Miriam hated this place.
When Goch asked her how good her Hausa was, she thought he just needed a brief translation, she had no idea that this was what he had in mind.
The blazing hot sun seeped through her cotton blouse, heightening her irritation even more.
“Oga, I thought you said your a/c was working.”
He muttered some sort of excuse, but she wasn’t listening.
Her mind wandered back to the true source of her vexation.
“The only way we can keep the Microsoft grant is if we improve upon our CSR. Besides, you’d be doing so much good to the world, empowering girls who would never in a million years have touched a computer” Goch had said.
Miriam rolled her eyes at the thought.
Goch-Tech already did too much charity as far as she was concerned.
If not for her shrewdness, she was almost sure they’d be bankrupt by now.
“Miriam, you don’t have to do this. But I really want you to. I need someone I can trust, someone who is capable and can work without supervision.”
Miriam eyed him suspiciously.
He may not have said it, but she knew his wife had something to do with it.
Their work environment had even become more strained since the CEO married his ex-secretary who now served as head of the company’s newly built data centre.
Miriam would never understand what Goch saw in Amanda but they were married and that was it.
Now that whore was living the life Miriam had always envisioned for herself while Miriam was shipped off to the middle of nowhere.
Her freshly manicured nails hit her phone screen ferociously as she played candy crush.
Network had been horrible since they left the Yola airport. There was little she could do to stay occupied.
Her worry had been that there would be no nice background to take selfies and post on Instagram in the middle of an unnamed village in Adamawa state but she had no idea the network would be so bad she wouldn’t even be able to use her WhatsApp, how much more Instagram.
It would take a few weeks before the fibre-optic cables Goch-Tech planned to place at the school would be ready but she didn’t know what she would do. She would die of boredom… and heat.
She hit her head with her right hand, the signature way a stylish woman does when she wants to scratch her scalp without taking off her wig.
But that tactic wasn’t working today.
She let out a loud hiss.
“I thought you said your a/c was working?” She asked the driver accusingly.
She took off her wig and rested her head on the window until sleep consumed her.
Mallama, mun issa GSS Gemda.
The driver was telling her that they had arrived at their destination – Government Secondary School, Gemda.
Miriam realized she had been drooling in this third-rate cab.
She swallowed, pursing her lips together. She enjoyed the taste in her mouth after a restful nap, but was embarrassed that she had spittle across her lips.
She brought out her mirror from her make up purse and assessed her face.
Where on earth was her wig?
She scrambled around the back seat searching for it, only to find it on the floor.
“I no dey come down?”
There was something wrong with this driver, she could tell.
“Baka da hankli, can’t you see I’m getting ready?”
The man was wearing her patience thin. He was an idiot and deserved to be told
“Na me or na your papa I dey talk to?”
He replied angrily.
Imagine the imp of a man! All because she chose to enter this his god-forsaken taxi.
She was definitely going to take her time now.
She peered through the window to look at the place that would be her work and home for the next one year.
The gate house before her must have been painted at one point in time, but for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what colour was used.
“I no wan come down fa?” The driver said impatiently.
Miriam burst out laughing. Why didn’t he just speak Hausa instead of making a dramatic mess of the English language. It was only in this part of the world that people used ‘I’ in place of ‘you.’
“You should be the one coming down,” she said.
Dan allah ka sauka kazo ka koya turanchi a makarantan nan!!!
“Go into this school so you can learn how to speak proper English,” she had said
The driver had had enough.
He stormed out of the car and opened the back door, angrily telling her to pay his money and get out.
Miriam chuckled. This one didn’t know who he was dealing with but she didn’t want to cause a scene while representing Goch-Tech in a different state. She adjusted her wig and made her way out of the car.
“Give me your account details so I can transfer the money to you,” she replied.
It was the driver’s turn to chuckle.
So the peacock didn’t even have money and she wanted to play a fast one on him?
“Me I no get am for account, give me my money.”
“Why wouldn’t you have an account in this day and age?”
Surely he was lying just to make her suffer. Two could play that game.
