Farida found the envelope when she was preparing to go back to school. She opened it and found beautiful pictures of her in another envelope. She was shocked at the way she looked in the pictures. She quickly picked the other pictures; she could relive her Akwa Ibom experience again. She showed her mother and brothers the pictures. She was able to share her experience with them pictorially. It was fun to see everywhere as Farida described it. “Who is this?” Maami asked.“Monica’s brother”“He is tall and handsome. Not like his father, Monica is like her father. Where was this taken?” Because there were a lot of pictures, Farida did not see this particular picture. She looked and the picture and saw was when Sam saved her from his cousins. Who took the picture? Was a picture also taken of the kiss? Farida couldn’t afford her mother seeing that picture or her trips with Monica will end. She answered her and stylishly collected the pictures in her. She gave her a fresh batch to look at. She took those pictures to hide away. When she later looked at the pictures, the picture of the kiss wasn’t there but there were pictures of them sitting closely. Maami won’t have liked it. It dawned on her she was now hiding things from maami. She didn’t think it was right but what maami did not know wouldn’t hurt her.Ahmad and Akram passed both WAEC and Jamb. Maami was so happy that she danced all over the place. They made As in their five compulsory subject WAEC subjects. They were just waiting for admission list. Everywhere maami went, she was congratulated for singlehandedly raising three brilliant children. They had enough for the two boys to go to school. Unlike Farida, they did not make all As so they didn’t qualify for the SNEPCO scholarship . Luckily, a man who was born and raised in Mushin had the opportunity to travel abroad and improve his life. He came back to give back to the community that raised him. He wanted to sponsor students who lived in Mushin, did very well academically and wanted to further their education. Ahmad and Akram went for the examination. Both of them topped the list because they worked hard preparing for the examinations. The man came to their house himself to see the twins that topped his list of beneficiaries. The first person he saw was Farida. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He asked her for the boys and she led him into her home. He explained why he was there. Tears of joy flowed from Iya Farida’s face while the siblings danced in excitement.“Madam, you should be proud of your sons. They have made you proud”“I am sir. These are tears of joy. I was wondering how four of us will cope in the university at the same time as I have also gained admission into unilag for my part time studies. I had to go job hunting so at least a better income will come in. Now two of them have received scholarships just like their sister. I am happy; very happy. God bless you for this initiative”“Your daughter is in the university?”“Yes sir”He turned to Farida, “What school are you in?”“I am in my final year, University of Lagos”.“That’s great. What are you studying?”“Economics and statistics”“And you already on scholarship?”“Yes, I have two scholarships. One is from Shell”“Final year? How old are you?”“I will be 21 soon”“You look younger. What is your GPA?”“I have been on first class since year one”“I am proud of you. I would love to sponsor your Masters degree abroad. Call me so I will tell you where I am so we can talk”“Ok sir.”He turned to Iya Farida, “Do you have a means of identification? I want to issue you the cheques for their scholarship. They won N50,000 each for their tenure in the university”“I do not have but my daughter does, she has an international passport. You can issue the cheque in her name”“Write down your full names as is on the passport. This is my card. Come on Monday to pick up the cheques. Just bring the passport”Farida received the complimentary card and thanked him. After he left, there was jubilation. N100,000 would tide the boys through school as they were in Federal universities. On Monday morning, Farida waited for Monica to meet with them at Maryland. Maami insisted one of the boys go with her to collect the cheque while Farida called Monica to make withdrawal of the money safe.“Why not pay it into your account?” Monica asked“Into which account? I don’t have an account’. “Then, why don’t you withdraw it and open an account with the money?”“I think I will do that”“Better”When they got to the address the man gave, they discovered it was a hotel in Ikeja. Farida called him. He asked her to come up to his room. She declined saying she couldn’t possibly do that. He insisted. Monica encouraged them to go. When he answered the door, the man was surprised to see the three of them. He thought Farida would come alone. His countenance changed. He offered them seats and went in to dress up as he came to answer the door in a bathrobe.He didn’t have a choice but to attend to them. Farida gave him her international passport for him to write the cheques. He held on to it and was talking to someone on the phone loudly. He was talking about money he made which ran into millions. They were not interested in his conversation. When he was through, Monica asked him to kindly hurry up as her driver had other errands to run.“I thought you were from a poor family. You don’t look it. Who did you come with” he asked Farida.