She had written to Jerry the week before and had been eagerly awaiting his reply.
Esther continued, “…Everyone should gather here after the inspection to collect their letters, I will announce them then.”
“Oya!” senior Caroline chipped in, “everybody, go and start your work”
The girls disassembled, going separate ways.
Karen’s morning piece of work was washing the bathroom.
She and her team had to wait for the toilet washers to be through and the senior students to complete their baths before they could proceed. So they hung by the staircase, talking. But Karen wasn’t really listening to the chattering of her team.
She was thinking of Jerry.
She had travelled home the year before after her junior WAEC to find out that her father had bought a new house. Excitedly, they moved to this new place.
It wasn’t long before she discovered Jerry, the boy next door, whose house shared the same fence with hers.
The water well in her house dried up, and because the borehole was yet to be connected, she and her sisters would go to Jerry’s house to get water, and that was how she knew him.
Confident and seventeen, he was two years older and two classes ahead of her. He spoke very freely with the girls, devoid of shyness as was common with the other boys.
His skin was light, a direct opposite to her dark skin. He kept an afro and was about 174 centimetres tall. All the girls seemed to like him and made sure to be noticed by him.
In the evenings, when some of the neighbor’s children would go to fetch water at Jerry’s, he would flock around the girls, chatting them up. Karen felt butterflies in her tummy every time she saw him, and even more so, whenever he said hello to her.
Like the other girls, she looked forward to fetching water at his house just so that she could see him.
He was charming, funny and flirty.
One evening after fetching water, she started to stroll away with her bucket firmly positioned on the top of her head when she heard a voice behind her.
“Hello, excuse me.”
She stopped, and turned around.
It was Jerry, he was speaking to her…alone! She felt shock and excitement, all at the same time.
“Hi” She replied sheepishly.
“I’ve been seeing you around, can we talk?”
oh yeah! we can talk. This can’t be happening, Jerry the popular boy is talking to me!
“Yes, but my mum is waiting, so I have to go and give her the water”
“Okay. Will I see you later?”
oh my gosh!!!! this is really happening.
“Yes. Let me just go and drop the water, I will come back later”
“Okay. 7 then.”
Karen nodded her head and began to walk away. She could feel Jerry’s eyes watching her and that just made her all the more uneasy.
She carefully walked, not wanting to miss a step from all the emotions whirling on inside her.
She got home and wouldn’t stop smiling to herself.
Jerry had spoken to her, alone!
As soon as it was 7pm, she stood by the cloth line of her house which was next to the shared fence of her house and Jerry’s.
She stood holding a novel. It wasn’t long before Jerry jumped the fence and started walking towards her.
She quickly flipped a page, and started pretending to be reading.
“Hello?” he said.
“Hi,” she answered timidly, refusing to look up from the book.
“What book is that?”
“Mills and Boons, The dark obsession.”
“I like Mills and boons, can I borrow it when you are done?”
She nodded, smiling.
“Karen, I’ve been seeing you around and I really like you…” He paused, took a step closer and took her right hand into his.
Instantly, she went weak at the knees, her eyes shifting from the book to the floor.
Jerry lifted her chin to his face and her pulse began to race like a freight train.
“I want to ask you something…” he proposed. She nodded against his index finger. “will you be my girlfriend?”
Did he just ask me to be his girlfriend?
Controlling herself not to go off screaming in joy, she nodded, staring him back in the eye.
Jerry was looking into her eyes like one trying to read a person’s mind. She noticed how short yet curly his lashes were. His face was clean and his lips full and inviting.
“Have you ever been kissed?” Jerry was asking.
Kissed? That’s like the ultimate!
Karen shook her head.
“Can I kiss you then?”
She smiled simply.
Jerry took that as a yes and pressed his lips to hers. He let his lips linger for a few seconds, then he pulled back.
gosh!!!!!! I think I’m going to melt. My first kiss ever!
He took her other hand into his. “Will you come and fetch water tomorrow?”
“Yes,” she muttered, yet to recover from the kiss she just had.
“Karen!!!!!” her mother’s voice rang into the yard.
“Ma!!” she yelled back, suddenly finding her voice.
Jerry jumped the fence to his compound, waved her goodbye and Karen dashed into her house.
That night, she laid awake, replaying every word Jerry had spoken to her, with her pillow cuddled tightly to her chest.
He kissed her, her very first kiss!!!! He was her first kiss, like ever!
She drifted off to sleep, thinking happy thoughts.
The next day, she went to fetch water earlier than she usually did. Jerry was already by the water well, waiting.
