The sniffling stopped as soon as Kassy asked the question. Kassy turned on her mattress to stare in the direction the noise had been coming from.
“I heard you crying, so stop acting like you can’t hear me.”
“What do you care?” Aghogho finally said, her voice harsh. “You can’t understand. All you do is complain. Today it’s ‘Oh, I can’t baf cold water’. Tomorrow it’s ‘Oh, I’m missing Desperate Housewives.’” She let out a bitter laugh. “You think this is suffering; my dear, you haven’t seen anything.”
Kassy knew Aghogho was right; she did come off as a spoiled brat. But why bring that up when she was being nice?
“I was only trying to help. But if you prefer to keep your problems to yourself then that’s fine. What’s even my business?”
It was a while before Aghogho spoke again.
“I don tire, Kas. Ah! Sometimes I wonder who sent my parents to born plenty children. Dem no get money dem go born battalion. Eight whole children! Now as first born everybody is looking at me. They managed to send me to university, and now it’s not even a year since I finished and all of them are looking at me.”
Kassy was quiet.
Aghogho continued. “Every month, once my alawi comes I send like ninety percent of it home. But even that is never enough. Now this evening my mother called to tell me that our last born is sick. I don’t have anything to send to them, and this is just the second week of the month. Sometimes I just wonder what will happen if I don’t get a good job after service. What will happen to all of us?”
Kassy turned into yet another untarred road and quickened her steps. She was eager to get home—if that place they stayed could be called home. The street was quiet and so she jumped when she heard a voice behind her.
She whirled to find Efe standing there, an apologetic smile on his face.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Kassy smiled back at him to hide the fact that her vocal chords were not cooperating with her open mouth. She’d thought yesterday that he was not bad looking, but that was understating it. The boy was fiiiiiine! That tall, athletic body, the dark brown skin. His narrow eyes. That jaw line. Those lips. Those glasses that gave him a Clark Kent-ish look. She closed her mouth and started to clear her throat.
Just then there was a gust of wind and she felt herself pushed against Efe. And her handbag was gone. She’d barely had time to scream, “My bag!” before Efe was away, chasing after the thief. She turned to follow them, and as she watched Efe’s long legs eat up the distance between him and the snatcher she felt even more drawn to him. She noticed his glasses on the ground—they must have fallen off as she ran—and picked them, looking up just in time to see Efe leap up in the air and land on the thief, knocking him to the ground. He retrieved her bag, and as he stood and dusted himself off the thief scrambled away. Efe didn’t bother chasing him. He turned and walked towards her, smiling, his chest heaving. She smiled back, and as he got closer she noticed he was barely even sweating.
“That was impressive,” she purred up at him as he handed her bag over. She gave him his glasses.
He shrugged. “I was on my school’s athletics team so…. You want to check your bag, see that nothing is gone?”
She tore her eyes away from him and went through her bag. The thirty thousand she’d planned to give Aghogho looked intact, and so did everything else.
“Everything’s fine. Thanks, Efe.”
“Hey, it was nothing,” he chuckled. “It was good even, cos I’ve not been getting that much exercise since I came here.”
Kassy looked down the road. “I was just going…”
“Home? To your room?” Efe cut in. “May I walk with you?”
Kassy looked up at him and smiled her consent. Her very own Superman.