"Number 45 - 50. Oyah enter oo" the coordinator announced. (Get in)
A group of people noisily filed into the small classroom that was used for the JAMB registration. The coordinator cross-checked their names on a list at the entrance of the classroom to avoid people from acting smart.
I was currently at a state government owned University that was being used as a JAMB registration center. A large crowd of people were situated outside the building, some gallivanting around and other seated on anything that could be used as a seat as they waited to get their registration done.
JAMB (Joint Admission Matriculation Board) was a organization that dealt with the admissions of people into the various Universities in Nigeria. The Jamb examinations were compulsory for every person who wanted to attend a university in Nigeria. The examinations were held every year and before that people would have to register for the examinations in person.
The scorching hot sun shining down us made the whole experience even more stressful than it already was. When I had done my JAMB registration a couple years back, the procedure wasn't as tedious as it was now. Back then, you could register in any cyber cafe but now registration for the exam was only done in specific centers accredited by the JAMB officials.
I wasn't surprised though this is Nigeria, a country where we work tirelessly to make things harder for others.
I asked for the day off because of the sole purpose of registration and since Chioma had returned to work, it didn't really affect anything.
"Please, what are they asking for?" A girl not older than 17 years asked the guy sitting next to me.
The boy looked at the files in his hand before he replying. "You have to meet that man standing there first. He'll ask you to pay 3k (three thousand Naira) and then--"
I tuned out the rest of their conversation. I had already gone through all those procedures, I was just waiting for the main registration exercise like most of the people sitting on the elevated pavement with me.
I released a tired sigh follows by a yawn. This was the third yawn in one hour and I wasn't even close to getting attended to. I was No. 68 on the list and they were still attending to the last five people called in.
I let my eyes roam around the rowdy crowd of people and my eyes fell on a fair young girl. She was standing under the shade of a gmelina tree, talking to a group of two girls and a guy. She detached herself from the group and looked around for any signs of the coordinator. With no sight of the man anywhere close, she squared her shoulders and walked into the registration room with confidence as if she had been asked to.
Not many people saw her because of how rowdy and noisy the place was and those who did assumed she had been asked to go into the room because of how confident she looked. Seconds later, the coordinator returned to his position in front of the door, he looked his head into the room briefly before turning his gaze to the list in his hand. He didn't suspect a thing.
I chuckled at her craftiness, I wouldn't be surprised if she said she had lived in Lagos. Lagos was one place that required a decent amount of street smartness to survive in.
Lagos people no dey carry last.
I decided to stretch my legs by going for a walk, I had been seated at one spot for over an hour and my bum was becoming numb. I used my small fancy napkin to wipe the beads of perspiration that formed on my forehead before returning the napkin to my bag.
"Ah ahn, fine girl"
I looked up to find the JAMB co-ordinator heading in my direction. He was a very dark and tall man. As he got closer, his facial features became more and more clear. He had deep sunken eyes, a broad wide nose and a protruding bottom lips which were very dark as a result of frequent smoking. He was probably in his mid or late forties.
"Are you here for the registration?" He asked
"Yes" I nodded
"Have you paid the three thousand Naira?" His eyes roamed around the surrounding before returning to me.
"What's your number?" He inquired
"68?! That's far oo" he stated.
He looked over the crowd of people for a couple of seconds like he was pondering on something.
"Come with me" he said before leading the way to the registration room.
I could feel dozens of eyes on me as I walked behind him. Some people would think that I knew him from somewhere but I didn't. I don't know his reasons for helping me neither did I care, I was just happy that I would be able to leave here sooner.
I was finally done with my registration, thanks to the coordinator who helped me get in earlier. After I had walked into the registration room, it took an hour before I was attended to. Different unprecedented things just kept coming up like the laptops tripping off, or the network disconnecting, or the thumb printing device malfunctioning.
I was walking down a narrow foot path that would take me to the bus stop. Luckily, the intensity of the sun wasn't as bad as before and there was the occasional movement of warm breeze hitting me.
