It’s been over ten years I completed secondary school but still I remember the incident like it was yesterday. I will never forget that fateful day during my seconday school days; it was one innocent Saturday evening. I decided to skip ‘entertainment’ to rest from the day’s uptight stress and meetings. I was a Health Prefect in a boys’ secondary school and a member of many school groups. After my many duties, I went to shark (learn) for 3 hours on top. So you can imagine how tired I was.
I waited for the House Prefect my cubicle mate) to leave so I could have some quiet to sleep. That guy was just too ‘wossop’ that the room was almost always filled with people. As a result of that (and by convention) we had two of his friends staying with us in our prefects’ cubicle.
I quickly lay on my bed, soaked in the cool of the relatively young night, and eased slowly into a sweet and deep sleep. After two hours, I awoke to the usual shouts of students returning from the entertainment to the dormitory. “At least I had had a good sleep”, I said to myself in content. Little did I know that it was the beginning of a terrible twist.
My fellow Prefect and his friends came in shouting on top of their voice and jeering frankly at each other. One of them went to his trunk and opened it. The look on his face changed.
“Ah, charley you come take my camera”, he asked the other two.
“Naah”, they replied in unison.
“But abi na we dey go na e dey my trunk inside for here”, he asked with a more serious tone.
My First Secondary School Case
The other two turned to look at me. Up until that time, I was just lying in my mosquito net observing things. At that moment I knew ‘yawa happen’ (hell was coming to break loose). I calmly came out of my lower bunker bed and stood up. I was and still am a “mempe mehoasem” (innocent guy) so I was a little tense and quite shaken. “Guys, guys”, I managed to utter. “You guys know I haven’t taken that camera.”
I had seen them taking pictures with the camera just before they left for entertainment. Everyone admired how good the Sony camera was. “Could it be that they probably took it along and left it somewhere? Or they simply misplaced it and probably forgot to put it back in their trunk? Hmmm.” Questions were flowing in my mind in the dreaded silence that followed.
Before I knew it, my ‘friends’ had gone for clubs and sticks and anything they could lay hands on. Was I dreaming? Was I still asleep and having a nightmare? I just couldn’t think far. I couldn’t make meaning of what was going on.
Just then, my fellow prefect sat on the table in front of me. “Charley, we know say you take the camera. Just tell us where you went to sell it and we will not Quashaay (lynch) you.” “We know say you shedaa (intentionally) bed for here so say you go fit steal the camera. If you no want trouble aa, massa, talk.’ Hearing that from my fellow prefect really made me numb. It was if everything had been planned. I gently sat on my bed again with my hands on my head.
…I Couldn’t believe my ears
One of them, who was holding a cutlass, shouted at me. “We go take you go mallam make you swear say you no take am. But if the mallam catch you as the thief, we go kill you for there.”
I agreed and we made our way through the well-known secret passage that led out of school.
This was around 9:30 pm. As we went, I kept praying that God would rescue me. “God, remember all the SU that I went oo. Remember the Christian groups that I participate in oo. God I even play the organ for the School Choir oo.” I was lost for words. We walked for about an hour; after passing through several nooks and crannies and unimaginable pathways, we arrived at the mallam’s shrine.
“Ei God. Where did I sleep that only today I have landed at a shrine?” my brain was overheating. Hmmm. We were then asked to wait for the mallam. We waited and waited and waited for almost an hour and still no mallam. An old man came bearing news that the mallam was not around. Hmmm. By then, it was almost midnight so we had to go back to school.
On the journey back, several thoughts came flying in my clueless mind about all that had happened and why. But the more I thought about them, the more I became clueless. Upon our return to the dormitory, I quietly went for my books. I made my way to the Infirmary to get some painkillers and ‘mine’ (study) for the night. Sleep was no longer in my dictionary. In fact the thought of sleep made me dread waking up to part two of this harrowing experience.
I found my new bed in a prefect’s room at my secondary school’s Infirmary from that day, spent every night there. Luckily for me, the Infirmary had been refurbished just about the time I took office. So I had the luxury of a television, fridge, and private washroom. To be frank, it was more luxurious than the Head Boy’s cubicle. I continued to stay and study there till I completed school.
As for my friends, they never mentioned what happened that night; neither did they ever act as though anything happened that night. It was as if it never happened on campus. They went along with their usual school life and related to me like their memories had been erased somewhat. And the camera, I don’t know if they found it or not.
All the same, I never got over that experience till this day; I never got the answer to that ever-haunting question –WHY.
P.S. As for the near-fatal experience at the Infirmary just before I completed school, I’ll tell you another day.
A Senior Secondary post by Johnny Ayakwah Jnr
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