While the students waited to collect their refreshment, they had a chance to interact with each other. Some students from the private schools came up to Farida to talk to her. Farida already felt like one of them. She walked and talked like them. She no longer felt intimidated.
‘What course will you like to study?” one of them asked. Farida was so happy she had that discussion with Madam Joyce the night before. It would have been embarrassing to say she didn’t know.
“That’s a very good course. You speak very well, I thought you would say Law. I want to study Law.”
“That’s nice. Which of the universities are you considering?”
“University of Lagos of course. I have to be a Unilag babe. What of you?”
“Any Federal university will be fine” Farida answered.
‘No, you should have a choice. Unilag is a federal university. Where are you from?”
“I am from Kwara State”
“You have a Federal University there now which I hear might be good. Maybe you could consider it. It will be easier to get in there”
“Why not Unilag?” Farida asked.
“It is not easy to gain admission into Unilag. Even students from private secondary schools don’t gain admission and most times it is who you know that can help. Who do you know?”
Her friends giggled and some nodded in affirmation. They made it sound as though Farida could not qualify. They talked about other universities that were also difficult to get into which some of them were considering. Farida smiled as they spoke. At that moment, Farida decided she was going to attend Unilag and she would study Economics.
“I will attend Unilag, I don’t need to know anybody to achieve that” and she walked away. Whatever it would take for her to get into that school she was willing to do it. She still had some more work cut out for her. She needed to know the fees and what she would require in school.
Now she had finished secondary school. She had put in her very best. Madam Joyce was of tremendous help to her. She helped her choose her subjects for WAEC and advised on the subjects to concentrate on.
“If you want to study Economics, you need to concentrate on getting very good grades in Mathematics, English, Economics, Commerce and Biology. These are the WAEC subjects you will require to gain admission into the university. For Jamb, you will write English, Mathematics, Economics and Commerce. Mathematics in Jamb is very difficult so I will advise that you attend a lesson for it after your WAEC. Buy Jamb past questions and practice every day. I am certain if you do what I say, you will pass. What university are you considering?”
“University of Lagos, Unilag.”
“This is very ambitious. I believe you, Farida, can do it. I will support you by paying for your Jamb form and getting you the past questions. Take care of your WAEC fees”
“I have the money for the Jamb form already ma”
“How did you do it?”
“I started saving for it since last year and then my mother added to make it up”
“Your mother is lucky to have a daughter like you”
Farida had put in her best in her WAEC exams. She was positive about the outcome. She was scared of the Jamb. She knew she needed Jamb lessons, especially in Mathematics. There was a school at Isolo where they held Jamb lessons. She told maami about it. The fees were a bit expensive but Maami’s problem was transportation.
“If I can get the lesson money, I don’t mind trekking”
“It is too far my daughter. I know you really want to attend the lesson but the distance is not encouraging”
“How do I pass this Jamb now? How do I enter into Unilag?” Farida asked soberly.
“You can pass it reading by yourself. Anyone you don’t know; you can go to your school Mathematics teacher to teach you. You have past questions; study them by yourself”
Farida was not happy about this setback but she was determined to get a high score in Jamb since she didn’t know anyone in Unilag. During her brooding period, sister Chioma saw her sitting outside and asked her what the matter was. She told her about the lesson she would not be able to attend.
When it was a week to the Jamb examination, her friend, Aisha, called her and told her she could get expo to the Jamb questions. Her problem was to she was not very bright so she needed a smart person to answer them for her to carry into the hall. Farida was shocked and at the same time proud that she thought she could have the answers to the questions. She told her she was not interested in the expo but if she comes with questions for her to teach her, then she would but she would not allow her copy it and carry into the hall. Aisha agreed.
“They are ok. I can study those myself”
“If that is the case, concentrate on them. Make sure you read them very well. Practice the Mathematics to the best of your ability. If you get 75% in English, 75% in Economic, 80% in Commerce and 40% in Mathematics what is the total?”
“That will get you into Unilag on Merit. If you score higher in Mathematics then you can imagine what will happen”
Farida cheered up immediately. There was no need wasting her money paying for Jamb lesson.
Her friends that attended Jamb lessons came back with tales of the boys in their lessons and the things they did. They didn’t sound serious to her. She borrowed their notebooks to read when they got back especially their Mathematics note which she practised all night.
