Farida refused to leave her home for two days. She was ashamed. She wondered how she would face the world. She thought people believed Aisha’s accusation. She had heard people gossip about other girls and she knew how she felt. Her mother was the one that told her never to partake in any gossip. She should not be the person people came to tell tales about others. She should tell them she is not interested. If her friends knew she wasn’t the type, they wouldn’t bring such tales to her and when others talk about her, they would defend her. But now, she didn’t believe anyone will defend her. Even brother Chris whom she held in high esteem was disappointed in her. How would she face the world? By the time Farida woke up, her mother was not home. She went back to bed and heard her call out for her. She grudgingly went to answer her. Iya Farida offered her breakfast but she declined. Her brothers tried to talk to her but she was not responsive.“Leave her, she will be fine. Let her rest.” her mother told them.Farida stayed indoors for two days. Her brothers helped her do her work and told her employers she was ill. Madam Joyce paid her a visit. She came with some provisions. When Farida was called to see her, she fell at her feet and cried. Farida thought Madam Joyce had heard about her disgrace and came to scold her but that wasn’t the case. Madam Joyce was shocked and asked what happened. Iya Farida explained to her all that transpired. Madam Joyce was upset with Iya Farida.“You have trained Farida to be smart and confident but she is always afraid of what people will say. I knew when she was preparing for WAEC and Jamb and I know she didn’t use expo. Once your conscience is clear why worry about others. You are hiding away here as if all they said are true meanwhile, they are lies. You shouldn’t be bothered about what is said behind you, if they are bold, they should say it in your presence. And since you know they are peddling falsehood explain to the ones that deserve explaining and ignore others. Very soon, it will fizzle out. Another story will take over. Believe me when I say everything will be fine in the end. Stand up, go and take a bath and walk me home. You gave Aisha the upper hand in this matter. Someone you should have told she’s jealous you were busy crying. Crying for what? In life, you have to stand up for yourself. You will meet people worse than her later in life. Will you run home and hide under the covers? Go and get ready let us go”As they left Farida’s confidence was boosted. She walked with Madam Joyce with her head held high. All those that matter to her believe her and that was all that mattered. She stayed a while in Madam Joyce’s house. As she walked back home alone, those that called out to greet her, she responded to. Others looked at her and whispered but she made up her mind she wouldn’t care. When she got home, she met Aisha, her father and mother in the sitting room. She greeted them and went inside until her mother called her out to hear what they had to say. Farida stepped out and listened to them. “Oya, Aisha, talk” Aisha’s father urged her.Aisha went on her knees and said “I apologise for my behaviour. I promise it won’t happen again”‘Iya Farida, I brought Aisha here to apologize to Farida. She is a small girl please forgive her” Aisha’s mother added.“For respecting us by coming to lay your complaint to us, we decided to respect you by bringing her to apologise. Please forgive her. She will be dealt with accordingly”“As long as she has realized her mistake, we have no choice than to forgive her. Thank you for listening to me”Farida did not say a word. After they had left, she turned to her mother and said “Aisha is not remorseful. She will learn her lesson the hard way soon. I won’t bother myself about her anymore. Thank you maami for all you’ve done for me”“I should say thank you to Madam Joyce for talking sense into you. I can see you are a different person now”“Yes, I have her to thank. For now, I am feeling better. I hope I feel the same tomorrow or when I meet Aisha alone”“You will my dear. Don’t worry about anything”Fortunately, Aisha and Farida’s paths didn’t cross until three years later when one of them got her sweet revenge.Some weeks later, Farida received her Jamb result. She was too scared to open it. Her mother quickly snatched the envelope from her and opened it. She screamed and jumped in excitement when she saw the result. This prompted Farida and her brothers to collect it from their mother.English: 86Mathematics: 90Economics: 80Commence: 82Farida scored 338 in Jamb for Economics. Her joy knew no bounds. She cried tears of joy. The house was in a joyful mood. Farida had been a good role model for her two brothers. They had followed in her footsteps and seen positive results. They were both intelligent although Akram struggled with Mathematics. They knew if Farida could achieve, they could too. They were the ones who helped spread the news of her success.That evening, brother Chris brought a photocopy of a