Ebuka’s love for him grew stronger, he even scolded him whenever he fights, ” it’s not that you’re strong, everyday you’re fighting”
It was on a Saturday, after the sanitary inspection, they were all free to go stand by the school gate. They stood there waiting , the turning up of their parents, a fact they aren’t sure of, yet they held on to faith.
Dauda had called his father last week to inform him. He plans on telling him his wish to leave the school, and this time, he must win the argument. He kept reciting his defense speech.
Parents were showing up one after the other, each student jumps in jubilation once he/she sees their parent(s). The end to every other person’s wait sickens the heart of those yet to meet their parent(s). Dauda and Ebuka kept gallivanting around the school gate, their patience was fast diminishing. By evening, Dauda had began to sob. Ebuka kept convincing him of his father’s arrival. relief came to Ebuka when his mother finally showed up. He introduced Dauda to her. She told them to eat together and also share everything she brought equally.
Dauda’s resentment towards his father gained momentum. He wondered if he will even come to take him home when they vacate.
To be continued
Everyone was right, few months on, Dauda had gotten used to the school, though he disliked everything from the intimidation by the seniors, the dirty pit toilet, the watery beans, waking up so early and the ugly compound. Ebuka was his only source of happiness , their friendship grew famous.
One monday afternoon, Dauda was at the dining as usual, it was his favorite meal. They were twenty one on an old long strong table waiting to devour a pot of rice. They had hunger written all over their faces. The stainless plates were lined up before the pot, the plates were arranged according to their sitting position, the ones at the front had their plates nearer to the pot. The food was shared by ifeanyi okpala. The partiality was obvious, when he got his own plate of rice, he couldn’t bear it this time. He stood up, then asked ” this boy what is wrong with you?”
Ifeanyi only sighed and continued with his food. Dauda snatched his plate of rice and served him his. “You too eat that one” he said as he sat back. The boy gave him a dirty slap on the head, he attacked the boy and a fight broke off. The dinning prefect took them to the stage and had them kneel facing the wall. They remained that way until lunch was over. Then the prefect asked ifeanyi what happened, “he took my food” he explained, “senior!” Dauda exclaimed. “Shut up!” he shouted at him. he pronounced his verdict to them; twelve strokes of the dogoyaro branch each.
Dauda couldn’t reconcile with being awake by three am. He stood on the pavement trying to figure out what on earth could be the cause of waking him up at that ungodly hour, even his father scolds him for waking up at five am.
As he walked towards the queue, he discovered that everyone was holding a broom, a cutlass and a hoe each.The sight of Ebuka gave him hope of getting answers to his unasked question. “Today is inspection, go and bring your broom, cutlass and hoe” Ebuka announced. He hurried back inside, on his way out he found senior mike flogging late comers with a big cane as usual, his heart sank at the realisation that he has fallen a victim to the big cane. “Smallie come here” ordered senior mike. “He was on the line, he went to bring his broom” Ebuka interfered on his behalf. Ebuka had come to care for and love him, the expression Dauda saw when he caught ebuka’s eyes convinced him of that. Senior mike then ordered him to join the queue.
Dauda’s heart was still racing when he joined the senior boy’s queue, one of the seniors pushed him away as he said, “go and join your class” dauda stood staring at the senior in anger. Ebuka drew him to the junior boy’s queue. All eyes were on him, senior mike walked up to him and asked him, “you want to fight your senior?” He waved his head in response . he was warned against such, then senior mike climbed onto the pavement and began his speech as usual.
At the end of the speech, Dauda followed him to his cubicle as that was his portion( the name they called a space you sweep), make sure you sweep it very well, I’m coming.” He informed, then he picked up a football and left.
Dauda kept on repeating the sweeping in fear of senior Mike’s big cane. He was about to do it the eighth time when a smaller senior walked in. “Where is Mike?” He inquired. “He went outside” dauda shot back. ‘Okay dada” the senior shouted on his way out. He wondered why they could not pronounce his name well.
After the ninth sweeping, he packed the dirt with a paper and left the room. On getting outside, he was amazed at the sight of everyone wearing white shirt and trouser/short. Ebuka motioned to him to come forward, which he did. He took the dirt from him and asked him to go wear his clothes. “I’ve not bath!” He told Ebuka who insisted he should do as he said. He obeyed anyways.
They stood beside their bunks like soldiers in parade as they await the inspector. The whole process was weird to Dauda- the neatly made beds, the unusually tidy room , everybody on whites; even senior nzube.
