Dinma took the path behind the administration building to the abandoned house. She walked quickly as though she had someone on her heels. She knew without a doubt that he would be there.
He was seating where she had first met him. This time he was painting a miniature model of the school.
“What happened?” She squatted in front of, admiring the model. It looked exactly like the school. He’d even included the abandoned building where they were currently.
“He wanted to post the pictures. I couldn’t let him,” he said without taking his attention from what he was doing. His hands expertly found hidden corners, the thin brush he held moving gently but firmly through the model.
“You might be expelled.” She reached to feel one of the small trees that looked too real to be just paper. Her fingers met stiff plastic.
“Does it matter.” His lips curved up in a wry smile. He sighed with satisfaction when he finished painting a portion and bent to wash the brush in a small bowl of water. He didn’t dip the brush inside another paint container, rather he shook it to get rid of the excess water. He carefully placed the brush beside others in a plastic box, then proceeded to start closing the paint bottles, dipping his hand in water often to wipe away paint that stuck to the container.
Dinma enjoyed watching him. He paid so much attention to his art materials. She waited until he had closed the last of the paint bottles and placed it in the carton. She said carefully, “Should I call my father? He can-”
“Don’t worry. I’m not getting expelled.” His voice rang with assurance. He put all the materials in his bag. There were barely any books inside the big black bag. It was all drawing materials.
She frowned. “You’re so sure?” He zipped the bag and kept it aside then turned to face her.
He rubbed her head fondly. “Do I look like someone that does something that will get me into trouble as big as expulsion?” He cocked his head.
She nodded emphatically. “Yes. All this your quietness will not deceive me. You’re quiet but… I didn’t even know you could fight.”
He chuckled. His voice turned serious as he said, “My father is the owner of this school. The principal cannot as well chase his son from the school, can she?”
Her eyes widened. “Senator Guam is your father?”
“Why didn’t you say anything before? Its been like five years?” She felt hurt. Didn’t he trust her enough to tell her?
“I don’t like carrying my father’s name on my back like other students. I know Zubi’s father will want me expelled, but you know the current state of politics is. The funny thing is that he is even in the opposing party, but from what I’m hearing he wants to switch sides. He would have to calm down if he knows I’m his son. Very few people know that I am the son of the senator. I want to leave it that way. Besides, if the school doesn’t punish me, it wouldn’t seem fair to Zubi. It’s best if I go on a three-week suspension. By the time I resume school, the whole thing would have died away. It’s not like many of the students will be that hung up on the matter.”
“What of the Mock exams? They’re starting next week. Aren’t you going to take them?”
“Let’s see how the principal arranges it. Maybe, they will have me just come for the exams. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s just the WAEC that is important at this point, and this doesn’t affect it at all.”
Dinma nodded slowly. “Thank you,” she said softly. “But how did you know it was Zubi that sent it? What exactly happened on Friday?”
“We had a quarrel over a girl. And-”
“Wait first, a girl?” Dinma eyed him suspiciously.
“No, it’s not what you think.” He had an impish smile. “There is this girl he likes. She is like us, by the way, a senator’s child but she schools in another state and only comes here for holidays. So during the last holiday, she started coming closer to me and trying to be my friend. Zubi was also trying to do the same to her, but she always blew him off to come to my house. I knew she liked me that way but I didn’t like her. So I told her I had a girlfriend.” He put his hands around her shoulders. “She’s not always around, so it’s pretty easy to avoid her. It didn’t sit well with Zubi, though. I don’t know how he got to know about it and when he did, he confronted me, asking me why I stole his girlfriend. I tried to explain, he didn’t listen and he tried to hit me. Of course, I wouldn’t let him. I beat him up. He sustained some wounds, and not just physical wounds, his pride was hurt as well. He has always been trying to revenge since then. He could not do anything to me, so he must have found out about both of us and tried to take his revenge.”
“Wow,” Dinma’s voice was small. “Since when did this thing happen?”
“SS2, first term. We’ve been so secretive, I don’t even know how he got to know about it.”
“He must have had his eyes set on you. Was he the only one that knew about it? What of his friends?”
He smiled at her. “No, don’t worry. It’s just him. Forget all those boys he usually surrounds himself with, that guy is a loner at heart. He doesn’t trust his friends all that much.”
Dinma relaxed visibly. A sigh of relief escaped her lips. “That is better. If someone else, knows, it would have been disastrous.” She stood. “I’m sure the assembly has already started. I was supposed to come and look for you, and see how long we’ve spent.” She pulled his arm. “Let’s hurry up.”
He stood up. Despite the way she was urging him, he took his time putting the small model inside a bigger carton. He took her hand and pulled her closer, enfolding her in an embrace. “We’re together in this, Dee, alright? Right now, we are each other’s family. I won’t let anything ruin that for the both of us, and if I was given a second chance, I will still do it again.”
Dinma sighed softly, leaning deeper into his hold. Yes, they were indeed family. In a world of busy parents and rivaling parties, she’d found solace in this quiet but resilient guy. She didn’t know what the future held for both of them, but for now, she was simply satisfied with being with him.
Separating themselves, with Dinma walking way ahead of him, they headed for the assembly hall for a verdict they already expected.