Tracy continued reading the letter she had found amidst her school books. That strange boy must have dropped it there. She had paused to take off her school clothes and put on a pair of denims and a loose fitting tank top.
‘Your pretty dark eyes have kept me bound in slavery. My heart skips a beat, and all my troubles melt like lemon drops when I look at them. Your teeth, oh those perfectly set of teeth, whiter than milk, they shimmer before my eyes every time you speak. Those dimples beside your temples, deep and steep, are absolutely lovely. When you aren’t even speaking, they wink at me invitingly. I wink back at them too, with both eyes, and then wonder if you saw me. Your nose, hmmmm, pointed like my HB pencil before drawing class, gorgeously sculptured by the creator, a major distraction to the spectator.
I have observed all these from far away, but I have silently prayed that I will be invited closer soon enough. And so, this is my request. If I leave Nelson High without getting my request, I will never recover from it. Do me this good, sweet lady, reply my invitation for your invitation with an invitation to be yours.’
She scoffed at the play of words. Who was this foolish guy?
‘Don’t bother that you do not know me. Like I earlier said, I shall reveal my identity when the time is right. Beyond my identity, I shall reveal a fine gentleman behind this black pen, and you will be ecstatic at what you will find. Call me the surprise Christmas parcel on the first of December; I can only be unwrapped at the dawn of 25th.
You know where to drop the reply. I’d be waiting, baby.
Tracy quietly squeezed the sheet and threw it in her trash can.
Hakeem’s expenses were starting to escalate.
‘Brother Garba, this is not fair o. You know this is more than I can afford fa.’
‘What is not fair na? Garba said spreading his palms in innocence.
‘You’re cheating me na. You keep changing the price. You increase your charges with every new letter by half of the previous cost. The last one cost me a fortune –all my savings fa.’
‘Torr, if it’s too much don’t ask me to write any letter again.’
‘Haba! Don’t say that.’ He paused for a moment, probably to gather his thoughts together.
‘Wait. I will come back.’
He could not bear to lack money at a time like this; he had to find a way. He confronted his old farmer father the following afternoon.
‘Baba, how now?’
‘What do you want, Hakeem?’ his father had replied impatiently in his mother tongue. He had gotten used to superfluous greeting from his sons as a sign of demand.
‘I need money, baba.’
‘Science project, baba. We are going to build something.’ He had just made that up on the spur of the moment. Lying on his feet was an art that he got better at with constant practice.
‘Bet are you not in arts class?’ his father managed to inquire in English. He usually spoke his erroneous lexis when he was getting agitated over a matter.
‘Yes Baba, it is a Biology project. Everybody is doing biology Baba.’
That seemed to convince his father. He looked at his son for a while, probably looking for a counter argument to avoid parting with some change.
‘How much?’ his father asked in submission, already making for his room.
And slowly,Hakeem’s lips broke into a sly smile.