Chapter Thirteen: Mustapha and the Mystery of Emotion

“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!

For the first time in a while I’m posting before noon! Yaaaay!!!

It’s pretty much the average post, but i hope you like it!!! Enjoy this week’s chapter


Chapter Thirteen

Mustapha couldn’t understand how his siblings could be subject to emotion the way they did. It first happened at the facility with the senior Abiye, then Nneka and that Folarin guy from school, and now it was Muyiwa. His older brother was twirling a dumbbell between his fingers and sighing deeply, Mustapha knew that he had to ask what was wrong if he wanted to get his brother to stop irking him with the sound he was making. He sat up from the bench and stared at his brother indifferently. He would not pretend he was anything more than curious to know what was on his brother’s mind. It wasn’t something of urgency, because his breathing would have been ragged and his muscles tense. But he was relaxed, with a look that was similar to his expression when he was contemplating on whether not to wear his favorite jeans for the third time in a week. It was evidently nothing that was to be declared a state of emergency.

“I’m irritating you with my sighing yeah?” Muyiwa asked with a short chuckle.

“You know it. So spill and let’s get this over with.” Mustapha said lightly. His brother understood him and knew not to take offence.

“It’s about Ronke.”

Mustapha raised an eyebrow. It was the girl Muyiwa exposed his secret to while trying to save her from an accident. “What about her?”

“I wanna ask her out.”

“You can’t be serious.” Mustapha said with a grunt.

“I am.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“Why do you wanna ask her out?” Mustapha asked, rolling his eyes. “What? You like her or something, or you just need a girlfriend so you could fit in more?”

“Don’t insult me.” Muyiwa said angrily. “Forget I said anything and let’s just get back to the workouts.”

Mustapha let his shoulder drop as he let out a small sigh. “Okay I’m sorry. I guess I just don’t get it… this concept of liking someone that isn’t family… in a different way you don’t like your family.” That explanation made Muyiwa crack up.

“I mean we love mama and would do anything for her, but not like we want to make out with her or anything of the sort.”

The boys shuddered irritably at the thought.

“I see your point though. I don’t understand it either.” Muyiwa said, scratching his head. “How the whole stuff works, I mean.”

“So… why do you like her?”

Muyiwa cracked a smile before he could stop himself. “She’s smart, fun, and she makes me laugh. She’s a strong individual. I mean, she’s been through a whole lot in her own way, and she doesn’t act like the typical rich kid. She’s stronger than I am psychologically. We both know my strength is dim in aspects outside the physical.”

“How do you know you’re not just thinking you’re in love with her because you’re emotionally weak?” Mustapha asked bluntly with a shrug. Muyiwa smiled at his brother, unaffected by his brutal honesty.

“Because I know I’m not that weak.”

Folarin liked to wait for Nneka by the gate of the car park every morning he could. They’d link hands and talk all the way to the school for assembly, with Mustapha and Aisha trailing behind them, trying not to show their irritation at the antics of the lovesick couple up front.

During break he cleaned the dusty steps leading to the old library and sat there to eat his lunch, which consisted of a plate of jollof rice, two sausage rolls, one egg roll and a bottle of fanta. As he was about to bite into the second sausage roll he paused at the sound of familiar footsteps and sighed. Sade came up the stairs, clutching a black nylon bag. She flinched in surprised when she saw him, for he usually sat in the old library and not on the steps. He looked at her briefly then continued with his sausage roll.

“You’ve already bought lunch!!!” she whined “What will happen to the lunch I bought you?!”

“One, I didn’t ask you to buy me lunch. Two, I don’t joke with my food, that you already know.”

“I know you didn’t ask me to buy you lunch” Sade said, rolling her eyes “but I figured if I did, you’d probably let me hang around.”

Mustapha let out a grunt. “Pathetic, as always.”

Sade’s frowned deeply and tightened her grip around the nylon bag she was holding angrily.

“Why do you always call me pathetic?! I hate it!!!” she said, tearing up.

Muyiwa’s eyes widened. He couldn’t believe that she was on the verge of crying. No matter what he said, Sade never cried. He couldn’t stand to see girls cry.

She tried to storm away but he reached out for her and grabbed her by the wrist. She turned to protest, only to be taken about by the soft expression that had replaced his usual scornful one.

“See, if you cry here I’ll be gone faster than you intend to.”

“Is that supposed to be an apology?!” she cried. He let go of her wrist and sat back down.

“I just don’t get it.”

“Don’t get what?” she asked despite herself.

“Why do you like me?” he asked, pensive. “I mean, I’m always mean to you, but you keep hanging around being all annoying. Sometimes one can’t help but wonder.”

“Wonder what?”

“Wonder about the existing force that drives people into this madness spurred by emotions.” Mustapha said with a shrug. “From what I hear, breakups are the worst. So why start a relationship in the first place?”

“From what you heard? Are you saying you’ve never had a girlfriend before?” she asked inquisitively. Mustapha looked at her blankly and shook his head.

“Wow! I mean, I’m only sixteen and I’ve had like two boyfriends, though it wasn’t anything serious.” Sade said, putting her hands on her hips.

