SENIOR BOYZZ (1)

 


- (FIRST DAY, FIRST ADVENTURE)

   I hadn't even stayed up to 24hrs in my new school; and here I was, about to embark on a deadly adventure.

He introduced himself as Thomas. "You can call me Tom" he said. I'd first met him earlier in the afternoon; the hostel master instructed him to help me carry my things from the car park to the hostel. And then I met Tom again at night some minutes before the night preparatory classes commenced; it usually lasted for two hours; they called it NIGHT PREP.  "Where is your bucket?" Tom asked me; I didn't even know him.  He had walked up to me that evening and tried to assure me that we'll be safe. "No need to to be sacred MON AMIE, we won't be caught" he said to me smiling. The word MON AMIE sounded familiar; yes, it was a French word, it's meaning was; MY FRIEND. I wondered where he learnt it from; Tom didn't look like a serious student. His set of teeth were terrible; they shone with disgust as he smiled, I wondered how he managed to live comfortably with his dirty set of teeth.


"It's behind the classroom" I replied. I was a bit nervous, I didn't want to be flogged; I knew it wasn't right. The instruction by one of the older seniors was to move straight to the hostel immediately after prep.


Earlier that afternoon, he had also told me we would embark on exciting adventures. I smiled, I loved adventures, exciting but not risky ones. "You're going to love it" he said to me. I asked him when we would begin and he told me that it would be by night. "Come to the classroom  tonight with your bucket" he told me.

————————————————————————-

The school compound was a big one; I couldn't even see one end from another; the presence of trees obstructed my view. My day had been a boring one. The moment dad and mum left, I felt like I was trapped forever. As I watched them drive out of the gate I felt something Leaving my body; I didn't know what it was, but it made me feel like running after them to get it back.


A middle aged man approached me. "Mr strong" he said, looking me into the eyes. He smiled, he was so confident and sounded like he loved his job. I turned to look at him. " You're welcome to this college, Follow me" he said. He helped me carry my belongings. At some point I felt ashamed; my belongings were too many; I saw the middle aged man struggle to carry them. At some intervals he would stop and pant. My belongings consisted of a big blue box containing my clothes and three medium sized sacks; one contained my provisions. Mum had gotten them for me from the store close to our house; the other sack contained my shoes, a cloth iron, a rechargeable lamp and a carton of Yale bread. Mum had sealed the third sack without my consent; I didn't know the content up till then; she said it was a gift of remembrance from her.

 The middle aged man carried the big blue box on his left shoulder and one of the medium sized sack bags on his right hand, while I carried the other two with my both hands. Shortly afterwards, he beckoned on a student to help him carry the big blue box. I felt sorry for him; he must have been exhausted.


The student seemed to be walking fast; the load must have been so heavy; yes, I knew it was. I walked calmly behind them, still carrying the two sack bags; I didn't know if I was meant to mutter "I'm sorry " or "you're really doing well " to two of them. I kept mute and marveled at the student's strength and endurance amidst the load he carried; the student looked so lean.

I looked around; the school compound seemed to be bustling with senior boys and girls at every corner; some jumped around childishly, while some chased each other, some girls sat and gossiped at another corner. Soon, the girls stopped to look at me; they all had pretty eyes; and curled their hairs to one side. I guess they weren't allowed to fix any attachments to it. I felt a little embarrassed; I hated unnecessary attention. Besides, I was the only child of my parents currently. I'll put it that way because my elder sister had gotten married few months ago; so I was the only one left at home with mum and dad.  "Fine boy!" One of the girls shouted; then they all laughed. I knew they were referring to me. I kept my face straight and moved on. The middle aged man and the student had gone far; I hastened my footsteps. I came across a group of guys; they had no shirts on, they were playing soccer. They played energetically as if there would be a cash price for the winner. They shouted on top of their voices; they suddenly stopped and looked my way. "A new fish has come!" One of the guys said. He looked so manly with full grown beards almost covering his mouth that I hastily concluded he wasn't meant to be a secondary school student anymore. I knew he couldn't be my classmate. Maybe a class above me or two. I thought. One of them called me; "boy come here!" I didn't know if he was serious or not; I halted. I turned to see how far the middle aged man had gone, so that I could go and answer the guy who called me; it was in my nature to be respectful no matter the circumstance.

