Eze Goes To School – 1

How’s everyone doing. Here’s another very good writer, Walter Uche. He brings us  4 Episodes of Eze Goes To School over the next 4 Weeks. Reading this episode reminds me of the storytelling skill of Achebe and Elechi Amadi. Uche blogs regularly at http://mymindsnaps.wordpress.com/ and is on twitter @Walt_Shakes. Enjoy…

TL

Eze Goes To School

Gba-gam! Gba-gam! Gba-gam!

The clanging sound of the school bell ripped into my dream, yanking away the image of Anulika as she bent toward me, her lips pursed as she finally prepared to give me that kiss I’d been asking her for in real life, since we entered JSS3 and her breasts started jutting out in tantalizing mounds against her school uniform. Even in the dream world, it wasn’t meant to be.

Gba-gam! Gba-gam! Gba-gam!

I swam up to wakefulness, helped along the way by insistent hands shaking my body.

“Eze! Wake up!” Joseph hissed from beside me.

I groaned in protest as he whipped my blanket from around me. An especially cold draft wafted over my exposed body and I shivered. “Wetin dey worry you?” I growled sleepily.

“Wake up joor! They are ringing the bell for jogging.”

The bed on the top bunk above mine creaked violently as the boy lying on it came awake himself. He was another friend of mine, Ibuka, big, rotund, with the kind of fair, supple cheeks that begged for a teasing pinch every now and then. One day, I’d always worried, his bed would creak one last time and he’d come crashing down on me.

“I don’t want to go for jogging,” he whined.

Duh? Who did? No junior student liked going for jogging. For two reasons. The waking bell was always sounded by 5.30 am. Always. That annoyingly-sprightly SS1 boy, Kelechi, whose job it was to ring the bell, never failed in his duty. I mean, seriously, doesn’t he sleep? 5.30 am is that pre-dawn period when the night cold is at its most delicious, when your dreams have you perched on a precipice, before it sends you hurtling down into a cocoon of fulfillment. Then you awaken. And it’s morning-time. To have that rudely interrupted by the jogging bell was just plain unforgivable. Outrageous. Kelechi needed to be lynched. Beaten properly in a corner of the Appian Way that led to the staff quarters. The second reason was the school prefects – those whip-wielding, stone-faced lords and ladies who stood for the upholding of school rules and regulations. And the assembly of erring students was the unfortunate lot that got to bear the brunt of their wrath.

If you come late to the car park where jogging commenced – thwack-thwack!

If you’re caught strolling instead of jogging – thwack-Thwack!

If you aren’t putting on the appropriate jogging uniform – thwack-thwack-THWACK!

Those canes were to be feared.

So, since I was missing the knickers of my uniform, and Joseph hated – hated – wearing the pink-and-blue attire, and Ibuka could not jog five steps without breaking out into heavy, gasping, blubbering breaths, and since staying back in the hostel and deciding not to go was not an option (the prefects usually came with their canes to drive us out of our beds), my friends and I started sneaking off to the cluster of vegetation that spanned one side of the staff quarters. We would skitter down the assembly ground, cut across the blocks of classrooms, dash down the road leading towards the school borehole, wade across the small spring that cascaded beside the borehole and hurry up the rocky path to a grassy plain. There, in the midst of soil mounds sprouting cassava and maize stalks, we would settle down to snatch back our interrupted slumber from earlier on. The frenzied clamour of students gathering to fetch water from the borehole at sunrise usually woke us up. We would then rise, dust off the dirt and crushed greens from our bodies and hurry down to join the rest of the school in the start of a new day.

Brilliant plan!

It had been working for us for some time now.

And so, on this early morning, as students stumbled out of the bunks, loudly yawning and spreading the wonders of their morning breaths around, the three of us hurried off on our bush rendezvous. It took some stealth. We dodged behind a tree when we spotted Senior Adindu approaching, and acted like we were headed for the car park when the hulking figure of Senior Kingsley suddenly loomed before us. It helped that the pre-dawn darkness hadn’t completely let go of the atmosphere. Soon, the roaring sounds of water from the direction of the spring swelled around us as we approached our hideout. Ibuka’s irritating wheeze resonated close to my ears as he waddled along behind me. Joseph brought up the rear.

