The Valentine's Gift


I sat in my little corner of the dorm, hedged between the bunk bed and the wall. I didn't mean to pry but I just couldn't help overhearing the conversation that rocked the center of the room. The loudest voice as always, belonged to Aisha, a small girl with a very thin neck that barely supported her rectangular head. A mop of thin lengthy jet black hair sat on her head in three equally shared cornrows. 
"I am half fulani," she had told us one day in the beginning of the term when someone in the dorm had asked why her hair was so curly. As if that explained anything. 
She stood now in the middle of the room, gesticulating with her hands just as quickly as the words swarm out of her small mouth. 
"It would be a serious problem if Nnena does not declare for Sonia," she was saying to everyone who had cemented their attention on her. 

It was indeed difficult not to be caught up in whatever Aisha had to say. 
She always had the latest school gist, verified or not and even when she meant to talk to only a few people, she always ended up entertaining any and everyone in range of her snickering fast paced voice.
"I don't know about any other couple in school right now as important as Nnena and Sonia. That girl in Emoyan house that is goezing with Chinwe, what's her name again?"
"Uju!" An avid Aisha-supporter chimed in response.
"Yes! Uju! Walaihi I hate that girl fa. She just disgusts me. Kai. The other day in the dinning hall I almost slapped shege out of her face when she stepped on me." Aisha was beginning to drift as always, but we waited for her to get to the point. We always did. I sat in my spot, a chemistry text book in my lap, pretending to read it while also tuning my ears to Aisha's frequency.
"Sha sha, Uju told us that she was one of the people who helped Sonia bring her gifts into school. You know Uju and Sonia are family friends." 
No we didn't know that, but everyone in the room nodded, a few "Oohhs" and "Aahhs" bounced off the walls in response. 


"She said all the gifts that Sonia bought for Nnena was almost worth one hundred and fifty thousand! Imagine!"
I couldn't imagine it. Why would anyone spend over N100,000 on Valentine's gifts? I could not comprehend how an SS2 student could afford such luxury.
"What is inside the gift please?" Someone I couldn't see asked.
"I don't know oh! Shey that is why we are waiting bah? What is the time?" Aisha asked, directing the question to no one in particular.
"11:23PM," a quick reply.
"Ahh! Like thirty-five more minutes to go. Me I must eat cake today sha." She giggled, as though she had said something important and was proud of herself for saying it.
"I am not really interested in Nnena and Sonia like that jare. The declaration me I want to see this night is Shalewa and Bose." A girl wearing a blue-checked gown said. Her tone was hoarse as though a piece of boiled yam had taken solace in the lower portion of her throat, prohibiting the rest of her voice from escaping her mouth. I recognized her by her voice. She came to my dorm often to gossip and copy notes from Aisha. Whenever she left, Aisha always had something thoughtless to say about her.
"Which Bose is that? Oh Bose in Makinwa House? That dirty girl that wears one bra for two weeks." Aisha squeaked. "Na wa oh when did those ones start goezing fa?"
For someone who knew everything, it was definitely a relief that Aisha didn't know this one thing.
Shalewa and Bose have been goezing since last term, I wanted to say but a force beyond mine held the words in my mouth and stopped them from spilling out. A junior student like myself had no business contributing to the conversations of seemingly jobless Ss3 students.
I briefly took notice of the desk clock that sat on the locker next to my bunk. 11:37PM. Even I was beginning to get excited for what this Valetine's day held. The preposterousness of it, female students expressing their love and fondness towards other female students and buying outrageously expensive items to be 'declared' as soon as the time clocked 12AM. 
I wondered who was going to declare for Aisha. She seemed to know everyone's business whilst minding hers to the fullest secrecy.
"Are you declaring for anybody?" The voice belonged to Fatima, Aisha's cousin. She was the only other person asides Aisha who could question Aisha in that knowingly intrusive sort of way.
The reddish hue that instantly colored Aisha's face seemed to snatch the youthfulness from under her. From where I sat in the far corner of the dorm, I could see an irritated Aisha dart a fiery glare at her cousin.
"I look like I have time for rubbish bah?" 
Everyone laughed.
But of course they knew better. Aisha'd had her moments of quickly fleeting relationships with other girls in the past. The most notable being her latest stint with a stompy wide faced yellow girl in Emoyan house. We believed Aisha was with her only because the girl's father was an Alhaji and money breezed through their family like winds on an extra cold harmattan day. 
No one knew what happened to their relationship and Aisha was quick to act like it never happened. 
"The best declaration I have seen so far is that one that Chinwe did for that ugly girl in Idran house when we were in SS2." Amaka said, her voice immediately drowning the laughter. She was a very beautiful girl who I expected knew better than to have a place in Aisha's gossip group. Of all the girls hurdled together like sardines, Amaka was the only other person whom everyone paid attention to. She talked little but when she did, it was something to be silent for. 
"Aaahhh that was a de-cla-ration!" Aisha joined in and everyone else squealed little renditions in agreement. 

