The Camaraderie is a thrilling story about good and evil, justice and crime, friendship and fraud. Terian Kings’ young-adult fiction brilliantly narrates the dilemmas of the important decisions in life as one sets his own foot on the way to adulthood.
In Nigeria, West Africa, there certainly comes a time in the life of every adolescent when they are inclined to depart from the bosom of parental care to join the long path of tertiary education. This was exactly the case in the household of the Johnsons, as the family of four was full of preparations for the departure of one of their own. The news of Chidi Johnson’s admission to the university was a delight to his folks, they had done a good job of making him realize this, it was finally the time for the-fourteen-year-old to leave home and he was all set.
‘Are we A-Go?’ Mr. Johnson inquired.
‘Well yes, Dad, thanks to you and Mum, I am ready!’ the boy replied.
‘Oh good, son,’ his wife interrupted, bringing out his provisions from inside the kitchen, and the trio were this time all in the living room.
‘Is that the rest of my stuff ?’
‘Yes, Chidi,’ Mrs. Johnson nodded.
‘Thanks a lot, Mum,’ her only son retorted with a smile.
‘You’re welcome, Son, we’ll really miss you, you know?’
‘Well, I know someone who will miss him more,’ Mr. Johnson joined the conversation.
‘Yeah, I do, too,’ Mrs. Johnson was quick to reply. ‘Speaking of which, where’s she?’
‘I’m sure she’s in her room, I’ll go bid her farewell now,’ Ceejay said as he headed towards his sister’s room.
Chiamaka wasn’t in such good spirits; the young girl was sitting on her bed as she continued to stare languidly through the window. She was so deeply immersed in her mood that her brother, coming into the room, could feel her ignorance of his presence. ‘I’ll be back after a few months,’ he then announced.
‘What?!’ she was startled. ‘Ceejay!’
‘Amaka,’ he bellowed, ‘you don’t want to say good bye to your big brother?’
‘It’s just that I’ll miss you too much,’ she got up from her mattress, walked up to her brother and hugged him tight.
‘Don’t worry sis, I’ll be back in a few months to see you,’ he assured.
‘Do you promise?’ she let go of him brief ly to look into his eyes.
‘Yes Amaka, I do,’ Chidi nodded.
'That would be great,’ her mood got better; ‘can I come visit you sometime?’
‘Well yes, but you would have to inform mom and dad.’
‘Of course, but do you think they would allow me to come see you?’
‘Well, I’ll talk to them, okay?’
‘Okay, I’ll miss you Ceejay.’
‘Too much Sister, too much.’ Just then Mrs. Johnson walked into the room to find her kids clung together, but this wasn’t about to hinder her announcement. ‘Well, it’s time Chidi, your dad’s car is ready!’
‘Akinyele, when is the bus going to be here?’ Mrs. Adeoye asked her only son.
‘In about five minutes Ma,’ Akin struggled to talk as his mouth was full of the meal he was having.
‘Then you should hurry with the rice,’ his mum was done packing his bags too as she walked over to join him at the dining table. ‘I wouldn’t want you to go there hungry.’
‘Thanks Mummy,’ he was grateful. She had spent her entire savings on his school trip and was ready to give even more as she loosened the wrapper that was tied around her waist to bring out the few banknotes that were hidden in it. Market women like herself had a knack for keeping money in such manner. ‘That’s seven thousand,’ she handed him the money. ‘I hope you haven’t forgotten all I told you last night.’
‘No, Ma,’ he paused his meal to take the notes.
‘I’ll send you some more as soon as I make better sales, okay?’
‘Okay Mum, thanks.’ This adolescent couldn’t express enough his gratitude, his mum had always done her best to make him comfortable and he very well appreciated this as he put the money into his pocket and continued to eat. Just in that moment, Mrs. Adeoye’s attention veered as she heard the honk from a vehicle, arriving on her property; she then walked over to the window to make sure she was right ‘Are you done with your meal?’ she inquired as soon as she spotted the van.
‘Yes, Mum,’ Akinyele Adeoye replied as he swallowed his last chunk of grains.
‘Good,’ she paused and faced him; ‘the bus is here.’
