Twelve

(Part One)

I used to think the word Jand was the Nigerian slang for “Party.” I know, the logic didn’t make any sense. I feel stupid for even saying it.

“When are you going to Jand?” I listened to my older brother on the phone who was either gisting with some babe or to one of his padis.

Obi was so cool. He had this cool life and cool friends. Everyone knew Obi, I was just there. If I wasn’t his little sister, no one would know me in our school.

Before we vacated for easter hols, I had gone round my class to take everyones’ phone numbers and addresses, just to fill up my little address book. Not to call anyone o. I was too chicken for that. Plus, I had no reason to call anyone. I already knew my best friend’s number off head and my second closest, Isioma, her family just moved to Canada and she said she’ll call me when they settle down. Just soon as she finds out her new landline number.

To be honest, the real excuse was to get Umar’s phone number. It wasn’t like I was going to do anything with it, either. I just wanted to say to myself, I got his number. I made some sort of a move on him. Even if he’d never realise it. And why would I pass by the chance talking to someone I couldn’t stop using style to stare at?

“Guy, I wish I was going.” Obi was still on the phone. “I need some new baffs.”

Obi was definitely talking to one of his guys. He wouldn’t talk about getting new baffs to a girl.

Obi paused to hear the person at the other end before he continued, “Seun, where will I get baffs in Lagos? Correct ones o?”

“What?” After Seun answered, Obi brought the receiver in front of his face and opened his left hand and hovered it over the phone receiver as if the person on the other end could even see his action, “Waka!”

Seun laughed so loud that I could hear the him from where I sat.

“You, you’re going to Jand, to buy nice baffs, then I come back to school with stuff from LOP. Guy, you want my rep to drop. Your mama! Waka!” He moved back the phone to his ear and joined in the laughter.

I don’t know why I never asked what Jand meant. I guess I just felt certain, I knew what it was.

“Amara!” My house help yelled from downstairs, “Amara!”

I put away the book I pretended to read while I eavesdropped on my brother’s conversation and rushed downstairs.

When I reached Aunty Gloria, she didn’t have to explain why she had called me. I saw why.

Harriet waved at me. I just scrunched up my mouth. I had forgotten my mother had set up with her mum for us to spend the Saturday together. Something, I wasn’t looking forward to. That’s why I must have blocked out the memory so that maybe the day would have just not happened. But there she was, in front of me, in bathroom slippers, a purple flowery top and pink leggings, excited that she was about to spend time with her former best friend. I mean, who wears shinny pink leggings when they are in Year 8? We aren’t seven anymore.

We were very tight in primary school but when we came back from our first terms in different secondary schools things changed. I had grown up. She hadn’t. And what perplexed me was that she was okay with it. Trust me, I tried to teach her things. Before I left for my first term in boarding school with Obi, he taught me a few things which I tried to tell her. For example. Socks. In primary school we are taught to pull up our socks up to our knees.

“First, tell your mum that you can’t be buying those long socks anymore. It’s raz in secondary school. Get short ones. And then fold them like this.” I wore my socks and gently folded them over so the length of them hardly passed my ankles.

Harriet just shrugged, “My mum has already bought the long ones. I like wearing my socks like I normally do. There’s no point changing what works.”

I even told her about her name. I mean, let’s be honest. The name Harriet is not the best sounding name. I remember my first day in Year 7 when I told my classmate about my best friend, Harriet. She laughed at me.

“Is your friend an eighty-year old woman?”

So I tried to get Harriet to change her name. Just slightly. “Harley” sounds better I told her. She shook her head, “I prefer Harriet. I was named after my grandmother.”

My classmate was right, the name did come from an old woman.

Harriet came and hugged me. Although reluctant, I hugged back. We went upstairs together. We passed Obi still on the phone to get to my room. We sat down on my bed. She seemed to be happy to see me. I made an effort to feel the same way about her.

“So what’s up? Any juicy gist about school?”

I shrugged, “Nothing. School is school. Just dry.”

Harriet asked me a few more questions and I kept keeping my answers short until she asked me about Umar.

“Umar? What do you even know about Umar?” I didn’t recall telling her about him. I thought I hadn’t mentioned him to anyone.

“That you like him, duh.” She said all matter of fact. Harriet had such good memory. She never forgets anything I tell her. She stood up and went around my room. She had a thing of going through my things. So I just left her to it. She started at my study desk, “Do you still like him?”

I shrugged, “I don’t know. A little, I guess.”

“You still like him jaré!” She teased me as she played with one of the objects she’d picked up, “As in, look at how you reacted. You can’t hide things from me, I know you. It’s been like a year now. Wow, you must really like him.”

I put my head down so she couldn’t see my smile, “I don’t. I just like him a little. Anyways, it’s not like he likes me.”

“How do you know?”

“I just know.”

Harriet paused for a few seconds then she said, “Well, why don’t we make sure by just asking him?”

I looked up to ask her what she meant by that but the answer was right there, dangling off her finger tips. My address book.

Click here for Part Two.