(Story) Farida – Part 16

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Farida was ready for school. She was all packed. She went to Unilag for the first time for registration. From the gate, she fell in love with the school. She walked into the school and went to the Bursar’s office. She was given her receipts for her tuition and hostel accommodation. Then she went for registration. The place was crowded as all the students that gained admission were there. She stood in line of those that had their receipts. As she stood there minding her own business, someone tapped her. She turned around and was shocked to see the girl she spoke to after she had won the debate. The one that told her about Unilag. “Your height and complexion gave you away. What are you doing here?” she asked.“I got admitted into the school like I told you I would”“Are you serious? That is so nice. What did you score in WAEC? I had 6As and 3Cs”“I had all As”The girl had a look of disbelief on her face. It didn’t bother Farida. She would give her a shocker soon.“That’s nice. What of Jamb? I scored 278 to study Law”“338 to study Economics and Statistics”“Nobody scores that high in Jamb. I don’t believe you”Farida brought out the original copies of her results and showed her. Her eyes swelled in shock. She signaled to her friends who rushed to see too. Farida smiled at them. She had proved to them that a girl from an impoverished background can achieve much. One of them said to her,“I love your skirt. And your lace top. The skirt is a wrap skirt right? I wouldn’t mind one. The bright colours on it fit your skin. How much did you get it?”Farida just blurted out “N1000”.“It’s so affordable. I wouldn’t mind you getting one for me. I love skirts. What designer is it?”Farida had began to sell with names of designers too as her customer in Badagry taught her that designer brands are more expensive than other brands. She knew she was wearing Dorothy Perkins and told her. ‘Wow! That’s a UK designer. If you can get me any branded wrap skirt, I will appreciate it. You look nice. Even your shoes and your hand bag”“Thank you. I will let you know” Farida knew she wasn’t her target market per say but if she saw any wrap skirt that was very clean, she would inform her. ‘By the way, my name is Monica. I am friends with Wura”“Mine is Farida” Farida knew their names now.“How can you afford to attend school here? I thought you said your mother was struggling during the debate” Wura asked her.“I won a number of scholarships. They paid my fees. That’s why I have my receipt while you have to queue up to pay”“O! The charity cases” Wura said to her friends who laughed except for Monica.“Not charity. Intelligence. Many wealthy people came for the examination. They were intelligent and had exceptional results just like mine. You can see them on this line. You are not better than any of us. Your line is moving, join the queue quickly” and Farida turned forward. She won’t be bullied or made to feel inferior by anyone anymore. She had a brilliant result all from her hardwork and she would not stand there and allow anyone make a mockery of her achievement.Farida felt a tap on her back. It was Monica who smiled at her and then joined the others on the line. She felt good she stood up to Wura. Didn’t she say she couldn’t get into Unilag? Now who is about to register before her? Farida felt proud.Farida was allocated a room in Moremi Hall. Because of the scholarship, she was given a room with just two occupants. She was happy. She concluded her hostel registration, and chose her bed space. She then finished the departmental and faculty registrations. Jambites were to resume on the 18th of October. Farida while interacting with other students discovered she could cook in the hostel but with gas cookers or electric cookers. She wrote it down. Then she realized she would need cooking utensils, buckets, broom and dustpan etc. She made a quick list of most all the things she needed on campus. She had been joking all along. She had to make more money to live comfortably in school. One girl’s list of provisions scared her. She saw sardines, corned beef, baked beans, cerelac, cornflakes, butter, ovaltine, noodles and many more. Farida felt intimidated. She didn’t even know where to get those things. She believed if she had money, she could find where to buy them.She had less than a month to get ready. She went about her business as usual. From her sales, she was able to buy some of the items she needed. She saw an A-lined wrap skirt that was black and white and a multicolored skirt that had three layers. One of the skirts was a gap brand while the other was river island. She took both of them. She confided in her customer that a rich girl wanted to buy wrap skirts. The man told her to launder them and then place them in a bag with foreign bar soaps that have very good fragrances for a week. They would smell foreign. She asked brother Chris where she could get the soaps, he brought back some for her. She showed her mother her list. Her mother had never seen some of the items on the list before. “These are what some of the girls are bringing to school. I want to buy for myself” Farida explained. “Why? Why do you want to get them? Are you competing with them? Please, you are going to school to read and pass. You are not like the spoilt girls there. Just buy the things you need. I don’t want you having ‘ojukokoro’. Don’t run faster than your shadow otherwise you will crash. Your business is making you good money, you have to learn to save. You insisted I go back to school; how will we survive if you start competing with the other girls in school? Focus o. Remember where you come from”Farida felt bad. Truly she had lost sight of her reason for going to the university. She didn’t need all those provisions she wasn’t used to. She went and bought the ones she knew and needed. Brother Chris helped her buy two burner table top electric cooker at the wharf. He also gave her body sprays and perfumes which his customer imported. He was so proud of Farida.Farida had clothes that would last her for four sessions. Maami insisted that she went with only twenty sets of clothes. They hackled and they arrived at thirty apart from staying indoors outfits and night gowns. She went with ten pairs of shoes, sandals and canvas/sneakers. Maami allowed her go with five bags. Farida wasn’t happy but she couldn’t challenge her mother. Her natural hair was very long; it was below her bra length. Maami asked her to weave her hair ‘Sade Adu’ style which was quite popular. She looked even younger with the hair but it suited face perfectly. Brother Chris took her and her family to drop Farida off. Maami had the opportunity to see inside the hostel of a university for the first time. Her brothers helped her carry her bags in. When she got into her room, her roommate had moved in although she was not around. Farida, with the help of her brothers, unpacked her bags and arranged her corner of the room. She noticed her roommate had a table size refrigerator. She was happy. She packed her clothes, toiletries, food items and provisions into her wardrobe and cupboard. She made her bed with a beautiful purple based bedsheet and pillowcase. When she was done, she escorted them out. She bought ice cream for her brothers. Her mother’s eyes were filled with tears. She would miss her daughter who she had been with all these years.