When it was a week to the Jamb examination, her friend, Aisha, called her and told her she could get expo to the Jamb questions. Her problem was that she was not very bright so she needed a smart person to answer them for her to carry into the hall. Farida was shocked and at the same time proud that she thought she could have the answers to the questions. She told her she was not interested in the expo but if she comes with questions for her to teach her, then she would but she would not allow her copy it and carry into the hall. Aisha agreed.
When she mentioned it to sister Chioma, she told her most of the expos they come out with are fake. They sell them to unserious students who stupidly take them into the hall and at the end still fail.
“If she comes, use the expo as practice for your exam but don’t depend on it. I am telling you from experience. Practise the mathematics so you have an idea of likely questions. Don’t take written answers with you into the hall. If you get caught you can be imprisoned and you will still fail”
Farida never believed in shortcuts to anything. She worked hard for anything she wanted. She was working very hard for her admission to the University of Lagos. She would not allow anything or anyone jeopardize her chances.
The night before the examination, Aisha was at her house at 8pm. She called her aside and said, ‘Farida, you can’t sleep. Please teach us some of the English and mathematics”
“It is late. I can’t do that now” she replied while looking suspiciously at the guys in her company.
Aisha turned her face to back her, “Please Farida, you are the only one I can trust will get it right. Please teach us” There were four of them Aisha and three other guys.
At that moment, maami came out and asked what they wanted. Aisha explained that they came for last-minute coaching from Farida. She asked them to come in. Luckily, brother Chris had connected their apartment to his generator so Farida could read at night for her exams since power supply had been epileptic.
They sat on the floor in the small sitting room around the centre table Farida was reading on before they came. Maami excused them and went into the room. One of the guys who came with Aisha brought out some papers hidden under his shirt. They selected English first. Farida worked with them and they answered all the questions. They finished in 45 mins. They picked Economics and they answered everything at about the same time. Then they brought out Mathematics. Mathematics took a longer time than they expected. They spent over an hour on Mathematics but to their greatest surprise, Farida seemed to be very knowledgeable in it.
One of the boys banged the table in annoyance and said “I swear, I wasted my time in that lesson. If we had paid this girl to be teaching us and we had practised like this we would not need to be looking for expo up and down. She is very smart.”
“It’s true, you should teach people writing WAEC and Jamb. You are very good” the guy said.
Farida wasn’t offering Government or CRK but she still taught them from her knowledge from Secondary school. They left her house at almost 1:00am. They were all happy and fulfilled.
At exactly 6:00am the next morning, her mother woke her up.
‘Your water is in the bathroom and your clothes and shoes have been prepared for you. Go and get ready”
By the time she was out, a small loaf of bread, bean cake (akara) and tea had been set on the table for her.
‘I am not hungry maami. I will be late; I have to get there latest 7:30am.”
“My daughter, eat something. You don’t know how long you will wait. Just have something in your stomach” Maami pleaded with her eyes.
Farida tore a piece of the bread with two pieces of akara and ate. She downed it with the tea. She was set. Her pencil case had all her documents and writing materials which she put in a sling bag. She wore a long flowery dress with a belt. She had bought it at the night market many months ago specially for this day. She wore a pair of black sandals which she reserved for special occasions. She packed her hair into a bun, rubbed powder on her face and a colourless lip gloss. Her mother handed her a lunch bag. She opened it and inside it was a bottle of water, an apple, tangerine, biscuit and chin chin.
“Just in case you are hungry. Take this N100 and hold too” Maami added. She was so proud of her daughter. She could see how determined she was to excel and it made her so happy. She was a daughter every mother desired. Even though her reason for doing all these were wrong, she wanted her to realise it herself someday.
When Farida came outside her gate, there was a commercial motorcycle referred to as bike waiting for her.
“Are you auntie Farida” the rider asked.
‘Yes,” Farida answered.
“One brother pay me to carry you to your centre. He said I should wait for you until you finish and bring you back”
Farida and her mother looked at each other surprised. Who could that be?
