"Where is the bucket?" Tom asked; he'd walked up to me that night while everyone was still sitting and reading. I must have slept off, because I had no book with me to glance through. Earlier, I had found a stool and a table at a corner of the classroom with no owner. There I sat, for the whole time moping at the new faces; they were my classmates, I just had to get used to them.  

"It's behind the classroom" I said, raising my left hand to check the black wrist watch which hung on it; it was twenty minutes to 9pm. 

"We must leave now" he said to me.

"Huh?" Tension was already building up inside me; it was too early to leave; "we can leave once prep is over" I suggested. He smiled; he knew I was already getting scared. "We have to leave now, the security officers don't patrol the field till about thirty minutes after prep" he explained.

I shrugged; it was so weird for me; it was my first night in the school and I was already embarking on deadly adventures.

"How many mangoes are we picking, and how long do we spend?"  I managed to asked.

"As much as you want Mon Amie, it's all up to you, I'm actually tired of licking mangoes." he said in a low tune and continued, "We'll fetch water from the main tap and quickly head to the hostel" he assured me.

The moment I and Tom walked out of the quiet class, I still felt that all eyes were on me, and then I noticed that the number of boys reading in class that night had reduced; I would ask him on our way, to explain why this was so. I sighted some senior students standing outside with canes in their hands; they seemed to be preparing to whip two male students whom I couldn't see clearly, that lay on the floor. We quietly made it to the back of the building. I picked up the bucket from where I hid it and we made off, into the darkness.


As we walked briskly, I heard some noise from the bushes nearby. The voices sounded like some humans conversing; then I heard a female voice say "I love you so much". I froze; what could be happening over there? I turned to see who they were, but they seemed to be covered by the bushes, and the darkness wouldn't let me see them too. I stood to know what next would happen; "I love you too" the male partner replied and they seemed to embrace each other happily.

 "Strong!" I heard  Tom calling, it was in a low hushed voice. I hurried after him.

"When you woke me up, I noticed that the class was looking scanty"  I said to him, trying to initiate a discussion. He stopped; turned at me and smiled, then continued with his brisk steps. 

"You walked past a couple when you were coming behind me right?" He asked. 

"You noticed they were there too?" I asked surprisingly, trying to flow with the vibes. 

"Yeah" Tom nodded. 

"Why would a man and his wife be out here by night instead of their homes" I asked.

"Oh grow up kid! They're just students" he said to me. "Bad students" he added.

Once more I felt ashamed; well I still had a lot to learn and I didn't want to blame myself for not figuring this one out.

I noticed we'd been walking for a while behind buildings; I sighted a lot students in each class as we walked past them, still sitting and reading quietly. I sighted one; she seemed to be a female student, being whipped mercilessly by an older senior student. I hadn't toured the school yet but I wasn't wrong in my conclusions; the environment was a big one, because I was already getting tired of the long walk 

"Haven't we arrived?" I asked and regretted ever doing that.  "Shuuuu" he whispered to me, but I guess it was already late. I didn't notice the presence of an old man standing by one of the windows of a classroom. "He's a teacher on night duty, bend so that he doesn't see us!" Tom whispered

"Who?" I asked; I couldn't see anyone in front of me. Then a torchlight shone brightly in my direction from one of the windows close to where we stood.

"My friend will you come here?!" The man barked "All these unserious students have started their gallivanting again, this night!" He said and hissed. 

Fear gripped me; my legs shook; that moment I wished I could disappear. I'd never faced a situation like this before. I felt obedience was better than sacrifice;I felt it was better to move towards the man than to risk hiding from him. I stood at the spot, still confused as he kept pointing his bright torchlight to me with all energy.

Tom pulled me away; "are you crazy?" He whispered.

"Run!" He said and we took off, in the same path which we followed.


"Here we are, Mon Amie" Tom said to me. The moon was out already; He watched as I panted in fear; he laughed lightly. "You'll get used to it" he said. 

"No way, I won't try this again!" I said.