"Hello!! Fine girl"
I heard from behind me, I had a feeling that the person was trying to get my attention but I pretended to not hear it. A group of guys standing by a car ahead of me, flagged at me to get my attention.
"That man dey call you" one of them said as he pointed behind me. (That man is calling you)
I inwardly groaned before turning around to see the said man. It was the Jamb coordinator. I plastered a fake smile on my face.
"Ah ahn. I've been calling you since" he approached me in fast, long strides.
I made a surprised face. "Ohhh, I didn't know. I'm sorry, sir"
He smiled, exposing his golden brown teeth. "No problem. So, what's that your name?"
"Ah, Ijeoma. Such a beautiful name" he said
I faked a small laugh to indulge him, he helped me after all.
"What course did you say you're going for?" He asked
I knew where this conversation was leading to. This right here, every Nigerian girl has faced this 'older man disturbance' at least three times in their life.
"Business Administration" I said
"So you want to be a business woman?" He said jocosely and chuckled.
This man should just go straight to the point.
"Anyways, I want us to be friends. You're a very pretty girl and I would like us to be friends. Let me have your number" he said.
Why can't men offer help without seeking for something else in return?
I looked around in hesitation. I couldn't tell him no because he just helped me.
As if sensing my hesitation, he inputted. "I won't disturb you, I promise. I just want us to be friends"
That's what they all say. In fact, the ones who say this are the ones who would disturb the hell out of you. I would normally say 'no' straight up but I knew men like you, they would emotionally blackmail you for the number.
"08125647--" I called out.
He quickly placed a call to me, just to make sure I was giving him the right number. Once my phone began to ring in my bag, he hung up.
"Thank you. I'll call you later" he said
"Okay. What's your name? So I can save it" I indulged him
"Uchendu. You can save it as Uche" he said
I took out my phone. "Sure, no problem"
As I walked away, I tapped the icon on the side of the number and the details popped up. The beautiful five letter words in bold red colors appeared.
I tapped on it with no hesitation. A sly smile made its way to the corner of my lips and a mischievous chuckle bubbled within my chest.
I placed a chaste kiss on Noah's lips as he walked into the living room. He had just gotten back from work.
"Are you okay?" I inquired
He didn't wear his normal 'just finished work' tired look. He actually looked down-spirited, like he received bad news or something bad happened.
"It's fine... I'll be fine. Don't worry about it, how was your day?" He said.
I shook my head. "Nope, I want worry about it. I'm your girlfriend, I need to know what's going on with you"
He let out a deep sigh before walking over to the three-seater sofa. He tapped the spot beside him indicating that I should sit there.
"You know that position I was running for" he said as soon as I sat down.
"Well, to keep it simple... I didn't get it" he said
I instantly felt bad. "Oh my God. I'm so sorry"
He chuckled humorlessly. "It's not your fault"
"But I feel like it is tho... I mean you were taking all those breaks to spend time with Zozo and I" I stated with my head bent low
"Hey, look at me" he placed two fingers under my chin and gently lifted my gaze to him. "it's not your fault. If getting that position means that I can't spend time with you guys, then I don't want it"
This man always gets my heart racing.
I chuckled softly. "It's funny how you're comforting me right now, when it's supposed to be the other way around"
"I just need to see your face to be comforted, so I'm good" he said
I'm so glad that I was brown skinned because I was blushing so hard right now, I could be mistaken for tomatoes.
"Let's get you something to eat"
I quickly stood to my feet in order to hide how profusely I was blushing but he wasn't having it. He held my arm and pulled me back down.
"I'm not hungry" he said before laying down with his head on my laps.
I chuckled before running my fingers through his hair. In no time, he dozed off occasionally letting out soft snores. I traced my fingers over the stress lines on his forehead and they relaxed in seconds.
I couldn't believe how in love I was with this man right here.
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