Ms. Odinaka I.D was obviously stressed out, but being the workaholic that she was, she was not going to leave the table for anyone. Little beads of sweat were gathering along the lines of her forehead, without respecting the Air Conditioner that was working tirelessly to prevent such. She perched herself in the middle of her executive chair, a big table sprawled out before her containing numerous files. A man sat opposite her, rummaging through a file for a document of some sort. In front of Odinaka was a name tag that said….
“…Ms. I. D Odinaka, Chief Executive Officer”
The man in front of her finally found what he was looking for and handed it to her. It was his CV. He was there for an interview concerning an open slot in her TV Company and Odinaka was the CEO. He submitted his CV and she nodded for him to leave. After leaving, she placed his CV in her drawer – any CV placed in THE DRAWER is that of people she doesn’t consider worthy of employment. People believed in what they see on paper, grades and all, but she believes in what she sees in the person. That’s been the edge she’s had over her counterparts.
The door to her office started to ease open as another man entered. As soon as he got into the office, a strange feeling of Deja Vu hit her. She couldn’t shake off the thought that she had seen him before somewhere. She just had no idea where. Still, she was uneasy.
She interviewed him, asked him a wide range of questions and surprisingly, he had answers to everything. Not just answers, great answers. She was impressed, very impressed, but she still had to know why she felt her Deja Vu.
“May I see your credentials, please?”,she asked.
She was the kind of person who didn’t ask for particulars first. He handed her his papers and while leafing through, she saw her proof. She really did know him, and not in a good way. He had absolutely no idea whom he was facing.
Odinaka looked up and stared into his eyes. He was still smiling, oblivious of the fact that she had an idea who he was. She was getting emotional already and tears were welling up in her glands. She was fighting an emotional battle inside of her and it showed on her face by means of more sweat droplets forming on her face. She was uneasy. What would she do? Tell him? He seemed perfect for the job too.
“Is everything alright, ma?”he asked after observing some minutes of silence.
“You are Thomas Adekunle John”, she replied, as if she had no idea of the question asked.
“Yes, ma, I am”
“And you attended Golden Lakes’ Secondary School?”
“As stated, you’re right, ma”
“With your result here, I assume you were one of the best students in your school?”
“Yes ma. Actually, I had to my credit the best SSCE result in the school’s history”
At this point, she couldn’t take it anymore. His words hurt her. She had to let it all out.
She took her name plate on her table and turned it towards him. He still had no idea what was going on. He was starting to feel uneasy too. She was happy at that. She wanted him to feel uneasy.
“Does this name ring a bell to you?”, she asked
“I’m sorry ma, it doesn’t. Should it?”, he replied in a shaky voice.
“Never mind. Let me tell you a story”.
She placed both of her hands on the table, locked fingers into a giant fist, stared him straight in the eyes and began.
“Several years back, I was in secondary school like you too. My parents were quite well to do so I attended one of the best private secondary schools at Lagos. Lived in the hostel throughout. During my senior secondary years, I opted for Arts class, and might I add, I was one brilliant girl. There happened to be a boy also, in Science department, also brilliant, but people claim he’s the cheat kind of brilliant. I don’t remember his name now, maybe at the end of the story.”She adjusted herself a little more and Kunle shifted uncomfortably.
“Fast forward to senior year. I was having my final year exams. My certificate exam, my SSCE. I was so prepared. I was so geared up to have the best result in the school’s history. I read day and night. On the day of my Mathematics Examination, I arrived the hall normally, expecting to write my papers like every other day and leave the hall happy. Little did I know that I was wrong. I was in for more surprises”.
She paused to let this sink. Some fear of realization was beginning to dawn on Kunle as he sat like a statue fixated to his seat. Odinaka allowed him some minutes to swallow before moving on.
“Few minutes before the exam, having been all seated, three external invigilators arrived, and asked us to be on our feet. We were to be searched as there were reports of question leakages. Some were panicking, others were sweating. I was calm cos I was neat. I don’t engage in malpractices. An invigilator got to me, I smiled at her and she searched me. She was just about moving on to the guy sitting behind me when she bent down, and from under my seat, brought out a piece of paper that had the Objective Choice Answers. I was dumbfounded. Before I could say anything, she has slapped me twice. Embarrassed me in front of my teachers and mates alike, dented my image for life. As if that was not enough, she announced that she had found a ‘dirty cheat’. She labeled me dirty, and she labeled me cheat”.
At this time, Odinaka was losing the emotional battle as she was beginning to release tears, but that would not stop her from going on.
“As she held the paper aloft, I recognized the handwriting on it. It was not even mine. It belonged to the guy behind me. I begged one of my teachers to come to my aid, told that to him and the invigilator but my teacher accused me of lying, that the student behind me was an intelligent student and couldn’t do such. He went further to tell me he was disappointed in me, for cheating and lying.
I was dragged to the Proprietor’s office, and being a Reverend Father who couldn’t condone such, he expelled me from the school and wrote to the WAEC office that my result for the papers I’ve taken be seized. I became the talk of the school the next day. Everyone, including my juniors, mocked me as I was loading my personal effects from the hostel into my parents car. Even they were disappointed in me”.
She got herself an handkerchief and wiped off her tears.
“I did not want to continue my schooling, but somehow, I got a chance to further my education in another part abroad – modeling and acting. Then I enrolled for Part Time to get my degree. Not long after, I got myself into this business. I forgot to tell you that I attended a school called Golden Lakes’ Secondary School, and the brilliant boy is named Thomas Adekunle John. He also happened to be the boy that sat behind me during the Math examination. He also happened to be the author of the Math cheat, and it happens that he slipped it under my seat before the search began. Thomas Adekunle Johnson expelled me from my secondary school!”
She completed her narration here, completely taken over by sobs. He had nearly ruined her life, and here he was, seeking a job in her firm. He had been gripped by emotions too. His masculinity eluded him as he also shed bitter tears. She was right. He was the one that brought in the Math cheat. He had forgotten that over the years, but for her, they were the Memories Not Erased
Title for this piece was submitted by Odinaka. I hope she and you readers like it..