"We'll see about that" he replied.

"Where's the man?"

"Which man?"

"The man who chased us with the torchlight" I replied, expecting an answer of relief from him.

"Did anyone run after you?" He said to me smiling 

"No teacher has your time at night, in this school except the older senior students, and the hostel administrator." Tom added.

It made me understand why he pulled me away and told me to run.

I heaved a sigh of relief; I looked at the mango tree  which stood before us. It wasn't so tall, I knew I could easily climb it.

"You're late captain" I heard a female voice speak. I turned to see who it was. A girl, about my age or a bit older stood looking confused and tired. She seemed to be smiling towards Tom, and then he spoke. 

"I had to come with a friend" he said, smiling. I began to wonder why he was called Captain; Tom had never mentioned that to me. Anyways, I'd recently come to the school; that morning precisely, so I still had a lot of things to know about.

"And who's this chick" she said, walking towards me. She seemed to place her right hands on my forehead and then she slid them down to my jaw. I stepped back; the hand was as cold as ice block. She laughed; "what's your name?" She asked.

" Stro.." I muttered, and then I said "Barry" I preferred she called me Barry; I didn't want to create another scene with my other name.

"StroBarry?" She asked; looking a bit confused.

"Barry, it's Barry" I said.

"Nice voice you've got, Barry" she said smiling. No one had ever told me this; not even mum or dad. I knew I couldn't even sing. I felt my voice had been given to me by God to just fill up the space in my throat.

"He's a good boy, leave him" Tom said, trying to step in for me. I prayed God to bless him that moment because I really didn't know what next to tell her.

"Good boy?" She asked and laughed a bit loudly.

"Why bring a good boy to a lions den?" She asked and walked into the darkness.

"Where's she going to? I asked;

"To get high again" 

"High?, where she climbing to?" I asked. 

"Ah! Grow up man, she's gone to puff cigarettes with her friends".

I felt ashamed once more; I still had a lot of things to learn .

"She smokes with five other female friends" Tom added. 

I widened my eyes in surprise and then I heard a group of girls laugh from a distance; in the direction where she had moved to.

"Quick, we have little time left" he said, trying to get a long stick close by.

I quickly rushed to climb the tree. "No, you would regret it Mon Amie" he hardly finished the sentence when I started ascending.

"I'm not a kid" I replied to him comfortably. 

"We'll see about that" he said.

From a distance we could hear the bells being rung. "Prep is over" I muttered as I sat on one of the tree branches. "I'll advice you to come down because of the black ants up there" Tom said from where he stood below me.

"It's better to use long sticks " he added 

 "I'm already here Mon Amie, it's nothing to worry" I replied; try to copy him.

I brought the wrist watch to my face; I put on the light of the little device, it was 9:05pm. I could see students in groups, running out from their classes. "To your hostels!!" The female senior student barked as she tried to whip a student who narrowly escaped her blood thirsty cane. The light bulbs from the magnificent buildings helped me differentiate them. The females seemed to move quickly in one direction to their hostels and the males seemed to go the other way. "Strong! Hurry, we have to fetch some water at the tap" he said from below. 

It was hard differentiating which mango was ripe or not. I made my conclusion by judging on how hard or how soft each fruit was. I'd taken about ten of them. I threw them down excitedly and reached out to get the last one and then...

Something stung me on my feet; and yet another stung me. I shouted; I nearly lost my grip. I quickly jumped down; my bones creaked, I'd landed the wrong way. And yet another stung me. "Help me Tom!" I beckoned on him, trying to dust my trousers. The insects seems like they were moving up my legs from underneath my trousers. 

"Stay calm and stop shouting" Tom said. He pulled down my trousers and helped me take the insects off; I wondered how he did that so easily amidst the darkness and the moon which fairly lightened the area.

