For the first time ever, Khadijah’s momma scolded her sternly for her disobedience after she opened her eyes on the hospital bed.
“I am sorry for disobeying you ma.” She said faintly
“You should be sorry indeed. You won’t die if you’re absent for a day, so why were you so bent on going to school even at the detriment of your health.” Her mother scolded again.
“I’m sorry mum. It was just compulsory for me to go…………………” She was trying to say when her eyes caught some greeting cards on the bed.
With the assistance of her mum, she sat up and reached for the ‘Get well soon cards’ She opened one of them and smiled as she went through the content.
“Why are you smiling?” Her mum asked.
“Was he here?” She asked.
“Who?” Her mother asked in confusion.
“Never mind.” She replied and continued reading the cards till the last one.
After going through all the cards, she stretched her body and exclaimed.
“Wow! I feel good. I feel light hearted. I feel blessed.” She exclaimed with smiles while her mum watched her in bewilderment.
She was discharged during the weekend and while packing her stuffs from the hospital, her mum forgot the cards and Khadijah wasn’t taking it lightly and refused to eat. Her mother had to send one of the servants back to the hospital to fetch the cards. And that was when she ate to her mum’s surprise.
She was better before Monday but was lethargic about going to school. A feeling of emptiness engulfed her as she climbed her mother’s jeep sluggishly. On the way to school, she was quiet. She kept her eyes glued to the window while staring blankly at the road. Her mum asked what the problem was but she replied with nothing. Deep down her heart, she would miss him and school won’t be as fun as it used to be.
At school, her classmates were all over her inquiring about her health. She replied lifelessly and walked straight to her seat.
“Are you still sick?” Aminah asked worriedly.
“No, I am better, thanks.” She replied firmly.
“Omo, you really scared us on Wednesday o. We all thought you had died.” Abass blurted out.
“She’ll not die but live.” Aminah replied sharply.
“Ahan, I didn’t say she died now. I said we thought she had died. Why are you giving another meaning to my words?” Abass attacked Aminah
“Speak for yourself Abass, you thought she had died and not all of us. Of course I knew she fainted and I’m sure sensible people were of the same thought except you.” Aminah fired back.
“Now this is the height. I won’t take more insults.” Abass said and Hamzah cuts in.
“It’s too early for this please! Khadijah is better so why should you fight over her matter?” Hamzah said.
“I wonder o.” Rasheed said with a shrug while Abass moved over to Khadijah’s seat.
“Khadijah sorry, cheer up jare. Now that Adam is gone, you can have your first back.” Abass said but Khadijah gave a sharp reply.
“I’m no longer interested in being the first. I want to excel and that’s all that matters.” She replied to everyone’s surprise.
“Awwwwwww, our queen Khadijah has really grown up.” Abass said with emotions and Anat replied.
“She sure needs to. The one she sees as a contender is gone so she has no choice but to grow up…………………oh! Who else is feeling empty without Adam in this class?” Anat asked while twisting her mouth and Habeebah replied her.
“You are obviously the only one feeling empty for a reason best known to you. We all missed him but we aren’t empty. Habeebah replied and Anat rolled her eyes at her.
A teacher walked in and they were silent.
School life and class activities continued without the acclaimed first man. Then it was February. February proceeded to that day of the month erroneously referred to as lovers day. And just like we’ve been brainwashed to believe that it is the day of celebration of love, show of affection and sharing of gifts, the students too were not left out. In fact secondary school students celebrates valentine better than the adults.
On the assembly on this particular day, the principal who is a Christian but a morally upright woman who has zero tolerance for indiscipline addressed the students on the assembly ground.
“It has been brought to our notice that some of you don’t go home straight on a day like this. After close of school, you go ahead to hook up with your val. I have lived long enough on the surface of the earth and I have also served as a teacher long enough to know that there’s something called ‘valentine pregnancy.” The principal said and the students shouted.