The inspector was a black son of a bitch. He was putting on a wide rimmed spectacle like that of Dauda’s father. He got carried away with admiring the inspector that he missed taking part in the greeting. The man walked around the room nodding his head. “Good” he murmured and left. He overheard senior nzube saying, Ebigwe hates this house, we would fail again. He picked the name and said it to himself
To be continued
After we sacrificed
Yet a dream Forbes list remains
Nevertheless our debt remains
Homage the locals render
Though aware of how tender
Our time must endure
Oh! What a blur
Even in this Merry time
We wish for a rewind of time
Our sons we must teach
How to fish
For our merit
They can’t inherit
As to perish with our property
Is our only destiny
It was very early in the morning, dauda was the first on the junior student’s queue. He watched as senior mike lashed some boys mercilessly with a big cane. He imagined himself receiving a cane that size, he wondered what the boys must’ve done, he was terrified. His heart sank when senior mike asked him to come, he approached slowly as he tried to figure out what he must’ve done wrong. “How are you?” The senior asked to his surprise. His heart grew hot in relief. “Why are you afraid smallie? I won’t beat you” promised the senior. He placed his arm on his shoulder, then began addressing other boys. After his speech, he looked down at Dauda again, and remarked, “Nna, this boy small oh……” “What is your name ?” senior zai, “Dauda” he announced.
The quadrangle got lively as everyone got amused. “How old are you?” senior mike enquired. Everyone was stunned when he announced, “eleven!”
At the class that his ugly short form teacher changed his seat from the back to the front, right in the middle of two girls. Not even a word transpired between him and the girls throughout that day. After classes, Ebuka took him to the staff room-he had informed him of how dangerous it is to keep money in his tinker box. Mr Akintunde (ebuka’s guardian) was a tall mean looking man, Dauda kept looking into his eyes. He handed him the money which the man kept in his drawer. “Boy what is your name?” He asked . “Dauda!”.
Ok, you can go” he dismissed them. On their way to the hostel, ebuka told him all about Mr Akintunde.
To be continued!
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He heard a thunderous AMEN!!. It was all intriguing, this time he used his brain, for he joined the large number of students he saw moving out of the hall. Ebuka caught up with him and announced that they were headed for the classroom.
Dauda was flogged for the first time for dozing off. He cried so loud that other kids began to laugh at him. He got awed seeing the boys who were flogged alongside him laughing.
“Why are you laughing? didn’t he flog you?” His question provoked more laughter. He pushed one of the boys in anger, as the boy was about to retaliate Ebuka stood between him and Dauda. “Leave him chikelue, don’t you know he’s new?”
The senior that flogged him returned few hours later, he flogged some other boys for sleeping again but Dauda wasn’t a victim this time. As he left chikelue whispered, “that is senior Chima, he’s the prep captain. Very wicked!” He stared at chikelue in amazement, chikelue nodded towards him, and that ended the feud. He went back to staring at the pictures on his French textbook, suddenly Ebuka closed it and handed him an English textbook. He opened to the first page and to his amazement he saw a picture of a Fulani man standing before his grazing cattles. His face beamed with a smile, then he began reading the passing below it.
The bell went, indicating an end to the night prep. Dauda wandered where that sound must be coming from. Ebuka tapped him on the back, “ngwa, let’s go!” he said. As they approached the hostel, Ebuka asked if he was a Muslim, “No!” Dauda replied. “Which church are you going” Ebuka asked . Dauda replied, ” assemblies of God” “okay, go to Benue house quadrangle” directed Ebuka.
Dauda met chikelue at Benue house quadrangle, they stood together and after the prayers they left together, on getting to anambra house Dauda bade him goodbye as he ran off. He watched chikelue got engulfed in the darkness in front of Niger house. He wondered why the darkeness started there as he retired to bed.
To be continued
Anybody that touches you, just come and tell me but don’t disrespect your seniors”.
Well, it worked on dauda. He went to the field that evening, he was chosen to join a football team of five boys from his room to compete against room two boys. He had fun doing what he loves but never had the chance at home. He liked the sight of many children playing on the large field. Some were running but most were playing his game. Girls were gathered together towards their hostel doing what he couldn’t figure out. He unleashed his great skills. This made him new friends and a new status in the eyes of all.
On getting to the hostel, there was a long queue at the tap, he noticed that the queue consisted of only junior students. Seniors would come and ask them to leave the tap, they stood some distance away from the tap and watch while the seniors take their bath.
That was the day he met Ebuka who offered him half bucket of water from his reserve.
He even accompanied him to the big bathroom they call laundry. Dauda turned away from Ebuka as he was about to strip, he stopped half way leaving his pants on, he bathed with it on.
Ebuka laughed at him, as they retired to the room, he told him he would soon get used to school life.
When the bell was rung, he asked, “Ebus what is that sound”? Ebuka told him ” it’s time for dinning, let’s go! prepare” Dauda started getting into his white shirt, He got annoyed when he heard Ebuka laughing. Ebuka opened his tinker box, handed him a checkered shirt and khaki shorts, “that’s what you should wear” he said.
At the Dinning, Dauda watched everybody eat, he couldn’t eat with everybody looking at him like that. His eyes caught Ebuka’s who motioned to him to eat. The beans was very appaling, he stopped at the fourth spoon and stood up to leave. Ebuka motioned to him to sit down. Suddenly he heard, “bow your heads” which he obeyed
“For the food we have eaten we thank you oh Lord!”
To be continued