By Jewel Ken-Giami
The screen turned black. Daniel stopped insulting me and focused on the TV. A deep, loud voice said, “Welcome, beautiful people of the world, to the NEWEST addition to Nigerian Shows, and exclusively for kids, STRIVE KIDS NIGERIA.”
Over 30 minutes later, our eyes were still glued to the screen. Maybe Lola was right, this actually was amazing! These kids were so talented, I wouldn’t have guessed there were so many here. They definitely don’t let just anyone in this. We were still staring when my Mum walked in, wearing her bonnet and silk pyjamas. There was a mint green face mask plastered on her face. She snapped her fingers in our faces; I was broken out of my trance. “Do you see the time? You better start going to bed, I don’t want to hear any stories in the morning. Besides, you’ll get square eyes staring at the TV like that.” She turned around and started walking back to her room. My brother got up and stifled a laugh. She stopped. She turned to him and gave him a merciless slap on his neck. He howled, clutching his neck. She kissed her teeth loudly and stomped off to her room. I, on the other hand, didn’t hide my laughter.
I went to my room and changed; Lola face-timed me shortly after. “Hey! Did you watch it?” She was in bed, and I think her lights were switched off, or NEPA took them. “Yeah, yeah, I did. Turns out Daniel is obsessed with it too.” Lola scoffed, sounding surprised, “Weird, I didn’t think he was obsessed with anything but himself”. I laughed and let myself fall onto my bed. I and Lola talked for a long time about the show. I told her my favourite one was a girl who did someone’s hair in 5 minutes. And it looked STUNNING! “Yeah, me too! But I feel like she did most of the harder parts off stage.” “How do you know? She might just be crazily talented.” “How talented? She’s 7!” I reminded her that age is just a number. “I’ll be the judge of that, let’s see her do my hair!” I rolled my eyes, playfully and said, “You and your minnie mouse afro puffs”. Lola kissed her teeth. I was laughing at her when my mum came into my room, yelling that I should’ve been asleep long ago. I told Lola I’d see her tomorrow, quickly ended the call, and burrowed myself under the covers.
I started thinking about the piano. Well, I never really stopped. Ever since this afternoon it’s been on my mind. Wow, I think I’m going crazy. Oh! Maybe I can start taking lessons! But it might be hard for me, and Mum’s never too willing to spend extra money on me. I’ll just start trying in school and see how it goes. I dozed off, dreaming of black and white keys.
The following day at school, I was in my tutor room and Lola was dozing off next to me. I nudged her awake. “Lola! If Mr. Ade catches you sleeping, you know what kind of trouble you’ll be in.” She yawned and looked at me angrily. “Aunty, sorry eh? Please just let me be. Is it not you who called me late at night for, what, 2 hours?” I laughed, she knew very well that she was the one who called me wanting to talk about the show. “Don’t worry, If I get in trouble, I know who to blame.” She rested her head on the table and I sighed. Stubbornness is in her blood.
Suddenly, Mr. Ade marched into the room. Lola seemed to have changed her mind about sleeping because she bolted upright the second his foot was in the room. “Good morning, JS1.” His voice boomed. We all hurriedly stood up, “Good morning, sir”. He examined all of us, one by one, looking for incorrect uniforms or something that was wrong. He walked past a girl, Bianca I think, and slapped his wooden ruler on her desk. “Miss Maduka, where is your tie?” He was so loud, the whole floor could probably hear us. The poor girl just stood there, not responding. He got louder. “Am I talking to myself? I said Where. Is. Your. Tie?” He beat the desk again. She cowered and muttered, “I-It got dirty this morning and…and my mum put it for washing.” I was honestly scared for her, because the way Mr. Ade was looking, he was ready to kill.
But luckily, the speakers announced; “Good morning, teachers and students of Flyers District School, please can all tutors and tutees from JS1 to JS3 come to the assembly hall. Thank you.” Bianca looked so relieved, and Mr. Ade just yelled at us to line up in register order.