They smiled knowingly at each other. She felt like she had shared her world with him just by that singular kiss.
Jerry collected her bucket from her. He drew up water from the well and filled it up, then he carried it and escorted her to the point of the fence.
Jumping over the low fence was a short cut she preferred to take, it was easier than going round the street.
He held the bucket of water while she jumped over, then passed the bucket over to her. He waited for her to go and turn the water then return for a second fill.
When she came back for the second time, Jerry was waiting with his breakfast in hand. They sat on the bench leaning against the wall of his kitchen and ate his rice together. Karen was very careful not to stain her dress or her lips.
It was satisfying just being in his presence, even though she was shy.
Jerry on the other hand was so bold, and she liked that about him.
They found ways to see each other almost everyday after that.
When she wasn’t fetching water, she would carry her novel to the uncompleted building overlooking his house, and stay by the building’s window talking to him.
She was in love!
They wrote letters to each other. He would send his younger brother to her house to deliver the letter, and she would send hers through her sister, saying all the things she was too shy to say to his face.
One evening, Jerry included a plastic rose in one of his letters, spraying it with his mother’s perfume.
Karen held the rose to her nose as she laid in bed that night, sniffing excitedly.
She was so in love!!
When the holiday was over, a day before she was to leave for school, Jerry invited her into his room. That was the first time she was going into his room. She felt unsure and scared to death. A boy’s room? But Jerry nudged her on.
She trusted him so she went in, holding tightly to her constant companion, her novel.
Jerry dropped into his bed, inviting her to sit by him, she obeyed, timidly.
He stood up and retrieved a wrapped item from the drawer of his table and gave it to her. “Don’t open it yet,” he said, “Open it when you get home.”
She smiled up at him,”thank you.”
“I really love you Karen, don’t break my heart.”
“How about those boys at your school? What happens if they start toasting you?”
“I don’t care about them” She shrugged defensively. “You’re the one I love.”
“Yes, I promise.”
“Cross your heart and hope to die?”
“I cross my heart and hope to die. I love you.”
Jerry smiled, believing her. “I love you too.”
He lowered his head to kiss her and she pouted to meet his lips.
“Open your mouth” he said, almost in a whisper. “A little. Bring out your tongue, not so much, yes, like that.”
He tilted his head in her opposite direction and slid his tongue in between her lips, moving it around her tongue.
He paused, “move your tongue the way I’m moving mine, let it play with my own.”
He went in again, pausing occasionally to talk her through it. “Yes, like that.” He would say. “Don’t be afraid to breathe. You can take small breaths through your nose. Relax, try to enjoy it” he encouraged.
The feel of his tongue touching hers gave her a new sensation, a feeling she hadn’t felt before. It was sweet, it was exciting, and she felt like she had to pee. She threw an arm around his neck, arching further into him.
It was wonderful!
They kissed for a while, then withdrew and lay in bed, holding each other, fully clothed.
Jerry had a boner, but she pretended not to notice. She moved her leg away so she didn’t have to keep brushing against it.
Laying in Jerry arms was the closest she had been with him and it felt romantic.
As soon as she went back to school, she told her friends about Jerry, leaving out little to no details.
She was happy. She was in love. She wanted the entire world to know.
Jerry often wrote her from his school in Government College Kastina-Ala, so she was sure that there was a letter for her amongst the pile Senior Esther had with her.
The toilet washers rounded up their work, so did those having their baths. She and her team got in, washed and moped the bathroom floors and tiles.
She lined up afterwards with the rest of her housemates, holding her complete set of cutlery as the Inspectors came into the hostel and went through the bathroom and corners, inspecting how they had cleaned up.
As soon as the Inspectors left, she kept her cutlery back in her cupboard, undid the inspection sheets from her bed and went in search of Senior Esther.
She found her walking out of the hostel to where they had gathered earlier. Other students gathered and Esther called out the name on the letters one after the other.
Karen’s name was called. She walked to the front of the line, received hers and began to hop back to her dorm. She ran into her friend Ify by the door who asked if she wasn’t going for breakfast at the dinning hall. Karen said no. She was going to skip the breakfast, she had to go lie down to read her letter, that was what mattered right that moment.
Ify bade her goodbye and Karen walked away, into her room.
She climbed her bunk, pulled her blanket over her body and carefully opened the envelope.
She relaxed further into her bed and began to read so sparingly, taking in every word, not wanting the letter to come to an end…
She pressed the sheet of paper to her chest, shut her eyes and blushed.