“You better keep quiet and allow me finish before you start your own. Valentine pregnancy is inevitable for insensible girls who believe gifting a man her most treasured asset is a way of celebrating valentine. Valentine is nothing but a celebration of frivolities which a wise boy and girl shouldn’t engage in. it is only the foolish that thinks that a day should be set aside for the celebration of love. And unfortunately, students especially, abused this day to engage in immoral acts. On this day, fornication is the order of the day and the result is unwanted pregnancy. Any student who gets a shameful pregnancy would be expelled without a second thought. I hope you understand me.”
“Yes ma.” The students chorused.
“Good. Behave well and be a good ambassador to this school. Be a good child to your parents and a good citizen Nigeria would be proud of.” The principal concluded.
The students were dismissed and some students of SS3A ran to their classrooms immediately to quickly put down the valentine decorations they designed their class with. They were still on it when Mrs Olayiwola the English teacher walked in.
The teacher walked round the classroom while reading the decorations with different inscriptions in red marker boldly designed in italics. ‘Be my val’ ‘let’s party tonight’ ‘show me some love’ ‘I want to have you in my arms tonight’ ‘You are the reason God created love’ ‘You can count on me today like 123’ ‘let me lean on you’ And several others.
Mrs Olayiwola read all the inscriptions with mouth agape. She was dumbfounded and after she found her voice, a question was the first that came out of her mouth.
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“Who did all these?” She asked.
“Rasheed, Abass, Adebisi and Raqeebah.” The class chorused.
“Really?” The teacher marveled.
“Yes ma, and they are also partying after school in Raqeebah’s house.” Anat said sharply.
“Is that true? Even after the principal addressed you against all these frivolities on the assembly? The west has really harmed us.” Mrs Olayiwola said while shaking her head in bitterness.
“Why did you say that the west has harmed us ma?” Habeebah asked sharply.
“……because valentine was introduced by the western world and has no affiliation with Islam. It is the direct opposite of morality. It is a Roman festival which continued to be celebrated until after the Romans became Christian. The festival was traced to a saint known as valentine who was sentenced to death on February 14 270CE. The festival promotes lots of immoralities and evil are widely practiced during this day. Am I making sense at all.”
“Muslims should not partake in this festival because it is a festival of the Kuffaar. Allah says that ‘For every nation, we have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow’ Al-Hajj v67. And valentine is clearly not part of the festivities ordained by Allah. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen was asked concerning valentine and he replied ‘celebrating valentine is not permissible for a number of reasons. 1. It is an innovated festival which has no basis in Islam. 2. It promotes love and infatuation. 3. It calls for hearts to be preoccupied with foolish matters contrary to what Islam teaches. Sheykh further said that, it is not permissible on this day to do any of the things that are characteristic of this festival, whether it has to do with food, drinks, clothing, exchanging of gifts or anything else. The Muslim should be proud of his religion and not be a weak character who follows every Tom, Dick and Harry.”
“What about Christians?” Adebisi asked sharply.
“Because it is a celebration of immoralities disguised as love, a celebration of foolishness and a celebration of sinfulness, a sensible Christian shouldn’t partake as well.” The teacher answered Adebisi who exclaimed ‘ha’
“Don’t be surprised Adebisi, the practical example that Valentine is a celebration of iniquity is what is happening right now in your class. You terminal students that are supposed to be occupied with studying for WAEC are about to throw a valentine party in Raqeebah’s house. You’ll get there and start dancing to wild music, then you’ll take some alcohol, then after you’ll take one another to bed.” The teacher said and the students exclaimed.
