He came second.

A Facebook post reminded me of something I’d forgotten, a memory lost to time and the worries of life.

 

We were in primary four and he was my best friend in class, I talked about him all the time- my dad even teased me about him, calling me Lekan’s wife until the day I went to him as he washed his car and told him I didn’t like being called Lekan or anybody’s wife because I was too young to be married to anyone- I was just eight and a very serious child.

We sat on the same chair and desk set and unlike the other boys, he was very quiet and studious. So when he told me he had something to talk to me about during break that day, I thought he wanted to discuss verbal reasoning- he was terrible at it and it was something I could do in my sleep.

 

Imagine my shock when he asked me to stop “taking first” because his parents were ‘cursing’ him because ”a girl was taking first”. Dude had been locking down second position in class since the third term in Primary two after taking it from Dennis Shagana (I wonder where he is now) who I wrested first position from in second term. He explained that he didn’t even want to ‘take first’ he just wanted a boy to come first so he could have some peace.

 

He still had his hands tucked into his pockets when he finished his speech, his eyes were fixed on my face and I was confused. I was a novel-reading, cartoon-watching child who didn’t even attend extra lesson after school. There was no effort to do well in school, I didn’t even read school notes.

 

“I will try” I muttered

 

When I told my mum about the weird conversation, she wasn’t as chill about it as I was. That term she made me read the boring notes and get ‘serious’. When she discovered my ‘reading’ was cramming, she made me stop the memorising- a move that would cost me plenty in pharmacy school- a few years in the future.

 

Lekan came to me on the day the term ended, his face was solemn as usual.
“I came second again, were you first?”
My face held the answer and he smiled sadly.
Why don’t you tell them Jamil came first?”
As if they will not see you collecting the prize next term“.

 

I slung my bag on my shoulders and left the classroom.

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