"We wanted to hear from you last night" Dad said over the phone; I was silent for a while; I didn't know what next he wanted to say.

"Good morning sir" I managed to say.

"Anyways, hope you're safe?" He asked.

"Yes sir" I heaved a sigh of relief.

"Are you enjoying the environment?"

"Of course sir" How was I meant to say No, and even if I did, it wouldn't change anything.

"Your mum wants to speak with you" he said; I waited as he passed the phone to mum.

"Hello son" she said softly, her voice sounding so sweet as usual. One thing I loved mum for, was her accent and the it sounded whenever she spoke; it was so lovely and soul soothing.

"Hey Momma" 

"I've missed you" she said.

Well I wasn't used to the usual "I miss you too" which other kids usually said in movies that I'd watched before.

"Thank you" I said.

"You're a Village boy" she mocked; 

"you should reply me with, I MISS YOU TOO" she said.

Anyways she had an important message for me.

"Look for Mr.Thompson; I don't think you'll remember him, he's a close friend to your dad and he teaches in your school" She said.

I sighed quietly; I wasn't a social person; I wasn't even good at introducing myself to strangers. It was possible that I would meet the Mr. Thompson of a person and begin to stammer or scratch my head; I really disliked missions like these. Well, Mum continued; 

"He'll be your school guardian and will be in charge of the monthly stipend which we'll be sending you so that it doesn't get stolen in your hostel. 

I'll commend mum for saying that. The little incident I had with my wrist watch yesterday night had already explained a lot about the environment which I was in.

"He'll also provide you with a locker and a sitting stool for your classes, We've paid for them already". She said.


After the call, I went back to meet the other boys whom I was meant to sweep the walk-way with.

As I approached them, they all stood tall and straight, staring at me in anger and disgust.

For a moment, I felt like and outcast; I wondered why they looked at me that way.

"We're done sweeping" one of them said, squeezing his face tightly as if I had committed a grievous crime. I really didn't know what next to say. 

They kept staring offensively at me like they expected me to say something that would trigger them and then they would beat me up.

"Oh wow, Well done boys!" I said, and regretted it some seconds later.

"You're a lazy fellow" one of them said.

"we've marked your face, make sure you avoid us henceforth" said the other boy.

I wondered what I had done wrong; was I meant to ignore my parents' call and sweep, just to make them happy? My parents wanted to speak with me; it wasn't my fault that I didn't sweep the walk way with them. 

"You escaped morning portion today because Sir Paul called you right?" One of them asked and then left. 

Well I've learnt to let things be; they didn't seem to be ready for any of my explanations or excuses. 

I hushed it aside and went into the hostel to dress up fully for class.

"SSS1 Boys!!!" A voice sounded from the doorway.

"Yes senior!!" my hostel mates echoed and remained quiet. I could feel the silence.

"Make sure you don't forget anything inside here. I'll be locking the door once you leave...did you hear me?!

"Yes senior!!"

"Did you hear me?!!"

"Yes senior!!". He left shortly afterwards. 

Some minutes later, Tom came to my corner.

"Are you done?" He asked.

I nodded as I picked up my school bag; it contained about 3 exercise books, the school handbook which was given to me yesterday and a blue pen. I placed my hat on my head and we were set to leave.

"Here stinks" he said; squeezing his face in discomfort.


"Your corner, it smells of urine" he said.

I shook my head in disappointment; anyways, all thanks to Ted.

"I've taken my Bed outside to get dried" I said. I looked at Tom; he didn't look convinced; he seemed to be sniffing so hard in a bid to find out where the soul shattering smell was coming from.

"He hasn't!, look!" Tom said pointing to Ted's bed. 

I went close to sniff it; I knew it was thoughtless of me to do so; well I regretted doing it; the bed smelt of concentrated urine. The smell was such a powerful one; for some seconds I fell into a trance; my mental chambers seemed to shut down for a while.

"You never told me my new bunkmate was a bed wetter" I said to Tom; he was silent for a while and then he smiled;

"You can tell Sir Paul about it, he'll change you to a better location" he said.

The bell sounded from a distance; 

"We should head to the Caf now" He said.

"What about the bed?"

"Which bed?"

"Ted's bed" I said.

"You can choose to help him take it out, or leave him to do it" Tom said.


The building stood tall and strong, coated with a yellow Color, which seemed to be fading away. It must have been painted many years ago. The aroma of a certain food brushed through my little nose as we approached the building; CAFETERIA boldly written at the entrance.

