Farida read it twice in a confused state. Her hands began to tremble. Monica, noticing Farida’s discomfort, read the note and also became scared. Cult boys were a no-no. She made Farida sit down then she went downstairs to make a call from the payphone. When she was done, she came upstairs, packed a few of her clothes and also clothes for Farida. She picked up the letter and shoved it in the pocket of her jeans.“Farida, you are going with me to my mother’s place until Wednesday. I will take you downstairs while you pretend to have a toothache. Put this egg in your mouth so it would look swollen. We will talk after we have left here” Farida did as she was told. She was in a state of confusion. Why would the cult boys come after her? Did any of them ask her out and she refused without knowing? She kept a low profile because of this and now it was happening. What was she to do?Monica went downstairs with their bags. She came back upstairs and took Farida leaning against her downstairs. When they got downstairs, she helped her get into the back of Toyota Avalon and they drove off. The car took them from Akoka to Victoria Island where her mother resided. Monica’s mother wasn’t at home. Farida didn’t have the opportunity to admire the house. A room had been prepared for them which they both went to.‘What could have happened? Why would they be after you? Did you offend anyone?” Monica asked.“I don’t know. I don’t think I offended anyone”“Has anyone asked you out recently?”“No one that I know of. Why would they want to kidnap? What have I done?”“I will get to the bottom of this. First, I need to call someone who just graduated from Unilag. He flew colour. He will know who commissioned the hit”“You know someone who was a cult member?”“Actually, he is my cousin from my mother’s side. He is protecting me in Unilag. I will ask him to protect you”“I don’t need his protection; I just want to know who is behind this”Monica left to use the phone in the sitting room while Farida was left alone with so many questions and no answer. When she came back, she said he would get back to them.Farida met Monica’s mother later that night.“I am so sorry; I have been a bad host. How are you? Monica said you are not feeling well so she brought you here. It is so difficult to get her to stay here with me so I am glad you made her come. Have you had dinner”?“Yes, ma” Farida answered as she looked at this tall slender woman with a beautiful figure which she flaunted. She was attractive facially but her body was hot. Monica only had a few her facial looks and nothing else. Monica was of average height, plump although shapely, light-skinned as against her mother’s light brown complexion. Monica was down to earth but this woman looked sophisticated and pompous. Farida loved the way she carried herself. She wished her mother was like this too. “We are going to bed now. Thanks, mum, for letting us stay with you. I didn’t want to answer a query from Dad’s wife”“You are welcome anytime sweetheart. See your friend, she’s so slim. Why can’t you try to be like her?”“Mom, please!”‘Ok ok”In the bedroom, they talked about the situation. Missing school for five days during examination period didn’t go down well with Farida but Monica insisted they obeyed instruction. Farida was still worked up. She would miss two papers while in hiding. Monica luckily could go back to school to write her examination. She was protected. She wanted feedback from her cousin before she could go.They stayed home, reading together. Some Economics courses Monica found difficult, Farida explained to her. Her closeness to Farida had tremendously improved her academics. Her first-semester result baffled everyone in her department. She wanted to ensure she maintained the same tempo this semester. On Sunday afternoon, Monica had a visitor. She called Farida to meet her cousin. After introductions, he said,“You are fine sha. But, why did you challenge Prof like that?”“Prof? Which prof?” Monica asked.“She challenged Professor Woka. That guy na bad guy. You should have just settled him and moved on”Farida was speechless at this point. She was just staring at Monica’s cousin.“Settled him how? Given him her body? Why would she do that? She is a very intelligent girl so she doesn’t need to do that”“He was the one that called for the hit. Some people have gone to broker peace on her behalf. Is your lover a cult member too?” he asked Farida.“She doesn’t have a lover”“Someone went all out on him. They killed his dog and hung it on the front door of his house. His wife was almost run off the road. Someone picked his son from school and dropped him close to his office with a note pinned on his uniform both front and back; a warning for him. All these happened in one day. He called off the hit. I had to meet with my people and prof. He has agreed to stay clear. He won’t tamper with her result. He will also not allow any other lecturer victimize her”“I think I know who did this. The female invigilator during my examinations. She asked me to be patient, she will handle it” Farida suggested.“Whoever did this scared the shit out of him especially with his only son. You can go back tomorrow, no one will attack you. You are now under my protection”“How do I appreciate you for what you have done?” Farida asked.“Be my girlfriend” he replied laughing.“It can not happen. She will never agree” Monica emphasized.“I know. I was told she is very principled. Many of the guys admired her doggedness. She’s safe. Don’t worry about anything”After he left, they both released a sigh of relieve. Farida hugged Monica in appreciation for all she did for her. They could go back to school to finish their examinations.“But that woman couldn’t have killed the dog and hung it in his house, could she?” Farida asked.