“From the left, quick march! Left-right! Left-right! Left-right!”
The legs of the students in the rectangular lineup went up and down like pistons as they marked time to Senior Olumide’s hollered commands.
“Left-right! Left-right! Left-raaaaiiiight!”
In unison, the feet crunched down on the ground, lifted and thudded down again. Senior Olumide weaved his way through the well-spaced lines, yelling as he moved, his eyes zipping about as he looked searchingly at the students under his command.
“Left-right! Left-right! Left-raaaaiiiight!” (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on March 3, 2014
The Morning After The Friday Cleanup
“Who jacked my locker?!” On Ibuka’s face was etched a livid expression. There was some shock there too, but he was mostly angry.
“Who jacked my locker?!” His voice climbed a few decibels of outrage, and he turned from the cabinet to glare at the entire room. No one was paying any particular attention to us. It was Saturday morning, a couple of hours before the morning inspection, and there was a stir of activity in the hostel, as students darted in and out of the dormitories – putting the finishing touches to their chores, running last-minute errands for the seniors, having their baths and getting dressed. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on February 24, 2014
My apologies for the lateness of today’s posting of EGTS episode. Life may imitate Art sometimes, but today Life refused to respect Art, and give me time to attend to this. Anyhoo, it’s here now. Read, enjoy and let us know what you think in the comments section.
“And you, you and you, three of you should go and sweep the backyard from here” – Senior Ifeanyi moved his hand in a sweeping arc – “to here.”
Barry, Chibunna and Jisike hurried away from the line with their brooms, their relief palpable. The rest of us stood before our house prefects, tensely waiting as Senior Ifeanyi assigned chores to us. It was Friday afternoon; lunchtime ended about twenty minutes ago. And now, it was time for the weekly and mandatory Friday afternoon cleanup of the hostels. There were floors to scrub, yards to sweep, grasses to shorn, water-sodden grounds to stanch, and rubbish to be carted away. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on February 17, 2014
“Blood of Jesus!” Amaka burst out with goggled eyes and an exaggerated shudder. “Cat – as in pussycat?”
“No, it is tiger-cat,” Ibuka snapped with heavy sarcasm. “Of course it’s pussycat. See question o.” This was Amaka’s umpteenth interruption since Ibuka started his narration of what transpired in our hostel over the weekend, and my friend’s temper had grown shorter with each cutoff.
There was a smattering of chuckles from the students around at his retort. Amaka’s face tightened into an angry pout.
“So after this person turned into a cat, what now happened?” Anulika prompted. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on February 10, 2014
He stands, shrouded by the night, pale as the skin of a glass of milk, still, vigilant, those unusual eyes staring coldly out from a face that has the icy stillness of a sculpted piece. A light breeze gallops across the area, lifting the hairs on the boy’s skin and causing a slight shiver to work its way through his body. It is a cold night, but he cannot leave here for the warmth of the inside. He intends to wait, to meet the other one. The one he has been looking for.
Just then, he stiffens. His shoulders lift fractionally and his head angles forward, an alert response to the presence of something – or someone – yet unseen. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on February 3, 2014
It is lights out.
The boy moves slowly through the dormitory in the thick of the night, a pale figure startlingly argent in the darkness. The room is large and crowded. He can see the bunks lined against the walls, interspersed with the windows through which the silvery gaze of the moon spills in. Still figures, like heaps of rummage-sale clothes, sleep on the bunks. He takes in the night sounds humming around him – the deep breathing, the sporadic coughing and the restless shifting in beds. He can even hear the noisy chatter of the frogs and crickets hidden in the thickets outside.
At the end of the next dormitory, where he is headed, a single candle burns on the ground, and its flickering flame casts into the shadows the form of the boy lying on his mattress which is spread out on the floor close to the candle. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on January 27, 2014
“Will you like to be a prefect when you enter SS3?” I asked as I gazed up at the inky black sky, its blanket of darkness dotted by a sprinkle of stars, winking back at me.
There was a faint stir on my left as Joseph moved his body. Like me, he was lying down on the grainy and hard asphalt of the nearly-deserted car park. It was 9pm and the serenity of the environment was broken by the occasional resonance of students conversing, boys, as they strolled past, headed to and from the borehole and others with no particular destination in mind. It was getting late, but the school was still a long way from slumber. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on January 20, 2014
There was a divide that existed in my school between the boarding students and the day students. The boarders, by far, outnumbered the day students, and there was a certain air of superiority every boarder exhibited towards the day students. We thought we were better than them. After all, we were the ones who toughed it out in school, catering for ourselves, without any parent to coddle us or any mummy’s food to get home to at the end of a school day. We braved several adverse circumstances – wicked seniors, thieving hostel mates, nightmarish punishments, Lady Koikoi, Bush Baby, cold water baths on Harmattan mornings, snakes. . .
“Haba! After all this,” I was saying, “I put it to you that boarders are better than day students.” (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on January 13, 2014
It was the spray of cold water on my face that woke me up in the middle of the night. I looked up from my bed. It was raining outside. Heavily. The drumming sound of the rain on the ground assailed my ears as I got to my feet, shivering, and hastened to the window, intending to shut the wooden shutters against the intrusive shower. On the top bunk above my bed slept Ibuka; he was curled up in a fetal position, under covers, totally undisturbed by the rain.
Thunder crashed as I began to shut the windows, again and again, each rumble preceded by the violent flashes of lightning. The flashing beams diffused into the dormitory marginally and the occupants of the room – bunks, sleeping bodies and lockers – stood out like silhouettes, looking almost unreal, as if formed out of the darkness itself.
I hurried back to my bed, pulled the covers snugly over my body and shut my eyes, drifting off to sleep in a matter of seconds. In the meantime, the rain raged on outside.
Two boys were quarreling loudly in our dormitory as my friends and I walked across the hostel’s courtyard the next morning. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on January 6, 2014
The principal and the teachers in my school may be the figures of authority, but the SS3 boys were the ones who held the power to terrorize the junior boys. During every Monday morning assembly, the principal, Mr. Iheukwumere would always exhort the student body – the junior students actually – to never fail to report any acts of brutality meted out on them by the seniors. He encouraged us to come forward and tell on any SS3 boy or girl who had done us any grave wrong, and he promised swift justice for whoever the victim was. He talked and talked, and made lots of promises, I’d watched my share of American crime movies, where the police and lawmakers strived to protect whistleblowers from the wrath of the vengeful criminal kingpins. More often than not, they failed.
The law couldn’t always protect you, junior boys knew this. And so, most of the time, we suffered in silence. And when this happened, sometimes, we took pleasure from exactly small acts of vindictiveness against the oppressive seniors. Small acts, really. Like spitting inside the bucket of water a senior commanded you to fetch for him. Or sprinkling dust on your lunchtime meat that another one made you smuggle out of the dining hall to him. I’d even heard of the disgusting but hilarious story of how a JSS3 boy had stolen to a dark corner of the dining hall, forced out a morsel of feaces and proceeded to mix the excreta with the beans – his dinner – which an SS3 boy had ordered him to smuggle out to him as punishment for a mistake he made. The junior boy had no dinner that night, and the senior boy ate his shit. Literally.
Junior boys – only the brave ones, the ones who did not fear the possibility of retribution if the seniors found out their treachery – always found new and interesting ways to compensate for their cowardice in not reporting the meanness of the seniors to the teachers. (more…)
Posted by Walt Shakes on December 31, 2013