Everywhere seemed to be quiet; "To your hostels!!" I heard a voice echo from a distance and then I heard footsteps of legs running to save their lives. I noticed that the girls who had been smoking and laughing close by as Tom told me had also left to their hostels. "How do we get into the hostel?" I asked him as we walked quietly through the bushes. "You'll see." I held Ted's red bucket which contained the mangoes I'd gotten from the tree; Ten in all; five for each of us. My feet still hurt; the ants had really bitten deep into them. I made up my mind to keep calm; it was also part of the adventure.

We arrived at the tank stand area shortly; it was sloppy, we hid at the base to avoid being caught. "That's our hostel over there" he said pointing in a distance from where we both stood; hiding behind a large rock.  I could see it from where we stood; the light bulbs illuminated the environment and we could see a crowd of boys gathered outside; soon they began to sing loudly. 

"THIS-LITTLE-LIGHT-OF-MINE, I'M-GONNA-LET-IT-SHINE" amidst several shoutings of "Louder! Louder!" from some older senior boys who held canes on their hands.

"What's the crowd for?" I asked .

 "General Night Devotion" he said and then he turned to the right "that's the female hostel" he pointed; 

"A high fence?" I asked; I could see nothing, other than a high fence. 

"The building is behind the fence" said Tom.

I wondered why the female hostels were fenced, and the male hostels weren't. I decided to ask him. 

"It is believed that girls are more precious than boys" he replied. I wondered who propounded that theory. I shrugged and kept mute. 

"They have to be well safe guarded, boys are less important" he added. It pained me to know that I was less important in this school. I still kept mute anyways. I checked my wrist watch; it said 9;20pm

"Here's the plan" he said. 

I opened my ears with alacrity and attentiveness. I was beginning to feel safe with him; if this was how  the boarding school would turn out to be for me, then I would enjoy it.

"We can't let them see us with the buckets or the mangoes"  he said.


"The Older Senior students and the Hostel administrator" he said.

"What do we do about it?"

"We'll fetch water from the tap and move behind the male hostel; we'll sneak it in through one of the broken windows" he said.

"Huh?" I opened my eyes trying to understand what he meant.

"We'll carry in the buckets containing water, through the window" he said. 

"Let's go".


We climbed the Little Rock where the pump was situated on. I wondered why whoever designed it, made it to be located there.

"It was a risky one; we could be sighted by anyone; the security, the older senior students, the hostel administrators.

He'd fetched his; it was my turn. I picked out the mangoes from the bucket. As I made to put them into my deep pockets, three of them rolled down the slope. I went after them. "Leave the mangoes!" He whispered, but it was too late. I slipped and fell. I rolled down the slope just as the mangoes had done too.

"Who's there!!" Someone barked, pointing a torchlight at my direction. I heard as Tom slipped into one of the bushes close by. I stood up to run just as Tom would encourage me to. 

"If you run, I'll make your punishment double of what you're to serve" the person said, pointing the torch directly at me and walking quickly towards my direction. 

"You want to run away from the senior prefect?" The Older senior student asked as he approached me.

"Lie down!!" He instructed. 

"Others have gone inside, what are you still doing outside!!?" He queried. I shivered, I couldn't even see his face, his torchlight seemed to blind my sight.

"I just came to fetch water" I muttered as I lay flat on the cold ground. It had drizzled some minutes before prep started for the night.

"I can see that you also went to pick mangoes too" he  said and then asked me a stunning question; which I was never prepared for.

"Why are you on casual wears?!" It clicked immediately to me. I was still putting on the cloth I wore from home. It was a Jean trouser and a blue polo. "You're a new student?!" He asked.

I nodded slowly from where I lay. "When did you join us?!" He asked.

The question made me scared. I didn't know which answer of mine would set me free at that moment. He seemed to have reduced the harshness in his voice. I considered lying to him that I came in last week, but on a second thought he'd have more reasons to flog me since I stayed in the school for up to a week to know the do's and don'ts.

"Today" I said quietly. The cold ground seemed to be soaking my clothes, it made me feel like I was gradually sinking into some kind of water body.

