THE FLOWER GIRL EPISODE 5
The cat had been finally let out of the bag and Nneka was expelled from the school. Nneka’s expulsion from the school affected Chidmma so much that she hardly coped with her studies any longer. Her position in the class dropped from 25th to 37th out of 42 pupils in the class. Not that she wasn’t attending classes always nor that her teachers were not teaching very well, but Chidimma’s main problem was that she could hardly commit anything to memory.
Mindless of the fact that she was beautiful down to her handwriting, Chidimma was a scatter-brain. The level with which Chidimma exhibited feeble-mindedness at times would make you spit at her. Chidimma could only manage to spell her English name, Cynthia, correctly.
She could also speak very well, blowing big beautiful grammar and even pronouncing them with white man’s intonation but to write them down would always be wahala.
She should have repeated class four if not for the intervention of her classteacher. Chidimma was among the six pupils that failed Mathematics that year. In Central School, Ukoli, credit passes in six subjects including English and Mathematics were the prerequisite for promotion into a new class.
Though Chidimma got seven credits out of the ten subjects offered in her school, she failed Mathematics woefully with her thirty-eight percent mark. Her teacher, popularly called Aunty Roseline, took a great risk by converting the digit three to five thereby giving her a credit pass in Mathematics. What else could the teacher do to such an obedient child who was liked by many?.
Chidimma was loved by all her teachers because of her good character. She was always obedient, humble. truthful, respectful, gracious and well-mannered. People, both big and small, liked to associate with her. Her classroom teachers were not left out. And the only way they could encourage her was by promoting her whenever she failed any class.
When Chidimma failed primary four, her teacher called her and told her that she had failed. Mathematics and thereby would be denied admission into primary five. Chidimma cried. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“Tears are not what I want to see on your-cheek now. Please cheer up and tell me why you don’t cope with your studies despite all the extra lessons I give you at times.” said Roseline as she drew nearer to her to wipe her tears.
Chidimma had stopped crying but not without sobbing as she leaned on her teacher’s chest who tenderly cuddled her as she was still gently wiping her tears with her handkerchief.
“So tell me. what is the matter with you? Why is it that your performance in Mathematics and other subjects are always below average?”
“My people do not allow me enough time to read my books,” replied Chidimma amidst sobbing and weeping.
“And what do you mean by that?”
“They will always want me to be their flower girl. There is hardly any Saturday I do not participate in one wedding or the other. Few days before that, I have to attend some rehearsals. With all these commitments here and there, I find it difficult going through my books or concentrating on my studies.
At times I hardly do my assignments. Sometime, even when lessons are going on in the class, my mind will be somewhere else as I would be busy thinking on the next outing. In fact I am….” Chidimm began to cry again.
“Okay, I have heard you. It is enough. Please, don’t Cry again. I will make sure you don’t repeat the class as I have decided to take a risk by increasing your marks in Mathematics because that is the only subjects that puts your promotion under serious threat.”
Chidimma was amazed with her teacher’s promise, and she hastily went down on her knees with thanksgiving.
“Aunty, thank you very much. I am very happy for you. I promise I will never relent again…”
“Yes, that’s what I Want to hear from you. Look, whether you are a flower girl or a tomato girl, the most important thing in your life at this age is good education. In future, there May be opportunities in your life that may demand good education.
In fact there is’nothing great you can do in this world without basic education. So, you have to acquire the necessary basic education now so that you can discover and divine your future.”
Chidimma was promoted to primary five. In primary five she met a girl named Tochi.
Tochi was another beautiful girl in Central School, Ukoli. She hailed from Ukoli community. Both Tochi and Chidimma looked alike to the extent that anyone who saw them would call them twins, the difference being that Tochi was shorter and plumper.
Tochi looked physically strong, too. In fact, the two girls were identical only in beauty but they were completely two different people when compared based on their character. Tochi was a very saucy girl. She was very ruthless, reckless and nude.
Tochi was among those that were not promoted to enter primary six and thereby repeating the class where Chidimma met her. Primary five was also her first class in that school.
