It was his thirteenth birthday….and probably the most embarassing day of his life.
Ugo couldn’t even look up from the pillow which he’d buried his head in like an ostrich buries its head in the earth hoping it’s predators won’t see it. But in this case, some part of him hoped that if he kept his head there long enough, the embarassment would pass by him, and he wouldn’t have to go to school on monday.
When his mom had suggested a birthday party, the bells in his head immediatelly started ringing. He tried to discourage her. Tried to tell her he didn’t have so many friends, tried to tell her…anything to get her to forget about the idea. But she seemed fixed on it, & that was that.
He had no idea how he was going to manage it. It was bad enough that everyone in school knew that he came from a home where things were hard; evident in the cheap material his uniform was sewn from, and the fake Nike sneakers he wore (the kids his age were all about designer clothing and original sneaker brands)…but really, did he have to bring them to his house??
He told some of his friends about it. Leye and Sadiq had been his best friends from Primary 5, and he was sure they’d be able to help. Leye lived down in V.I, his father owned the apartment building they stayed in, along with many others, and was a former top shot at LSDPC. Sadiq lived in a massive house in Ikoyi. His dad was the MD of First Bank. A lot of the time, Ugo felt quite intimidated with the obvious wealth around them, but they didn’t seem to care that he couldn’t match up, which was one reason they were such good friends.
They also thought the party would be a good idea. “Guy.” Leye said. “It’s a birthday party. We’re in JS 1. Who wouldn’t want to be there?” Even Sadiq, the usually quiet one, was psyched about it. “We can invite that Portugese girl – what’s that her name again? -that just started coming here, I know you’ve been scoping her. And Tosin and her clique. And guy! You have to invite Tracy… she’s so pretty… & her breasts are growing!” He said with a shine in his eye. “SADIQ!!!” Leye shouted. “This is Ugo’s party joh. Okay, Ugo, we’ll invite…your mom said 30 people abi? Okay, don’t worry. It’ll be fine.”
Well, if they said so, he guessed it would be fine. They started making invitation cards, sent them out to 10 boys and 17 girls -it was always good to have more girls than boys, even 12 year olds knew that.- and everyone seemed to like the idea. He wasn’t as popular as Leye or Sadiq, but he was their friend, so he guessed he’s be accepted on that basis.
His birthday finally arrived. It was a Saturday, so it made good sense. He woke up feeling quite good. The house was smelling like his mother’s special fried rice recipe. She had been preparing things for the last 3 days. It had to go well.
Everyone was supposed to start showing up from about 2pm.
Leye and Sadiq came over at 11am. It was going to be a good day…right?
And then the problems began.
The new CD player his dad had finally bought after months of begging, simply stopped working. No reason they could understand. The thing didn’t even have the decency to wait till after the party to stop.
Then, around 2.15, Toyosi called the house, to say she couldn’t make it. And so did 12 other boys & girls.
The Portugese girl, Tracy, and Funke showed up, and so did 4 other boys. That was it. 3 girls, 7 boys. At a party meant for 30.
Tracy and Funke kept turning their noses at everything in the house. Their parents were rich, so they were obviously used to better things. When they passed some snide comment, it took both Sadiq and Ugo to hold Leye, so he wouldn’t go beat the both of them.
Things began to get worse.
The CD player was bad, so Ugo’s sister had (definitely not) the brightest of ideas. She brought down her radio! So now, they were listening to the radio, hoping the Dj on Rhythm would play something they could dance to.
When his mom started bringing out the food, Ugo decided to carry food to the Portugese girl, hoping he’d score points for that. He should’ve known better. Just as he got close to her with the food, he tripped. Spilling rice, salaad, and some curry chicken, all over her.
If he’d been in a better mood, the look of shock on her face would have been a priceless sight. But at that point…
She immediatelly got up, found her driver, and left.
“Okay,” he thought to himself. “Things really can’t get much worse than this.”
NEPA struck. They didn’t have a gen.
And like a group that had been planning it for a while, the four boys, besides Leye and Sadiq, and the two girls who remained, got up and left.
The party was over.
Three hours later, his mom knocked at his door. “Ugo come out. Everyone’s gone now. Come, everything will be fine.”
But he knew it wouldn’t be. As they walked out, the boys had smirks on their faces that could only be translated as “We’ll see you on Monday.”
He just wanted to stay in bed forever…or at least till the shame of the day was washed away by the tears soaking into his pillow.
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