"I shall give you seven strokes of the cane instead of twenty-four!" He said. Did he really mean twenty four? Was this how wicked the older senior students were? Right there I knew I'd gotten the reward for my night adventure.

"Taaaa!!" The first stroke landed on my Jean trousers. Nothing seeemed to happen until the second one landed.

It really hurt; the after effect was like insects sucking my blood. I wondered where Tom could be; I had less time to think more about it, and yet another stroke landed. Not on my Jean trousers this time, but my back. I let out a loud cry. I concluded that this senior student was a monster; he had no pity or atom of sympathy in him, he seemed to be enjoying my pain and agony.

"Please sir!!" I cried out, as another landed on my back, on exactly the same area as the previous. 

"Call me senior, not sir" he said.

Another stroke landed on my back. I didn't know what happened next but I can vividly remember that I ran mad for some seconds; I can't remember the dancing steps and moves which I made on the floor that night. "Two more to go!" He voiced out. I tried to stand up and then he spoke.

"If you stand, I'll start all over, again"

That was when I remembered God; I silently whispered to Him to save me. I knew I was trapped. I never knew this was how life was. 

Yet, another stroke landed. I wept; I was in pains.

The last stroke made me a bit responsible for the next few weeks. I would never forget it. The last stroke didn't land on my Jean trousers or my back. It landed on my head. He seemed to bend slightly and flip the back of my head with the cane. 

I saw stars; I knew for sure that I fell into a trance; it was unexplainable. And then he spoke. "Welcome to boarding school, now move to your hostel!". 

I stood and went up to get Ted's red bucket from where it stood directly under the tank stand. I noticed that Tom's own wasn't there; the clever boy must have crept away with it. I came down with the medium sized bucket almost filled to the brim with water. The senior prefect seemed to be watching me, his torchlight pointed to the ground this time. I couldn't read the expression on his face, but I could tell it wasn't a good one for him to remain standing and waiting for me, even after flogging me. 

I guess Tom didn't explain to me that the senior prefect was a hot tempered individual. "I said move to your hostel!!" He said, kicking the bucket which I gripped firmly. The bucket got broken; I had no time to understand what had happened, and yet another stroke of his blood thirsty cane landed on my back. 

This time I took to my heels; without my mangoes, my pair of slippers and without Ted's bucket which was already broken.

I'd almost arrived the hostel when I noticed a figure leaping out from the bush nearby. "I told you not to go after the mangoes" he said. It was Tom. I was silent, I didn't know which emotion to fall into; sadness, anger. We walked quietly to the hostel; Tom held firmly to his bucket filled with water, and his mangoes soaked inside them. And I walked behind him with only my soaked clothes on.We arrived the male hostel shortly.

We tiptoed quietly to the back of the building. As we moved quietly, I could sight a man standing with his torchlights and a cane. He seemed to be answering a phone call. And when he spoke, I recognized his voice; it was Sir Paul the hostel administrator.


We made it into the hostel through a window which had its iron protector uprooted. I could tell that it must have be done by one of the mischievous boys.

The hostel was warm and smelt of human beings. It was rowdy and some boys tried to crack funny jokes at a corner close by.

"Hey boys, from where do you come from?" One of the boys asked, as I and Tom tried concealing the window which we had come through. "Leave us please" Tom said. The other boy laughed and lay on his bed. 

"Am I holding you?" He asked.  

"It's just a question, man".

As I moved to my corner, I thought on how to explain to Ted on the whereabouts of  his bucket.

"Where have you been, man!" Ted asked. 

"I went to fetch water of course" I replied.

"Ah! Come on, fetching water won't take you this long bro" he said. I was silent for a while and then he spoke; "Sir Paul has been looking for you".

My eyes widened in more fear. I was just Landing myself from one trouble to the other. "He just left the hostel some minutes ago" Ted said.

"Is that why he's standing outside now?" I asked. 

"Uhm, not really, he likes to stay outside till everyone is quiet and then he goes inside to sleep". 

