I’ve just had lunch at the college canteen. It’s my final week of the final term before the new school year resumes, and we had a practical today. I can’t always afford to eat at the canteen with other students, but I still had some meat pies left after those greedy lecturers grabs nearly everything on display for themselves. Thank God I hid most of the pies and cupcakes before inspection, at least Mummy, Daddy, and the boys can sample my work. And I’m going to study hard, work hard, and become an expert in my field. One day God willing, I’ll build an empire of bakeries, and Daddy won’t have to rely on that wretched pension he collects every month. And I’ll build a great big mansion where I won’t share a room with two intruding brothers. Who knows, I might even obtain a university degree after I’ve made my millions. Yes Diary, big dreams, but they’re more realistic than stupid Naija Girl.

One of my classmates passed a copy of The Punch around at the canteen table during our break. The final 36 Naija Girl contestants have been verified. Minus me. My friend Ibiyemi jokes I should have registered for the pageant this year as I would have had a great chance of winning, and the others on our table voice their agreement. I’m tempted to reveal my unpleasant experience at the Lagos screening last month, but decide to keep my mouth shut. As if they’d believe me. What do I tell my pals when they ask why those screening judges rejected me? Maybe I should just keep the Naija Girl disaster to myself and pretend the whole fiasco never happened. I’d scrimped, saved, and suffered to buy that ₦5000 registration form, and for what? I could have used that money to get myself something decent, like new jeans and t-shirts (Yes, second-hand as usual, but who cares?). Better yet, I could have started a side business like cake-making for special events, using the baking and sugar-crafting skills I’ve learned so far. Instead I wasted money on a pipe dream. All because I envisioned a greater dream.

My road to Naija Girl is well and truly over, but for my new friends the journey hasn’t quite started. I scanned through the article and recalled Mike’s dirty proposition. Had he sent similar messages to the others girls? Where they in the 36 because they’d slept their way through after failing at other screenings? I ruled out Mayen and Suzi since both of them lived in Lagos, but what if that smutty coordinator struck again? What other demands did he have in mind-fellatio backstage at the grand final to fast-track them into the top 10? I wouldn’t put it past that dirty beast from an organisation reputed to boost the Nigeria woman’s moral. I began to feel afraid for the girls especially Suzi. She’s just turned 18, and probably isn’t used to disgusting perverts like Mike, but what if the whole Diamond World officials made similar proposals?

The girls will probably suspect sour grapes if I tell them what I already know, but they need to be warned, and fast. I won’t go into exact details, I’ll wish them all the luck in the world and mean it from the bottom of my heart, but I’ll send them a message advising them to be careful, and after I hit ‘send’, it’s back to my own life.




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