The first school she attended was in Onitsha where she lived with her parents, It happened that her aging grandmother had wanted her to come and stay with her. It was as a result of that that Tochi was transferred from Onitsha to Ukoli.
Tochi, not minding that she was not yet in her final year, was ranked among the ‘big girls’ in the school. The reason being that her father was rich and that affected the type of life she was living in the school. She was always throwing money around. Always dressing neatly and richly in her school uniform, Tochi was in deed in the pink.
In fact she was among a few pupils in Central School, Ukoli that wore sandals and white stockings to school quite unlike Chidimma who went to school daily on bare foot.
Tochi’s former school was a private school and when transferred to the public school in Ukoli, she carried on with he neat attire to her new school. This made her to look different from others, but she had a bad character and teachers hated her for that.
Apart from being together in thesame class, there was no other thing that connected Chidimma and Tochi. They were not friends, neither were they in a study group. One morning when their class teacher was dope with their second lesson, Chidimma brought out a golden necklace which Oluoma had recently sent to her from the United States and also a letter attached to it that she had just been delivered of her second baby.
When Chidimna brought out the wrist watch, the entire members of the class, including Tochi, gathered around her to catch a glance of the beautiful golden necklace.
Chidimma equally revealed to them that she had been receiving various gifts from couples for whom she had performed as a flower girl in their wedding ceremonies. She also went further mentioning their names.
Tochi’s countenance changed when she heard Chidimma mention Chibueze. The way and manner with which Tochi looked at Chidimma made her to smell a rat. She thought that Tochi was envying her wrist watch, and then she quickly put it back inside her bag. All the pupils dispersed and went back to their seats, so also was Tochi.
Tochi never thought that she would in her life again meet Chidimma not to talk of sharing the same class with her. Tochi was Chibueze’s niece. Before Chibueze returned from America for the wedding, Tochi had been tipped to act as a flower girl in that wedding. In fact, Chibueze had sewn a special dress for her and equally bought a pair of foreign shoes, and a beautiful hat which she should wear on that wedding day.
Even on the day Chibueze returned from America, he called Tochi and showed her the clothes, shoes and hat which he had bought for her to wear on that wedding day. He released them to her but asked her never to wear them until on the D-day. Tochi was full of smiles and she was full of excitement too all through the days.
Later on, things changed dramatically. Some peopple had advised Chibueze that there lived a young beautiful virgin in Oseh whom they would like him to contract for the job of a flower girl. Chibueze, in conjunction with his wife, developed interest in the said girl and he then went to Oseh in search of the girl named Chidimma. Under Tochi’s korokoro eyes, Chibueze retrieved those dresses and handed them over to Chidimma, a girl just like her.
Tochi was therefore highly bittered. She cried for the whole day and lost her appetite for food for days even on the wedding day. She never attended the wedding because she couldn’t bear it watching a girl like her putting on the attire that rightfully belonged to her.
Tochi’s anger did not last long because after the wedding, Chibueze returned to-America and Chidimma went back to her town thereby keeping her two enemies at a distance. For those years, Tochi had never remembered such unpleasant incident until that day in the class when Chidimma reminded her of her past.
“This girl can’t go free this time. I must take my pound of flesh,” Tochi vowed.
The school had closed for the day and everyone had began to trek home. Tochi’s way home and that of Chidimma were not on the same route. Instead of Tochi to follow her own direction, she and her bosom friend, Amarachi, kept following Chidimma at the back. Chidimma never sensed any danger use she could hardly remember having any notch up with Tochi.
Even in the school, both hardly talked nor paired together, but what surprised her was where Tochi was, going and the two friends had refused to walk pass her even when atimes she slowed down to allow them pass. Ugomma, a little girl ‘from primary three who lived not too far from Chidimma’s house, was the only one with Chidimma. Ugomma was the only child of one of the Akpunku’s wives.
Since the expulsion of Nneka from the school, it was Ugomma and Chidimma that used to trek home together from school.