"Inside?" I asked Ted; I didn't know that sir Paul with us in the male hostel area.

"Yes his house is just an apartment tho, you can go see it tomorrow, though it's strictly out of bounds for students" Ted said.

I chose to be quiet. I didn't blame Ted for still talking to me with excitement. Nothing seemed to be exciting for me at that moment; he didn't even know I'd been whipped by the senior prefect, few minutes ago.

"Have you met him tonight?" Ted asked 


"Sir Paul" 

"No" I said.

He sat up and widened his eyes In curiosity; "how then did you come in? Who opened the door to the hostel for you?" He asked.

I remained quiet. I ignored him and tried pulling of my soaked clothes.

"Don't tell me you came in through the broken window?" He said, staring at me with an I KNOW YOU DID IT look. 

"Hmmm...Clever boy" he mocked; smiling mischievously at me.

Shortly afterwards, the door to the hostel was pushed open. I watched as everyone scampered to their beds to take cover. "It must be sir Paul or one of the Older senior students" Ted said and quickly lay down on his bed, pretending to be fast asleep just as other boys had done.

"Where is Strong? Is he back?!" The loud voice rang through the quietness that enveloped the room; it was sir Paul.

I froze; it was time to face another judgement. I'd pulled off my Jean trousers. I was about pulling off my soaked shirt when he came in.

I quietly walked up to him and I later regretted walking up to him without my trousers.

He took me outside; "are you not the new student whom I assisted in the afternoon to carry your things?" He asked, to ensure I was the one on his search list, and then he tried to find out where I'd been. "I've been to your hostel three good times, where have you been?" He asked. I was silent and then the next question landed. "How did you enter the hostel?"

I was short of words; my legs wobbled.

"You're parents called me an hour ago" he said. My mind went to dad and mum; I hadn't even spoken with them since they left that morning.

"They said they wanted to speak with you after night prep" he said. 

I understood the whole point now. My parents had triggered him to look for me; Tom had told me that there were many other new students who arrived earlier in the day time with me, and that there was no way sir paul would easily remember my face, talk more of my name. 

"You'll have to speak with them tomorrow" he said. I was okay with that; but it didn't end there. There was one major obstacle remaining; 

"How did you enter the hostel and where have you been?" I kept mute, telling the truth wouldn't even save me, and besides I didn't want him to know about the window; I knew some other boys were using it as a passage just like I and Tom had.

"You're just coming to the school today and you want to be a bad student?" He asked.

I saw him tighten his grip on the cane he held; I didn't need a soothsayer to predict what next would happen. "I don't train bad students, I want you to be a good student" he said and instructed me to lie down on the cold floor. I lay quietly with my polo and only a pair of boxers on.


After receiving Eight strokes of the cane that night from the Senior Prefect and Five strokes from Sir Paul, I lay down quietly on my bed. My first day in school had been a disaster. I wouldn't even speak to Tom as much as he tried to cheer me up by giving me his share of mangoes. "You'll get used to it Mon Amie, we've all been whipped so badly" he said, patting me on my back; he left for his bed few minutes later.


I was almost drifting to sleep, when a hand patted me; I opened my eyes to to know who it was.

It was Ted, he spoke tiredly; I suspected he was halfway asleep. He finally asked me the question I'd been expecting him to ask.

"Where's the red bucket I gave you? I'll be needing it early tomorrow morning".

Well, in church back at home, I'd come to learn that "Sufficient for the day are it's own troubles" and that was the principle I decided to adopt. I was already tired of being a victim that night.

I ignored him and thought on what to reply him, but he had slept off.

The once noisy room seemed to be getting quiet every minute as more people drifted to sleep. I checked my wrist watch, I could see  SUNDAY/10:59pm clearly written on it.  

Tomorrow would be a busy day. Tomorrow would be my first day in class; I wondered how it would look like. I finally fell asleep with my wrist watch on.

To be continued…….

(Thank you for reading, please leave a comment.)


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