newspaper advert for a scholarship. He said Farida was eligible to partake. There would be an examination in two weeks. Farida had to get to the venue with her documents and write the examination. Farida couldn’t believe her luck. Maami encouraged Farida to apply for the scholarship. She would be competing against those who also did very well in WAEC and Jamb. The examination will teach Farida not to be too confident. Farida prepared for the examination. She studied as though her life depended on it. She didn’t have much information about the examination so she studied everything she could lay her hands upon.The examination held in Victoria Island, brother Chris who was conversant with the area went with Farida. He had a car so they used it. They left very early in the morning. She wore a pair of jeans trouser and a black Tshirt. She packed her hair into a ponytail. She was fidgety. Brother Chris tried to make small talk but her mind was far away. She carried some books to read on the way. When they got there at about 6:45am, there were people there. It was unbelievable. Farida actually thought they would be the first. The gate was opened to them at 8:00am. They came in according to the time they arrived. They filled some forms, were screened and copies of their results were collected for confirmation. Then they were directed to a hall were the examination was to take place. They were more than a hundred students in the hall. The examination was just in Mathematics and English. They were given a very short time to answer fifty questions each. The English had a lot of comprehensions. She focused on the other questions before dwelling on the comprehension using her system of reading the questions before reading the comprehension. She didn’t finish before the time. It was the same with Mathematics. It was tough. She focused on the ones she could quickly answer due to the time. She answered only forty questions out of fifty. Farida felt bad. She believed she didn’t put in her best. Brother Chris took her to an eatery to relax and consoled her saying,“This examination is every year. You can the examination for 200level students. You will still get the scholarship until your final year. Cheer up”That cheered her up. Since she knew it was just Mathematics and English, she would be better prepared next time. On Sunday, Wale came to visit. Maami welcomed him and asked the boys to leave the house so Farida could talk to him. It was the first time maami was doing this. Wale could see Farida was not excited to see him. He sensed there was something wrong. He wanted to ask her but decided to lighten the mood first.“I am sorry I haven’t come to see you all this while. I travelled with my father to Abuja. We are building a filling station there. I gave him a suggestion of a car wash and an eatery which he appreciated”“That’s nice”“He wants me to handle the project. I’ve been there since the last time we met. Have you seen your Jamb result? That’s one of the reasons I came to see you.”“Yes, I have”“I know you smashed it. I got 298 in Jamb. My father was shocked when he saw it. I’m sure you got close to 400”“I scored 338”‘I knew it! Even without the expo you would have scored the same”“Maybe”“Farida why are you sounding like this? I know I offended you by not coming for a while but it is not enough for you to be so cold towards me. Or is there something else?”“Yes, there is. Why didn’t you tell me you were dating Aisha? I asked you and you denied it”“I am not and have never dated Aisha. The last time I saw her was when she came with Tunde and Dominic and I refused to give her audience until she apologises to you. What happened?”“The last time you came here Aisha confronted me after you drove off. She claimed I snatched you from her. As I….”“Snatched me from her? But we are not dating. Didn’t you tell her that?”“I told her. She created a scene. She disgraced me. She called me an examination cheat. I couldn’t come out of the house for days. It was too much for me to bear”“Why would she do that? Why would she call you a cheat when she told us you were the most intelligent person she knew? What is wrong with Aisha? What does she have against you?”“I don’t know and I honestly don’t want to know. Please, I don’t want to suffer the kind of embarrassment I suffered on that day. I beg of you, stop coming here to see me. I need to concentrate on getting into the university. I have to pay acceptance and university fees. I also need to raise money for survival. I don’t need any form of distraction right now”“What are you saying Farida? You are bringing our friendship to an end because of Aisha? As long as your conscience is clear, you owe no one any explanation. I have not disrespected you since we met and I never intend to. I value our friendship; you have helped me become a better person. Why do you want to ruin everything for me now?”