“Na one of the brothers wey come your house yesterday night. Na me bring them come. So he say make I carry you reach there quick, wait bring you back”
Farida smiled. This was their small way of paying her as she refused to collect anything from them. This was nice, she would get to her centre in good time. Luckily it was less than 5km from her house. She mounted the motorcycle and they left.
Farida got there at exactly 7:25am. She walked in and registered her name. The invigilators did not arrive until about 8:30am for an examination that was to start by 9:00am. They waited for them to write the examination numbers on the desks and then call them into the classes. When they were settled, they gave them the first question paper, the answer sheet and they began. As Farida turned over the English question which was general, she discovered that what they studied last night was replicated on the question paper word for word. She was in a state of shock for some minutes before she got herself and answered the questions. It was the same for all the other questions except for Commerce which she didn’t have the questions for.
After the examination, she walked to the gate in a trance. It was the motorcycle rider that jolted her back to reality. She mounted the motorcycle and went home. She greeted her family and told them the examination was ok. She took a shower and then went to sleep; she didn’t have enough sleep the night before.
By 7:00pm, Aisha was in her house. She came outside to see her. Aisha jumped on Farida happily. “You are a godsent. If not for you I would have been moping in that hall. My friends are outside the gate and they want to thank you”.
“It is not necessary. I wanted to ask you; how did you get those questions?”
“It was Wale o. He paid to get it from a man that worked in Jamb. The man warned him not to show it to anyone except the person that would solve it for him. When he mentioned it to me, I told him I have a smart babe who is a friend and can be trusted. So, he came with his friends. Only five of us know about this. He had destroyed the questions; there is no evidence. The secret is safe with us”
“I was shocked in the exam hall”
“So was I. I danced in the hall but they didn’t know why. Thank God you insisted on us studying together. We all remembered what we learnt. The guys are waiting, they want to take us out”
“Out? Where to?”
Aisha excitedly replied, “Wale wants to spoil you. His father is very rich. He is a big importer and contractor. He also owns a group of schools and filling stations in Lagos and Ogun states. Wale is the last born. He can’t afford to fail and disappoint his father. He is the only son of his mother who is the last wife. The father believes his mother is spoiling him. So, if he passes WAEC and Jamb very well, the father will start spending on him well. You understand?”
Farida shook her head. “You have not answered my question. Where is he taking us to?”
“To an eatery to celebrate”
“How are we going?”
“He has a car. We are driving there and we will bring you back. Why so many questions?”
“I have to tell maami before I go anywhere and she has to know it is with boys. Please tell them to come inside and greet her like they did yesterday and tell her where they are taking me”
Aisha looked at her confused. Why would she need permission from her mother to go out? Is she not even ashamed of her house? They just managed to stay there yesterday because of what they wanted. If not that Wale insisted on Farida coming along, she didn’t want her to come. She felt too superior to others, carrying her nose up and speaking like she had hot potatoes in her mouth in an attempt to sound foreign. She was so fake; she didn’t know what Wale and the others saw in her. Since she insisted, she went out to tell them.
“Guys, I think we should go. She wants us to greet her mother and let her know where we are taking her. I don’t see the need for that”
Wale smiled. It was like he expected. He stepped out of his car. His two other friends Tunde and Dominic joined him. Aisha was surprised when they entered into Farida’s compound. She swiftly joined them. Farida was equally shocked when she opened the door and saw them. What she said to Aisha was to discourage them from taking her out but here they were.
“Good evening ma” they greeted Iya Farida.
“Good evening my children. How were your exams?”
“We have Farida to thank ma. All she taught us yesterday night came out. That’s why we are here. We want to take her out to show appreciation” Wale responded.
“The commercial motorcycle you sent this morning wasn’t a good enough reward?”
“No ma, that was for taking her time. For teaching us and the questions came out, we want to take her out. Aisha will be there too”
“Farida, would you like to go?” Iya Farida asked her daughter noticing the discomfort on her face. Farida’s friends had reduced over the years because of the kind of work she did. It was time she made new friends especially with boys. She was scared Farida was scarred from that brother Ade’s experience but her infatuation with brother Chris which phased out to brotherly love encouraged her. These boys didn’t look harmful and as a mother, she would still sound her warning.
“I am too tired to go anywhere” Farida responded.
“You don’t need to do anything; we will drive you there and bring you back” Wale