Ibe -- Young high school
ACT ONE, Scene 1
(On the school road, Ibe comes out of school to go home, looks behind him and sees Ugomma, another student, coming. He begins to go very slowly until Ugomma catches up to him.)
Ugomma: Ibe, since you have arrived here, have classes been dismissed before you left?
Ibe: They have been dismissed.
Ugomma: Aha, you are holding a charm. Are you perhaps waiting for someone?
Ibe: Yes! I am holding a charm. It is that one you prepared for me. (He moves a bit closer to meet Ugo, who goes past him.)
Ugomma: Hmm. I think there is someone you are waiting for.
Ibe: Whom do you think I am waiting for? Is there anyone coming now besides you?
Ugomma: Is there a message?
Ibe: Yes ...
Ugomma: Quickly, give it then. (She keeps on moving.)
Ibe: Wait for me. Can someone bite you from a distance? (Ugo pauses.)
Ibe: (in a low voice.) Ugo, why are you doing this? What ... ? What about the ...
Ugomma: (In a loud voice.) Please, Ibe, tell me quickly, so I can go home, time is passing. I don't want anyone to ask me meaningless questions when I get home now.
Ibe: It concerns the matter I talked to you about the other day. I do not know what you thought.
Ugomma: What matter is that?
Ibe: Have you forgotten? You women. I really don't know why you act so crazy sometimes.
Ugomma: (She goes close to Ibe.) Honestly, I have forgotten what it is. Please remind me, don't be angry.
Ibe: (He smiles.) What I told you that day when it was trying to rain, you and I and Onwukwe came out into the Nwozuzu compound before he went home. I know that you remember what it is now.
Ugomma: (Angrily, with a loud voice.) Please, if there is nothing you want to tell me, you should forget it so I can go home. You are going to make them question me about where I went since school was dismissed. (She steps away to leave.)
Ibe: (He acts as though he wants to approach Ugo.) Quickly, come now. It is that I told you that day that your behavior pleased me and it will please me if we become ...
Ugomma: (She interrupts the remaining words out of his mouth.) O o o o. So that is why you have been beating around the bush ever since. What is bad or shameful in in it?
Ibe: No o o. Ugo my sister, you know that I do not know how to find the right words to ask you so that you do not get angry, because I saw how you frowned the first day that I started to speak to you about the matter.
Ugomma: No o o. There was no anger in it but I just wanted to tell you this: There are things one can discuss in public, and there are also things one sits down and talks about humbly.
Ibe: That is true. But what then shall we do now? Will you come to our house, so you can find out what I ...
Ugomma: (She interrupts him forcefully.) No no no! How can I come looking for you by coming to your house? Whom then should I say that I am looking for?
Ibe: All right. Then I shall come soon. Which day do you want me to come? So that trouble ...
Ugomma: Any day you like. I am not going anywhere.
Ibe: Good, I will tell you in school which day I will come. Goodbye.
Ugomma: All right, goodbye.
ACT ONE, Scene 2
(The evening of the next day. After the market people have gone Ibe goes to see Ugo at her house. Ugo is in the compound reading. Ibe enters very quietly. He touches his hand to her throat.)
Ugomma: Mother of mine! (She jumps up, startled.) O o o Ibe! I knew that no one else would behave like this. You really scared me.
Ibe: Hey! Ugo! You were really scared while I was behind you, you were really absorbed in this book you were reading. So how is your family?
Ugomma: They are well. My mother and the others have gone to market.
Ibe: And your brothers and sisters?
Ugomma: They have gone to the forest to gather firewood. They have all gone out.
Ibe: Ugo, what is this that you are reading? Is there some homework we were given?
Ugomma: Ibe, first take a chair and sit down. You have come with your big question and I don't want anyone to bring a guest for me. [Refers to superstitious belief that if a guest remains standing it will cause another guest to appear.] There is a chair. (She brings a chair for Ibe.)
Ibe: (Sits down.) Now I have sat down. You know what follows when a chair is brought to a person.
Ugomma: What follows when a chair is brought to a person?
Ibe: Kola nut, of course! Or are you not an Igbo?
Ugomma: I have no kola nut. Unless you want to read a little.
Ibe: Ugo, time is passing. Let me be able to reach home before it gets dark.
Ugomma: Well, what do you want me to do? Haven't I told you that I have no kola?
Ibe: What kola, forget about kola. Is kola food?
Ugomma: What should I do then?
Ibe: Ugo, look, you are no longer a child. Our elders say that when a matter has already been discussed, it is agreed to with only a nod of the head.
Ugomma: Ibe, have you come again with these proverbs that you use to scare us in class? I say that anyone who has something to say to me should tell it to me outright. I do not understand proverbs.
Ibe: All right. A long story is not good for the evening mass. Then what about the thing we discussed the day before yesterday? What did you think about it?
Ugomma: Ibe, you know that it is getting dark, so I will not waste time to tell you what my thoughts are because the time is approaching when the market people will start to return. You have seen for yourself that beginning from our first year in high school up until this last one that we are in now, I have been very interested in you just as you have been in me. Therefore, I don't have much to say except to tell you to tell your mother and father as I will also tell my people and find out what they will say. Because they are still educating us. Whatever one [of us] finds out, let him inform the other.
Ibe: Ugo, you have done
well. I like everything you said. You speak like one who has taken breast
milk to the full. But what I want to tell you before I go is this: Try,
take this kind of wisdom that you have, call your mother aside and tell
her about our conversation. Through her, your father will find out. And
then for my part, I will try with all my powers to go through my mother
to inform my father. It is true that we are still students who are still
being educated. But our own students are different; we will finish our
studies this year, and if God helps us, we will come out and we will find
work immediately. Have you heard
Ugomma: Fine. Good night. Good journey.
Ibe: Oh! Goodness! When will we see each other again to find out where the palm kernel-beater has put his pestle? [find out what progress has been made and what to do next]
Ugomma: M-m-m, let it be next week.
Ibe: No-o. Next week is too far away. I want us to start this evening. Start talking about it and in about two days I will come and we will know what we are facing.
Ugomma: All right. Come then the day after tomorrow. Let me see if an opportunity will come to me this evening to tell my mother.
Ibe: All right. Goodbye.
The lights go out.
-- on to Act Two --