It was exactly 13:41 GMT when a yellow taxi pulled up in the extremely large compound of the Da-Silvas. Idrees got out of the taxi almost immediately and the cabman was also out in no time to help him load his baggage off.
‘How much do I owe you? ’ the teenager asked from the driver.
‘Well, your proprietress has already paid me,’ the cabby replied.
He was now done unloading the luggage of his latest customer from the trunk. ‘But I would appreciate a little something, you understand?’ the old man grinned, Idrees then dipped his hand into the back pocket of his denim pants to provide a new five-hundred-naira note that he handed to the driver. ‘Will that be enough?’ he inquired.
‘This is just perfect, thanks!’ the driver showed gratitude and went on to remove his car from the premises.
‘Well, well, well …’ a voice called from behind Idrees as he turned back to identify it. ‘Alomah!’ it was his very own friend, Richard Da-Silva.
‘Richie boy!’ Idrees responded. ‘I’m sorry I’m late.’
‘It’s nothing; you couldn’t have come at a better time.’ Richard came closer to Idrees, who was still standing in the exact spot where he tipped the cabman; the boys immediately shook hands.
‘Oh good, are you ready?’
‘Yes of course,’ Richard answered as he glanced at Idrees’ luggage.
‘And by the looks of things, so are you!’
‘Yes, Richie Boy, so when do we leave?’ Idrees asked. and with a very bright smile Richie replied, ‘Right now.’
Mr. Olanrewaju walked into his sons’ room for the third time in the last ten minutes and he didn’t seem any less irritated. ‘Don’t tell me you kids are not ready yet?’ he bawled.
‘I am!’ Ayodele, his first son said as he finally locked his travel box.
‘What about you, Deji?’ the attention of the old man was at that moment drawn to his other son, Ayodeji, who was doing a lot of things but getting ready. He certainly wasn’t in any mood for answering his dad either. ‘He’s looking for a certain pen drive,’ Ayodele attempted to solve his father’s mystery.
‘But we need to go now!’ Mr. Olanrewaju continued to kvetch.
‘I don’t understand why a simple pen drive will delay us!’ But Ayodele lamented.
‘It is not a simple one,’ Ayodeji spoke for the first time as he glared at his twin brother. ‘So you had better keep quiet!’
‘How much does it cost?’ Mr. Olanrewaju asked.
‘My pen drive?’ Ayodeji wanted to be sure.
‘Yes, boy!’ his dad wasn’t joking, he never did.
‘I ordered it online.’
‘Cut the crap and tell us how much it costs!’ it seemed Mr. Olanrewaju wasn’t the only one losing patience as Ayodele screamed.
‘Fifteen dollars,’ Ayodeji gave in after giving some thoughts to it.
‘Wow! I thought it was worth millions,’ his twin brother was hysterical. Mr. Olanrewaju therefore brought out his wallet from his pocket, counted the notes in it and handed each boy ten thousand naira.
‘That should be enough till the end of the month.’
‘Thanks, Dad,’ Ayodele showed appreciation while Ayodeji still seemed uneasy about the demise of his property. ‘What about my USB stick?’
‘Well, take it!’ Mr. Olanrewaju added an extra two-thousand naira to the juvenile’s cash. ‘I’m sure that would be enough to get a new one.’
‘Yes, Dad.’ Ayodeji said nothing more.
‘So, are we good to go?’ the twins’ father asked for what seemed to be the umpteenth time already.
‘Yes, Daddy,’ the kids chorused.
‘Good! Get your stuff into the truck and let’s get out of here!’
The scenario at Edward’s house wasn’t any different, he was ready to depart from home and his parents had provided all he would need to resume university. However, the same thing couldn’t have been said about his poor cousin, Danjuma Faruq.
‘Uncle Musa, I am ready for school.’
‘And?’ Edward’s father retorted haughtily, for the purpose of this information didn’t seem to be clear to the old man.
‘I need some money to live on while I’m at school,’ Danjuma explained.
‘You and my son are going to be in the same hostel, aren’t you?’ the attention ofthe old man was drawn away from the journal he was formerly buried into by now.
‘Yes, Sir,’ the adolescent nodded.
