JS3 and SS3 were exam classes so if you were in either of those years, school holidays were non-existent. I don’t know what Jesus said to my mum but when I tried my luck and asked if I could be a day student during JS3 extension, she said yes! My mother, the chairman of the pro boarding association, said yes! It was a miracle. Every morning, I would take a cooler of food for my boarder pals (I gatchu girls!) and take a spare empty cooler for myself. I’d pick up my friend Toni, who lived round the corner from me, and we’d swing by Ghana High or Mama Rita on our way to school.
Ghana High was THE BUSINESS! Their jollof rice, ewa agoyin and fried stew were out of this world. One morning we got there and they hadn’t opened so the driver (my mum’s office was in the area so he knew all the hot spots) suggested we try Mama Rita whose shop was right across the street from Ghana High. See discovery! It was thanks to Mama Rita that I fell in love with rice and stew. Some days we’d be so torn as to whom to patronise that we’d end up buying food from both places. Lord, take me back!
One day during a free period, a bunch of my friends and I went to hang out in the class directly below mine (JS2T). We were gisting and fooling around when someone brought out a banger and match box. Why she brought that stuff to school, I will never know. We started daring each other to light the banger. We passed it round and each person would pretend to ignite it and we’d burst into fits of laughter.
When it was yours truly’s turn, I lightly struck the banger against the match box, thinking it wouldn’t ignite. That was how I found myself holding a lit banger in my hand. In hindsight, I should have just thrown it on the ground and stamped it out but since when have panic and logic been friends? Not knowing what else to do, I flung it out of the window so it wouldn’t go off in my hand and blow my fingers into oblivion.
As you can imagine, the explosion brought staff and students flying out from every nook and cranny and my friends and I fled the crime scene as fast as our legs could carry us. The noise very obviously came from the junior block and some people who had been standing by the phone booth in junior block, spotted people running out of JS2T so it was only a matter of time before all JS2 girls were summoned to kneel on the gravel.
“Who threw the banger?”
It was one thing to get in trouble with seniors but when teachers got involved, it was a whole other ball game. I wasn’t too bothered though. They could very easily suspend one person but there was no way they would suspend the entire year group, not when we had exams coming up; we had a position on the academic league table to maintain. Worst case scenario, we’d probably have to kneel for a while so I figured my year girls could take one for the team. Apparently not. #alakoba
Shouts of “If it was you just confess o!” started circulating but I stayed silent. Seriously, what’s a little kneeling between friends eh?! My dear BFF as usual had entered into a state of panic. Honestly girl, you owe me your liver!!!
My friends and I were kneeling in silence when a voice interrupted our peace.
“Are you Waila?”
I looked up to find one of the deputy head girl staring at me.
“Yes, I am.”
At this point, I knew that someone had casted me. As I walked with her towards the gathering of teachers that had amassed by the junior phone booth, she turned round and said, “It was you, wasn’t it?”
I had two options;
- Lie and compound my predicament
- Accept my fate
I weighed up my options and decided to accept my fate. I was enjoying being a temporary day student and figured worst case, I’d be suspended and be a day student for a bit longer…which was very alright by me. Ironically, I was terrified of fireworks so I knew that if the news reached my mother, she would at least know it wasn’t deliberate. It wouldn’t have saved me from a sound brushing but at least she wouldn’t have bought the idea that I had deliberately tried to wreak havoc.
Thankfully, the teachers who had gathered to behold the culprit were Z listers. There was only one A lister in their midst; an English teacher whose daughter might be reading this. Hi Aisha! J
Mrs Lawal was once my English teacher and I was not her favourite person. I was generally unloved by my teachers because I rarely paid attention in classes but still did well academically which really pissed them off! We had locked horns many times before so the woman hated my guts and thought the absolute worst of me.
“You! I knew it, I am not surprised! If you are not there, who will be there?!”
After telling all the teachers what a terrible child I was, she sent me to kneel in front of English room to wait for her. Thankfully, the day was almost over so I knew the driver would soon arrive to whisk me to safety.
As soon as I got word that the driver had arrived, I dusted off my knees, grabbed my bag and sprinted to the car. Between NEPA, traffic, armed robbers, mosquitos, NITEL, dodgy mechanics and all the other problems that plagued Nigerians then, I figured I’d be the least of her problems. But just in case, I offered up a prayer for God to wipe out her memory.
It must have worked because she never came looking for me. #thankyoujesus