“I am not ruining anything. The change was done by you. You can do many more things if you put your mind to it. I don’t want a repeat of what Aisha did. My WAEC and Jamb results have been discredited. I want to move on with my life. Once she is aware that we are still friends, she is going to continue attacking me. I don’t want that. It is best to free you for her”“What you are saying doesn’t make sense. Let’s go somewhere and talk”“I am not going anywhere with you. I think you should leave before brother Chris comes. He has warned me he doesn’t want to see me with any boy. He will be angry especially since you were the reason I was publicly disgraced”“Can I talk to your mother?”“Why? What do you want to tell her?”“Can I talk to her?” he started shouting, “Maami!”Maami came out when she heard him call out to her.“Ma, I want to swear to you now that I never dated or even thought of dating Aisha. Farida is ending our friendship based on Aisha’s claim which isn’t true. I feel hurt that Farida would believe Aisha instead of me. She has said I shouldn’t come to see her anymore; I will oblige her request. Let one of the boys follow me to bring in what I brought”Farida quickly added, “Don’t bother with giving us anything, we are fine”Iya Farida held Farida’s hand and said to Wale, “Ahmad will go with you. We appreciate all you have done. I believe you. I think Farida needs time to heal from the shame and disgrace she experienced. For a week, she couldn’t leave the house. She was hurting; she is still hurting. Please, give her time. When she’s ready she will reach out”Wale couldn’t believe what transpired in Farida’s home. How could Aisha behave like that? Why would she disgrace Farida? What exactly did she stand to gain? He knew two people that might have more information about the story. He also knew how to get information from them. They were at the joint when Aisha’s topic came up. Wale had picked them up and taken them to a joint to have some fun. He did not mention his visit to Farida. He allowed the Jamb result to be the reason Farida’s and Aisha’s names would come up. Both of them passed their Jamb although they scored lower than he did,“What did Aisha score? Do you know?” Wale asked.“We don’t know yet. She has moved out of her cousin’s house and is now back with her parents”“I thought that was her parents’ house?”“It is not. We found out when we went in search of her. Her cousin gave us her address, Guess what?” Dominic asked.“What?”“She lives close to where Farida lives. I couldn’t believe it. She was trashing Farida meanwhile she was from the same hood. She disappointed me”“Did she? I am not surprised. Farida had mentioned how she knew her but I never judged her based on it. She had to step up to roll with us. Is she back to being friends with Farida?”“Friends ke? The babe dislikes Farida. You know she was rooting for you. Its was because she wanted to date you, she joined our group. You were not showing her face. When Farida showed face, you immediately fell for her. Don’t look at us like that, it was obvious the moment you fell for Farida. You that uses babes and dumps them organized transportation for a babe you have not touched before. As if it wasn’t bad enough, you took her out to celebrate. You liked her and Aisha could see it. You have never allowed Aisha to sit in front with you but she asked Farida to sit with you. We don’t need a soothsayer to tell us what was happening. The painful part was taking her to Ikoyi club when you have not taken us. I thought by now you would have banged her but from what we can see you haven’t”“You guys got it all wrong. She is a friend. She was not interested in a relationship and I respected her decision. I was never into Aisha. I knew she liked me but I thought it was just because of the money. So, I spoilt her without going any further with her because I was not attracted to her. I would love to explain myself to her. Can I have the address?”“We can go together now. Let’s surprise her”So, they left the joint and located Aisha’s house. They sent someone to call her. When she came out, she was shocked to see the three of them. She was in a long plain top and trousers underneath. She had on a hijab. Aisha had never worn a hijab before. She looked like a house maid. The clothes were worn and oversize. Tunde and Dominic couldn’t control their amusement at her sight. She was the first to speak.“What are you doing here? Who showed you to my house? Farida abi?”“Your cousin gave us your address. Why are you looking like this? Is this really where you live? I can’t believe you were making fun of Farida meanwhile you were no better than her. This is amazing” Tunde replied her.