Last evening, it around 6pm and I was trying to catch some early sleep when this girl came to knock on my door. She’s an eighteen-year-old I’ve been lending books to read. She was a bit agitated when she came. Her aunt wanted to see me. Okay, that wasn’t an issue. Her aunt produced two books and asked if I borrowed her those and I said no. There was no way I could cover her. She should have told me the situation things first.
As I walked out of the compound this morning, I saw her.
“Miss Booky…” she started but I told her not to talk. “We can talk later in the evening.”
This incident reminded me of some things I’ve done for books.
I was in JS 2L at Ijegun Comprehensive High School and I borrowed a book from one huge girl in JS 2 B. I read the book, it was so interesting and when someone else asked me to borrow her, I gave it out. The book was passed from one person to another till the book got lost. No one was with it. Tudun gave it to Kunle, Kunle said he had returned it. To cut the long story short, the book was lost in transit. “The wicked Stepmother” was the title of the book. How can I forget the title of the book that made me suffer for a week?
The owner of the book (let’s call her Mary) came to ask for the book and I told her it was missing. Mary wasn’t having any of it. I must produce her book since her mother was asking for the book. I couldn’t tell my mother at home. I fear the reprimands and the possible slaps. So, I took the best route out; I began to trek for about 45 minutes to school and back each day.
At this time, the distance from my house at Ile-badan to my school was quite far, I trek halfway and enter a b us from prince bus stop to Ijegun last bus/stop. The fare to and fro school was N20 (twenty naira) and that was all the money I got each morning. Mind you, there was nothing like food money. I ate each morning and I had food packed in my flask for lunch break. If I was given food money, maybe that would have joined the money I saving.
I saved the N20 I received each morning and trekked to and fro school. There were days I got to school late and I had to crawl on my knees to the assembly ground. Yeah? That was the punishment for latecomers. It’s a public school and we are so many, no teacher can flog that large number, e wan die ni?
On Friday, I walked majestically with N100 to the bookshop and got a new book for Mary and delivered it to her.
One would think this experience was enough to learn but it wasn’t. Fast forward, I was a senior in a private school this time, SS2; I stole a romance novel. Okay, wait a sec, I didn’t intend to steal it. I borrowed it without the knowledge of the owner. I had every intention of returning it. This couple was living with us and the man had a book titled “Dangerous Obsession”. I borrowed it every night to read without his knowledge and I returned it but the story was so interesting and besides I wanted to show the girls in my class that I had become a big girl.
If you grew up in my days, the sign of a big girl was the novel in our hands, whether we were reading it or not.
Someone asked me to borrow her and I did. I had forgotten what happened in JS 2.
Well, this one also got lost in transit.
Boda Peter (not his real name) asked me if I took his book. I lied o, I told him I didn’t know where the book is. I didn’t even own up to reading it, talk less of taking it out of the house.
Later, my Dad asked if I took the book. When it comes to books in my house, I am usually the first suspect, in fact I am treated as guilty until proven innocent. Fam, I denied touching the book.
Come to think of it, it was fear. My father had flogged me once, I should be six or seven and I almost died. The man does not know how to stop once he starts flogging. You will kuku die there. I remembered the flogging and I knew if I admit to stealing the book and giving it out, my father will flog the BOOK out of my name and leave the Y. It will be traumatic, so I denied ever seeing the book.
This particular lesson stuck, till date I can’t lend you a book that isn’t mine and if I lend you my book, I usually give a strict warning, “Don’t pass my book on to anyone. If anyone wants to read, return it first; let the person come ask me.”