The middle aged man seemed to turn immediately; he must have heard them call me. "Don't mind them, follow me" he said. 


I felt relaxed. He had saved me from the senior student. We arrived the boys' hostel shortly.

"Do you own all these?" The student managed to ask; he had wearily put down the big blue box. 

I didn't know what to reply him. I felt angry and sorry at the same time. With the way I walked behind them, he should have known that I was the owner of the three medium sized sacks and the big blue box, why then was he still asking? I felt sorry for him too; he didn't deserve to be stressed this much because of me. "Yes, thank you so much" I said.

   "Call me Sir Paul" the man said to me . "Welcome to the boarding school life" he said.  "Thank you so much sir" I managed to say. It was the least I was expecting; to be welcomed over and over again. Earlier, when dad drove us into the school compound, the security men had also welcomed me. Then when we went to the bursary unit for payment clearance and all, they had also welcomed me. The principal had also welcomed me, and Sir Paul was also welcoming me again.


He took me to my hostel. It was long and a bit spacious. It looked unkempt; clothes were littered on the floor and boys of my age jumped from one wooded bunk (beds built; one above the other)to another. It was really dangerous because any mistake of falling off, could cause death or brain damage. They seemed not to notice our presence. "Shoot!" One of them said. He pointed his two fingers to another student who seemed to dodge the imaginary bullet coming out from them. The game looked weird; I wondered how they enjoyed it. 

The whole time I was standing at the doorway watching, I didn't know when sir Paul left me; the middle aged man had gone to bring a cane. He arrived shortly. I was till surprised that the boys hadn't noticed our presence at the doorway; the so called game must have been so interesting to them. One of the boys who jumped down, in a bid to hide under the the bunk, got whipped with sir Paul's cane. He shouted in pain.  "Are you stupid?!" The man asked, raising his voice.  He beckoned on them to come outside while I still stood and watched. "You'll kneel down till evening" he said angrily. 


I checked my black digital wrist watch; it was some mins after 3pm. I felt bad for them; I knew sir Paul didn't. I felt like pleading on their behalf. I kept mute anyways; I couldn't risking serving the punishment with them.

I scanned through the boys kneeling; they looked younger than the ones I'd seen at the field. I sighted a familiar face; I could remember clearly now that he had helped me carry the big blue box. 

"So you're among them Tom?" Sir Paul asked, pointing to the exact person whom I'd sighted.


"I'll give you your own punishment now so that you'll help Mr. Strong settle down" the middle aged man said. 

He beckoned on the lean looking boy to come, while the others kept kneeling. Sir Paul whipped him on his buttocks with the cane. Four hot strokes of the cane. 

I expected to seem him cry; the lean boy didn't; rather, immediately sir Paul turned his face away, the lean boy smiled at me; revealing his set of unwashed teeth.


"Take him to your corner, he'll stay with Ted" Sir Paul instructed. I wondered why the school students usually bore short names like Tom and Ted. 

Tom helped me once more to move my things to my apportioned space.

 "You're a strong boy" I said, trying to start a discussion. He looked at me and then smiled. I expected him to say something but he didn't. He quietly carried the big blue box into the hostel. He dropped my things on the floor beside the wooden bunk designed for two people (one on top, and the other under). "What is your name" he finally asked.

I felt relieved; I had began nursing the thoughts that he was dumb and couldn't speak. No wonder he didn't take care of his teeth because there was no one to talk to. There was no point doing so, he was dumb; or I'd concluded to early that he was.