‘Then you might as well live on his leftovers!’ Even though the words from Danjuma’s uncle sounded funny, they didn’t have the slightest amusement and the kid knew it, so he tried to remonstrate; ‘But …’
‘Don’t say anything else; just get the hell out of my sight!’ Uncle Musa snarled as he continued to read his journal.
‘It’s time, Father,’ Edward re-entered the living room where his father and cousin were having a discussion,which,needless to say,was over by then. ‘Oh, okay Son, do you have all your things packed?’ the old man once more dropped the journal.
‘Yes, Sir, Danjuma has moved them all into the car and your driver is ready to take us.’
‘Okay, when do you people leave?’ he asked from his son.
Edward glanced at the watch that was strapped to his wrist and delivered: ‘Right away.’
The A-level institute in Lagos was the ultimate destination for all who were in dire need of an admission to any tertiary educationacross the country. The principal of the centre, Mr. Charlie was in his office scribbling through some paperwork when a sudden thump could be heard on his door. ‘Come in, May!’ he answered, for some reason the identity of his visitor wasn’t a mystery.
‘Good afternoon, Dad!’ the door prodded and it was indeed May behind it.
‘My pearl, how do you do?’ Mr. Charlie put his pen down.
‘Fine, Dad, your secretary told me you were very busy.’ His teenage daughter walked up to his chair and placed a kiss on his cheek.
‘Yes baby, it’s been quite a busy week for us here at the institute, every kid from last year will be resuming their various new schools today.’
‘Yes, Dad, I know and that’s why I am here.’ May wrapped her arms around her father. ‘I’m also a student from the previous year of the institute, remember?’
‘Oh yes, you’re also resuming university today.’
‘Yes, Dad and I am ready,’ she paused; ‘I came to bid you farewell.’
‘Oh, my princess, I’ll miss you!’
‘I’ll miss you too, Daddy!’ Mr. Charlie’s daughter revealed her gorgeous dentition.
‘I will have your money transferred into your account, okay?’
‘Okay Dad, bye!’ she said as she pecked him once again and exited the office.
May continued to make her way out of the institute when she suddenly stumbled on the most likely of persons; she spotted Mr. Zebrudiah, the institute’s chief security officer, as the slightly plump old man walked past her clinging tight to a certain photograph. The sassy man had continued to move without uttering a word to Mr. Charlie’s daughter which immediately aroused suspicion to the young girl. The CSO’s unusual silence was, however, not the only cause of her consternation. As May Charlie caught a glimpse of the picture the old man was holding, she realized that the photograph was a portrait of someone she knew, someone she knew very well.
It was dusk by the time Mr. Johnson and his son, Chidi finally arrived at the University of Lagos, Akoka and given the heavy traffic they encountered on theirjourney, this was no surprise at all. The relationship between them couldn’t be said to be perfect but Ceejay’s admission seemed to have left his old man newfangled.
They located the freshman’s hostel room and he settled in very well. ‘Remember to be a good boy always, okay?’ the old man and his son were in the university’s main car park, sitting inside his vehicle.
‘Yes, Dad,’ Ceejay answered as he watched Mr. Johnson bring out a business card from the glove box ‘Here,’ he handed it to his son; ‘make sure you call that number.’
‘Whose number is it, Dad?’ Ceejay asked after receiving the card.
‘It’s the bursar’s.’
‘Ebuka Philips?’ he was reading from it.
‘Dr. Ebuka Philips,’ his dad corrected, ‘he’s an old friend.’
‘Okay Dad, I’ll see him after I’m done with my registration,’ the teenager tucked the card into his breast pocket.
‘Good! And send my regards to him.’ Mr. Johnson went on to bring out an envelope from another compartment of the safe. ‘Take it!’ he handed it to his son, and Ceejay seemed to be expecting what he received this time as he hurriedly grabbed it.
‘That’s twenty thousand naira; it should put you to a good start.’ Ceejay was grateful, he didn’t have such wealthy parents but he could recognize their urge to make him as comfortable as possible. He was their first and only son and they were preparing him for a bright future. He couldn’t afford to let them down and he knew it as he got out of the car. Mr. Johnson then kick started the engine of his Volvo wagon and drove it out of the university’s premises, leaving his son standing alone in the car park, and by the looks of things, alone in the entire school, too.
