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Eketi @eketiette
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There are those moments in this life when #timestandsstill. I mean, it’s not in slow motion. Just, still.

Your belly does a little somersault and suddenly, you have the inordinate wish for the earth to open to a depth of twenty feet and swallow you.
Your breath hitches and intense panic blossoms in your chest and…you get the picture.

These moments can happen when you’re caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Like stealing meat from the pot of stew. Or having an ex post your nudes on the internet.
The intensity of the moment varies, depending on what you did. Like when someone slaps you—the pain is directly proportional to the number of people who witness it.

Like when I missed my period in JSS3 and my best friend Edidiong insisted I was pregnant.
“Impossible!” I’d retorted. “I’ve never had sex.”

“Did Omokhafe not hug you when you came to school yesterday? You’re pregnant jor.”

See, my mother was a Biology teacher. I knew that the chances of me ever getting pregnant through an innocent hug shared with a friend, was zero.
But the mind - the mind is a funny thing. If you feed it enough material and ask it to believe, it will create its own reality.

And so it was that even though I knew the facts, my mind convinced me to doubt.

What if? Ah, Mama will kill me! I’ll be excommunicated from church.
What will people say? My Christian testimony will be ruined. Parents will use me as an example of bad behaviour. I’d have to drop out of school. My life is over.

That’s how I started fretting o. I cried and cried; I couldn’t eat for a week. Until the darn period resurfaced.
Anyway, that let-the-ground-open-up-and-swallow-me was worse the day Mr Timothy caught me and Ekemini in class after school, alone.

You see, what happened was…I had a crush on Ekemini. One, that when I think back on it today, I want to kick myself ten ways to Sunday.
Because he capitalised on my affection and made me copy copious notes for him after school. Now that I think about it, I wonder what he used to do in class when everyone else was taking notes.

But I was in love with him that time sha. So, I didn’t mind.

Hearing myself say that:
School had just closed that day. At the closing bell, students poured out of their classes. In no time, our class was empty save for me, Ekemini and two other students; a boy and his girlfriend.

My Crush was trying to convince me to stay back and copy twenty pages of notes.
I was doing small shakara. I even got up and went to one of the numerous windows that lined the wall.

I was there looking out at Hall 7, a hostel for medical students, when suddenly, I felt his warm hand on my bum.

Now, I want to lie and say I didn't like it. But I won't.
For a fifteen year old girl whose only contact to male sexual expression until then had been one of sexual abuse, this was different.

The frisson of pleasure that shot through my frame was undeniable. So was the terror I felt.
Like, why did it feel so good? Mum was right. This is how these boys will make you like something and then boom! You’re pregnant.

I was trying to decide whether to shove his hand away or pretend I didn’t notice it, while enjoying the feeling, when I heard a loud voice behind us.
“Ehen! Look at these children o!”

We both whipped around at these words.
Heaven’s angels and my ancestors!

It was our English teacher, Mr Alexander Timothy. My second favourite teacher ever. God, let me just die here. Mbok. Biko. E jo o. Abeg. Please. Kuku kee me.
“So, this is what you do after school when you’re supposed to go home and help your parents, eh? Will you get out of here. NOW!”

He stood there, holding the door open and pointing outside, his expression part annoyance and part amusement.

I was so embarrassed!
I wanted to tell him that no, I was just about to remove the hand o. But I was too ashamed.

Without looking at Ekemini, I scurried out of the class, fast. Then I remembered that my schoolbag was still inside.

I trudged back head bowed, mumbled an inaudible excuse as I walked...
....past Mr Timothy, picked up my bag and dashed out again. I heard the door shut behind me.

Do you know the most painful part of this?

The other guy and his bae, who happened to have sat at the back of the class in a corner, had gone unnoticed.
They, who were an actual couple, who’d even been kissing, hadn’t been caught. It was innocent me getting touched for the first time. Life is so unfair.

All the way home, I prayed like I’d never prayed before.

"God please don't let Mr Timothy tell any other teacher.
Especially Mrs M and Mrs U—they’ll tell Mummy and I’ll be dead for sure.”

“God, if you do this for me, I’ll never ask you for anything else in this life.”

I prayed till I fell asleep at night. By morning, I was convinced that my fervent prayers had been answered.
Imagine my shock when just before break time, Mr Timothy sent for me. Hay God! All these small small deaths I’m dying like this, are you not tired?

With hesitant steps and a heart filled with trepidation, I went into the staff room. His desk was at the far end of the room.
As I walked past the Commerce teacher, Mrs Iheanacho’s desk, she looked up from the sheaves of paper on her desk, at me. I felt the accusation in her gaze.

Next to her sat Mr Uzo, the Economics teacher, whom we’d nicknamed Seaman’s Aromatic Schnapps on account of his droopy...
...eyes which made him look tipsy. That one gave me a side glance and then quickly looked away.

The only person who smiled at me on that long, tortuous journey was Mrs Obule, the Literature teacher. She was my most favourite teacher and was ever so nice. Her smile gave me hope.
Maybe none of them knew. Maybe I was imagining the mean looks from the other teachers.

I was thinking this, when I arrived at Mr Timothy’s desk. He was marking some scripts, and asked me to wait. After a few minutes he looked up at me. Then he smiled. And shook his head.
“Eketi,” he said.


“How are you?”

“Fine, sir,” I replied.

Lowering his voice, he said, “Look, I don’t want to know what happened in that class yesterday. I understand that you’re young.”

I nodded vigorously like he was saying the most profound thing ever.
“But you’re a beautiful, intelligent and smart enough place yourself above stupid adolescent groping while in secondary school. Act like it. Make better choices. That’s all. You can go back to your class.”

I tell you, I just stood there, unable to process the words. Like, huh?
"I said you can return to your class," he repeated.

My people, just like that, Olowogbogboro did it. Disaster was averted.

And that same day, my crush for Ekemini died. After school, he asked me to copy his notes. Again. I’d have loved to oblige but I refused.
My baby sister, who was in JSS1, was whining about being hungry and wanted to go home.
I told him this. Know what he said?

“You’re putting your sister above me? See ehn, if you don’t copy them, you know that pretty girl who lives on our street?
I’ll ask her to be my girlfriend. I’ll touch her bum instead.”

I wa flabbergasted.

My heart was about to shatter into a thousand pieces when I remembered Mr Timothy’s words. I was above this.

I picked up my schoolbag and walked out of that classroom, head held high.

The End.

I’m glad to say that Ekemini grew into a fine gentleman.

Also, a few months ago, Mr Timothy found me on Facebook and sent a message saying, “You grew up to be the woman I knew you’d be. I’m proud of you.”

Wait. Lemme….arrggggh….someone is spraying onion juice here.
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