That term in JSS2 rolled on by in the company of the September rains that crashed against the slightly hilly terrain of my school, and the winds that soughed through the leaved branches of the gmelina trees. October passed, and November groaned its way into the mid-term break. Joseph and I weren’t going home for the one-week holiday. Ibuka always did; any opportunity to pad himself up with some more provisions, pocket money and mummy’s food. Joseph never traveled; he lived in Lagos and his parents had discouraged the idea. What was the point of coming all the way to Lagos just to spend a week and go back to school, was what his father had once said, according to Joseph. As for me, this would be my first time in school during the break. I wanted to experience my school during this period when it was nearly emptied of students. Joseph always had stories to tell of how much fun he had. There was much more food to be eaten during the mealtimes. No classes. No chores. Lots of sleeping-in and playing football. And he’d even broken bounds once.
Now, that got my attention.
Breaking bounds is a serious offense in my school. Once you return home from any holiday, once you step into the school compound through the gates, that is IT for you and the outside world. Your life is supposed to become centered on the four corners of the school, which are the hostel, classes, dining hall, and the occasional visit to the staff quarters, all which are fenced in by the school walls. You only get the exeat card when you enter JSS3. And for you to use the exeat card to leave the school premises, you have to get a teacher to sign a permit. And before he or she signs, you have to have a good reason why you want to leave the school in the first place.
“Sir, please can you sign my exeat card?”
“Why? Where do you want to go to?”
“To town.”
“What do you want to go and do in town?”
“Who do you want to go and see in town?”
Finding that good reason is a serious problem. Of course, the only reason any student would like to go to town is to go and have some fun. To ‘flex’. But that’s not exactly what you’ll go telling a teacher. So that left one option – to break bounds. But God help you if a prefect – or SS3 student, no, scratch that, SS3 boy – should catch you doing that. Life as a boarder is filled with horror stories of what those caught breaking bounds were put through in the hands of the disciplinary committee of SS3s.
So I was filled with a mixture of dread and excitement that afternoon, on the third day of the mid-term break, as Joseph and I slithered through the weedy path that led to the section of the school compound that formed an axis between the backs of both the dining hall environs and Hope House. Tangled shrubbery thrust up from the abandoned plot of earth, and the pathway was dotted with puddles with mud-stained surfaces upon which dragon flies and other insects alighted briefly, before flitting away at the disturbance of our approach. Ahead of us was the dilapidated brick fencing that cut off that part of the school from the main road on the other side; the wall was riddled with algae and smothered with weeds, and it was broken down in several places, creating an access that let students through.
As I came closer to the wall, I felt excitement rise inside me, a surge that diminished the fear I’d earlier felt. My heart was thumping hard, the thrill of visiting town for the first time lifted goose bumps on my skin. My palms turned clammy with sweat, dampening the money I had in my hand for the things I intended to buy in town. Nothing fancy really, but I needed to get something that’ll serve as proof of my adventure when I recounted the story to Ibuka. Oh, how jealous that would make him –
My thoughts were cut rudely off track when Joseph grabbed my hand and viciously pulled me sideways. I grunted, and we stumbled and tumbled down into the wet, sharply-scented embrace of grass. The leafy blades sliced through our exposed skin and the wetness drenched parts of our clothes instantly.
“What is wrong –” I began furiously, and lost the rest of my rant when Joseph clapped a hand over my mouth.
“Shhh!” he hissed.
I saw the panic in his eyes and stopped struggling against him. He released my mouth and pointed. I followed his finger and spotted the brown trousers first. Then, I looked up into the face of an SS3 boy I didn’t need introductions to know. It was Senior Chiedozie, the Head Boy. Terror slammed inside me with a force that made me momentarily breathless and I swallowed hard.
The Head Boy!
The Head Boy!
The words climbed decibels inside my head, becoming so deafening that for a moment, I was afraid I was speaking them out loud.
The prefect was coming down on one side of the pathway, a corner we’d been about to take, which would have made us run straight into him. Joseph’s vigilance had saved us from that unsavoury fate. However, the prefect must have heard the sound of us crashing into our hideout in the bush, because he was standing still, his head cocked, his eyes narrowed as he contemplated what he’d heard and tried to detect where the sound had come from. Fear kept us frozen in place, and the only thing about me that moved was my heart; the organ was thumping furiously away, pumping out heady mixtures of blood and adrenaline. We were poised to run the second the prefect acted like he’d seen us.