"And I heard that they had only started goezing two weeks before Valentine fa! That Chinwe girl just wanted to show herself."
"Wasn't that the GSM Phone declaration?" Fatima asked.
"Yes!  That one oh! Amaka said. "It was my first time seeing a GSM phone. I almost died when they told me the price."
"How much?"
"One hundred and thirty five thousand Naira!"
"Oh I heard that gist," Fatima said, as though her head just piped the information to her and she suddenly regained seemingly outdated memory. "The phone itself was one hundred and ten thousand Naira, the sim card was twenty thousand Naira." She continued.
"Ah that declaration made me want an itchu last year oh I won't lie." Amaka said, her tone colored in different hues of her almost raucous Igbo accent.
Laughter trailed her words.
Just then a loud banging echoed through the dorm from the next dorm. Several fists were poundly savagely on the doors as if from every corner, the noise of it reverberated through the hostel, hitting us loudly as we were closest to it.


We heard the noisy slap-thump-slapping of several slippers hitting the cement floor as though a hundred soldiers were running down the corridors. Everyone jumped off their positions and towards the open door to see what was about.
The time was 12:01AM and we had almost missed it.
I flung my text book to the corner of my low bunk bed and threw on a wrapper around my waist, tying it nonchalantly that it almost fell off my waist as I joined the others in a run for the door.
"De-cla-raaaaaaaaaaaaaa..tion!" Several voices shouted into the air all at the same time. It sounded like a really big one. 
"De-cla-raaaaaaa.." 
"Tion!!" We shouted in response. Yes, even I had joined in. I was excited to see what it was and who it was for. 

Valentine's day had started in full swing!
There was more banging on the doors of the dorm next to mine, even though it was left ajar.
Girls rushed in from every corner of the hostel to find out who the declaration was for. There was another declaration going on in dorm 17 just across the lawn from where we now stood, but it didn't sound as loud as this one and hence not as important. So we focused on this one. The big one!
"Who is Onome?" The leader of the declaration finally inquired, clearly not knowing who she was a messenger for.
"Onome!!!" The girls began to shout.

"Onome!"
For a moment life became a blur of excited school girls swarming like bees all around me, fists flying determinedly in the air above their cornrows and threaded heads.
"This is not Onome's room na, she is in the next room." A girl with a large gap in the center of her teeth said to the group.
I turned around quickly and ran head first for my bunk suddenly petrified. Declaration for me? Who sent me Valentine's gifts? 
In an instant the group was headed straight for my corner of the room, jeering and shouting and running through the three foot wide door all at the same time. 
"De-cla-raaaaaaa..!!!"
"Tion!!!!" The group piped. 
I was suddenly the center of attention. Everyone was in my room, climbing bunk beds, crawling on the walls, all in an effort to get a view of what now appeared to be the best presentation of gifts in a bag that I ever saw in my life.

"De-cla-raaaaaa-tion!! They were shouting and banging on every bunk around mine now.
"You??" Aisha was wide-eyed with what looked like jealousy laced surprise. I couldn't tell if she was happy for me or if she wanted to slap me across the face with the gifts. "You have an itchu??"
I wanted to say no, that I didn't know who it was from and just like her I couldn't wait to tear open the card that accompanied the huge bag of several gifts just so I could tell who sent it. But I couldn't open my mouth. Or I could, as my mouth was open anyways but the words just would not flow. 
I stood, gaping, my back to the wall as I stared down at my bed which was just two minutes ago empty with nothing but my purple checked sheets, two stuffed animals that I hated, and my Chemistry textbook. 

Now it was laden with Valentine gifts.
"Who declared?" It was Amaka's Igbo accented voice.
"We don't know yet. It looks like a surprise." Fatima's quick mouth responded.
"Na wa o! All these junior girls that will be doing as if nothing. So Onome you have itchu!" Amaka said, her eyes searching the bag and the rest of the items that was brought into my corner.
"Ah there is cake, thank God!" Fatima chimed, already staking her claim to a piece of the cake that even I hadn't seen.
Cake?
She sent a cake too?
Who she?


