Michael was walking back home after failing to get Aminat to tell him what was happening when he noticed them.
They were three, maybe four boys following him at a distance. They looked eager to get to him unnoticed and often veered off to another street when he looked back, only to continue to tail him when his gaze is off them. He was uneasy about them, because they were certainly older than him by a few years. He decided to branch off to a street away from the direction of his house.
That was his mistake!
He turned round and noticed them coming towards him, their paces increasing by the second. He had no choice than to go into different streets from time to time, confusing the boys. he supposedly did a good work of that and was confidently walking home,when a punch came from nowhere, hitting his face with venom.
He staggered back, and was soon engaged in a tussle with one of the boys, who held him down until the rest came. They then ganged up against him, tied him and started beating him mercilessly with planks, bamboo sticks and virtually anything they could lay their hand on. He was passing out when he saw a man running towards them from a distance
Paul was angry as he returned from the school. The ‘Michael’ incident had got to the school management and was the center of discussion in the afternoon break by the teachers. Almost all the teachers had proffered stiff penalties for both of them, not minding how embarrassing it will be. Paul has tried to water down the offence, stating their obvious age and naivety as reasons for a lighter punishment. The other teachers had none of it however, and called for Michael’s head. What angered Paul the most about the incident was that barely a week ago, two guys were caught in a more compromising position with three girls and the teachers dismissed it. He had the feeling that the supposed ‘infurity’ of the teachers was due to the fact that Michael was Igbo. He then took a turn from the usual route back home, in order to think. If he did not do that, Michael may have not survived what was happening to him!
He had decided to pass a longer route to his abode because he wanted to think on the way, his thoughts were however interrupted by what seemed to be the merciless mauling of a boy by some irate youths. He wanted to turn a blind eye since this was not new, but the way the boys were ‘dishing’ out the beating touched his heart. He said if it was Michael that was beaten like that, he would want to intervene.
As he got nearer to the scene, he suddenly realised that it was not just ‘any boy’ that was been beaten, it was Michael, his own Michael, who he took as a blood brother. His anger skyrocketed all of a sudden, with his feet following suit. His face was murderous as he approached the lads, who fled at the sight of him.
He approached Michael and tried to call his name. Michael, who was knocked out, did not respond. He was worried and quickly decided to move Michael. He quickly lifted them over his shoulders and moved as fast as his legs would go. He soon stopped a bike and zoomed off.
Michael woke up with a splitting headache. He looked around, completely lost as regards where he was, but was calm when he saw a doctor, he realised that he was in a hospital. He then tried to remember what happened, sparking more pain.
‘Ah!’ a short, sharp exclamation escaped his lips. All of a sudden, the doctor who was busy with some other patient, moved suddenly towards him.
‘Easy there boy, you need some rest’, the doctor said, placing his hand on Michael’s chest and laid him down. ‘You were lucky that you had no broken bones.
Michael slept off to wonderland, where he dreamt of been chased by a mob and stripped Unclad, his genitals showing. Then Aminat came from no where,a man with her, as she met Michael and started laughing at him, pointing at his thing. The mob joined in the laughter, as Michael felt like crying there. He was about to cry when he woke up.
Something seemed wrong. There was no light.
The darkness had an odd feeling which was bearing down on Michael. Although it sounded more superstitious than real, he felt an evil spirit was hanging somewhere close to him, looking with glinted eyes at him. The fear was heightened by the white cloth in front of him, which was in line with the unknown shining object. He was almost passing out in fear when…..
UP NEPA! The shouts seemed to come just in time as power was suddenly restored to the hospital, with Michael’s fears disappearing with them. The scary white cloth was then discovered to be a ward coat, with an aluminum hanger supporting it giving the shining look. Michael heaved a sigh of relief and slept off.
The next day was better for Michael, as Paul came to visit. They chatted for quite a long time before Paul decided to leave for home.
Michael stayed for a week in the hospital before he was discharged. Paul was taking him home and was at his house gate when he stopped and swiftly moved in front of Michael. He squatted and faced the young boy, anxiety etched on his face. Michael was quite surprised at the action and the next words will shock him further more.
‘Michael, don’t return to that school again!’
Michael looked astonished, as he mentally asked what was wrong before verbally saying so to Paul.
‘Michael, please don’t argue about it, I will find a way to change your school, but don’t come back, please’ Paul pleaded.
‘Don’t you find it funny that no one from your school asked for you’ Paul said. ‘I don’t want anything to happen to you because i know what happened to you is related to some people in the school, so please just obey me’ Paul said with a knowing smile.
Michael agreed relucantly after much pleading and went into the house. However after a day he decided to go to school.
The stubborn fly follows the corpse to the grave.