"I am strong" I said; waiting patiently for him to digest the words I'd just spoken. I knew he would laugh; Yes, he laughed. I was yet to ask dad why I was given such a weird name. "But you don't look strong" Tom said to me; laughing hysterically. He fell on the floor laughing. I felt ashamed; he laughed at me as if I had really cracked a funny joke.

"My name is Barry Strong" I said to him, trying to cover up and make the name look a bit serious; not to be joked with.

I stood as I watched him laugh, he laughed till his ribs ached and his stomach rumbled. He finally stood up; He was lean and a bit taller than I was. "Forgive my manners" he said, grinning as he turned towards me. His teeth shone with disgust again. They reminded me of  the minimie chin-chin which mum usually bought for me when I was little. The color of his teeth was exactly like the yellow color on the chin-chin sachet.

"You like adventures?" He asked me. I nodded; I really did. "Exciting but not risky ones" I managed to say; I was trying to show him that I had my own principles or I'd say dad's borrowed principles.

"Ah come on, you're no longer a kid" he said to me. 

Of course I wasn't, but it didn't mean I should get myself into trouble. "You're going to love the adventures" he said.  I smiled; "thank you Tom" he didn't reply; he just nodded and ran out.

          "Please where is your hostel?!" I managed to ask, but he didn't seem to hear me.


I sat on my bed; I moved my hands over it. It was the down part of the bunk. I shrugged; I just had to get used to everything. I lay on the bed; the foam was as hard as a stone; I wondered where they had picked it from.  I fixed my gaze on my blue box; it lay on the floor with particles of dirt on it. It had really made a long journey; so did I. 


I wondered why everywhere was quiet; where could everyone be? I became hungry soon, I reached out to one of the sacks to untie it. I heard footsteps approaching; a boy stood in front of me. He was average height and looked healthier than Tom. He looked at me and smiled; I wondered why he smiled, humans could be so weird. I felt there was no need to smile back; I just kept staring at him.

 "I'm Ted" he said, widening his smile, he seemed so excited to see me. "I'm Barry" I replied, trying to avoid another round of laughter from this stranger. "You're my bunkmate?" I asked. He nodded happily. "Welcome to boarding life" he said and climbed up to his bed which was situated above me. He sat and watched me. 


I pulled out a packet of Yale bread from its carton; "yummy" he said. I tried to act nicely "you want some?" I asked. I believed that first impression mattered a lot. He quickly tore it open as he received it from me; he didn't even say thank you.  I hushed it  aside; "where is everyone?" I asked him curiously. 

 He spoke with the processed food stuffed into his mouth. "They all went to see their babes".

It sounded strange to me; "who are babes?" I asked; something didn't seem right; the dictionary defined the word BABE to be small babies who had not began to walk yet. I wondered why boys of my age would leave their hostels to see little kids. 


Ted laughed at me; "Daddy's boy" he teased. "Babe means girls whom they are attracted to" he explained further. I understood the whole concept now. I knew I wouldn't survive in this school without getting used to the slangs or short form of words which they used. "Do you have a babe?" I managed to ask him. I didn't know when it left my mouth; I regretted it, but felt good later on. Ted laughed again. He didn't reply me; he Stuffed another piece of bread into his medium sized mouth. "You're still a daddy's boy, you don't need to know" he said.


I became vexed, but I tried not to show it. "I'm not a daddy's boy" I tried to defend, tearing open the packet of bread in my hand. He smiled; "you'll have to convince me some day" he said.

I heard the sound of a bell from a distance, I could hear someone striking an iron bar against another iron object to produce the noise. I knew it signified something; "what's it for?" I asked Ted. 

He jumped down from his bed. "It's the bell for dinner, are you coming?" he asked, bringing out a spoon from the side of his box and sliding it into his pocket. "To the Caf?" I asked. He marveled; he must have been surprised; "you know what a caf is?" I nodded, I was trying to prove a point to him; I wasn't a daddy's boy. 

