“Probed” is a science fiction concept with a Nigerian setting about five extraordinary children trying to live ordinary lives. Subsequent chapters will be released every Tuesday each week. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I love writing it!
When the kids got home they found Aisha in the living room playing with a small cat. The cat jumped off Aisha’s lap and turned back to Abiye before he ran to hug them.
“I smell KFC chicken!” He cried, trying to pry the nylon bag from Mustapha’s hands. Mustapha laughed and raised the bag higher, much to his little brother’s frustration.“I’ll bite you o!” he said, folding his arms.
“Let me go and freshen up before we start eating. You guys should wait for me o… you especially Mustapha!” Nneka said, running up the stairs. Mustapha smirked before dashing up the stairs, returning back to the same spot he left in less than five minutes.
“Guy… It’s official. You no dey baff.” Muyiwa said with a laugh. Mustapha chuckled. “You can’t smell the soap on my body shey?”
Nneka was down as fast as she could. Mustapha was eating some bread when she got back. She gave him a look and he shrugged. “What? It was the only way I could stop myself from diving for that chicken.”
“Mum and Dad aren’t home?” Nneka asked her younger ones. “Mrs. Ogunbade just left some minutes before you got in.” Aisha replied. “and Mr. Ogunbade isn’t back yet.”
“There’s lunch for you guys though… rice and plantain.” Abiye said.
Nneka proceeded to share the bucket of chicken while Muyiwa went to dish his rice. Abiye lay on the rug as the small cat, tearing gingerly at the chicken.
“Don’t make a mess on the rug Abiye.” Nneka warned. “Go and take a plate or something.”
“I’ve heard, but I don’t need a plate.” Abiye said, rolling on his furry back briefly before turning his attention back to his chicken. “Cats are neat creatures, aren’t they Aisha?”
“I swear I’ve missed you guys.” Muyiwa said with a laugh. “So… what’s new?” Everyone proceeded to discuss their experiences; Nneka and her struggles with the naiad complex, Abiye and his involvement in the upcoming primary school inter-house sport track races, Muyiwa and his latest love interest, and Aisha and her difficulty fitting in with her classmates.
Nneka stared at her in surprise. “You’ve never mentioned this to anyone.” Nneka said, evidently hurt that she had no idea about what her sister had been going through all the while.
“I guessed as much. She’s been very passive when she comes to talking about school, and not in my kind of way.” Mustapha said, casually reaching for the last piece of chicken in the bucket as he spoke.“But I figured she’d talk when the time is right.”
Muyiwa looked at Aisha, who stared back at him expressionlessly. “I don’t need them. I don’t need to be slowed down by their immaturity.” She said with a scoff. “Who needs friends anyway?”
Nneka moved closer to her sister and wrapped her arms around her, making her sigh. “An evident fallacy. Though I am superior to them in intellect, I undoubtedly crave stable social relations with my peers. But everyone calls me a know-it-all and never tries to be friendly with me. Soon after that I stopped trying.”
Mustapha looked at his sister uneasily. She was always his comfort when he felt lost, despite the fact that they were five years apart. But at the moment though, he was at loss about how to comfort her. Saying sorry wasn’t going to change the situation of things. She needed more than his sympathy to make things better.
“How about you Muyiwa? How has school been?” Aisha asked in a desperate attempt to shift the attention directed towards her. Muyiwa looked at his siblings uncomfortably. “Well… something major did happen.” He said, hanging his head low before narrating his brief experience with Ronke. When he was done he looked up at his siblings and his shoulders dropped when he saw their panicked expressions.
“This is bad… this is really bad.” Nneka said, holding on to Aisha tightly. Her little sister could do nothing else but stare at Muyiwa with disbelief. Abiye slapped his forehead and sighed. Mustapha hung his head low, deep in thought. “It’s definitely not your fault… I mean, you couldn’t stop him from crashing into you.” He finally said, still not looking up.
“Yes I could have… with my hands. But the car would be even more damaged and it would cause more of a scene.”
“Yes we know you can but what I mean is… you couldn’t, because of the reasons you just stated.” Aisha said with a sigh. Muyiwa looked at his distraught siblings with all the seriousness he could muster. “The Ogunbades cannot know about this.”
“Of course. But what about the girl?”
“I don’t know how Mama, but I’ll definitely find a way to fix this.”
Mustapha let his back sink into the couch as he put his hands behind his head. “Who cares? Let her go and report. Who’d believe her anyway?”
Nneka stared at her brother in disbelief. “From your mouth Mustapha? You know how hard we’ve been trying to—”
“Mama cool down. See it this way. Muyiwa doesn’t look strong enough to escape a car accident unharmed, so if she goes around telling stories, they’d most likely disbelieve. And if he manages to avoid another compromising situation, he’d be able to slide out of this one.”