“Am I not saying the truth? Look at all the sexual inscriptions you designed the class with just because of valentine celebration. ‘Be my val’ means ‘be my bed mate tonight’ ‘I want to have you in my arms tonight’ means what? You can’t continue like this and live an upright life. The reward of waywardness is a shattered dream and ambition. Regret is always the result of a life lived unpleasantly. You are too little for all this nonsense. Valentine is not for you. In fact it shouldn’t be for any honorable person because it is the opposite of modesty. Retrace your steps now before its too late. Mention just a single successful person that lived a detestable life. You can only actualize your dreams with focus and uprightness. All this frivolities are distraction which will make you lose focus and then you tumble. After tumbling, getting up again may be pretty difficult. Don’t tumble before you sit up. Promise me I won’t have any course to be embittered about you again.”
“Good, I want to see you in high places in the nearest future. It will be a delight to my heart to see doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers and not a Yahoo, bus conductor, drug pusher, prostitutes or roadside fish seller. Please make something good and meaningful out of your lives………………………..enough of that, let’s have some lessons.”
Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months and the students were already through with their WAEC exams. Their joy was indescribable as they dropped the pen for the conclusion of a phase and unto the next level. On the last day of exam, they congratulated one another with smiles on their faces. They shared gifts and exchanged mobile numbers and addresses, after which they dispersed with happiness.
The school had a valedictory service for the students and there was a dress code which was blue and white. The students appeared in all shades of blue and white with different attires and designs. Some boys were in suites while some in native Agbada with different style of caps to go with it. Some of the girls wore simple English attire while some were in native. The hall witnessed different kinds of blues at its best.
The ceremony hall was filled to the brim with the graduants, parents, teachers and other students of the school who had come to felicitate with the graduating students. The principal gave a welcome speech and the principal’s speech all at once.
She welcomed everyone present to the august occasion. She stated that it was the 20th valedictory celebration and she also recalled the achievement of the school so far.
“While some school principal battled with student’s iniquity such as lesbianism, gayism, boyfriend/girlfriend illicit relationship and other evils, I am proud to tell you that none of the above mentioned ever happened in my school. My students are well disciplined and morally upright children with whom I’m well pleased with and proud of. I want to admonish the graduating students about life after secondary school. Secondary school is not the end of academic pursuit. In fact, it is the beginning, so I’ll urge you to go as far as possible. Dream high and achieve your dreams with focus and determination. When you get to higher institution, don’t lose focus. Don’t join bad gang. Do not join cultism. And as for the girls, do not join the caliber of girls who sleeps with men for money. They call them ‘Aristo hunters’ Be contented with whatever your parents gives to you and if what your parents gives you is not enough, you can engage in petty businesses right there on campus to support your parents. You can sell recharge cards, under wears and anything that can fetch you money. Study hard and don’t sleep with lecturer for marks. Hold tight to your dignity as a woman and don’t sell out yourself cheaply to a man for whatever reason. May you excel in life and be greater than your parents and teachers.”
“Aamin.” There was a resounding reply in the hall.
After the principal’s speech, other activities were done and it was time for prize giving to students who had excelled in various subjects. The chemistry teacher, Mr Adigun mounted the podium to announce the names of the students that were worthy of accolades. The hall was silent and all wanted to hear the names of the outstanding students.
“Best student in Mathematics: Hamzah Bello.” Mr Adigun called and a deafening applaud trailed Hamzah as he walked to the podium to collect his gift.
Best Student in English: Habeebah Adetola.” Habeebah walked out with smiles to collect her gift amidst high applaud.
“Best student in Chemistry: Khadijah Oniru.”
“Best Student in Physics: Khadijah Oniru.”
“Best student in biology: Khadijah Oniru.”
“Best Student in Geography: Khadijah Oniru.”
“Best Student in Economics: Khadijah Oniru.” Khadijah was called out simultaneously for five times. She wouldn’t reach her seat before she hears her name again. She beamed with smiles and glowed with pride. She basked in the euphoria of the meritorious applaud that greeted her appearance each time she was being called upon.
“Best student in Further mathematics: Hamzah Bello.”
“Best student in Agricultural science: Hamzah Bello.”
“Best student in Civic Education: Habeebah Adetola.”
“Best student in history: Abass Abanikanda.”
