Over the next couple of months, Fadeke and Tade saw each other more often. Tade was very good with brushes and pencil; he would often say that his paintings were his medium of expression as they told his story and that of others around him. Fadeke became fond of Tade; initially it was due to the fact that she wanted some paintings and other art works. After a while, it was not just the paintings, she began to look forward to seeing Tade. At first, Fadeke felt the friendship was parasitic as she had nothing to offer in return for the paintings. She hated this and once tried to offer him money in return for the paintings but he would not accept, she then offered to buy some of the frames and coloured pencils; this was fine with Tade. Fadeke was not satisfied with this. An opportunity then opened up one afternoon when Tade told her he wished he did not have to offer physics; that was her opportunity to make their friendship symbiotic and she took it. She asked him some questions and noticed that he was very poor in physics. He was practically struggling with most topics in the curriculum for that year. She was a ‘B’ student in physics unlike chemistry which was her forte but she was good enough to tutor him. Tade made art works for Fadeke and she helped him with physics. Prior to them becoming friends, Tade had done his homework; he knew where Fadeke lived, who her mother was and that she loved music.
It was usual for St John’s boys and Agnes’ girls to mingle, Tade used this to his advantage by asking the girls in Fadeke’s class. He heard from the girls in her class that Fadeke was very brilliant and had always finished top of the class. The only snag according to the girls was that she was not sharp with boys, otherwise she would have won all the boys at St. John and even some of the university students that often visited St Agnes in search of what had come to be termed as ‘big boy love’ by Agnes’ girls. But as fate would have it, Fadeke seemed to like him, perhaps because of his artistic hands. The socialisation between St. John’s boys and Agnes’s girls was customary, the presence of boys at Agnes or that of girls at St. John was never questioned, either because the management of the both schools did not care or they felt it was not wrong. It was therefore easy for Fadeke and Tade to meet in either of their classes after school. Their usual meeting point was Tade’s class because Fadeke took extra classes three days a week in preparation for the West Africa Senior Secondary School Examination, which she was to write the next term. On those days, Fadeke would meet Tade in his class working on some sketch, as is his usual custom and they would talk for about one hour, so Fadeke could get home early enough to complete her homework and prepare dinner.
It was on one of those afternoons that Fadeke brought up a conversation about their future ambitions. He seemed to have concluded that he had no chance of ever attending a university or any tertiary institution. Fadeke could not understand why he would arrive at this conclusion; there were many things Fadeke did not understand about him. He never spoke about his family or background, she was not sure who his friends were and she definitely did not know where he lived. He somehow dodged her questions and focused on her plans, and for once, Fadeke failed to dig deeper. She had always wanted someone to listen to her, to ask her what she wanted to do with her life. Tade lend her his listening ears and she poured out her heart.
Her Mum had drummed it into her ears how much she needed to ace her papers so she could gain admission into medical school. Fadeke was going to live her mother’s dreams. No one bothered to ask what she dreamt, how she foresaw her future, where she wanted to be, what she wanted to do. Her teachers seemed to have conspired with her mother. They simply looked at her examination results at the end of each term and tell her she was destined to be a medical doctor. No one asked if this was her dream, they simply assumed she would want to be a medical doctor. After all, she always aced her chemistry with such ease each term.
She had never been able to picture herself in white overalls walking down the long corridors typical of hospitals. Whenever she tried to imagine herself in those realities, the images that dropped in her mind were never ever clear, just blurred images of someone who looked like her, but was not her. Rather, she had always dreamt of stages and massive crowds dripping in their sweats, pushing, shoving and screaming her name out of frenzied excitement. The dreams were repetitive both at night and at daylight, they never left. She often dreamt of tours around the world, meeting her favourite artistes, watch them perform and even perform with them. She had only ever attended a live concert, one of the concerts at Liberty Park, Lagos. The images in her mind became much clearer at the concert. Initially, she was irritated at the girls behind her because they screamed so loud during the performances. She wanted to enjoy the lyrics and listen to the harmony of the instruments. These girls would not let her; they were over excited at the band playing their favourite songs, so they screamed all through. She missed some of the lyrics as a result. It was at this point she understood that musicians and artistes were performers and without the screams of the audience, performances were pointless. She wished she had more chances to attend live shows at Liberty Park but her mother would not agree, first, she would not allow her ‘waste’ her life and secondly, the shows ended late into the night. She was too young to be all alone at such ungodly hour, her mother would often say. She was only able to attend that one show because her mother had agreed after much persuasion to reward her brilliant academic performance.
Fadeke knew she was her mother’s joy and perceived ‘only hope’, she understood how much she meant to her mother, despite her sarcasm. She loved Fadeke very deeply, but she was like every average Nigerian parent. Nigerian parents dream dreams and hang the manifestation of their dreams on their children. Mrs. Onifade was not to be persuaded, her daughter would read medicine. She often rebuffed every attempt by Fadeke to turn her heart with the Yoruba proverb a fun o lobe o tami si; ogbon ju olobe lo?
Fadeke sat for her examination and was confident that she was going to make excellent grades. While the examination lasted, Mrs. Onifade treated her like a baby and made sure she had no house chores. After each paper, Mrs. Onifade would ask for details and with her daughter’s confident response each day, her confidence in the dream began to take wing, ready to soar.
Unknown to Mrs. Onifade, Fadeke with the support of Tade, had put in psychology on her university matriculation examination application. Fadeke had asked Tade to accompany her to the cyber café to submit her application. They asked the cyber café attendant what course was close to medicine but less stressful. The attendant told them psychology or physiotherapy, so Tade and Fadeke told her to submit psychology. At least it was close to Mrs. Onifade’s dreams…
a fun o lobe o tami si; ogbon ju olobe lo? – We gave you some stew, you added water; you must be wiser than the cook.