The spring was nothing like the frothy cascade of water you see in movies, the kind that falls gloriously over liquid-polished stones. No. Ours was more like a reluctant rush, with an algal-greenish colour which didn’t quite hide the sight of tadpoles dancing about in its depths. Ebenezer, the I-too-know that was in my class, and from Unity House, often opined that there were more creatures lurking inside the murky depths of the spring. When he tossed out names like poison frogs, water-snakes and crabs, Toby, our class bully, threatened him with a good beating if he didn’t shut up. You see, this pathway which led to the staff quarters was a very popular route, and wading through the spring with the water eddying past your feet was part of the journey. Imagine having to do that when you knew that there was a frightful chance of a crab clenching its pincers around the part of your unfortunate legs immersed in the water.

I shuddered now as that thought nudged its way into my mind. I suddenly came to a halt at the bank of the spring, an unexpected move that had Ibuka careening into my back, almost upsetting my balance and tipping me headlong into the water. I swear, this boy needs to lose some of his weight.

I cussed, and snapped, “Watch where you’re going, Ibu!”

“I’m sorry,” he wheezed.

“Why are you stopping?” Joseph groused from behind him.

I turned to him. Joseph was the cool one in our group; he had that lanky build that wore clothes very well, and coupled with his high-cheekboned, proportional features, he was well on his way to being the Don Juan of our set. Girls found him irresistible. It irritated me when I saw some SS1 girls traipse from their classrooms to the JSS3 block to chat him up. Shameless girls! Can’t they date from their own set? Abi fine boys for SS1 don finish? That was why I liked Anulika. She was one of the few good-looking JSS3 girls who didn’t fawn over my friend; she just couldn’t be bothered with him.

The thing is, she just couldn’t be bothered with me either.

“Guy, cross the water nah, make we cross!” Joseph’s impatient voice yanked me out of my reverie. “Abi you wan sleep for here?”

I flushed, embarrassed by what I had to say. “What if Ebenezer is right? What if there are snakes and crabs inside the water?”

Ibuka let out a small whimper of fright, which came the same time with Joseph’s bark of scornful laughter. “Ebenezer is a fool. He may be a genius in class, but what does he know about the spring. Did we not cross it yesterday? Did anything bite us? Students have been crossing it for years, still –”

“Every day is for the student,” Ibuka interjected, “one day is for the crab –”

“Shut up, Ibu!” Joseph snapped. “You boys are not serious. Let me pass joor.” He shoved past the two of us, approached the water and lifted his right foot to dip into the water.

The faint gleam of the dying moon bounced off its slick, green flat-top head as the water snake reared from the spring at that precise moment, its snout yawning, its fangs unfurling menacingly. The timing was perfect, and it sank the fangs into the front of Joseph’s rubber slipper, inches away from the beginning of his toes.

“Aarrgghhh!” he shrieked and recoiled from the water, staggering back into me. I caught him before he could fall to the ground and began pulling him backwards. The movement caused the snake to slither out of the water, onto the ground. Its moss-green length whipped about on the ground. Joseph began jerking his feet about, hoping to upset it into releasing its fanged grip on his slipper. But the snake held fast. He had stopped yelling, but the echo of his shouts was carried on by Ibuka, who kept on darting about behind me, fluttering his hands, whimpering, screeching, “Help him, Eze – kill the snake! Help him – Heu! Joe don die oh!”

That guy is just hopeless.

For a brief while, one that seemed to stretch interminably, we did the macabre dance – I kept pulling Joseph staggeringly from the water; he kept on shaking his foot; the serpent slithered about, holding on fast; and Ibuka cried and ran about in circles behind us. Finally, the snake unclenched from the slipper, whipped around and slid back to the spring, disappearing inside the water in an instant. Silence, broken only by our heaving pants and the dying sounds of the early morning, stretched around us as we stared after it. All thoughts and traces of sleep had vanished from our minds and bodies. The current of the spring now eddied and sluiced down ominously, and we envisioned all sorts of other monstrous creatures lurking inside it. Waiting. Watching.

“Please, let’s go for jogging,” Ibuka sniffled.

The motion was passed and granted. We turned and started back for the car park.

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50 thoughts on “Eze Goes To School – 1

  1. Lwkmd o. Brings back memories of boarding school. I hid under my bunk a couple of times to avoid jogging. Hahahahahahaha. Completely. hilarious. Nice write up. This is an awesome read.

  2. Lwtmb….I remember d days of federal govt girls college osha,joggin wsnt nice,zapped a couple of times under d bed,box room,locker room…hehehehe.
    Going to spring?ha I dreaded d spring by dat time of day,with all d imaginative evil spirit in mind..den we had keshi island….hahahahahah.
    Memories!!!! I love ds piece abeg,u knw growing up ws fun.