“You’re not ready to be paid then, Don boran uban ka” she replied, making her way to the boot of the car.
The man pulled her sharply by the arm. She knew she had overstepped when she insulted his father’s testicles, but she didn’t expect him to lay his hand on her. Shocked and a little afraid, she struggled to break free.
“I dey craze? I dey mad? I no wan pay me my money!” He shouted, shaking her vigorously.
Miriam did not scare easily. She pushed him away and stood her ground.
“You’re right. You’re the one who is crazy!”
He went for her hair and off it went.
It was the second time today she was thankful that she wore a wig.
He continued swearing and screaming in Hausa, and she responded to every word.
A small crowd, mostly comprising of young girls in uniform, soon gathered at the scene.
“What is going on here?”
A man stood between herself and the taxi driver in an effort to end the ruckus.
None of your business. Call the principal, let him know that the representative from Goch-tech is here,” she shouted.
I’m the principal.
Yohanna was accustomed to drama.
Any Principal of an all-girls school encountered drama daily.
Girls beefed each other and even though their house mistresses were primarily in charge of them, he still had to settle quarrels here and there.
When the food in the dining hall was not enough, when there was water scarcity, when the senior students got their ego into their heads and punished students severely…he was at home with such problems. But this? He wasn’t sure he was ready for this.
When he heard that two adults were fighting at the school gate, his initial reaction had been to send them on their way and protect his students.
He was almost sure that the crazy lady fighting with the middle aged man was lost. Her expensive clothes didn’t look like she belonged here. Perhaps he could find out what the issue was so they could leave the school in peace.
His heart sank when he realized that that was not to be the case.
He had prayed for weeks for his school to be accepted for the Goch-Tech “Adopt-a-School” programme.
The entire school had been so joyful when they received news that GSS Gemda had been selected. He wasn’t sure if the students properly understood what was going on, but at least they would have computer or Kwamputa as the village people liked to call it.
Looking at the situation in front of him, he hoped the computers would be worth the trouble.
This woman, fighting in the front of his school was the Goch-Tech rep?
When he introduced himself as the principal, she rolled her eyes, examining him from head to toe.
“Well I’m going to need some cash,” she said.
“It didn’t occur to me that drivers in this God-forsaken town would be part of the 37 percent of the country’s wretched un-banked population?”
“I mean who doesn’t have an account? It’s 2019.”
This one had too much drama.
He muttered under his breath.
Perhaps the driver would be easier to deal with.
How much is it? He asked the driver.
Yohanna checked his pocket out of reflex.
He knew he didn’t have up to N4, 000 with him. The state hadn’t paid teacher’s salaries in four months.
He looked at the lady.
“I don’t have that much with me. The nearest ATM is 30 mins away, you can go back with him…”
“There is no way I’m going anywhere with this…”
The driver responded in Hausa saying in not so friendly terms that he would not allow that woman…if she even deserved to be called a woman…into his car.
There had to be another way to solve this matter.
He went back to the driver.
They spoke in a language Miriam did not understand.
She was quite fluent in Hausa. But the local Gemda dialect was lost on her.
The Principal walked back to her. She observed him. He was quite tall and dark, with a scar across his right cheek. Perhaps he had his share of fights in this past and would not judge her for today’s happenings.
Now that the dust had settled, she was a bit embarrassed. She did her best to re-arrange her appearance.
So much for first impressions.
Mr. Principal with a scar walked up to her.
This is Mrs. Ibrahim, our senior boarding house mistress. She will show you to your quarters.
“What about him?” She asked, eyeing the driver.
Don’t worry…trade by barter,” he replied, and winked at her.
Some students were already helping her get her stuff from the car.
She swallowed a lump in her throat.
“Thank you,” she said, speaking to no one in particular.
Thank you for reading a sample chapter my newest book, Finding Miriam. As you may have noticed, it’s a sequel to Loving Amanda.
It launches officially on February 10, as a two-in-one book with Loving Amanda, but you can pre-order your copy at a discount here.