Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Excerpt 1 from FEDDIE GIRL, The Novel

By Nona David

Five minutes later, Carlotta walked into the Sapphire House lobby and the room suddenly became silent. Twenty pairs of eyes turned to stare at her. She bit her lip and looked around at the eager faces deposited everywhere in the room. The faces belonged to students milling around comfortable armchairs arranged to face a wide screen television that was mounted on the wall.

Sandra waved. She stood at a corner with Uche and two other students.

Carlotta waved back and walked to them.

Sandra was thin and shriveled-looking with a large squat nose that dominated most of her facial features. She was dark-skinned and had the kind of face that appeared rough and full of pores—almost like, if you scrubbed hard with a damp cloth, you’d be successful in unearthing a new layer of smoother skin.

Uche, on the other hand, was chubby and jolly, and equipped with a kind face and subtle eyes.

“Hi, girls,” Carlotta said. She looked at the other two girls and couldn’t place them. “I’m Carlotta.”

“This is Yvonne,” Sandra introduced a mousy looking girl, “and this is Emeh,” she finished, indicating the thin girl beside Uche. “They are both in Sapphire-Five.”

Bonjour,” Emeh said, smiling. “How are you this morning?”

Carlotta nodded. She wasn’t sure the meaning of the first word that Emeh had spoken. “I’m good, thanks.” She smiled back.

“You must be the Feddie Girl the girls in my dorm were talking about last night,” Yvonne squeaked, “they said your parents live in America.” In addition to her appearance, Yvonne possessed a mousy voice.

“Tell me something I don’t already know.” Carlotta shrugged and rolled her eyes.

“Is it true your mother is white? I mean she’s really white, n’est elle pas?” Emeh asked, her wide eyes staring at Carlotta as if she were something from out of space. “Pardon my French,” she quickly added when she noticed Carlotta’s irritated look. “I can’t help myself.”

Emeh had two large front teeth, Carlotta noticed, that kept poking out of her mouth as she spoke. Her looks reminded Carlotta of the stuffed Easter Bunny she had seen in a toy store somewhere.

“Well, although my mom’s totally a white-American, being born in California and all, I really can’t tell you her skin’s white in color, if that’s what you wanna know.”

Carlotta’s mouth showed the hint of a smile. “She’s more of a light-tan, you know,” she said and winked.

The girls laughed.

Carlotta ran her hands through her hair, tossed back her curls and asked, “So, what actually is the deal here? Why are we waiting?”

“We’re waiting for Senior Chidi,” Uche informed her. “She is supposed to assign us our morning duties.”

Carlotta noticed that Uche had something in her hand that looked suspiciously like the brooms she had seen her cousin and aunt use to sweep floors clean back in their home in Lagos State. It looked like a witch’s broomstick that was missing the long handle. It was basically a bunch of thin flexible sticks tied up together at one end. “Why do you need that?” she asked, indicating the broom. She realized that almost every girl in the lobby had one like it, too.

“I don’t know,” Uche’s voice was doubtful. “My Bunkie thought I might be assigned a place to sweep for my morning duty.”

“You must be kidding me. You don’t mean to tell me we are actually expected to work? I mean, really work? Like janitors?” Carlotta asked in an unbelieving tone. “How much are we gonna be paid?”

Ah non,” Emeh remarked, “you don’t get paid for doing your morning duty.”

“Oh, puhleease, give me a break,” Carlotta scoffed, rolling her eyes. The girl and her French were beginning to get on her nerves. “Why should we be made to work if we aren’t gonna get paid? I totally don’t get it.” She tossed back her hair. “I mean, even if we’re gonna be paid, I still don’t want any part of a janitor’s job.”

“Morning duty,” Sandra corrected.

“Whatever. I still don’t want any part of it,” Carlotta intoned.

“Ah, you don’t understand,” Yvonne wailed, “you have no choice. It’s just like the chores you do at home, you don’t expect payment for them, do you?”

“Really? No choice, huh?” Carlotta gave Yvonne a daring look. “We’ll see about that.” She sniffed. “And as for chores, don’t tell me you guys work at home, too?”
The four girls just stared at her. They tried to make her understand that morning duty meant mandatory work that has to be done every morning. And without reward. They asserted that the school head girl said so herself when she addressed the new students the night before.