When we were all in the hall, our head teacher, Mrs. Folawe, went onto the stage, all smiles. I absolutely love, no, ADORE her. She was so kind and helpful on my first day and she supports and interacts with every one of her students. She’s nothing like my old headteacher from primary school. The only way she interacted with students was through a cane. Anyway, I and Mrs. Folawe have a special bond. I think it has half to do with her and my mum being childhood besties (I know right? Such a small world), but I think she genuinely cares.
Mrs. Folawe warmly greeted us and began to explain why we were there. “I know each and every one of you have potential, and talents, but don’t really have the resources to show them. I believe that every pupil in this room has a talent, and I want to help you show that to the world. Saying that, I have some very exciting news for you all!” Everyone was now talking amongst themselves and asking what she was talking about. Lola raised an eyebrow at me and I shrugged. She had my full attention now. “As you all may know, there is a new popular kids’ talent show, Strive Kids Nigeria. And we are so lucky to have them actually collaborate with us! They’re offering 50 slots for students in this school, from your years, to audition and to be on it! Isn’t that amazing?” Uh, yeah! No one was silent now. They were either celebrating or screaming, but they were definitely excited!
Lola was probably the most excited, she stood up and started jumping and laughing hysterically.
Mr. Ade yelled at us to be quiet (putting it politely). They were celebrating in a more hushed tone then. “I know this is exciting, but don’t throw away your manners. Remember, every second you’re representing our school. Anyway, to determine who will and won’t participate, Miss Olamide and Mrs. Johnson will be holding auditions in 1 month, giving you enough time to prepare. You will perform your talent and say why you want to be in the show. Save the date, and I wish you luck.” The bell rang just then and everyone rushed to their classes.
I and Lola were literally jumping for joy, and it felt like nothing could make this feeling leave. Well, guess who tried to prove us wrong? Mhm. Amber and her minions. There are 4 of them, you already know Jessie and Jojo, but there’s also Delila and Darla, the boujee ones. They’re all like her yes men, well, women. They blocked our path and started gushing, “Girls, don’t you think that I’m totally going to crush the competition with my angelic voice? The talent here is so overrated” Jessie and Jojo both beamed and said, “Of course, queen! No talent can overthrow your silky, sweet voice.” “Obviously! I mean, Simi’s good, but she hasn’t got anything on you!” Delia and Darla nodded in agreement while inspecting their nails.
Lola and I just glanced at each other and tried not to laugh. Then she spoke, “Girl, please, you’re too full of yourself. I’m sure everyone has something they’re really good at, maybe even better than you.” She scoffed at Zoe, not caring, then she looked at me. I was pretending to look around for something. “What are you looking for?” Darla whispered loudly in Amber’s ear, “A life.” They laughed and high-fived each other. I rolled my eyes at their immaturity. I looked her up and down and said, “Nope. I was actually looking for someone who cares”. With that, I and Lola ran off to class laughing at her ticked-off face.
The day went on normally, but when it was over, I told Lola to go home without me and I went to look for my music teacher. I looked in the office, but she wasn’t there. I looked in the staff room, but I couldn’t find her. I even checked the teacher’s bathroom, and she still wasn’t there. Finally, I checked the Music Room. ‘If she isn’t here then I’ll just go home and talk to her tomorrow.’ I told myself.
But she was there.
She was on the pretty piano, and whatever her fingers were doing, it was MAGIC. The sweet, melodic tune filled the room. Her fingers so lightly pressed the keys. I found myself closing my eyes, feeling every note she played. Until she abruptly stopped and stared at me.
“Dara! What are you still doing here? It’s past closing time!” I quickly found myself and stuttered, “I-I’m sorry, Ma, I just- I was just..” I sighed. “How did you do that?” She looked puzzled. “What? Play piano? Dear, I’m a music teacher! It would be bad for my job if I couldn’t”. I smiled. “The way you played that was so.. Magical. Like, you did it so effortlessly and, and, I want to do it too!”
I had a look of desperation on my face. Mrs. Olamide smiled at me and said, “You’d like to learn piano? Well, you can start taking after-school lessons with me. Just ask your mum to call and sign you up, if you’d like that.” My face lit up. “Yes! I’d like that very, very much!” I waved and ran out of the school feeling like a million dollars.
I can’t wait to see how this will turn out!
COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR MORE!