“Maami don’t cry. I will be coming home every weekend to see you” Farida assured her mother.“No, you won’t. You will make yourself scarce in our area. Your mother’s school is close to yours so if she wants to see you, she can come here to see you. You won’t come to the house, make yourself scarce like I said before”‘What of my business?”“You won’t do it in that area. You have gone to school and that’s it. In fact, you shouldn’t be doing business while in school”That was it. Her mother supported him. She had to get new customers; her not doing business was impossible. She gave part of her principal to her mother to keep for her. She had more than enough money to tide her through the semester.——————————————————————————————————————–Farida’s roommate came into the room later in the day with her friend. Farida couldn’t believe who her friend was. Monica! Apparently, Zara, her roommate, and Monica were best friends in secondary and they were in the same university. Zara was studying law while Monica chose Accounting.Farida quickly brought out the two skirts she had reserved for Monica. Monica was excited and in her presence she removed her trousers showing only her panties and to try on the skirt. Farida quickly removed her eyes which made Zara laugh. “You can open your eyes now. The skirt fits perfectly. I love it. Let me try the second one” she tried it on and screamed in excitement. “This was the skirt Drew Barrymore wore in that movie”‘That’s true. Looks so much like it but this is River Island. Could she have worn River Island or it is a copy?” Zara asked.“I don’t care. I have it and I love it. I need more skirts. When you find a unique piece like this, please keep it for me. I will pay for it. I am cutting out the label so no one will know the brand. I’m wearing this on my first day to class. I will be right back” Monica left the room wearing the skirt and with her trousers in her hand.Farida felt good. She needed more foreign magazines. She had to learn some more about designers so she would know which ones to look out for when shopping for Monica. Zara asked her if she had some more clothes for sale but she told her she didn’t.Monica came back and gave Farida N2000 for the skirts. Farida had planned to give her the two skirts for N1000 as she got them cheap. She told her to get more skirts if she sees.“Why are you buying more clothes? You just came back from a shopping spree in the US so why spend money shopping here?” Zara asked.“I went with my stepmother. She shopped more for her children than for us. I complained to dad and he sent me some money to shop. I got some jeans and tops. We were coming back home and since I had clothes I hadn’t worn at home, I spent more on sprays and designer perfumes and glasses. I bought a lovely wristwatch too. When I saw what girls wear in university, I knew my wardrobe was doomed. My mom shopped a bit for me. After two months, I would have to repeat some of the clothes which won’t speak well of me. Farida has a good dress sense so she can dress me up and her clothes are not pricey. So why not?”Farida’s mouth was wide open while Monica was explaining herself to Zara. Farida had never travelled before. Her mother made her bring clothes that would last only one month. This girl would never repeat her clothes in a semester. Where was she? Were they mates? These girls had so much money. She had never seen so much money close up except Wale. She decided to observe them closely.Farida’d first problem was bathing in the full glare of others. She was used to taking her bath in the bathroom alone and dressing up alone in the room. She had never seen her brothers’ nakedness since they clocked eight. Her mother was never naked in their presence. But girls in the hostel walked around stark naked. The bathrooms were in deplorable states but were cleaned very early in the morning. That was when she took her bath. Two rooms had a toilet to themselves. Farida paid the cleaner a little extra to ensure it was always clean so she could use it. She woke up very early every morning from Monday to Sunday to bath and dress up before her roommate. She washed her clothes daily before going for lectures.Another issue was their underwear. Farida couldn’t afford for anyone to see her underwear. The says of the week were written on them. Her bras had no iron or padding. It didn’t so justice to her chest. Luckily her nighties were ok.Farida enjoyed her classes. She loved to answer questions in class until she was advised not to draw attention to herself so she would not be harassed. She dressed very well. Other students admired her look. She was always neat and tidy. She wore clothes that weren’t common. She learnt this from Monica. She mapped out what she wore during the week. Mondays- Corporate Skirt and topTuesdays – GownsWednesdays – Shirt and trousersThursdays – Casual dressesFridays – Jeans and topShe was coordinated and she learnt how to mix and watch her clothes. Her bags were always an attraction and so were her shoes. They admired her. She was likeable. Before long, she was noticed. The boys came after her. Many guys thought because of hiw courteous she was she would be easy but it was not the case. She refused all advances. Even when guys come to visit her roommate and try to be friendly with her, she never encouraged it.“You are too stiff Farida, loosen up. They are not forcing you; they are just trying to be nice”“I am not interested in their niceness Zara. Just tell them your roommate is a snob. That’s all”But why? Why don’t you want to be friends with guys?””They are a major distraction. I can’t afford to fail. It will kill my dear mother”Zara laughed at Farida’s comment. “You are behaving like a bush girl which obviously you are not. How are the boys a distraction?””Check your GPA at the end of the senester then we will talk”” What do you mean by that?””You go out with these boys too often. You hardly go to clasa to read. It’s at the end of the semester we will know how well we have done. Meanwhile, my department is the toughest in our faculty. They hardly have First class graduates. I want to have a First class and I am ready to work hard to ger it. So, I can’t do like you. I’m on scholarship. I can’t afford to mess that up as well”

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