Emeka was not just my friend, he was a friend to all. He was
particularly handsome and had an aura of importance. That alone made me admire him.
In my class, he was ‘worshipped’ and highly revered. Even some teachers openly gave
him preferential treatment. First, our form teacher had assigned him to the front
row in the class, but Emeka himself preferred to sit at the far end of the rear.
Of course, he had his way. Emeka was the only student in class who had the freedom
to eat in class whenever he felt the desire to do so. I was surprised when mid-way
into a maths class, he opened his big food flask and began feasting from it. Everyone
expected the Maths teacher, who was a renowned disciplinarian, to have reacted.
Lo and behold, the Maths teacher feigned ignorance despite the fact that the aroma
from the food was so obvious that a passerby would have mistaken our classroom for
a kitchen. Chike, another classmate of mine had attempted to do a similar thing
few days earlier. The same Maths teacher had flung his food flask through the window
down the school waste dump. Not only that, six strokes of the cane had followed
in quick succession. The intriguing thing about Emeka was that every act of his,
good or bad, was cheered by all, surprisingly including myself. Despite being my
friend (assuming I knew the real meaning of friendship), I found it difficult knowing
why Emeka was treated like a sacred cow. But it didn’t take a while before I realised
that Emeka’s big spending habits was what made him the toast of everyone. He would
visit the canteen and declare ‘free buns’ for anyone that cared. Of course almost
everyone cared. Even some teachers were beneficiaries of his ‘altruism.’ On 11th
May, 2001 something happened!
Although Emeka had the habit of coming to school whenever he
liked, he rarely missed school and was never in school later than 8am, so it became
obvious that something was amiss when by 10 am, he was not in class yet. His absence
was conspicuous. Everyone was visibly concerned, especially those whose hope of
a lunch depended on him, but no one said a word.
Suddenly, there was a commotion coming from the direction of
the principal’s office. Without minding the ongoing class, everyone took vantage
points to have a view of what the spectacle was. It was Emeka with a bloodied nose
being held by the jugular by a woman whom we believe was his mother. The woman dragged
him towards the principal’s office while raining a curses on top of her voice in
the hearing of even those who are farthest from the scene. Some teachers immediate
thronged the principal’s office, while we were ordered back to our seats by the
teacher in class. That morning was the last we saw Emeka, as we were later informed
that Emeka had been expelled from school. All the money Emeka threw about that made
him a ‘king’ were all stolen from his mother’s shop. He had continually carried
out a heist in his mum’s shop. We did not bother to ask how he was caught, for everyone
knows that everyday is for the thief, but one day is for the owner. Like my mum
would always tell me, “mind who you admire, and be careful what you wish for.”
To be continued...