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.......(Continued from Part1) I finally slept off, and the alarm woke me again at exactly one am. I got up and went to check if my trap had caught its prey. To my surprise, I got into the kitchen and noticed that the container was half-filled with cockroaches. I almost gave out a shout of victory. I couldn’t even have imagined that this number of cockroaches lived in this house with us. As I spotted them, I moved like a lightening and approached the container to cover it.
Unfortunately for me, in my desperation I applied too much speed and I missed the grasp, knocking down the container and crashing over the cupboard while knocking down a few breakables and sustaining minor injuries. This was just too much for a night. Once more, the tears gathered around my eyes.
As I sat down there in the midst of the broken plates, I didn’t know what to think and what not to think. However, I was more worried about what Mum would do to me for breaking those plates. And so I sat there, and made no attempt to stand up. I knew Mum would have heard the crashing sound, so I decided to sit there and await her judgment.
Just immediately, she showed up at the kitchen door. I wondered how long she had been there because I didn’t even hear her open the door of her room, nor did I hear her footsteps approaching. I only looked up and saw her standing there at the kitchen door.
She looked at me for a while and made her way towards me carefully to avoid the broken glasses on the floor. She got to me and gave my ear a long hard pull, before twisting it vigorously. I even feared the ear might fall off.
“I bought these plates with my hard earned money, you don’t just wake up and start breaking things. Now tidy up this kitchen and get back to bed!” She then released the pull on my ear, and gave me a hard knock on the head. My head ached.
As I heard her receding footsteps, I shook my head and got up. I arranged the cupboard properly, swept the floor and gathered the broken plates into the dustbin. They were about two plates and one tea cup. I inspected the entire mess, and shook my head again. I decided to wash the dishes in the sink, as well as my plastic container. It was obvious; the ‘ultimate’ search was over.
I cleaned up my wounds and went straight to bed. It had been a very bad night. I lived in a house full of cockroaches, yet I couldn’t catch any.
At school the next day, I couldn’t hide the bitterness in my heart; I had stayed awake all night with no catch. After the morning assembly, the first person I met as I entered the classroom was Victor. We exchange greetings and he noticed my moody face.
“Why is your face like that?” Victor asked, “Guess you weren’t able to catch any cockroaches. Well, you don’t have to worry, I came with cockroaches. Plenty of it, and they are up for sale for those who couldn’t catch any.
“Victor, are you out of your mind? Selling cockroaches, who on earth gave you such a terrible idea?”
“Please don’t judge me. I don’t have much time. I must sell those cockroaches before we start the first class lesson. So, do you want some or not?” He asked me.
“Well, I couldn’t catch any last night, after all my effort…”
“You look so much like it, just as apostle Peter in the bible who toiled all night and couldn’t catch any fish.” Victor laughed.
“Seriously, so you do read the bible?”
“Kind of. Actually, that was the second lesson reading in church last Sunday.” He grinned.
“I thought as much. Okay, I’d just get my container and collect some cockroaches.” I went straight to my school bag inside my locker and brought out my container. Victor produced a very big jar filled with cockroaches. I almost screamed, and had to cover my mouth with my hands.
I noticed that a small portion of the jar was cut open and then blocked with a waterproof material.
Victor then asked me to open my container. When I did, he removed the waterproof material on his jar and covered that portion with his hands. As the cockroaches came towards the opening, he just used his bare hands and collected them, covered them in his palms and then threw them into my container.
It was such a disgusting sight. When it was up to five, I quickly covered the container.
“Thank you Victor.”
“You are welcome.”
“And how many cockroaches do you have in there?” I asked him.
“I’m not sure, but it’s a whole lot. And I’m going to make some cool cash this morning.” Victor was all smiles.
“I must wish you luck, but don’t be surprised if you earn yourself a good nickname before today ends.”
“A cockroach seller, right? I wouldn’t even mind, so long as I make some sales.”
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as Victor dashed to the front of the whole class and advertised his merchandise. The whole class burst out in laughter and I had to join them. It really felt so good to laugh and be happy, even if it was just for a moment.
“How much?” a student yelled from across the class.
“It’s one cockroach for twenty naira and three for fifty naira.” Victor replied with a smile.