“To think you mocked so many other girls who had a background such as yours is baffling. I am in shock right now” Dominic added.That wasn’t what Wale came there for. “Aisha, please was there any time I asked you out on a date? Was there any time I told you I was interested in you? Why would you peddle rumours that I was dating you? Why would you disgrace Farida because she’s my friend? What concerns you and our friendship? You threw yourself at me so many times but I was not interested. I had gotten tired of bedding dull girls who only had their bodies to offer. Farida and I are friends. She never offered her body and I never asked. She is smart and self-motivated. She is good company for responsible conversations anytime any day. When I hang with you, it is to spend money eating and drinking. I don’t do that anymore. I am working now. My father is teaching me the ropes. He has asked me to be in charge of the new filling station we are building in Abuja. I am in charge of everything. He respects me and my opinion counts. Who taught me this? Who made me see the light? Farida! So, I will never forgive what you have done”“So, Aisha, you went through with your threat?” Dominic asked.“You knew about it? You never mentioned it to me. You can see you are not genuine friends. All of you saw Farida as a common enemy as I became responsible. If not for Farida, I wouldn’t have scored 298 in Jamb. But Aisha told everyone who cared to listen that Farida cheated in her exams. Why would she do that? It is not your fault; I should have stopped interacting with you after Jamb. You are just jealous of Farida. You are jealous that she is intelligent, well behaved and far more beautiful than you are. To hell with you. And to hell with all of you”Wale got into his car and drove away. It was shocking to them and everyone who stopped to eavesdrop when they saw Wale. It was what Wale had intended. He had made it clear she was just jealous of Farida. He knew he would have to work harder to win Farida back but for now, he had to be focused on the task assigned to him by the father. His father was proud of him. The result made him happier even though he knew he used expo. He promised him a V-boot 190 if he rounds up the project in good time. Farida would need help and he wanted to be there for her.Farida’s admission letter arrived. She had gained admission into the University of Lagos to study Economics and Statistics. Her mother was very happy. Farida took the admission letter to brother Chris. He was also very happy and gave her N5000 as his contribution to her education. This was a lot of money coming from him. She went to maami with it. It didn’t end there. Madam Joyce gave her N3000. Sister Chioma gave her N1000 and then others gave her money ranging from N500 to N1000. Farida didn’t believe her luck.Farida received a message to see the principal of her secondary on Monday morning. Farida wondered why. She was scared Aisha’s lies had gotten to the ears of the school. Some of her friends had come to tell her about Wale confronting Aisha at her house. Now, they believed Aisha lied about everything. It hurt Farida that the truth had to come out with Aisha being disgraced too. Her mother didn’t share in her sentiments. At least they knew Wale wasn’t lying but Farida still wasn’t interested in any friendship. She agreed with brother Chris; she had to focus on getting into the university. Her high scores could get her the admission but she needed to pay acceptance fee and other fees.That Monday, she dressed up nicely and went to school. The principal congratulated her on her Jamb performance. News travelled very fast. “Farida, I called you here because you have made our school proud. Your results in WAEC and Jamb were outstanding. A philanthropist came here asking for our best student in both examinations and you were the one. He has promised to sponsor your university education. He gave us the name and address of his lawyers. This letter is an introductory letter from the school. You are to show the letter to the lawyer as a form of identification. You are also to go there with copies of your WAEC and Jamb results” the principal handed the envelope to Farida.How Farida got home, she couldn’t remember. She believed she was in a trance. Who could this godsent be? Who could favour her like this? When she got home, she told her mother everything.“What are you saying?” Maami asked in disbelief.‘Maami, I was given a scholarship. Someone I don’t know decided to help me”“Just like that? Have you heard this kind of thing before? Please, don’t tell anybody before the person changes his mind and they will make fun of us”The next day, her mother took her to the lawyer’s office. They showed the man the letter from the school and their documents. The man gave them an envelope with N20,000 and asked her mother to sign she had received the money. He said the money was for Farida’s tuition, handouts and upkeep. She signed and the man congratulated them and asked that they come back for her allowance the next semester. It was like a dream. Her mother went to the toilet to hide the money inside cloth. She didn’t want the money stolen from them in transit.As they were jubilating. A letter arrived addressed to Farida Mohammed. She opened it and was dumbfounded. She had passed the Scholarship examination and was invited for an interview. She was to come with two passport photographs, original copies of her WAEC and Jamb results and her Jamb admission letter. She couldn’t believe her eyes. How did she pass?