They awarded Tony and his group marks which they did not deserve. For those subject whose teachers were too strict or disciplined to engage in examination malpractice, Tony and his group bribed the school typist who showed them the question before hand. They then started a last minute reading and revision 0f the topics involved. At last, Daniel did not do badly in the examination. However, he slipped to the fourth position. Shortly before they left for the long vacation, Udoh, Uchenna and Wilson tried to advise Daniel against his new way of life but Daniel refused to listen to them. “Really Daniel,I’m amazed at your complete metamorphosis. I cannot believe that your continue to follow Tony, knowing fully well that………”Udoh began. “Eeh, please, don’t disturb my eardrums, enough of that sanctimonious preaching and sermonizing,” Daniel cut in with a belligerent look. “Please, Daniel calm down,we are not here to fight but to advise you out of brotherly love and concern”, Uchenna said. “Out of brotherly love and concern to rescue a lost friend you want to counsel me but you don’t know that you are the ones who are lost in the darkness of your ignorance. You are the ones lost because you cannot. look beyond your nose to see that something is definitely wrong with the stiff, regimented lifestyle you have caged yourselves in all in the name of trying to succeed in life,” Daniel said with a sneer. “Look Daniel, we may appear to suffer now but later we will enjoy. The patient dog eats the fattest bone, you know!” Wilson said. “Ha! ha!! ha!!!, the dog must be stupid to wait patiently for a mere bone. Smart and clever dogs go for the meat not the bone,” Daniel was quick with this seemingly smart rejoinder. “Please Daniel, listen to us, we care for you. We are after your interest and welfare, we will not fold our hand and allow you to…….”Udoh began as tears misted over his eyes. “Allow me to go astray?” “If you don’t mind guys, I’ll be glad to see your backs as i need some peace and quiet,” Daniel said with a wicked and ugly glint in his eyes. “Okay, Daniel we are here to disturb you but remember that there is a right time for everything. This is not time for us to have girlfriends. We don’t need that kind of distraction, rather we…….”Uchenna could not finish his speech because Daniel became violent and started to shove them out of his corner. “One parting word Daniel, remember the kind of family you come from, remember your father’s dreams and hopes concerning you,”Udoh said. “I’m not here for sentiment, my old man has lived his life, I should be allowed to live mine. Now, get out of mu corner and don’t come back to disturb me,” Daniel said with a menacing growl. Wordlessly and with much sorrow, Udoh and others left Daniel’s corner. “H m m m, Daniel is far gone, much more than we ever thought could be possible,”Uchenna said with a rueful shake of his head. “Wonders shall never end. What charm or magic wand did Tony and Stephanie use on Daniel?” Wilson asked no one in particular. “I wonder,” Udoh replied in a glum voice. They were all devastated nt Daniel’s complete change in behavior but there was little they could do about it except to pray and keep their finger crossed that the scales would fall from his eyes ad then he would turn over a new leaf. Not quite long after Udoh and the others left, Tony and two boys in his group called Obaze and Stanley Adibe came to Daniel’s corner. Daniel told them what happened and they laughed uproariously. “Ha! ha!!, Daniel, is that why you are wearing a ferocious frown as if it is the end of the world?” Tony asked. “Look Dan, time and tide wait for no man, it’s your youth, live and enjoy it,” Stanley Adibe said. He immediately talked about a musical comedy coming up at Glamour Hotel the following day. “Guys, I-heard that the show is going to be groovy. I learnt that D’Banj, Tuface, Timaya and Basketmouth are going to be there.” “Men, we ain’t gonna miss it,”Victor Obaze said excitedly. The next day, Tony, Stanley, Victor and Daniel jumped the school fence around 8:30pm and went to Glamour Hotel. The show lived up to its billing. The artistes performed so wonderfully well that the audience kept requesting for more. The comedian put his acts together very well as he reeled off one rib-cracking joke after the other. As Tony and the other were going back to the school, they were accosted by armed robbers along lonely pathway through bush. “Hei; stop there!” barked a fierce and intimidating voice that emerged out of the dark night. A powerful torch light was beamed on the boys’ faces. “Search yourselves, bring out your money and your handsets,” the threatening voice ordered them. “P-l-e-a-s-e we’re students,” Tony pleaded as three other figures emerged from the nearby bush and joined the one talking to Tony and the others. They all locked menacing.”Student? Then what are you doing here by this time when you ought to be the leader barked. Tony and other were too petrified to speak Besides, how could they tell the hoodlums that they were coming back from musical show? “Boys, frisk them,” the leaders of the gang ordered. The bandits searched Tony and the rest and only found some loose change on them. Out of frustration, because they could not get much money, the night marauder proceeded to give Tony and the rest a serious beating. “This should teach you boys to face your studies very well and not to go about gallivanting in the town at night. Come on, vamoose!,” the leader of the gang said. He and other members proceeded to give Tony and other boys hard kicks on their buttocks. When the boys reached their school, more trouble awaited them. As they tried to scale the wall, they sustained injuries from the jagged ends of the broken bottles on top of the wall. Tony’s shirt was caught by the broken bottles and as he struggled to free himself, his shirt ripped apart. Daniel had a worse fate as he landed on top of a broken bottle with his right leg. A piece of the bottle gave him a big cut out of which blood flowed freely. Daniel moaned and groaned in pains as his colleagues half-carried and half-dragged him to his dormitory. Daniel did not sleep a wink that night as the pains he felt were too much. After a hastily administered first aid, his friends left him for their own dormitories. In the morning, they escorted him to the sick bay and lied to the medical personnel that Daniel sustained the injury while he was doing manual labor the previous day. The ordeal Daniel passed through on his first outing did not stop him from creeping out of the school two weeks later to attend Stephanie’s birthday party. Stephanie was sixteen years old and celebrated her birthday in a grand style. Daniel knew that Stephanie was born with a silver spoon but he did not know that her parents were stinking rich. Daniel had bought a card, framed picture and a beautiful set of necklace and earrings as a gift for Stephanie. His stomach churned with butterflies as he wondered how Stephanie’s parents would receive him. Daniel reached the palatial mansion where Stephanie’s parents lived and was let in by a uniformed gate man. He walked with shaky legs casting glances here and there as he looked at the nearly moved lawn with the exotic flowers fringing it . Soon, he reached the front door and hesitated. Then, he took a deep breath before pressing the bell. The door was opened by a younger sister of Stephanie who led him to where Stephanie was discussing with some of her friends and cousins. “Oh la la, the man of the moment is here,” Stephanie said as she squealed with delight disengaged herself from people she was discussing with and ran to welcome Daniel. She gave Daniel a brief hug and tucked her hand in his as she led him to meet the others. Daniel could feel all eyes on him as there was a lull in the conversation. Some boys who wanted to befriend Stephanie were there and glared at Daniel. Daniel was unruffled, they could eat their heart out for all he cared. Stephanie instructed her younger sister take Daniel’s gift and put it under her pillow.
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