"Here we are" Tom said.

Voices echoed and laughed; the building was filled with students; all dressed up in their school uniforms ready for classes. 

"You're almost late, hurry inside!!" An older senior student said to the two of us; he stood like he was the owner of the building; his two hands resting on his posterior; a cane in one of the hands.

"That's the Refectory Prefect" Tom said as we walked briskly into the large spacious hall.

"Follow me" he said as we entered the stuffy environment. We seemed to be heading to the other end of the hall. 

Inside the building smelt of human, warmth and food all mixed together. At some moment I felt like throwing up. 

"You'll get used to it" he said to me and we kept on pushing our way through the crowd.

Well, I wondered how he figured out that I was uncomfortable; he was in front, while I walked behind him.

"We'll join the queue there" he said, pointing to a group of male students queued up some meters in front of us.

I saw a group of girls, all queuing up and smiling cheerfully; they held, each, a stainless plate and a spoon. I wondered why they seemed so happy; maybe they'd loved the sight food or it was just their nature. 

"Next person!" The old lady dishing out the food beckoned on the next person in their line.

My eyes moved to a group of boys; they were in a queue as well, but they acted differently from the girls I'd seen. They seemed to be fighting on whom to be served first. 

"You're crazy, I came here before you!" One of them said, pushing the other out of the queue. 

"You are so foolish, shame on you!" The other one said. I knew they were already creating a scene which was so unnecessary. I didn't know when I stopped to watch them.

An older senior student came by, some seconds later.   He resembled the one I'd seen outside, standing like he owned the building.

"You two will be the last to collect your foods!" He said angrily and whisked them away; pulling them hard on their ears. 

"Go outside and kneel down" he said.

A hand touched me; it was tom;

"You've been standing here for some minutes" he said.

Well I couldn't blame myself for such; the scene had been interesting. We soon got to the queue.

"Here's a plate" he said, handing me a clean stainless plate which he had picked from a large basket close by.

"What's for breakfast?"

"Rice and beans, now let's join the queue" he said.

I nodded and kept looking around; admiring the beauty of the building. 

"Why this particular queue?" I asked Tom who stood behind me. He was quiet for a while and then he spoke; 

"Our classmates have been assigned to two serving points, here and there" he said, pointing to another queue some meters away from where we stood; only few boys were lined up. 

"Why are they over there?" I asked 

"Big food" 

"Big food? What's that?" I asked.

"The servers at our serving point are usually kind to us every Mondays and Fridays" he said.

"Oh, I see"

Well I knew that I didn't really eat much, so it mattered less to me.

From where I stood, I scanned the building; a lot of serving points, a lot of queues, a lot of students. In one of the serving points not far from ours, a middle aged man serving the food, collected the plate from a student. 

 Well the next thing that happened almost made me throw up.

I saw beads of sweat on his face; the whole place was already stuffy and hot due to the heat coming out from the food.

He seemed to wipe the beads of sweat off, with his hands.  I watched as the salty fluids all landed into the pot of food from which he served.

I stepped back a bit, in shock; almost stepping on Tom who was behind me. I wondered whether I was the only person that had seen this. Well, I was; everyone else was watching another scenario of two male students fighting again over whom to be served first.

The man seemed to be in a hurry to continue serving. 

When it was my turn to be served, my food was dished out and handed to me.

"Thank you" I said; collecting the plate; my two hands under the hot plate. The hotness was unbearable; I quickly placed it on a table close by.

I waited for Tom to be served too, and then we found a place to sit


The table which we sat around was occupied by some boys; they seemed to be eating happily and spoke with raised voices.

"These are our classmates" tom said as we sat to eat. They looked rough to me but they seemed to be familiar; I tried to recall where I'd seen some of such faces. And then I remembered; I'd met some of them in the bathroom earlier that morning; they were the ones who wanted to play pranks on me. 

"Half!!!!" One of them said, grinning confidently.

"No, it's quarter not half" the other boy replied. The others laughed at the boy whom they felt was the loser.

"What does he mean" I asked Tom who seemed to be so engrossed with his food.

"They had a deal, probably yesterday or so" 

"Really? What's with the half and quarter then?" 

"That's the payment; half or quarter of your morning food" I widened  my eyes in curiosity.