“It doesn’t matter. We don’t care who stood up for you but we appreciate the person” Monica replied. Chat MartinMartino on zero eight one eighty thirty fourteen twenty one to be added to his WhatsApp groupAfter the examinations, they left school for the holidays. Farida learnt how to make calls at the business centre. She had collected Monica’s number so they would keep in touch. She knew she would miss her new best friend whom she loved very much. The kidnap saga had brought them even closer than ever before. Farida’s business flourished. She was going once a week to Badagry to buy goods for sale. Many of the young girls around her patronized her. Some of them were looking forward to getting admission so they were preparing. The business was very good. Farida hardly had time for any other thing.The holiday dragged longer than expected because of the strike embarked upon by ASUU. This gave Farida more opportunity to continue her business. She hardly had time to visit anyone as she was only free on Sundays. Monica pressurized her to spend a weekend with her when she came back from summer, but Farida didn’t have the time. Apart from that, she was not willing to meet Monica’s stepmother. Monica insisted on visiting her at home. Farida didn’t want that. She stayed in Monica’s mother’s house in Victoria Island. It was a beautiful house. She knew her house was not up to standard for her to come there so she quickly offered to come to visit instead. Monica refused. She wanted to visit Farida. Farida informed her mother. She tried to do some little refurbishing of some furniture in the house. Her mother watched her make an effort to make the house look presentable and smiled.Monica came visiting. She came bearing gifts from her trip. She greeted Iya Farida with a hug which was alien to her. Then she sat down comfortably on the couch and relaxed. She stayed the whole day talking with everyone including her brothers. They liked her. Farida made her favourite soup served with pounded yam and her favourite soft drink. She ate while praising the soup.Before she left, she told Farida that she would like her to accompany her to her village for the Christmas holiday. She needed the company and she would like her to meet her brother who would be coming back to join her father’s business. Farida turned to her mother who asked questions. Where was she from? Where would they be staying? What will her parents say?“Ma, my father has a massive building in our hometown in Ibeno local government in Akwa Ibom state. That’s where we will stay. I have told my dad and he said I can bring anyone I want. My brother and I share a wing of the house but have separate rooms. She will love it there. We can explore the community and join in the activities together. I will be bored with just my brother, but with Farida, I will have an awesome time”“Let us deliberate on it and get back to you. It was nice meeting you. Farida talks about you all the time”“We are best friends. It was nice meeting you too ma. Farida only has wonderful things to say about it. I hope you will invite me to your graduation next year”“Definitely. Safe journey”Farida appealed to her mother to allow her travel with Monica. Her mother was sceptical about the trip because it would be her first time travelling with someone. She felt bad that Farida was considering abandoning them to join her friend and her family. Farida made her understand that Monica was more like a sister to her than a friend. She had done so much for Farida without blinking an eyelid. She told her mother a bit of Monica’s background. She didn’t get along well with her stepmother. Farida being there would make all the difference. Finally, her mother succumbed. She insisted on fifteen days. Farida shared the good news with Monica. Monica was happy. Her family was travelling earlier but she would wait to travel with Farida on the 21st of December. They were flying down. Farida had never been on a plane before. This would be her first time; she couldn’t hide her excitement. She sorted out all she will wear during that period. She bought a smaller travelling bag she would use for the trip. Her mother was worried that she was getting to close to a girl that was far above her status but she didn’t want to say it and hurt Farida’s feelings.Monica picked her up from the house and they left for the airport. Iya Farida had insisted Farida travels with more than enough money in case she had to come back home she won’t be stranded. She just had a ‘not too good’ feeling about this trip but since Farida was excited, she allowed her to go. At the airport, their boarding pass was given to them. She followed Monica’s lead. They sat down chatting away while they waited for their flight. Someone walked up to them at the airport. It was Wura. She was surprised to see Farida at the airport. Farida was really stepping up her game. She looked nice. Her relationship with Monica was benefiting her. “Charity case, what are you doing here?” Wura asked.Farida and Monica acted as though they didn’t see or hear anybody talk to them. They continued chatting.“Am I not talking to you? Are you ignoring me or something?” she asked again. Both of them didn’t respond to her. She was ticked off and decided to run her mouth. “I don’t blame you; I blame Monica for being your lapdog. How can a low-class girl like you ignore me when I talk to you? Because Monica has cleaned you up you now feel you can rub shoulders with me”Monica stood up to respond but Farida stopped her. “Wura, my name is Farida and not Charity case. If you had called me Brilliant or Intelligent or Scholar, I would have known you were talking to me but referring to me in that manner shows you were talking to yourself. That’s one. Two, I delivered Monica from being your lapdog. You wanted her to meet your needs while you demean her. You get her to spend on you and you never reciprocate. She will never do that again. Three, everything on my body is mine. Everything in my bag I bought with my own money. I am stepping up all by myself. I am no longer a low-class girl because we are at the same airport taking a flight out. Yes, Monica made this possible but the next time it will be all me. If you ever see me and try to talk to me in this manner again, I will drop all my self-respect and teach you a lesson you won’t forget. Rabies dog!”The airport erupted in laughter at her last statement which caused them to look around. Wura was embarrassed. Farida just had a way of shushing her. She walked away from them as people started clapping for Farida who quickly took a seat. Monica hugged her in excitement saying, “That was awesome. You put her in her place. Why don’t some people like others to progress? She is so jealous of you. I am so proud of you. See how people are clapping for you. You should have studied Law; you know how to defend yourself. I could never have thought of all you said on my feet at that time. I still have a lot to learn”Farida felt bad. She realized no matter what she achieved there would be some people who would want to remind her of her past. Why would Wura use every opportunity they meet to try to remind her of where she came from. She actually took her as a friend then but now she realized they could never be acquaintances.