The old rain coat that belonged to the late Timothy Ehidiamen, father of Rachel, Martha and James, was harmlessly dangling at the position it had been hung for years in the store at the Ehidiamen residence. Martha sat for about five minutes that seemed like seconds to her, staring at the dangling coat with a facial expression that was a mixture of surprise and shame. Surprised that what had seemed so real, was only an illusion, ashamed that she had made a fool of herself, all because of the paranoia that came with the marijuana. She casted furtive glances at every angle surrounding her to see if anyone else had seen her awkward moment and noticed that Sally, the family’s Doberman pinscher was more interested in licking the area around her genitals than the unusual sight of Martha butt down on the floor. She pulled herself up and went back into the storeroom to finish the business she had in there; every sort of buzz that she got from the previous drags had disappeared.
She lit her blunt with her first try this time around then took yet another long drag as she slowly scanned the store; she had left the door ajar so she could have fair vision of the room and soon, her eyes fell on an item she had overlooked in all her visits to the storeroom. Martha stared at what used to be her school box while she was in secondary school and a myriad of memories hit her like cool breeze right after a bath. She remembered her secondary school days at Queens College in Lagos, Nigeria and how she had spent all six years of those days in the boarding house of the school, spending four of those years invisible and under the shadows of her sister’s fame in the school. Rachel was known and idolized all around QC by her nickname ‘Ray-Chee’, a name she initially hated with a passion but turned out to be her stage name as a radio ‘On Air Personality’ and Martha just couldn’t understand why her boring, rule-keeping sister was such a celeb in the school. Almost no one called her Martha; it was always “Ray-Chee’s sister” here, “Ray-Chee’s sister there and it pissed Martha off to no end, even her teachers referred to her as “Ray-Chee’s sister”.
With really good grades, excellent manners, a good sense of humor, mild sarcasm and the ability to always look as neat as a pin, Rachel was what every parent wanted. She became the first girl to be made house captain in the school who wasn’t in the graduating class of SS3; she was in SS2 and retained her position in her graduating year. QC usually divided students into six houses of different colors named after some Nigerian traditional ruling positions and heroes of note which were Obong house (Orange), Emotan house (Green), Obi house (Yellow), Danfodio house (Red), Efunjoke house (Purple) and Obasa house (Blue). Rachel was a member of Obasa house, a house known for its success at the school’s annual inter-house sports competition and she rose to prominence when in SS1, she became the school’s best sprinter and inspired Obasa house to yet another inter-house sports victory. The next year however, her sister Martha of Emotan house gave her a run for her money at the inter-house sports and even though Rachel and Obasa house won respectively as usual, everyone began to see Ray-Chee’s sister as one for the future, they expected a stiffer test for Ray-Chee at the next inter-house sports competition which would be her last as well.
Martha remembered the next event pretty vividly as it was really eventful for her, she had won the 100 meters sprint event and the 200 meters category as well, beating her elder sister by almost a meter in both races, she was the new deal. With just the 4×100 relay race to go, the medal table had Obasa house and Efunjoke house tied at the top with 6 gold medals each and Obasa ahead by the virtue of having 5 silver medals, 2 more than Efunjoke house but 1 less than Emotan house which had 5 gold medals and could win the competition with a gold medal at the 4×100 relay race; all the pressure was on Martha. Emotan house had not been in such a position in a while, as a matter of fact they were known for their eternal battle with Obi house for 5th place; this was like a dream come through for Emotan house.
Three Obasa seniors Doofan, Amina and Blessing had other plans; they couldn’t afford to lose their bet with some Efunjoke seniors so they ambushed Martha behind a water tank where she was washing herself up, gearing up for her race and bundled her into an empty class, they had five Obasa juniors watch her to make sure she didn’t leave until the race was over. Just before the race began, Rachel heard about her sister’s sudden disappearance and decided to pull out of the race to look for her sister ignoring all pleas from Doofan who kept insisting that Martha got scared because of too much pressure and was probably hiding somewhere. Toyin Lawal who replaced Martha crossed the line just ahead of Efunjoke’s Sandra John to give Emotan house a very historical victory at the same moment that Rachel and her search party found Martha and her captors in an empty classroom. The juniors fled at the sight of the approaching search team but one of them was apprehended and she gave out the names of the three Obasa seniors who sent her. A series of events followed, Rachel, Martha and two Emotan seniors gave the three Obasa seniors a beating right in front of the teachers, students and visiting crowd which included parents, Rachel got stripped of her house captain position and got suspended alongside Martha, the three Obasa seniors, the two Emotan seniors and the five Obasa juniors who stood guard.
That day, Martha felt something she didn’t know she had felt for her sister all along. Distant sounds from the television in James’ room upstairs pulled Martha out of her deep train of thoughts; she could hear the usual opening sequence of the “News at noon” come on. She pulled herself up and broke into an awkward sort of run towards the room to hear the headlines of the news, she pushed past the main door into the living room downstairs and took the steps on the staircase, two at a time, then took a right turn at the top of the flight of stairs and pushed the door into the room open. James gave her a quick glance and stared back at the television; he had gotten a Blackberry broadcast message about a recent happening in the world and quickly turned his Playstation off and then reconnected his television to the satellite TV provider to get first hand view of the situation. Martha heard her brother whisper “oh no, not again” as he stared at the written headlines just before the voice of the newscaster came on.
TO BE CONTINUED…