I watched as the other boy divided his food into two equal parts. The one who was meant to be paid, scanned the food greedily;

 "I want this part" he said, pointing to the one which seemed bigger. 

The other boy; his face squeezed in discomfort, sorrowfully emptied the selected portion into the plate of the other boy who smacked his lips in delight. 

"What's he gonna eat?" I asked Tom, trying to show sympathy for the boy who was left with half potion of his food.

"Go and ask him" 

I guess that reply was perfect; I could tell, some questions didn't need to be asked.

"He should have known the consequences of the deal he was making" Tom said.

I nodded, he was right anyway.

The sound of spoons clashing against plates, boys laughing loudly, girls giggling at different corners all circulated the building. A group of girls, who sat on a table close to ours, ate peacefully; they seemed to giggle every now and then. I could tell they were gossiping about something; it was in the nature of girls to do so. 

My eyes drifted to the boys whom I ate with; my classmates or whatever Tom described them to be. Some of them lacked simple table manners, one of them seemed to be so extra. I watched disgustingly as he dropped his spoon and stated licking his plate with his tongue, in a bid to wipe it clean; some fluid gushed out from his dirty nose, which he tried to sniff back in.

"Really??!!" I voiced out; I'd seen enough of his excesses and naïve habits; I really didn't care if he heard me or not. Well he did.

He laughed loudly, wiping his nose with his hands and licking in everything.

"Hunger never do you anything!" He said

"What does he mean" I asked Tom.

"Hunger hasn't beaten you before" he said.

Well whether I was being beaten by hunger or not, I knew fully well that I couldn't stoop so low as to be sniffing and licking a used plate. I later learnt that his name was Badmus.

"You have 5 mins to leave here!!" An older senior student shouted; sounding his cane loudly on an empty table. 

"We have to hurry" Tom said, rushing his food.

"I'm done eating" I said.

He looked at me, I'd barely eaten my food halfway. He shrugged, he must have concluded that I was still getting used to my environment.

"I can help you finish it" said the boy who had been sniffing and licking his plate some minutes ago.

Tom laughed at me; he watched as I looked at the boy in a disapproving manner. He knew I would not even give the boy listening ears.

"Let the hungry boy breath, Mon Amie" Tom said.

I smiled; the way I looked at the hungry boy made it seem like I was choking him. I passed my food, which I'd eaten half way, to him. 

Well, I wasn't expecting anything better from him because after he finished the food on my plate. He went ahead to lick it clean with his tongue; still sniffing his running nose as usual.

As we all made our way out of the Cafeteria, and to the Assembly ground, I sighted her; she was the pretty girl whom I wanted to ask of her name, earlier that morning at the tank stand. She smiled and waved to me. I wondered why she did so; but to me it was a nice gesture. I turned to alert Tom. 

"Look" I said, turning in her direction. Sadly, she had disappeared into the crowd. 


The assembly ground was filled with students, moving to and fro, looking for their classmates and forming queues. The staff members all stood at a corner; they all wore clothes of almost the same color -white and black. Some discussed in low tones and smiled; some wore serious faces and stood alone. The environment was an open area, beautified with the presence of trees. I could sight the security building some distance away; the mango tree close to it, stood with grace and splendor. At the sight of it, I sighed deeply; my mind went back to the previous night. 

"That's our queue" Tom said; we went straight to where our classmates stood. 

"How do I get to know my classmates and my seniors?" I asked him; it had been in my mind for a while now, but I just kept forgetting.

"Check the pockets on everyone's shirt" he said.

I turned sideways to look at the person who stood close to me. All I could see was a brown pocket with a black line which ran across it, diagonally.

"The diagonal lines represent our classes and ranks, one diagonal line signifies that we're in (class one) SSS1, two ranks means SSS2, and three ranks are for the older senior students in (class three) SSS3" he said.

I nodded.

"No one talks once the devotional program has commenced" Tom said. 

"Let's close our eyes for prayers" an older senior student said; she stood in front of us, on an elevated platform. 

"Thank you Jesus for such a wonderful day...."

Well I opened my eyes to observe how the environment was like, I noticed, that I was the only one whose head was up; I regretted some seconds later.

A blood thirsty cane landed on my neck. 

"Close your eyes, My friend!" The older senior student said and went back to where he stood, watching as I ached in pain. 

After the prayers, every where seemed to be so calm; I turned to see if the older senior student was still close by; he was gone.