“She is my best friend Monica. She is from a wealthy home. I didn’t know this place so I asked her to bring me”“I think you should come back for the cheques another day since you are in a haste. I will hold on to the passport; when the cheques are ready, I will call you”Monica wasn’t having anymore of the man’s bullshit. It was obvious what he had in mind. When Farida called him, he redirected her to this address without telling her it was a hotel. Why would he want to see a young girl in a hotel room alone? “Sir, if you do not want to issue her the cheques as was intended right now, please can we have the international passport back so we can go”“Are you no longer interested in the scholarship?” he asked Akram who came with them. Before he could answer Monica responded.“These boys legitimately passed a scholarship examination organized by you. They didn’t sit together but had the first and second positions. It is obvious you are interested in their sister and want to play with your integrity. Do not let me mess you up. Farida may be naive but I am not. The moment you came to the door in a bathrobe, I knew your intent. Farida is smarter than you think. You thought she would come alone as she had not mentioned coming with anyone. Her mother would never allow her meet a man she doesn’t know alone. I have been watching the way you look at her. It is either you issue the cheques and we leave right away or you return the international passport”“You are very disrespectful. How can you suggest I had bad intentions?”“Can I have the passport?” Monica snatched it from and said to a dazed Akram and Farida, “let’s go”Akram was heartbroken. They thought that aspect had been sorted out. Farida was more concerned about what happened up there. If she had gone alone, what could have happened? She was grateful to maami who insisted she goes with Akram alongside Monica. The money was her least worry as they could manage with what they had.The driver took them off their route to Victoria Island. Monica said she wanted to make a quick stop before taking them home. All through the journey she was busy on her phone. When they got there, she took them up an elevator to the fourth floor. The staff of the company greeted her as she walked past them to a door which had GMD written on it. As they walked through the door, the secretary stood up to greet her.“Is he in?”“Yes, he is. You can go in”They walked through the door and into a massive office. Sitting behind a mahogany table was Monica’s father. He welcomed them and offered them seats.“Congratulations Akram and your brother Ahmad. Farida, I am sure your mother must be very proud of her children. All of you won scholarships”“Yes sir”“Monica told me what happened. Unfortunately, what you experienced is common these days. Men take advantage of those they can intimidate and conjure. I am happy you did not fall victim. Here is the sum of N100,000 which was promised your brothers. Immediately Monica mentioned it to me via text, I offered them the scholarship because they deserve it”Akram and Farida looked at each other in disbelief and looked back at Monica and then her father.Farida was first to speak. “We can not possibly accept this. We can manage sir. You have done so much for us. We appreciate but we cannot possibly take this offer”‘Well, you can because it is not coming from me. We have a foundation which gives scholarship to intelligent students to the tune of N100,000. I told them what happened and they were willing to give them the N100,000. A letter is attached”Akram laid flat on the floor to thank him while his sister went her knees. Monica was shocked at the gesture especially Akram’s. “I am proud of your mother. I thought she trained you well as a girl but I can see she trained all of you very well. Your brothers deserve the scholarship and more”Farida was upset with Monica for not discussing with her first but Monica knew she would decline. They went back home.At home, Farida narrated everything to maami. Maami was offended. She felt Farida and Akram shouldn’t have collected the money from Monica’s father. She dressed up and went to the school who had suggested Akram and Ahmad for the scholarship examination to report what happened. The principal was disappointed in the man. He apologized to Iya Farida.Farida on her own wondered what the man wanted to do to her. Would he have forced after she entered the room? There was no way she would have entered the room if she had seen him in bathrobe. Monica made her enter. She realised she had to be very cautious; men could not be trusted. A week later, the man was at their house with the principal. Farida had resumed school by then. He explained to Iya Farida (even though she didn’t believe him) that he had no intention of harming Farida. He claimed to be just busy that day so he couldn’t issue the cheques. He handed her the cheques and said they won the scholarship fair and square and deserved to have it. Iya Farida told him another foundation had given them scholarship but he insisted on them having his too.When Farida heard it, she was amazed. She got double scholarship and now her brothers have gotten the same both fully paid for. Her mother kept saying, “When your ways are right with Allah, he will order your footsteps aright”. Now she believed it.
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