    • My fellow F.G.G.C Osha babe, hi 5 jare. Spring oooo spring. Not a fun place to be early in the morning or in the evening. *shudders*.LOL. I have so many fond memories of boarding school & growing up. Lovely piece. Patiently waiting for Episode 2.

  3. Hhahahaha OMG!!! Dis ‎​so much reminds me of boarding school, ‎​u’ll b amazed at wat students did jst 2 avoid joggin or manual labour

  4. I agree wit TL, Achebe and Amadi would b proud. Reminds me of how thoroughly I enjoyed reading “bottled leopard” and the use of vivid word pictures is brilliant! Most of us who attende boarding schools can identify with this.

  5. Lovely piece, reminds me of boarding school.I’d act like am so sick just to skip labor, jogging, washing of plates etc..finally found a school mother who was a prefect that saved me from everything…

  6. Everything about d story reminds me of my alma mata FGC Okigwe!unity house n d car park for jogging!is dis a coincedence?Good story,I smiled all thru

  7. Ginika it’s exactly same tin I tot o wen I read it, sounded lyk FGC Okposi scenario 2 me o, d guy rily did a gr8 job on dis write up mehn!!!

  8. Nice write up, really brought back memories. Back then, I didn’t even think of looking for hide outs cos jogging was on a diff day for juniors and a diff day for snrs. God bless you that they take the roll call and u are missing….. U will explain amidst koboko whips,frog jumps and rolling on d wet grass. Commando 4life!!!

  9. Truly brings back lots of memories, jogging wasn’t sometin we did frequently so I enjoyed it whenever we did. What I hated was labour & aving to do ur morning duties before leaving for d dinning everrrry morning. Well done Walter!

  10. really took me back d memory lane to FGGC akure(great feggicolla). hid 1ce or twice in d locker room 2 avoid jogging bt i went 4 it most tyms. ppl do sneak out to borehole too 2 avoid jogging.

  11. Oh! This is just one awesome piece! And yes it does bring back boarding school memories! We don’t jog in my school though, but I can definitely relate especially with the “early momo” waking and duties! Thumbs up! Next episode on my mind…

  12. Beautiful piece..humour/crisp language/fluid narrative…that’s the literary holy trinity…Α̲̅Ω̴̩̩̩̥d̶̲̥̅̊ it does well 2 inspire other creative minds.kudos

  13. Wow, nice piece. Definitely brought back memories of Federal Govt Girls college Calabar. Jogging back then was not fun at all especially since the school was practically built on hills but I never even bothered to skip sha cos those who did had to do that in creepy places like gutters or uncompleted buildings. I wasn’t game for such places. Thumbs up dude! A piece well written

    • Lol! Fegocal babe! As in eh! The one time I tried dodging eh! We got caught and chased all through the jogging path by the PE teacher himself! Kai!

  14. Missed secondary sch sha *NNSS 4 life* kai, tym 4 road wrk or mrnin devotion,u see mi hidin in d locker,ceiling or go 2 d sick bay nd act sick. Or lie wit menstrual pain =))º°˚˚=))˚°ºнaĦaнaº°˚=))˚˚°º=)) bt if u re caught, u go pin ur head + call Abacha tire. Nice write- up,I love it.

  15. Ds definitely brought back my memories of federal govt girls’ college lejja and unity house and d early morning jogging and also wen I became a labour prefect dt I hd 2 wake d students up as early as 5:45am(I mean like seriously do I even sleep den….lolz)….can’t wait 4 d next episode gan

  16. Nice piece,great imagination u have Walter,looking forward to d next episode,u r already becoming my best thursday writer..More grease to ur elbows

  17. Memories of FGGC Calabar. Good job Walter.
    By d way, why did d boys suddenly develop a love for jogging? Them for continue d journey na, lol. Sometimes, you have to borrow urself brain

  18. Nice ending! I read it over and over till giggles brought tears to my eyes. Talk about being between the devil and the deep sea. Love it! Ehm…. Are we waiting till next week for the next episode again????

  19. Hahahhahahha, Uche God bless your writings. Gosh you absolutely took me back to boarding house. Fluid writings and excellent imagery, what more can a critic ask for? Thumbs up!!!

  20. Awesome read this was, hilarious too. Fond memories- I rmbr hiding in the wardrobes on several occassions…lol.
    U right rily gud Uche

  21. Pingback: Eze Goes To School – 2 | tlsplace

  22. Uzoma n chinenye fed osha is a pure example for this story… I was in rose house back then… Experience is everything in life..

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