Hatred for Pendo Ototi was a very serious thing. For one, she never forgave. For another, she never forgot.
The first time she had come to know of Flora Wakio (her greatest enemy at arms) was in class four. It was the start of a new term – a new year – and that, for some reason, always meant having new transfers. There had been three that term and almost none of them earned a second look from Pendo. Flora, the one who decided to stand out, had carried a whole thing of biscuits which she had shamelessly used to earn herself the good graces of her new classmates and teachers.
Pendo had snorted when she had received her share. She had decided then and there that she was going to make it hard for Flora to earn her friendship just because. People who paid others to like them had never struck her as cool and that had nothing to do with the fact that she never had enough pocket money for such trivial things.
As it turned out, she never really had to work hard to keep from becoming friends with Flora as she had shot up in the break scene, always having people around her wanting to play or have tea with. For some time, she had seized to exist in Flora’s world until they had their first official exam.
Pendo had never experienced a position less than one so when she had been given her report card to take home, she had almost chocked and fell to her knees, wanting to ask who the fuck did this to her. Of course, she hadn't known the word fuck just yet but the feeling was very much the same. It hadn’t been long before the teacher called out to Flora and congratulated her for unseating their resident genius.
Their reigning number one.
She couldn’t help it. Pendo screamt to kingdom come as she stood up from her desk. That angering little girl decided not only to bribe them into liking them she had come to destroy the delicate – no – well established ecosystem of their academic rankings?
Her legs had moved without her. In the space of a second, she had managed to stand right in front of Flora’s desk, surprisingly not having one person stop her, and threw her math textbook right atop her head.
There was silence then there wasn’t. Gasps rented the air. The angry sound of her teacher calling to her, telling her to get out of the class at once. Then there had been a crying Flora to which she though she was being a tad dramatic. It was only a two-hundred-page book. It couldn’t have been that bad. Had she been old enough, with the colourful language she had come to possess, she would have probably told all of them to fuck off. She was right in what she’d done. How could a corrupt person like Flora become top otherwise?
After that, she made it a point to study harder. Work harder. Sabotage better. But then, it seemed Flora was doing just the same because for the next five years, they had been at each other’s necks. If it wasn’t talking just about all the nonsense in respect to the other, they were being pulled apart from a potential fist fight with each other.
On their last exam during KCPE, Pendo had almost ululated at the fact that she needn’t see the creature ever again. The likelihood of them ending up in the same secondary school was close to none. Then the results came. She was number one in the school, ten in the county. Joy of joys, she had been called to the one national school she had been dreaming of since she could remember.
This had been fine until, on the day of reporting, she saw fucking Flora in the same uniform as her, in the same line as her, waiting to be admitted to the same fucking school as her.
“No,” she had whispered, feeling blood drain from her face, her skin chilling to the point of ice. “The devil,” she said as she pointed at Flora. Flora, who had also not seen her until that very moment, narrowed her eyes, seeming to play at the part of devil Pendo was calling her. “I have to transfer,” she added immediately, turning to her parents. “I can’t be here anymore.”
She was hysterical enough her parents decided to pull her to the side, concern healthy on their faces. “Why?” Her mother had asked.
“I’ve seen the devil mom. The devil is right here in this school!”
Both her parents, the philistines they had chosen to become at the crucial moment, decided to simply not listen. Apparently, all her school shopping including the first term’s fees had cost them a good fortune and they were not going to simply pull her out because she’d seen a ‘devil’. Just to hammer it in, they had decided to pray for her there and then, embarrassing her even further in front of Flora who had laughed and laughed and laughed.
Just like before, the damned girl had ruined something that she loved – being on top and order. Just like before, she made friends while Pendo was all alone. In fact, it was somewhat worse because in secondary school, she was forever known as the girl who’d seen the very illusive devil in school. While this catapulted her in clubs like the Christian Union, it pulled her into the depths of social poverty among the normal students.
This hadn’t been helped at all by the fact that she had also realized she was coming in second way more than first. She hadn’t the slightest idea which hell had decided to send Flora her way. Why she was so determined to ruin her flow of life just because.
After four years, having sat for their KCSEs and gone for a good two months without seeing the face of that devil, results were out. This time, it was worse because not only had she come in second, but Flora had also mysteriously gotten her number and sent her a spectacular copy of her results.
Where she’d gotten an eight-one-point A, Flora had gotten an eighty-two-point A putting her in the upper echelon of students who got called to schools the likes of School of Health at the University of Nairobi. She’s the one who wanted to become a doctor, but she could see that angering girl join the school just to spite her.
True to her prediction, they had both ended up in School of Health, Dentistry, University of Nairobi. Having decided enough was absolutely enough, Flora had taken it upon herself to find deities who would help with her Flora problem. She had prayed and sacrificed and done right about everything sans sacrificing a person. If she’d been given the option, she could not see it being anyone but Flora.
It was their second year when she came up with the brilliant idea of becoming cordial with her. They were grown at this point and so they had to handle their beef with grown up pizzaz. At first, Flora had been rightfully suspicious of her but then, after two sessions of sharing a rubber, she had determined that maybe their almost eternal feud had been put to rest.
Then Pendo had gone and sabotaged everything so bad she had to step away from school.
She never liked thinking about this time. In fact, she avoided it in the way a clean person would have avoided the black plague.
With all this history and hatred, sat in the shoddiest bar in the middle of a nowhere town with a bottle of Pilsner, she felt her heart sink and the world wobble as none other than Flora walked right in, saw her, and probably mirrored her same exact face.
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