Sitting on the floor in front of her unfenced old house, Ranti stared at the three little tattered kids playing happily with a can of sand.
It’s been close to a year since she left secondary school. The feared future of every secondary school student.
Being out of secondary school had it’s beauty; no more uniform dresses, uniform hairstyles, uniform shoes, terrible food, bullying and the usual elements present in an average boarding school.
Her cheeks were now so big, everyone called her “Orobo”.
Post Utme result would be out soon, “God please let it not be another year”, she silently prayed
“I miss Chizoba, Adesewa, Mercy… everyone”, her heart heavily cried.
The memories of glorious past friendships laid heavily within her, a weighty burden resting on her little fragile heart.
The moment her best friend Gina gained admission before her, things slowly started to change. The everyday chats and phone calls slowly declined to twice a week, always initiated by her and never Gina. “School’s stressful, you cannot understand the feeling” was her excuse. It was an arrow into Ranti’s caring soul but 6years of friendship kept her silent as she endured the one-word replies and very late replies from Gina.
“I think I’ve had enough. Friendship is supposed to end someday anyway”, she bravely decided.
They first met on the first day in junior school. Bunkmates both crying with mucus running down their nostrils slowly seeping into their opened mouths and their house wear as wide as a door, almost reaching their toes. They hugged each other and cried, little 9year old girls on their first day away from home.
They were known as “Grant”, a combination of both names and a beautiful reminder of the splendor of friendship.
The long six-year journey through secondary school finally came to an end on their Valedictory service. Unlike the private school graduation parties with loud music, food and dancing, theirs was a solemn ceremony – a respectful goodbye to six long years.
With tears rolling down the graduates cheeks as they hugged one another in goodbye, they each promised the other frequent calls and visits. They all had their ‘slum books’ containing everyone’s details.
“Ancient words ever true…” Ranti’s ringtone jolted her back into consciousness. It was a call from Philomena, her seatmate in school and their class captain then. She hadn’t called her in months, what could be up?
“Hello Miner of the Philippines, long time no hear”
Without returning the friendly greeting, she dropped the bombshell. Chizoba was dead. She died on her birthday.
“It’s a lie. This can’t be true. I swear I wanted to call her on her birthday! I was awake 12am! I could have been her first caller but I was angry. Angry she forgot my birthday the week before. I could have heard her voice one last time, told her how much I love her and what she means to me. Chizozo can’t be dead…Chizozo” her sobs trailed on.
She profusely wept in regret. Chizoba was one of her closest friends in secondary school. They raced to class, assembly, dining room, staff room. Ranti was always faster thanks to her really long legs until the day she fell and sprained her ankles. Chizoba stayed with her at the sickbay and copied her notes throughout. Oh Chizoba, that muscular fair fun-loving Ibo girl. That amazing dancer who could twist even her fingers. God! What happened to fairness and justice?
“Are you still there?”, asked Philomena
She had known for three days and had already had her share of the tears.
The heavy burden now laid on her to call the remaining 41 members of her class individually.
Tayo, who was judged and ostracized for getting pregnant.
Tiwa who went ahead to get married immediately after school and stayed out of touch.
All those who entered the university and hardly spoke to those still at home.
It was time for a renewed friendship.
“I just want to tell you I love you Ranti and I’m sorry for letting distance separate us. Bye ”
Looking at the the three tattered kids who had started fighting during the course of the game, she immediately knew it was time to rebuild broken walls of friendship.