Michael walked into the school, looking around for any suspicious movements or glances thrown at him. Nothing out of the ordinary came to him. He was trotting to his class in high spirits when Edem, one of his classmates blocked his way and dragged him quietly to a corner.
‘Guy, wetin you dey find for here? He asked in a hushed tone.
‘Which kind question be that, no be my school be dis? Michael replied with a sullen face.
‘So you never hear wetin people dey yarn for school, that you go chock that your alhaja friend for bush and her papa catch una? Edem stated in a matter of fact tone. When Michael face showed ignorance, Edem took his time to explain what had happened in his absence, the rantings of Aminat dad and later on, the school principal. Edem advised that Michael should go back home and stay there until the thing blows over or he should go to another school, Michael however was having none of it and gently but firmly pushed Edem away while he made for the classroom, ready for anything thrown at him.
To his disappointment, nothing of such happened. He took Edem’s words with a pinch of salt and relaxed in the class.
The bell soon went out for breaktime.
Michael went with the rest of his group, totally oblivious of what will happen. As fate will have it, there was any assembly to be held before they go for the break, which is usually controlled by the prefects. The Principal decided to hijack this day’s assembly and instead of the prayer went ahead with the business of the day.
‘Michael Nwosu, come forward’
Michael swallowed his saliva as he moved forward.
‘ There are days that you are proud as a Principal of a school, while there are other days that you are ashamed to be associated with a school’ The Principal continued. ‘This idiot caused one of such terrible days by raping a girl in the bushes in this school, The Principal said with a stern face. And he shall be punished for this despicable act’.
‘Mr Kazeem, come here and strip him down’. Mr Kazeem, known for his wicked smile and hatred for non-indigenes came forward and despite the instruction of stripping him of his trousers alone, he went the whole mile, making him Unclad in the process.
‘Mr Kazeem, come and deliver him 30 strokes of the whip’. Mr Kazeem came forward and started whipping Michael. As the strokes of the whip hit Michael, his heart started to waver and become darkened at the people he could have loved.
A year later….
The most senior students (SS3) march towards the exam hall, with biros and ‘maths’ set in tow. Among them is Michael, tall, dark and well-sculptured, moved along with them. It is a year exactly when close to this spot, he was disgraced. The Principal has since left the school, but his name, Mr Olujide Babaola was cast in steel in Michael’s mind. His mind was far away from revenge and hatred however, it was rather focused towards his WASSCE, which was holding a few minutes time.
Isidora was directly behind Michael as her father’s name Onyemachi was next after Nwosu. She looked at the man she could have had as hers, that was before her mistake of getting stuck in his affair. He initially knew nothing of her involvement, until Preye got ditched by her in a bid to get Michael. Preye, the ever smart Warri boy then told Michael the whole truth, showing him damning evidence and apologizing for his part. Michael was indifferent however, but he kept Isidora in his blacklist.
Michael’s heart was already darkened towards her and she had to settle for second best in Preye.
They filed in, with the external inspectors watching them. Paul was among the supervisors for the day as he was a teacher there. He looked at Michael, uncertainty in his eyes. He had failed to quell the flames of hatred in Michael, which were re-kindled by the public beating of last year. He knew that Michael had grudges against the school but who exactly is what he did not know.
The exams passed slowly and finally the last days of secondary education dawned on Michael. The assembly, which was special for his class was quite exuberant, as students were making noise all over the place. The new Principal, Mr Umaru had to ring the bell repeatedly to the students. There was a strange man standing with him.
That was the man who turned Nigeria upside-down later.
‘Good Evening, students. As you know, this is the last year of your education here. We hope many of you make it to the University. With me here is Mr Dumelo Sheen, an Executive in Vector Technologies Incorporated. He is here to check the performance of you all as his company wants to give some students scholarship to study Overseas, so listen to him as he speaks’.
Mr Dumelo, a tall young man in a white three piece suit and a dark trouser to fit, came up to speak on the opportunities his company offers and what his company. He added that he needed ‘special’ students who are ‘talented’. The students listened, giving periodic claps along the way.
He was soon over with his talk and the students filed past him to their various areas of interest. He then went to the Principal’s Office.
Once inside the office, the Principal brought out the files of the students so that Mr Dumelo could have a view of them. When he got to Michael’s file, he started to speak ill of Michael, telling various vices he had committed (which of course was a complete lie). Mr Dumelo looked at his file and then said: ‘ Can I see this lad you speak of?’ When the Principal looked surprised, he said ‘if you don’t mind, mine interest is not on the boy.’ The Principal was now relieved and gave him a picture of Michael; Mr Dumelo nodded and gave the picture back to the Principal while scanning other files. He then left the office.
The Principal was happy, thinking that he had destroyed Michael’s hopes of furthering his studies. Mr Dumelo, however had one student in mind that will get the scholarship. His name: Nwosu Michael!