The science students were called out, followed by the commercial and arts students.
“Best student overall: Khadijah Oniru.” Khadijah got up again to collect the price for the best student overall with smiles and feeling of fulfillment. Her hands were already full with prizes and her mum got up to relieve her hands of the overflowing gifts.
The teachers and other students celebrated her. They congratulated her for the win while she beamed with smiles. Her win came when she freed her heart from bitterness, egoism and self importance. Her win came when she was no longer fighting for it and allowed it happened naturally.
The ceremony ended with closing prayers after which there was merrymaking. Khadijah was with her family when Abass walked up to her. He congratulated her but trust Abass, his congratulation came with a tease.
“Congratulations Khadijah! We’re indeed proud of you. Adam’s exit really paved way for your win.” Abass said and surprisingly, Khadijah didn’t argue with him.
“Well, somehow.” Khadijah replied simply with a smile.
“You’ve really changed Khadijah. Adam’s exit indeed made you glow like globacom.”
“On the contrary, I wasn’t happy that he left, but I agree it would have been his win. But he got a better win with the scholarship don’t you think?”
“Yeah I agree. Harvard is a better win. Say me well to him when you get to Harvard.” Abass said.
“I am not sure I’m still going to Harvard again.”
“Why, because you despise Adam so much?”
“No, I do not despise Adam. I do not despise Adam. I do not despise Adam.” She reiterated with a head shake.
“So, why won’t you be going to Harvard again?”
“Abass, curiosity kills the cat. Don’t try to know too much, byeeeeeeeeeeee.” Khadijah said, opened the car door, entered and closed the door immediately before Abass brings up another trouble.
Several months later, on the campus, Khadijah was walking alongside two other girls to the department when her eyes caught a familiar face about to enter one of the lecture hall. She left her friends and ran to catch up but before she could get there, the person had left.
She went back to her friends with lots of thought on her head. She was very sure of the person she saw but couldn’t understand what he was doing in that particular department. She was already leaving with her friends when the person she saw earlier came out of the lecture hall and walking towards her direction. She clicked her hands together having seen that the person is truly who she thought he was. She thought of what to do to call his attention. She called out his name but the distance was a barrier. She picked up a stone and threw it but the stone ran passed his head.
She gave up in dejection and was walking away with her friends when she heard her name from behind. She turned to see who it was and exclaimed with a lit face.
“Do you want to break my head with a stone?” He asked with a smile.
“Did you see me?” She marveled.
“Yes I do. And I recognized you immediately. Why won’t I recognize the almighty Khadijah.”
“You ain’t serious. Please don’t call me almighty again.” She said with a head shake.
“Very well noted. I saw you when I wanted to enter the hall. So how are you? I thought you said you ain’t coming to Harvard.” He teased.
“I changed my mind, more so when my dad thought this is the best for me.”
“You had no other school in mind before, I’m sure. You wanted to avoid Harvard because of me.” Adam said with a smile.
“Don’t even think you know me, Mr man.”
“I probably know you more than you know yourself. I know your fears and thank God my exit made you realize your dreams.”
“How did you know of my win?”
“Anat told me.”
“You guys still connect?” Khadijah screamed and she had let out the scream before realizing it has a jealousy undertone.
“Yes, we do get in touch, every other day.” He replied simply.
“I see. So what are you doing in the medical faculty? I thought you’re studying aeronautic engineering!”
“Yes I should study aeronautic engineering but Harvard don’t have that. I had to switch to medical.”
“I see. I have you to contend with again.”
“Not anymore. I am one year ahead remember!”
“I know, just teasing.” Khadijah replied with a smile.
“Now tell me about our old school mates. Tell me what I missed while away. Tell me about Anat…………” Adam was saying when Khadijah interrupted sharply
“That name again! Gosh. Why should I tell you about Anat when you guys gets in touch every other day? My friends are waiting, I gat to go.” Khadijah said and left Adam standing to join her friends.