"Devotion is a serious program here in school" Tom said. I nodded; he was right; I didn't need any further explanations to confirm it. The old senior senior student had already explained that to me his with blood thirsty cane. An old man walked up to the platform, shortly.

"That's the principal" Tom whispered.

The old man was on a suit attire and wore a straight face; I wondered if he ever came from a happy home.  

All teachers and other staff members seemed to listen with rapt attention.

"This is the second week of resumption and most of you are already misbehaving!!!" He began. He was welcomed with more silence. 

"Within the past seven days, about 14 crimes have been reported to the Disciplinary committee, what is going on!!!" He said, raising his voice.

Well today was my second day in school, so I was really curious to know what crimes he was talking about. 

"Some of you will be suspended and expelled from this institution before the end of this week!" He said.

Murmurings from different angels filled the air. The expressions on the faces of everyone was WHO COULD IT  BE? 

"Quiet!" another teacher shouted from where he stood. The noise seemed to be getting too much. 

And then the Schools functionaries; the older senior students swung into action; 

"Taaaa!" A blood thirsty cane landed on the head of another student who stood close to me; he'd been discussing and laughing with a friend. I managed to have a glimpse of his breast pocket as he scratched his head in pain, a diagonal line ran through the pocket; He was my classmate. Well, the boy stayed quiet till the assembly was over.

"Some of you will also be expelled today!" The old man continued. I watched as he spoke; a pinch of pain, anger, sadness all reflected on his face.

"Where is the Disciplinary prefect? Where is the senior prefect?!" The principal asked. 

Two guys came out; neatly dressed; clothes well ironed. One of the was dark and not too tall, the other was fair and tall.

"Which of them is the senior prefect?" I whispered to tom in a very low voice; I didn't want to have an encounter with another blood thirsty cane.

"The dark one" he said. 

I used the opportunity to have a good look at the senior prefect. He was the wicked, heartless assassin who had dealt with me the previous night. The last stroke of his bloodthirsty cane still flashed back in my memory. 

"Wicked senior" I muttered.

The old man instructed them to get a handbook  which they would read out to the crowd. 

The principal then called on the Disciplinary master; a middle aged, stern looking man to call out the names of the defaulters. I watched as six students were chased out to the platform with whips; Five boys and one girl.

"Read out their case" the old man instructed the disciplinary master.

"Smoking, Cultism and sex".

They were then separated according to their offenses. The girl and a boy stood together at one spot, while two boys stood at another, and the last two stood at another spot.

"The disciplinary committee on friday, judged the cases of......and........ who were caught in the act of sexual immorality, in one of the bushes, by the security men during night prep.

 He went further to state that the other boys were apprehended at midnight in one of the hostels, making Incantations and the others were caught smoking under their beds.

"They shall be given 24 strokes of the cane and expelled immediately. They hereby cease to be students of this institution henceforth." The disciplinary master said and closed the book. I watched as he walked back to his initial position; he walked confidently like he was so happy with his job. Like he was so happy to pronounce punishments on the students. Well, he wasn't done; he had only gone to drop his disciplinary record book and then he returned with a cane; a blood thirsty and soul shattering cane. 

I watched as the boys were instructed to lie down.

He flogged them on their hard buttocks. Well to my surprise, they didn't move an inch. They didn't shout, just like I'd done, the previous night. I watched as one of them smiled; he seemed to be enjoying the strokes of cane which landed on his buttocks and back.

"Gracious! They aren't crying?" I asked Tom.

"Cultists don't cry" he said. I marveled at that. Well I reasoned that I could try being a cultist so as not to cry or shout when being flogged.

"Ah come on man, everything has a price to be paid for" I knew he was trying to explain something which I didn't understand at the moment, but I believed I'd understand it some day. Well being a cultist was the last thing on my list for the mean time.

The murmurings from every corner of the crowd seemed to intensify. No one was interested in decorum or quietness of the environment. Students gossiped here and there; teachers discussed in low tunes. Everyone watched as the bad students were being whipped mercilessly. The disciplinary master seemed to get tired after whipping the third boy with his blood thirsty cane. He beckoned on another male teacher to continue from where he stopped.

When it was time for the girl to receive her strokes of cane; I watched as fear gripped her. 

"What was she caught in the bush doing with the other boy?" I asked Tom.

"They were both praying and singing" he replied; I felt I'd asked a silly question.