“Hmm… I see your point. But that’ll only work if the girl is convinced that it is pointless to tell such stories.” Aisha said pensively. “Because people love gossip, whether believable or not. If she insists on telling everyone what happened, they might decide to capitalize on it, whether they find it believable or not.”
Muyiwa chuckled despite himself. “She even asked if I use jazz.”
“So here’s the plan. Next time you see her engage her in conversation, but try to discourage her from spreading the gist by letting her know people would think she’s crazy if she tells such stories.” Nneka said firmly.
“Don’t act like you’re begging her not to… act like you don’t care, like the way I normally do.” Mustapha said with a smirk. “If she sees you with that attitude, she’s bound to feel she’s got nothing on you.”
“Also don’t overdo it… just a little to effect the reverse psychology.” Aisha warned.
Muyiwa let out a sigh of relief. “Thanks guys… I knew you’d help me clear my head.”
“Wait. Where’s Abiye? I’ve not heard his voice since.”
A soft purr came from the empty KFC bucket on the coffee table, Before Nneka could take Abiye out of it he rolled off the table to the ground while still in the bucket, with bits of the flaked coating flying all over the rug. Nneka was the only one that didn’t find it funny. “Abiye I warned you not to make a mess! Go and get a broom now!”
“Mama I’ll just eat the crumbs off the rug… at least that was what I was doing in the bucket.”
“That’s dirty now! Get a broom if you don’t want to enter my trouble.” Abiye changed back to himself and went over to the kitchen to do as he was told. Muyiwa was about to say something, but Nneka put a hand up. “Muyiwa he was wrong. Don’t try and make excuses for him or come to his defense.”
“If you like, vex and forget what you got Aisha.” Mustapha said before turning to Muyiwa. “Let’s go pull some weights. Working out is totally different when you’re not around.”
The boys left Nneka trying to coax Aisha with her favorite bounty chocolate. “Aishaaaa… Please come and help me with one smaaaaalll favor.” Aisha sighed and snatched the chocolate.
“Where’s the assignment?”
Muyiwa didn’t see Ronke for almost a week. But she was in class on Friday. Just as he contemplated if walking up to her at that moment was the best thing to do someone slammed a book on his desk, making him jump.
“Na wa o.” she said with a laugh. Muyiwa managed to let out a nervous chuckle.
“Are you free this evening? I was thinking we could hang out and talk, that is, if you’re not busy.” She said with a small smile. Muyiwa felt uneasy but he gave a consenting nod.
Ronke wanted to meet up at Leke’s Garden, a beautiful park that had become a popular hangout for couples, especially in the evenings. This made Muyiwa feel even more uncomfortable than before. He was glad Michael wasn’t in when he went out, because his roommate knew he rarely went out at night, and would have probed him nonstop. Ronke was standing outside the garden, holding his leather jacket from the other day. She smiled and stretched it out towards him.
“I never got to return this.” she said in a small voice. He nodded gratefully and took it from her.
“What’s with the jacket sef? You think you’re some American bad boy or what?” she asked with a laugh. “Even the way you gave me your jacket at the party… like we were in one American film like that.”
Muyiwa looked at her quizzically. Richard had bought the jacket for him, and he thought it looked really cool. Maybe Richard wasn’t the best judge of fashion. Since he was much older, he might not really be in tune with what his generation was into. But Michael really liked the jacket and even asked him to wear it to the party, so he didn’t think it was so bad. But instead of voicing his confusion he just shrugged and said, “It’s harmattan season… it gets pretty cold.”
“Let’s take a walk.” She said, gesturing towards the garden with her head. Muyiwa shrugged and complied. They talked and joked a lot as they walked farther in, and soon Muyiwa started to feel nostalgic, like Jack Daniels was going to come running through Leke’s Garden with his car. Just as that thought came in he remembered his discussion with his siblings.
“I wanted to talk to you about what happened… at the party.” Ronke said before he could talk. He stared at her guardedly. “First, I never did thank you for saving my life.”
Muyiwa stared at her in surprise. He didn’t expect the subject to start off in this manner. She stopped in her tracks and stared at him intently. “Are you in some sort of cult?” She raised her hand to his face immediately she asked that. “Oh sorry— that’s a stupid question. Like you’d tell me if you were.”
Muyiwa let his shoulder slump. Was it okay for her to assume he was a cultist? “Don’t worry… I won’t tell anyone about what happened.” She said, chuckling nervously. “I mean, I’ll sound crazy if I do. Who’d believe a car slammed into you and didn’t even leave a scratch? Besides, I guess I owe you that for saving my life.”
Muyiwa resisted the urge to let out a sigh of relief. He had no choice but to believe that she wouldn’t, at least for the sake of having peace of mind. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” She said circling around him slowly and planting her hands softly on his shoulder from behind. “There is… one last favor though…”
Muyiwa turned his head so he could look at her but she refused to let him.
“Oh? What is it?”
She smiled mischievously and jumped on his back.