PING! PING!! PING!!!...
The app was connected and the messages had started to flood in, unendingly. Loud and upsetting were those pings that everyone in class raised their heads, whimpered and their mouths fell wide open. Apparently, the same shock that had gripped me had equally gripped them.
"Oh jeez!" I said, utterly confused. Panic clutched my throat. My heart nearly jumped out my mouth. I wanted to disappear. How could I have forgotten something as simple as this?
"Whose phone made that sound?"
Nancy's voice came hitting my soul's ears. Her gaze was fixed critically on Lebura and me; she seemed rather unsure where the sound came from.
Thank God I was smart enough --despite the shock-- to have speedily put the phone off, threw it back into my school bag and passed it from underneath the desks to the backseat, in hopes that somebody behind would keep it for me. Everything happened in a flash.
"I said, whose phone made that sound? Better come out now before I fish you out myself." -She yelled again. This time, slowly approaching my seat.
At this, Lebura turned to me, and as our eyes met, he started blinking and winking, profusely, as though his eyelids were now lips and he was trying to talk to me. I soon realized he was begging me to turn myself in to avoid getting him into trouble. What he himself hadn't realized was that, by talking to me with his eyes, he had long turned me in.
By now the murmurings in class had got louder and the heat, more intense. Still I tried to act calm, not sweating, not fussing, not until Nancy had asked me to come out.
"Me?" My index finger landed on my chest.
"Yes, you" -she fired back immediately.
I came out.
And it was after rounds and rounds of interrogations, a thorough search of my seat, and a strong denial on my part that she stomped out of our class and ran towards hers. It went without a saying, and I knew exactly who she was going to call. But then, it quickly dawned on me that even if I was about to get a beating, at least I now had a chance to save my phone. I looked at my classmates and read the handwritings on their faces --It said "go ahead bro"-- so, I rushed to my school bag three seats behind mine, took my phone out, went back out and threw it into the waste basket that stood close to the board. I smartly covered it up with dirt to ensure a perfect camouflage. Then I stood in wait, prepared for the worst.
"See, Diepriye no fear oh, stand!" - Chukwuma echoed from behind the class.
"Guy, no allow am beat you oh, fight am" - I heard Emmanuel say.
"We got you" - added Stanley.
They all sounded so supportive and I felt a little courageous. They even promised to fight for me if I started it and I believed them; yet another mistake. I shut my eyes, took a deep breath, and heaved my shoulders. And in that instant, Barango marched in, Nancy followed, and then two other boys from his class.
"Where's the boy?" Barango panted like a thirsty sprinter.
"That's him" - Nancy pointed at me.
I felt my spirit exit my body through my nostrils. I took few steps backwards, then looked at my classmates, over fifty of us, and I saw that we outnumbered them, so even if a fight should breakout here and now, they wouldn't stand a chance against us.
As he walked in my direction, his teeth clenched like magnets, big veins ran down his neck, and his right hand folded into a powerful fist, I saw his eyes and I recognized that same fury it had every time he was about giving somebody a beating. I took more steps backward, my hands already prepared to block any incoming.
"Where's the phone?" -- beads of saliva hit my face.
"Which phone na?" I replied with a bewildered face.
My response angered him and he landed a resounding slap on my left ear, deafening me. And another one followed. And five more. He then tried to brush me off my feet, but I quickly grabbed his shirt and kept my balance while already grumbling like a child.
As he did all these, I was expecting my classmates to react. I waited for the same people who gave me courage to come to my rescue. I waited for Lebura to stand and say something. But all they ever did was sit and watch. I was still being expectant when another mighty slap landed on my cheek. So mighty it was that I staggered drunkenly until I fell, landing on the waste basket behind me and everything came crashing. The dirt spilled and my phone slid out scattered, stopping right in front of Barango's feet. I sat there on the floor --disappointed-- and watched him pick the dismantled parts one piece at a time. When he was done, he coupled the phone and without saying another word, he made for the door, followed by his entourage. As I watched them disappear with my phone, hot tears streamed down my cheeks.
Of a truth I lost that fight, because I didn't even fight back. But I won because I had learnt something from it. Life had taught me that
"The only person who really got you is you. So do not live to please others."