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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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EZE GOES TO SCHOOL (Episode 15)

The clothes hung limply from the line, barely astir in the humid atmosphere. And right next to my singlet was a wide gap where my day-shirt was supposed to be.

Someone has stolen my shirt…!

“Eze, come let’s go now!” I heard Joseph shout.

“Someone has stolen my shirt…” The words gained traction in my throat and husked through my lips.

“What is it?” Footsteps returned. Joseph and Ibuka came back to my side. “What is it, Eze?”

“My shirt… someone has stolen my shirt…” Tears pricked my eyes. Hot. Stinging.

“Are you sure?” Ibuka asked.

“Look there now!” I barked, pointing. “Which one is am I sure?”

“Oya, sorry now! Ah-ah!” he snapped with an affronted look. “I was just asking.”

“It’s a stupid question,” I snapped back. I was angry now. Looking for someone to transfer my pain to.

“Eze, cool down. Haba!” Joseph interjected. “Why are you attacking Ibu? He is not the one that took your shirt nah –”

“Yes, but what kind of stupid question is that?” I stormed at Joseph. “I am saying they stole my shirt and he’s asking if I’m sure. Is he blind? Are you blind?” I snarled, turning back to Ibuka. “Can’t you see it there that my shirt is not there…” My voice cracked, and misery crashed down on me again, snuffing out my rage. The tears spilled and a sob caught in my throat. I really didn’t like it when my things were stolen, because I always paid the price for my carelessness when I returned home and had to ask my parents for replacements. My mother would first give me a vitriolic tongue-lashing, and my father would follow up with a thorough caning, before they’d go shopping.

“Sorry, sorry…” Joseph’s hand encircled my shoulders and he rocked my body side to side.

“Eze, sorry…” Ibuka said in a small voice, as though he was unsure of whether I was done lambasting him. When I didn’t flare up, he added, “don’t worry, we will catch the person who took it.”

“Shebi you wrote your name on the pocket…”

“And on the back of the neck too…”

“Don’t worry, we will catch the thief.”

“Stop crying, come let’s go for food.”

Sniffling, wiping at my eyes and taking their condolent words as my due, I trudged alongside them to the dining hall. For lunch, we had garri and egusi soup. The soup was steamy, the meats were chunky, and the meal was delicious. Prefects weren’t on active duty. I spotted Anulika cross the hall and she smiled at me. My table was alive with animated chatter. All was right with the world.

But my shirt was missing. And the thought weighed heavily in my mind. I didn’t laugh when Joseph told a joke. I didn’t smile back when Anulika smiled at me. And I ate my food with a very glum expression.

Finally lunch was over and students spilled out of the hall, clusters of boys and girls traipsing in different directions. Joseph and Ibuka were arguing amiably about something, and I walked silently beside them. Morose thoughts crowded inside my mind. Thoughts about my missing shirt. Thoughts about how the shirt I was wearing was the only one I had left. Thoughts about how I would manage with just one day-shirt. Thoughts about what my parents would do when I got home during the holidays and told them I’d lost a shirt. Thoughts about why my name was marked across the shirt collar of the boy walking in front of me.

Wait oh!

My names!

Eze Egwim!

Marked across the shirt collar of the boy in front of me!

My shirt!

“Eze, is that not your shirt?” Ibuka said in the same instant I realized that that was my shirt just ahead of me. And the thief wearing it was a boy with the kind of distinctive appearance that made him instantly recognizable. It was Barry, that albino in Dorm 5. He was also in JSS3.

“It’s his shirt,” Joseph said, then barked, “Barry White!”

Hearing his nickname startled the boy around. We trotted toward him, our expressions grim with purpose. His eyes, with the milky pupils that were always in a constant side-to-side motion, widened guiltily as we approached. Then he turned and ran.

Big mistake!

“You dey run, abi?!” Joseph roared, and gave chase. Ibuka and I ran after him too, but Joseph was the sprinter. And the fighter too. In what seemed to be a blur, he was already at Barry’s side; he grabbed his hand and bent it back, then twirled him around, pinning his arm behind his back and ramming his chest and chin against the nearby wall which fenced in Dignity House. Barry shrieked and the pale skin on his face turned florid with the exertion.