Carlotta, who wasn’t used to boarding school systems in Nigeria, and hadn’t paid much attention during the speech, had obviously missed that part. She wondered what other unpleasant surprises lay in store for her.

Just then, the Sapphire House prefect, Chidi Anayo, flanked by two dormitory prefects, walked into the room and stood before the students.

Even in the harsh light of the morning, Carlotta noticed that the house prefect still looked as imposing as ever. She also saw that Chidi had the same pompous air like she had the day before, when she’d ridiculed Carlotta about her age—basically telling Carlotta off for being too old at thirteen to be in JS1, which was a class meant for new students not much older than eleven.

Watching her strut to the front of the room like a majestic peacock, Carlotta instantly felt an intense dislike for the house prefect. She stood still and watched as one of the flanking prefects called names off a list, while Chidi assigned each girl to a duty as her name was called.

Soon, Carlotta heard her name. She walked up to the prefects. “Hi, it’s a great morning today, isn’t it?” she volunteered, with a bright smile. She looked at Chidi but the house prefect appeared not to have noticed or even heard her.

“Sapphire-One windows.” Chidi’s tone was clipped. She dismissed Carlotta with an abrupt wave of her hand.

Carlotta’s face burned. “Stupid bitch,” she muttered under her breath, and made to leave. If there were two things she despised, they would be—being ridiculed, and being ignored.

“Come back here,” a voice commanded.

Carlotta stopped in her tracks. She turned.

Chidi was glaring.

The chattering in the room stopped. The air became electrified. The rest of the new students held their breath and turned to watch.

Carlotta hesitated.

Chidi’s lips tightened against her teeth. “I said you should come back here,” she repeated, this time spitting the words out, one by one, like fiery bullets out of a pistol. There was no mistaking the meaning behind the words.

Carlotta took a deep breath and returned to face the prefects. Her heartbeat accelerated to a new level. She tried hard to swallow her hatred and retain her composure.

“What did you say?” Chidi’s voice was low but very distinct. Her lips barely moved.
Carlotta rolled her eyes and shrugged.

“Don’t you dare roll your eyes at us,” one of the flanking prefects yelled.
Carlotta eyed her with distaste.

Quick as lightening, the prefect’s hand struck out.

Carlotta ducked. The sailing hand missed her head by a mere inch. Her heart beat even faster. Warm blood flooded her neck and face. She wanted to scream and strike back, but instincts told her it was best to remain silent and bide her time.

“What did you say?” Chidi demanded in an ominous voice. Her eyes were hot black coals.

“I didn’t say anything,” Carlotta supplied in a voice that was thick with suppressed rage. Her breath came in short spurts.

“Are you sure?” one of the flanking prefects sneered. “I most definitely heard you say something.”

Carlotta ignored the hammering in her chest and continued to stare into the unblinking coals that were Chidi’s eyes. She was a coiled dangerous snake, ready to strike at the slightest provocation. She imagined the satisfying crunch the bone of Chidi’s jaw would make when her fist finally connected with it and a sense of satisfaction trickled down her spine. The prefect was her archenemy.

The black eyes narrowed. “Don’t you ever, never ever again,“ Chidi hissed. “Now, get lost.”

Carlotta uncoiled, then turned her back to the prefects and strode to the door. When she emerged on the other side, she realized her hands were shaking.

Coming in February, 2010
Advance copies available till September 28th 2009
Reserve your copy now at Bernard Books Publishing!

6 comments:

  1. OMG! I love this...

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  2. All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!

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  3. This is sooooo goooooooooood!!!!! Love the story about feddie schools. lol!!!!!!!

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  4. I can't wt to read more, this is so funny and so typical of naija boarding school. I can almost see myself in the classroom with the students. And the Snipes guy... lol!!!!!!!!!

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  5. Ngozi Okereke (Boston, MA)April 12, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    OMG! This is amazing... where have I been?
    Please post more.

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  6. Natalie (Miami, FL)
    Interesting! I enjoyed reading it. :)

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