"I'll start eating from tomorrow" I said to him and remained sitting on the bed. "Rich kid! Rich kid!" He shouted as he quickly left the empty hostel.  I wondered why he called me that; I hushed it aside while to tried to finish up the piece of bread which I held; it was getting dark.

 Soon I heard a crowd approaching; I couldn't guess wrongly, I knew who they were. They were the occupants of my hostel. The boys chattered with excitement; they seemed to be in a hurry. "Who dey with my spoon?" One of the boys asked in pidgin English. I found it hard to understand but I finally did; he was asking for who was in custody of his spoon. "Go ask your babe" someone else said.

They all burst out laughing; I didn't find it funny tho, I believed they were meant to answer him in the right way. I didn't want to stand from my bed; my corner was at the far end of the room from the doorway. I just didn't want them to notice my presence at the moment. I knew I wouldn't be hiding for long tho. Some minutes later they all left with their spoons. 


Tom came in shortly afterwards; he walked down to my corner.  "Aren't you going to the Caf?" He asked. I shook my head; "I'll start eating from tomorrow" I replied. He smiled "rich kid" he muttered.

"What's with the trend?" I asked. 

"Which trend"

"The rich kid stuff" I replied.

He smiled again with his usual set of teeth which I couldn't see this time because darkness was setting in, and then spoke. "It's normal for new comers not to eat from the cafeteria during the first week of their resumption" he said. "Oh I see" I replied, he continued.

"It's believed that they still have enough money from their parents to buy them food and snacks before Mr.H sets in" 

"what is Mr.H" I asked; I knew I still had a long way to go. 

"Hunger; chronic hunger" he said and smiled.

I laughed, the way the name was painted sounded so funny. "Well, I don't care what anyone says, I'll start eating school food from tomorrow" I replied.


"Your choice Mon amie" he said.

Tom seemed to be in a hurry; "where are you going to?" I asked. 

"To the caf" 

"They must have closed by now" I replied; it was over an hour now since Ted left.

"Don't worry, Mon Amie, I'll find my way in" he said.


"You know we have night prep everyday" he said. 

"What's it all about?" I asked.

"We get to read our books and do our assignments in class, we also get to prepare for classes the next day" he said

"When is it?" I asked 

"From 7-9pm" every night.


Well, I knew I had no option than to get used to the school system. I checked my wrist watch; the darkness in the room wouldn't let me see the time clearly. I opened my blue box; I searched for the torchlight. I brought it out and put it on. The time was 6:30pm.

"It's 6:30, you have to go and get your food" I said to him. He  looked at me and smiled. I knew our discussion had kept him back. "I've decided not to go again" he said.

"What will you eat then?" I asked showing concern.

"The life saver" he replied, grinning.

I knew it wasn't a slang; he was actually referring to something else.

 "What do you mean by life saver?" I asked.

"It's Garri; I'll drink Garri" he said.

I chuckled, I really had a lot of things to learn; they'd given this local food made from processed cassava a new name LIFE SAVER. I heard footsteps approaching; not one, not two; there were many. Soon the room was crowded.

"Get ready, the senior prefect and his colleagues will soon start chasing us for night prep"  Tom

Said. 

"I'll go this way" I said.

 "On causal wears?" He asked. I nodded.

"You should change to your Day-wears" he said. 

I had them all in my box, but I was reluctant to wear any. I just wanted to enjoy the last moments of being a new student. "I'll begin wearing the uniforms from tomorrow" I said.

He nodded and then spoke. "We'll be going on an adventure tonight".

"Tonight?" I asked excitedly.

Tom nodded. "Big boys like you shouldn't be scared of such adventures". I became a bit perturbed; what did he mean? 

"You have to shine your eyes well" he said.

I was becoming a bit tensed, maybe he had forgotten when I earlier told him about exciting but not risky ones. I nodded; I didn't know when I did.

I nodded again; I wanted to prove that I wasn't scared though I didn't know what I was venturing into.

"What's the adventure about?" I asked calmly.

Tom smiled again and then spoke.