“Thief!” I huffed as Ibuka and I ran up to them. “Shey you are the one who stole my shirt, abi?” And my fist rocketed towards his face, the open palm connecting with the exposed side of his cheek in a slap.

He shrieked again. “Eze – sorry! Please, I didn’t know it was your own!”

“Liar!” Ibuka screeched angrily.

Joseph jerked the twisted arm a few inches upward.

Barry screamed in pain. The visible, tiny network of veins that crisscrossed parts of the pallid skin of his face stood out against the reddening visage. “Please – please…!” he blubbered, spittle flying from his mouth. “Joe – please… Eze, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to take it –!”

“Shuttupyourmouth!” I stormed. “That is how you people will be stealing other people’s things and be making their things your own!”

“In fact, let’s go and report him to Senior Olumide!” Ibuka said.

“PLEASE! PLEASE!” Barry was frantic now.

Our house prefect, Senior Olumide, disliked thievery. And he had all sorts of cruel ways to punish offenders. Report a culprit to Senior Ifeanyi, and he’ll flog him and then let him go. Report him to Senior Olumide, and he’ll make him suffer in ways that will bring repentance to his soul.

“Please – please! Eze…!” Barry struggled futilely against the vise that was Joseph’s grip on his hand. “Please, I’m begging you! I’m sorry, I won’t take your thing again! I swear – please, I’m sorry!”

I was still angry and feeling vindictive enough to want him to suffer some more for putting me through such agony. Because of what he did, I hadn’t even smiled back at Anulika. God knows what she’ll be thinking now, I thought angrily. But as I looked at him, his face flushed with pain and streaked with tears, I felt my anger unclench and empathy nosed in. All I wanted was my shirt back.

“Let him go, Joe,” I said.

“What –!”

“Eze, no! Let’s report!”

My friends were outraged.

“Let him go,” I repeated. “Please, remove my shirt,” I added as Joseph reluctantly stepped back from Barry. A look of revulsion was etched on my face as I contemplated how I was going to have to re-wash the shirt just to get everything Barry off it.

“Thank you – thank you…” he mumbled as he unbuttoned the shirt with trembly fingers.

“Do fast joor!” Joseph snarled.

“You are lucky we are not reporting you. Idiot!” Ibuka hissed.

The buttons were undone. He pulled off the shirt. And I gingerly took it from him. “Today is your lucky day,” I said grimly. “God just save you today. Wallai! It’s only God. If not eh–”

And a booming voice interrupted before I could finish.

“THOSE FOUR JUNIOR BOYS!”

Only an SS3 boy would say those words with such condescension and authority. The four of us froze. Yes, we were four and junior. It would be a big leap to think that there was another ‘four junior boys’ standing nearby.

“RUN DOWN HERE!”

We turned and met the hard glare of a heftily-built senior standing on the pavement of Dignity House. He wore only his boxers, and his bulging biceps seemed as though they were capable of snapping us like toothpicks if we didn’t do exactly what he’d ordered. Which was to run down to him.

And we did.

Clouds dotted the sky and floated across the face of the sun. The heat was going down. Therefore, bullying, pestering or senior boy’s inhumanity to junior boy was now allowed.  Eze Goes To School

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Leave a comment

12 Comments

  1. Excellency

     /  July 9, 2013

    Okay Eze, you found ur shirt & found trouble too. Gud write Waltz…

    Reply
  2. Adaeze Chima-Onumajuru

     /  July 9, 2013

    :D. When re-washing the shirt concentrate of the armpit.

    Reply
  3. nik

     /  July 9, 2013

    ONE DAY ONE TROUBLE.

    Reply
  4. doris

     /  July 9, 2013

    i read dis stories and wonder hw ppl survive boarding skuls #tankGodfordayskuls#

    Reply
  5. Am taken back to my secondary school days…. Great telling. You waltz your words well, Mr Waltzer,…. Sorry Walter

    Reply
  6. anderson

     /  July 10, 2013

    Tehehee. My own na make d@ Senior no go tell Eze make him use the shirt clean floor or worse.

    Reply

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