Akin’s bus arrived at the Lagos state University, at Ojo campus finally; the journey had been a quite idle one for the teenager even though a couple of other freshmen had also joined the campus ride. Akinyele didn’t attempt to mingle with these neophytes as he seemed really immersed in other things, one of which his mother had spoken to him about the previous night. Mrs. Adeoye had done a good job raising him as a single mom since the demise of his father, and the child continued to admire her every effort, as his journey to adulthood kicked off. ‘Don’t forget to pack all your stuff!’ the transit bus driver implored.
‘Are we there yet?’ Richard was asking the driver, as he and his friend were travelling to their new institution in one of his father’s extravagant jeeps.
‘No, Sir.’ They were also chauffeured by one of his drivers.
‘When was the last time you heard from Reshidat’ Idrees was asking Richard, they had both taken their position at the back seats.
‘Been a while Bro, did you know we broke up?’
‘Oh,’ Idrees paused; ‘yes, I remember seeing it on the network news.’
‘Don’t be sarcastic, Bro,’ Richard was smiling, he knew Idrees too well to fall for his sarcasm. ‘I thought I told you.’
‘Well, you didn’t.’
‘Oh, now you know.’
‘But what went wrong? You guys were good together,’ Idrees showed concern. Their vehicle suddenly came to a halt and Richard wasted no time in turning to his father’s driver. ‘Is anything the matter?’
‘No, Sir,’ the old man replied.
‘Then why did we stop?’ the child demanded an explanation.
‘Look outside Sir!’ Richie boy hurriedly wound down the tinted glass at his side and could see clearly the reason for the abrupt stop; Alomah could see it too but just to be clear the driver announced: ‘Welcome, young masters, to the covenant university!’
The Olanrewajus’ too reached their intended destination and they even went further to get their hostel room keys. Mr. Olanrewaju had departed from his sons after making them promise to be of their most productive behavior. From then on the twins were totally ready for tertiary education, but were they ready for all that came with it?
‘We are going to find out …’ Ayodeji read out from a certain handbook.
‘Find out what?’ His twin brother inquired, they were the only occupants of this room.
‘Well, I’m reading from the FUNAAB leaf let.’
‘What the hell is that?’ Ayodele asked again.
‘Well …’ Ayodeji was smiling this time, he really enjoyed moments when his twin brother gave him the opportunity to exhibit his intellectual supremacy, ‘… that’s the acronym for the name of our new school.’
‘University of Abeokuta?’ Ayodele didn’t care for the competition and his carelessness about a lot of things made him ignorant of a whole lot of others, too.
‘Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta,’ the seemingly smarter half of the boys spoke.
‘And what does it say?’
‘What does what say?’
‘The leaflet, dumb!’ Ayodeji might have actually been the smarter of them, but his twin brother certainly never made him feel like it.
‘Well, it says here that the school has a knack for satisfying its entire intake.’
‘By intake, they mean us, right?’
‘Yes,’ Ayodeji ascertained.
‘Then we are going to find out.’
2 DANJUMA’S MISFORTUNE
The next day was Tuesday and all the freshmen of the University of Maiduguri finally settled in, and it was time for each student to go through the required process of registration. The school granted its new students a limited period, of one week to manage this and failure to complete the registration by then would definitely incur unfortunate measures.
Everyone seemed to be doing fine so far except one. ‘I can’t find my name on any of the lists!’ Danjuma Faruq was complaining to a secretary at the school’s office for student affairs.
The woman, who was going through some papers of her own, looked up to see him standing right in front of her desk. ‘Then you simply don’t belong here,’ she snarled.
‘But, Ma’am …’ he was confused, ‘… I got an admission letter from here!’
The woman, quite condescend in her approach then, inquired.
‘Can I see it?’
‘Yes.’ Danjuma opened the crossbag that hung on his shoulders, he took out his admission letter and handed it to her. She went through the piece of paper for some seconds and finally confirmed its authenticity.
‘Go over to the senate building.’ She said. ‘Do you know where that is?’
‘No.’ The teenager shook his head; he had only been in the campus for a day.
‘It’s the building after the long row of classes, on your right.’
‘Ask for Mallam Audu,’ she said as she handed him back his letter and immediately returned to her papers.