by Daniel Nkado
Ngozika sat in front of her door, mulling over her life.
She had just called Mama in the village and they haven’t seen where to borrow the money yet.
If by next week and she has not paid her school fees, she would definitely miss the exam.
And that would then mean her death. Because she would kill herself. She would drink poison, or run through the expressway.
She can’t survive not graduating with her mates. She can’t bear the pain of an extra year at all.
Now in her mind, she asked poverty for the millionth time what she and her family had done to offend him.
As always, she got no response and felt the more miserable.
A car honked outside the gate, diverting her attention.
A moment later, a black Honda swung into the compound and came to a halt just in front of her door.
It was Femi, and his new car.
Ngozika hated life the more.
While the whole of her family could not afford to raise just N20,000 for her school fees, someone, a fellow student, was busy changing cars.
A Honda this semester, a Toyota the next one.
And he must always park them in front of her door, and laugh and scream out loud whenever he talked, just so her misery would remain intact.
Ngozika stroked off the line of tear trickling down her face and stood to walk inside.
Gripping the handle of her door to open it, she heard, ‘Sup babes!’
With every inch of strength she has left within, she called on a smile and turned.
‘Good day, Kemi,’ she greeted.
He smiled. That way he usually did that all his dentition came on display, his rich white dentition. ‘It’s Femi,’ he said and did something like jiggle his car keys. ‘Reminding you again.’
‘Sorry,’ Ngozika apologized.
‘It’s okay. So why are you sitting down here looking so sad?’
‘You heard me.’
She attempted another smile. ‘I’m fine.’
‘Talk to me, I’m listening,’ Femi said instead.
‘I said I’m fine.’
‘What a terrible liar you are.’ He leapt over the short cement demarcation of the house and came to stand in her front. ‘Come on, you can tell me whatever the matter is.’
Defeated, Ngozika threw her mouth open and started to cry. ‘Exams are around the corner and I still haven’t paid my fees yet!’
‘Is that all?’
Ngozika’s eyes ran to him. A new emotion quickly mixed with her grief.
However can the rich understand the sorrows of the poor?
‘Follow me, I will give you the money,’ Femi told her.
‘I said follow me.’
She looked and he was already heading to his door.
Dazedly, Ngozika ambled behind him.
Inside his room, tastefully furnished and sweet smelling, Femi asked her to sit.
‘No, I’m fine,’ she said.
He looked at her and shrugged in concession.
Turning to head to the inner room, his phone’s alarm started to beep.
‘Aw!’ he said and turned back. ‘A minute please.’
He walked to his fridge and picked a white drug bottle sitting on the top of it.
He opened it and shook one large brown pill into his palm.
Ngozika stared as he opened the fridge, took a bottle of water and swallowed the pill.
He then entered the inner room and soon came out, counting some Naira notes.
‘Are you sick?’ Ngozika asked him.
‘What?’ His eyes ran to the fridge. ‘Oh, that’s my meds. The doctor advised I set an alarm so I won’t always forget.’
‘Malaria?’ Ngozi asked.
Femi smiled. ‘No, HIV. Just so you know, I was born with it, so please don’t judge.’ He extended the cash to her. ‘Take, that’s thirty thousand naira for your school fees.’
Ngozika’s eyes froze on him.