The whole class roared again as Victor replied and left the classroom and went to the other S S 1 classes to make him announcement, since the assignment was given to the entire S S 1 class.
By the time Victor was returning to our class, he was shouting, “Buy your cockroach! Buy your cockroach! One for twenty naira and three for fifty!”
I continued to laugh as well as a few other students in the classroom. In less than three minutes, some students had gathered around Victor to make their purchases. Victor gestured to them to line up in a single file, and when they did, he started attending to them one after the other, giving out cockroaches and collecting the money all by himself.
The sales were interrupted when the math teacher entered the class for the first lesson. As soon as Engr. Felix entered, the students in the queue waiting for the cockroaches reshuffled and went back to their seats after booking a turn with Victor, for after-class purchases.
The Math lesson began and went on peacefully, until a desperate student from S S 1A class sneaked into the class as the teacher was writing on the board. The student bent over on his knees and crawled towards Victor and gestured to him that he wanted to buy some cockroaches. I heard Victor whisper to him to come back after the class lesson, but the boy insisted on getting it now, promising to pay extra for them.
As Victor saw the tip of the shiny new two hundred naira note in the boy’s hand, he changed his mind, and decided to go through with the transaction. Five cockroaches for two hundred would be worth the risk.
The teacher continued to write on the board and by then, the student who wanted the cockroach was stooping under Victor’s table, so the teacher won’t see him when he looks back.
Victor collected his container, opened his school bag and transferred five cockroaches into the boy’s container. The few students around him who saw what was going on had wanted to laugh, but had to suppress it, to avoid attracting the teacher’s attention.
Victor looked at them as they struggled to suppress the laughter and gestured a warning to them. He slid his hand across his throat as a warning that he would kill them if ever they drew the teacher’s attention to him. Victor bottled the cockroaches in the new container and handed it over to the boy, after collecting the crisp naira note from him.
The boy viewed the cockroaches trapped in the container and nodded satisfactorily before crawling away the same way he had crawled in.
For a moment, I thought I didn’t see Victor cover his jar of cockroaches very properly. He must have been excited at making extra gain and forgot to cover it properly. I had wanted to tell him to check if his container was properly covered, but I decided to let it go, perhaps this was all in my imagination.
The math teacher finished copying out the exercises on the board and asked us to attempt it in our exercise books. The whole class suddenly became quiet and began to tackle the exercises. The teacher walked around to inspect our compliance. When he came to Victor’s seat, he leaned on his locker for a while.
Only a few minutes later, after Engr. Felix got up from Victor’s locker, he was scratching on his trousers. That was when I knew that the cockroaches must have sneaked into his trousers. I turned to Victor to signal to him that his jar of cockroaches might be open. And then I confirmed my suspicion, when I saw a big cockroach sitting on his head. It was the girl sitting next to him that screamed first.
“Roach! Roach! Look, there’s a roach on your head! Ahhhhh!”
And then I began to wonder, when did ‘cockroach’ become ‘Roach’? She just carefully removed the ‘cock’ in the full name. I shook my head; these girls would never stop ‘forming’.
The first person to start a dance was the math teacher, as he tried to reach the cockroach that was running around inside his trousers. That was when Victor decided to check if his jar was actually open. As he zipped open his school bag, all the cockroaches which had already escaped from the container and now roaming free inside his bag was set free. Some of them which had wings began to fly, and the entire class scattered. The Math teacher who had already opened his belt was almost stripping just to reach the cockroach inside his trousers.
By the time the cockroaches successfully dispersed around the classroom, the Math teacher stylishly exit the class and ran into the staff room to fish out the cockroach in his trousers. Some students ran away from the class while some others took pleasure killing the creatures, and then, some very optimistic students scrambled to catch the cockroaches, especially those who had none yet.
All that Victor could do was stare despairingly at the mess he had just caused.
The dean of student affairs came just in time to see the uproar in our class. He addressed my class and queried Victor for coming to school with a jar full of cockroaches and making merchandise out of it.
However, the entire class was punished for causing uproar and disturbing the peace of the whole school. And we did serve the punishment together and honorably. Everyone blamed Victor. He looked despondent, but I know why. It was because the cockroaches had all fled away and he wasn’t going to make money out of them anymore.