"We'll go behind the security building to pick mangoes and then head to the Main tap to fetch water"  


I tried to digest them in; Fetching water wouldn't be a problem, but I really didn't wish to be picking mangoes behind a security building of all

Places. "Isn't there any other adventure to embark on, rather than picking mangoes?" I asked. 

 He smiled once more and then asked.

"Are you in or not?" I was shocked, I never believed he could be as bold as that; he had always smiled as though he always took everything for play.


"I'm in" I said; I knew it didn't seem right, because he wouldn't call it an adventure if it didn't look risky.

Well to me it sounded so risky, especially picking mangoes behind a security building at night.


"Which time is it?" I managed to ask.

"Immediately after prep" he said, and continued; "Come to class with your bucket tonight".


I didn't have one; how on earth did I forget to buy one. I didn't know whether to blame myself or mum. 

I decided to borrow one from Ted. 

——————————————————————

"You have five counts to leave this hoste!!" I heard someone shout from the doorway. Soon afterwards the power supply came on; I checkedy wrist watch; it was just few minutes to 7pm. I saw a lot of boys running out of the hostel. One of the boys quickly came in; he dropped his spoon on his bed and ran out.


"One!" The person at the door barked. 

Ted quickly came inside, he pulled of his sweater and tried putting on the shirt of his Day-wear; the whole attire was brown in color. I had the complete set folded neatly in my box too.


"Two!!" The person at the door barked louder.

"Aren't you going for prep?" Ted asked me; he seemed to be hurriedly tightening his belt.


"Three!" The voice at the door sounded so loud this time. I could sight a lot of boys running from where I stood. "Please can I use your bucket to class?"

"To class?" He asked, showing surprise.

"You want to fetch water after prep?" He asked.

I wasn't so surprised. He must have tried it before. I nodded. "Barry, It's risky but you can use the bucket" he said and quickly ran out.


"Four!!" The person at the door shouted; this time he seemed to be so angry and couldn't wait to count to five to do what he wanted to do. I quickly picked up the red bucket under our bunk. "Thank you Ted" I muttered and ran out of the hostel, standing at some distance to see what would happen.

        "Five!!!" The person said; this time he didn't shout, it was in a calm manner; "Senior please! Senior please!" I could here some boys pleading with whoever it was. 

I could here them being whipped hard with a cane.

They shouted in pain. One ran out towards me holding his back in pain. "Won't you run to class?" He asked me.  I just wondered why I hadn't started running ever since the senior student started counting for us in the hostel.  "Please is that the senior prefect?" I managed to ask him as he tried tightening his belt before leaving for class.


"Keep asking till he meets you there" the boy answered me sarcastically and ran off.

" what are you doing there?!" I heard someone shout in my direction. I wondered how he managed to see me from where I stood. He came out from my hostel with a cane in his hand. He looked familiar, he had beards all over him, he must be the guy whom I had seen in the afternoon playing soccer with his friends.

He must be the senior prefect whom I'd be asking about.


"If I meet you there, I'll skin you alive!" He said to me raising his voice and walking towards me.


I zoomed of into the darkness  holding the red bucket with my right hand. I didn't even know where the classrooms where. I decided to ask a student who ran past me. He directed me to where the SSS1 students stayed during night prep and left. He seemed to be in a hurry; of course he didn't want to be flogged. 


Before I arrived the classroom I felt it would be inappropriate to go in with the red bucket. I went behind the building and hid it in a little bush close by. 

The class was a large hall with a black board at the far end. There were two classes opposite each other. The girls, while I guessed to be my classmates read in one while the boys read in the other.


It was quiet and the fluorescent bulbs shone with grace and splendor. The both classrooms seemed to be quiet; maybe a senior student had whipped some unfortunate victims. 

I made up my mind not to be perturbed by their stares or gazed on me; my mind went to the adventure with Tom immediately after prep, instead.


Surprisingly, I couldn't help but worry about the crowd because the moment I stepped in, all eyes were on me.





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