"Ah come on, they can't be expelled for praying and singing together" I said, turning to look him in the eyes. 

"Don't you know what boys and girls do in secret together?" He asked.

I smiled; I'd indeed asked a silly question.

The girl wasn't asked to lie down. She knelt and was instructed to stretch out her hands. She was given twelve strokes on each of them. I watched as her bright colored face turned pale after the whipping exercise. 

"Make sure they pack their things and leave in the next thirty minutes!" The principal instructed the security officers who stood close by, and then he left.

The senior prefect spoke to us next.

"Good morning everyone" he voice sounded. 

It was the same voice that had asked me the previous night "you're a new student?".

"You have in your hands, the school handbook." He voiced out with a firm voice and with all boldness.

I brought out mine from my school bag.

"The school rules and regulations must be kept at all time!" He said amidst the silence. The teachers watched with rapt attention; the expression on their faces looked like he was addressing them. 

"The school frowns at disobedience and defaulters wouldn't go scot free."  

I scanned through the handbook; it was handed over to me yesterday and I hadn't even gone through it. 

The rules and regulations were so many; the punishment for defaulting, attached to each. They stopped at number 109. I wondered how I would cope with 109 rules and regulations and not default in any. Then my eyes caught hold of one; it was rule number 57: NO LOITERING ABOUT AFTER NIGHT PREP. (PENALTY: 3-DAYS MANUAL LABOUR).

I widened my eyes in shock. I wasn't even meant to be flogged; I would have been subjected to three days of intensive manual Labour. What a lucky fellow I was.

My previous night adventure was really a risky one. 

Well; it's in the past now. 

"Please always abide by the school rules and regulations and make sure to read your handbook everyday" the disciplinary prefect spoke and they both left the platform on which they stood.


I had a feeling that something wasn't right. The disciplinary master; his face seemed so scary. I didn't even know him, but then the image of his face kept flashing back. Even after we all left the assembly ground to our various classes. I hushed it aside.

"Does it hurt?" Tom asked on our way to the classroom area.


"Your neck"

"Oh" I said, touching the back of my neck; it was the area where the bloodthirsty cane had landed on me, that morning. It was all my fault though.

"It does, but I'll be fine" I said. I could feel the scar which the cane had left; it was really painful.

We arrived the classroom shortly. A girl stood at the door to the classroom.  The moment I saw her, I paused for some seconds and tried to compose my self. She was the girl whom I'd met at the tank stand earlier that morning, whom I wanted to show Tom and had disappeared into the crowd. 

"Hi" she smiled; her set of teeth shone so brightly; The smell of her fragrance made me feel at home. 

"Hello" I said. I turned around to search for Tom; he stood some distance away, discussing with friends and pointing in my direction. 

"That's him" he said. I wondered what I'd done. Well I waved.

"We met this morning yeah?" She asked. I nodded.

"What's your name" she asked. 

"I am Strong".

It took her a while to figure out what I'd said. 

"Oh, you mean you're name is strong?" She said smiling; I could feel she was trying to restrain herself from laughing. I wasn't expecting anything less either.

I nodded; my eyes went to her breast pocket to be sure she was going to be my classmate. 

Yes, a diagonal line ran through it. She was. 

"Welcome, Strong" she said and continued;

"You've only missed a week of lectures, we've not learnt anything much" she said winking at me.

Well I can't really tell, but that moment I felt special. If I was meant to be in the same class with such an Angel then I would definitely enjoy such a school irrespective of the wicked older seniors and their blood thirsty canes. 

"I'm Hilda, Nice to meet you strong" she said with her angelic voice and went into the classroom.

 Tom walked up to us shortly. We went into the class; It was the same place where we'd gathered for the night prep the previous night. 

The tables and stools all seems to be arranged neatly, facing the white board. I stood and watched as students trooped in and out of the classroom. 

"Where's your table and stool" a female voice asked.

I turned around, it was the same girl; it was Hilda.

Then it clicked; Mum had instructed me that morning on how to get them.

"I'll go get them now" I said and hurried to where Tom sat. 

"Please can you take me to Mr. Thompson?" 

"Sure, Mon Amie" he said. 


"You know him?" 

"No" I replied.

"Ah, come on man, you just saw him this morning at the assembly ground" 

"Really?" I asked as we walked towards the staff room where all the teachers stayed in.

"He's the Disciplinary master" Tom said.



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