THE DAY OF RECKONING (3)


          Outside the little building some boys were gathered; they discussed in low tones. It was the place where the Man of God lived. They waited for their turn; he would pray and attend to them in groups of three.

INSIDE THE BUILDING:

"What do you want?” The proposed man of God asked the three boys standing in front of him.

“Man Of God, we want to pass our exams; please we need your prayers”. The man smiled, he looked at them and said. "Do you have what it takes?"

"What does it take, pastor?" Ike asked. "For God to answer your prayers, you have to pay" The Man of Gad said, emphasizing on the word “PAY” by widening his eye balls. Okon didn’t know whether it was fear or his imaginations, but the moment the man of God widened his eyes, he imagined him with wings and a sword. “We have the Money baba" Mathew said confidently. “Where is it?”

 

Mathew brought out a bundle of Naira notes as Okon widened his eyes in surprise. He wondered how his friends got that huge sum of money. “I want to leave” Okon whispered into Mathew’s ear; he was feeling uncomfortable.

“Leave and fail your exams!” Mathew said raising his voice. The pastor and Ike turned towards them. Okon felt embarrassed; “it was just a joke, I’ll stay” he replied; faking a smile and trying to cover up. “Lie down let me pray for you all” the man of God instructed. He spoke in languages that they had never heard before. Fear swept through Okon again; he thought he was being used for sacrifice. He quickly moved close to Mathew and held him tightly while they all lay on the floor. “Fear fear” Mathew mocked him amidst the chanting and noise which the Man of God made.

 

Before they left, he gave each of them a pen. “Do not give it to a third party” he directed. “What is a third party?” Okon asked. He hadn’t heard the word before; he had never attended any party in his life talk more of a third one. The Man of God smile; he had forgotten that they were just kids. “It means any other person asides you” he explained and continued; “Once the exam starts, throw it on the floor twice and pick it up, then look straight to the board, you’ll see the answers clearly written on the board” he said. Okon opened his eyes in excitement; he couldn’t wait to test this new method on Monday. “The answers on the board will only be seen by the three of you” The man of God added.

                Thank you baba” Mathew said confidently. They collected their Pens from him and left. Okon was the most excited; there was no need to panic again. He would definitely pass his exams. He smiled triumphantly as they walked home. Okon greeted everyone who walked past them that evening. He tried to play with some chickens he had seen resting at a corner; he ran after them happily. “Thank God I didn’t leave the Man of God’s house earlier” he said happily, trying to engage them in a discussion. They both looked at him scornfully and then Ike spoke. “You know you act like a woman always”.

                He remained silent till they split ways to their various homes; it was a Friday.

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On Monday morning, the trio met at the junction and boarded a shuttle bus to school. “I hope you all have your Special Pens” Mathew asked.

“Yes” Ike responded. Then they both looked at Okon; he seemed to be searching his bags hastily for the Pen. “You seem not to be an organized person” Ike commented. “That’s not true” Okon rebuffed him; “I’ve found it” he defended.

“Goodluck to us all” Mathew said. And then, Okon spoke again; “May the Pens bring us luck”.  The two were silent; they stared angrily at him; “Must you voice it out?” Mathew asked. Okon looked at them in shock; His friends were really turning into something else.

Soon, they alighted from the shuttle bus and walked into the school compound.

“Move into the exam hall and pick a sit!!” the invigilator instructed. Okon made his way to the front sit; it would make it easy for him to see the invisible answers on the white board. He turned to observe where Mathew and Ike sat. Surprisingly, they sat at the back row; he wondered how they would see the invisible writings on the board clearly, once the exam commenced.

The Invigilator began sharing the exam scripts; “Quiet!” he instructed. The hall was a bit noisy. As Okon collected his scripts, he looked at the questions; they were strange. They looked like drawings; he hadn’t seen them before. The hall became so quiet that a pin drop could be heard. “Your time starts now!” the Invigilator said.

 Some minutes later, Okon quickly dropped his Writing Pen on the floor; it landed noisily on the tiled floor. “Who is that?!!” the invigilator asked, turning in Okon’s direction; he suspected foul play. “I’m sorry sir, it was a mistake” the young boy said, picking up the Pen. Okon began to panic; the Invigilator didn’t go away; he stood and fixed his eyes on Okon. “If that Pen falls on the floor again, you’ll stand without writing for thirty minutes” the strict man said. Okon nearly froze to death; his answer script was blank. He had only written his name; He had to throw the pen on the floor twice before the answers would appear on the board as directed by the Man of God. “Why aren’t you writing?” the invigilator asked him. The boy was speechless; the question couldn’t be answered. The answers to the questions were so many. I don’t know what to write sir, I didn’t read, I don’t even have a note book, I’ve only attended classes once, I love swimming, I love playing soccer. These were the answers to the question; they could terminate his student-ship if he ever spoke. “I can see that you’re not a serious student” the man said. “Your cup has filled up today” the man said and laughed at Okon. He removed his gaze from the boy and walked to the back row; the hall was quiet; everyone seemed engrossed in their work. Then the Invigilator heard the Pen fall to the floor again. “Stand on your feet!”  He said, walking towards Okon; “Don’t write for thirty minutes” he added.

Okon stood quietly; he had written nothing, why then was he asked to stop? He trembled with fear; he began sweating despite the cool weather.  Okon looked at the board. He had succeeded in throwing the Pen twice on the floor as directed by the man of God. The white board still appeared blank; its white color glowing with all vibrancy and brightness. No handwriting was inscribed on it just as the man of God had told them. 

He turned to the direction where Ike and Mathew sat and received the greatest shock of his life; they were so busy, writing. Okon became confused and trembled the more; he hadn’t heard them drop their pens, how then were they writing with all seriousness?

“It will not work!” the Invigilator said to Okon as he stood. The young boy looked confused. He felt like asking the invigilator “What will not work?”, but the man continued.  I’ve been watching you since you threw your pen on the floor” Okon became weak. “I tried it in my secondary school days too, but it didn’t work, next time read your books before coming for an Exam” the man said.

Soon afterwards, a hand was raised at the back. “Yes? How can I help you?” the Invigilator asked walking towards his direction. Okon turned to see who it was, from where he stood. It was Ike, he wanted an extra answer sheet. Okon couldn’t believe his eyes; he had written nothing, and here was Ike requesting for an extra sheet; everything looked like a movie to him. “You may sit!” The invigilator instructed Okon after supplying Ike with an extra answer sheet. Hardly had Okon sat, and then the Invigilator Shouted “Everyone, get ready to submit!”

                That was it, the little boy began weeping; he knew he had messed up. He picked up his answer sheet. It was blank and stared back at him as if asking a DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT TO WRITE?” question. His weary eyes moved to the top of the paper; his name was boldly written on it. He had written them with confidence the moment he received the answer sheet.

The Moment Ike and Mathew stood up to submit, Okon felt like giving up the ghost. They had never been to class but here they were, trying to submit their answer scripts before everyone. “What have I done?” he muttered. His eyes were already swollen and red. It wasn’t the end; this was just the first Examination paper; Okon wondered how he would write the rest.

                “Time’s Up!!” the invigilator said.

(Continued in THE DAY OF RECKONING 4)

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