He didn’t. He relaxed his stance, shrugged his shoulders, and continued on towards where we were hiding. Joseph and I crawled stealthily further into the chilly, moist covers of the bush. A tree trunk or two helped keep us completely hidden.
Then I heard another set of footsteps; I turned my head around and stiffened when I saw who was coming up behind us. It was Anulika and a friend of hers – Gertrude, I think her name is, from JSS2C. The two girls obviously didn’t know that breaking bounds was serious business, because they were sharing muted giggles over some joke. For a fleeting moment, I let myself wallow in the sight of Anulika’s beauty. That spectacular smile that made me think of the storybooks about Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White. Those eyes that sat like jewels above the high planes of her cheekbones. And those lips, full and pouty, that I had asked God so many times to grant me the opportunity to kiss.
Anulika, oh, Anulika…
Then that fleeting moment passed and I realized that the two girls were facing trouble. Lots of trouble. In a matter of seconds, they would take that bend and run right smack into Senior Chiedozie. Lots of male prefects found it a tad uncomfortable punishing girls, preferring instead to hand over female rule breakers to the female prefects to deal with. Senior Chiedozie wasn’t in that bracket. He was well-known for unleashing the fury of his office on whoever he nabbed breaking the rules, be you male or female. One time, he had made two SS1 girls frog-jump from where he accosted them to the dining hall, because they’d been ‘catwalking’ their way to the hall. You know how girls are when they dial up their ajebo mode. And to frog-jump in knee-length skirts?! That was such an indignity that those of us who witnessed the punishment had laughed hard over.
And now, Anulika and her friend were about to have their share of whatever abuse Senior Chiedozie would dream up for them. I felt my heartbeat escalate with panic at the thought.
The distance between the two parties shortened.
I swallowed hard. My mouth had gone dry.
Anulika giggled again, and the music of it filled my head.
Senior Chiedozie heard the sound too, and he stopped.
I tensed beside Joseph and my heartbeat roared in my ears.
The two girls kicked aside small stones as they drew nearer to the bend.
Joseph sensed my anxiety and turned a questioning look at me.
They were coming closer; Senior Chiedozie was now waiting expectantly –
“Eze, don’t!” Joseph hissed.
But he said the words a millisecond after I leaped up from my hiding place, and made myself instantly visible to the prefect. And to the girls who were still out of his sight.
“Senior Chiedozie…I’m sorry, I’m very sorry…” I bleated out, loud enough for the girls to hear.
Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw them instantly jerk to a stop. Horror slammed in their faces. Horror and understanding, and Anulika immediately grabbed her friend by the arm, and they turned and fled back to the school. Back to safety. I was relieved.
“You there!” the senior’s voice boomed.
And my relief was quenched by a fresh onslaught of fear. Time to face the music. Alone. Because Joseph remained out of sight when I walked up to the prefect, when Senior Chiedozie delivered a ringing slap to my cheek, and when I was led back to the school by the angry senior boy who couldn’t wait to make me suffer for my foolishness.
I didn’t break bounds for the rest of the week. Joseph said ‘Sorry’ to me. And I never saw Anulika until the break ended. However, on the Monday when classes started, she walked up to me outside our classroom, smiled at me, and said in the softest, most melodious voice, “Eze, thank you very much.”
Those words made something soar inside me. The smile made it all worth it. Hope for a future between Anulika and I spread its wings and took flight. And I blurted out, “Will you kiss me?”
The smile vanished. A stony expression descended, and she snapped “No” before turning around and walking away.

10 thoughts on “EZE GOES TO SCHOOL (Episode 9)” by Walter (@sidhartha)

  1. Eze! Eze!! Eze!!! When will you learn that you need to warm your way into her heart before asking for a kiss..
    Well done, I’m still enjoyin it all the way.

  2. Lol! Poor Eze…

  3. Eze! A pseduo knight in clay armor…

    1. Hehehehe! Clay armor? @ibeagere, if only you knew the gravity of the offence Eze committed and what punishment he had to face for it…

      1. @francis, Word! You speak like you went to a boarding school yourself. Lol

  4. And he ruined a perfect moment, now he probably will have to start over again…poor boy.

  5. Nd i almost went 2 a boarding sch, bt mum saved me…hehehe

    1. Oh you missed! :D

  6. Kiss ke..i would have slapped him loool

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