“I don’t think that’s something to be proud of.”

“It’s not like I did anything with them. I’m not like that.” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Sixteen eh? I thought you’d be younger.” Mustapha said with a smirk. Sade was surprised, though she tried not to show it. Mustapha had never smiled at her, much made conversation.

“I’ll be seventeen in December.” Sade said, folding her arms. “I doubt you’re much older.”

Mustapha shook his head. He didn’t know his birthday, but the one Richard put on his certificate was June 26th.

“I was seventeen June 26th, so we’re pretty much the same age.”

Sade jaw dropped in surprise. “Wow! But you look much older!”

Mustapha gave her a small smile. “Life deals us different cards.”

Sade seemed to have realized that there was more weight in his words than it appeared, for a worried look clouded her face for a brief moment.

“So what did you buy?” he said, leaning towards the hand that clutched the nylon. Sade pulled it away from his view. She scanned the empty pack of the rice, and uneaten egg roll and half eaten sausage roll and sighed.

“You don’t have to force yourself to eat it, you know. You’ve already eaten a lot.”

“I swear you underestimate the capacity of my stomach.” Mustapha said with a laugh, picking up the remaining sausage roll and eating it. Sade widened her eyes and shook my head.

“Where does it all go?” she asked with a laugh.

“Probably my feet.” He said, with a casual shrug.

She laughed and took out a pack of fried rice from the nylon and a doughnut.

“Have you had lunch?” he asked her.

“I got the same thing… I was hoping we could eat together.” She said shyly. Raising what was left in the nylon. To even his surprise, he grinned at her.

“Thanks for the lunch.” He said taking the food from her, he then cleaned the steps below him and gestured for her to sit, which she complied uncomfortably. He looked at her intensely.

“Is there anything wrong?”

“No… I’m just not used to you being nice to me.”

“I’m not used to being nice to anyone other than family either.” He said with a shrug. After that they said nothing more. They ate in silence until they heard the bell.

“Thanks for letting me eat lunch with you today.” she said with a smile.

“Thanks for buying me an extra lunch.” He smiled back, patting his belly.

“Could I… eat lunch here with you tomorrow?” She asked warily. He raised an eyebrow at her then let out a resigned sigh.

“Sure. Just don’t bring any extra lunch as bait okay?”

She smiled and ran off without answering, and Mustapha put his hands in his blazer thoughtfully. He being nice to someone like Sade undoubtedly meant she’d work up the courage to be more audacious than she already was.

She didn’t fail to prove him right when she walked up to him in the school compound during their short break and said hi. It wasn’t anything out of the norm, since she did that whenever she caught sight of him around school, but after he replied with a curt nod she knew not to attempt to make more conversation, lest she got publicly embarrassed by his impassiveness. This time though, she didn’t pass by. She stood in front of him, grinning widely.

“What?” he said in a low voice, raising his eyebrow at her.

“Let’s walk to class together.” She said excitedly. He rolled his eyes.

“Keep this up and I might not even show up for lunch.” He said through gritted teeth. “I’ll just show up in class where I wouldn’t be bothered.”

Sade rolled her eyes and let her shoulders fall in defeat. “I’ve heard… I won’t talk to you in public again.”

With that he started to walk away, but then he heard some girls call Sade behind him. He found himself wondering if Sade talked about him to her friends, like an achievement that she was the only one in school besides his siblings he tolerated enough to make conversation with. He stood in a corner and pretended to be searching for something in his blazer pockets while trying to catch snippets of their conversation.

“Na wa o… why are you embarrassing yourself.”

“See how he was looking at you like he was irritated… a junior for that matter.”

They would cut her off before she could say anything. Mustapha could see the pained look on her face, though she was desperately trying to hide her emotions. He sighed in frustration. He was definitely going to regret this afterwards.

“Sade!”

Sade and her friends turned towards the direction of the sharp voice and were surprised to see Mustapha walking towards them. Even random students that knew how he walked alone were surprised to see him calling someone’s name. As he inched closer, he caught the flicker of hope in Sade’s eyes.

“Let’s go. I don’t want you getting to class late.” He said, holding a hand out to her. She quickly concealed her look of surprise as she took his hand and they walked to class together, to everyone’s surprise. She even wrapped her arm firmly around his since his limbs were much longer. When she did he leaned in and spoke in a very low voice.

“Don’t start assuming anything o. I won’t pity you tomorrow so for your sake don’t start what you can’t finish.”

Sade just nodded. She didn’t care about tomorrow. This was today, and she was happy.

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9 Comments

  1. Pingback: It’s Been A While (Probed RECAP and MORE!!!) | Wolfger Ricardo

  2. so chapter thirteen read at last because i cant move to fourteen without it, that was the inspiration 🙂
    i could but say awwwwwn for sade and mustapha , it must be Louwv and eemmmm i love this use of word “Wonder about the existing force that drives people into this madness spurred by emotions.”
    plus about this “From what I hear, breakups are the worst. So why start a relationship in the first place?” i think in most cases people get into relationship because of the special care from someone you consider special that we all crave for.

    Moving to next chapter , the long awaited chapter really

    Liked by 1 person

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