I wanted to move. At least stretch my frail hand forward to reach for the card if only to see who this was. But I couldn't move. Surprise and guilt planted me solid in the corner, my legs quivering and unmoving.
A part of me knew who it could be. If I were right. Maybe that was why I felt so good and bad all at once.
Dear Lord please take this away, I prayed in my heart. I raised my head momentarily to look around me and lo, all eyes were fixed on me like Eagles in flight for prey. Everyone was waiting for me to reveal the contents of the bag. Or open the cake. Or pop the bottle of wine. There was wine too?
I looked up at the wall beside me to avoid their fixed glare and 50Cent stared back at me from the poster on the wall. He suddenly appeared mean in a menacing sort of way.
I looked away and stared down at my feet.
Lord please take this away.

30 comments:

  1. Errmmmm..... please where is the concluding part? I love your command of English you know! You sure are an inspiration. First time reading your blog & I'm loving it!! Happy Val. Myssjez

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    1. Honey!! You have just made me smile so wide my cheeks hurt! Thank you for reading and I appreciate your kind words. I guess I might have to finally publish a book where we would have concluding stories.. but really, is a story ever finished? LOL.

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  2. Awww... As much as i love suspense, this made me feel like calling you up and be like "eva you better finish this story o." Interesting story! Nicely constructed! I'll definitely get your book whenever you publish one.

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  3. Awwwwn where is the rest of the story na...plssssss

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    1. LOL! I am finally going to write a book! would you like that?

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  4. Where is the end????????????????? Please don't leave me hanging. I absolutely love you as a singer, now as a writer tooo..... you're BAM!!!

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  6. Eva you're a lovely writer. This "gist" resonates with me as I went to an all girls secondary school and you just painted the scenario on a typical Valentine's day eve/midnight so clearly. See me smiling here.
    You really should write a book. You're that good..well done

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    1. Hahahaa! I knew there would be someone out there who got the gist!! It is like our little hidden secret eh? LOL! Thank you for reading honey

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  7. Haaaa! This has to have an end ooo! Damn! I never missed any line. Always knew you were good. :*

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  8. God bless who share this to my fb wall. Never know Eva write. Now am glued. Pls kontinu...

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    1. I am so happy that you stopped by to read!! Please come again, it is my pleasure to write!

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  9. Am an English student nd I still doubt if I can write extensively nd clearly like dis , wow I give kudos to you Eva, first time of checking ur blog out I must say every one in my department must visit here.

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    1. There is a huge smile on my face reading your comment! thank you so much

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  10. Wow. Wonderful is an understatement. This is my first time here...

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    1. Thank you! i hope you come again

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  12. Nice work, still talented determined and diligent as always. Wish you well
    Feggo girls for life

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  13. your word play has kept me hooked on your rap and then I find you write short stories… tis my first time here, and this is the 3rd piece I've read already… I'll be here a yl.
    keep writing, keep rapping… your work inspires me

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  14. Nice write up Ma'am!
    I am so inspired....
    Is there anyway i can subscribe to your posts?
    It would be a crime to miss any of them.

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  15. Wow..I hv bin following u 4 sometime nw, bt it's actually my 1st tym reading ur blog...interesting, any1 hu actually went to An all girls school will understand dis better..hmmm it's a good one.wud love to read more frm good job haney.....

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  16. Like **Hands on my head** where is the rest?? ����.. Gosh that feeling when an interesting novel is torn by by two pages to the end... Nice piece tho.. Good Command of English I love it.. @kay_magiq

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! this makes me really happy. Just knowing you read me

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  17. The sky is your stepping stone

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  18. You're such a beautiful writer. I love you.

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  19. I just rili pray to God that u know ur worth Eva. Eminem wud say to you: dont let them say u aint beautiful, dey can all get fucked just stay true to u..... The way Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie won my heart nd got me literally crazy for creative authority of words, i ave to say u have done same. U ooze talent nd to put out this phase of ur life dat most of us wud hide nd deny! Its beyond me. Thank you Eva, tnk u.

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    1. Oh my! Bless you! It makes me very glad that you took the time to read all of that. Your compliment is huge! Thank you so much I am blessed knowing I could connect with you like that. Please please please stop by again. It is because of feedback like this i am able to write.

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  20. Nice write up, i can easily relate to this........ pls where is the continuation nah.................

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    1. LOL! It really does end here. Thank you so much for reading

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