What is wrong with everybody

Submitted into Contest #64 in response to: Write about someone who’s been sent to boarding school.... view prompt

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Black Coming of Age Fiction

“While coming to school tomorrow, come with your cutlassess”. Charles Akenkpo the prefect for labour announced. The students were not surprised to hear that line from him every Tuesday; most of them have been hearing the same statement for two years now. It has even become a jingle to some of them in Community Secondary School Nkpor.

Since debating society or group as they call them in community died natural death, the only avenue to practice your public speaking has been morning assembly ground. The junior students after orientations in year one know already that if anyone is interested in holding any post in year five, the ground work starts from year one.

The principal of the school Mr. Okonkwo was one of those American trained principal that state education board was placing in every available vacancy to counter balance British trained ones. The man created opportunity for students to speak infront of other students to learn how to face crowd. After morning prayers, singing hymn and national anthem; if the staffs has announcement to make, they go first and after them, it is students turn.  Time to sow seed that will bear fruits in years five. “If anyone has announcement to make, please let us hear him” from the staff. The flood gate will open. “While coming to school tomorrow, please, come with your cutlassess.” “I am missing my padlock, please, if you see it, bring it to me” “I lost my handkerchief, please, if you see it let me know.”it will on like that for thirty minutes.

The same story, the same line, over and over for one year plus. If any senior student became angry and indirectly threaten anyone for wasting his or her time in the assembly and the deputy principal hears, he will come with his own line. “If you think you can bully anyone here, I tell you, I will bulldozer you”

Cutting grass, public speaking, class work and even receiving letters without your name being among the names that were called in the assembly were some of the reasons Nkii don’t like school. She happens to be second daughter and third in the family, not only that her parents most of the time don’t give her breathing space, her elder brother and sister don’t turn blind eye to any fault of hers. In fact, if not for their mother, they would have been physical. “Am I all this bad? Nkii asked herself. No’ am just a cool girl, minding my own business coolly. What is wrong with everybody?" She querries. Since she formed the habit of disappearing from school every Wednesday, Charles Akenkpo devised the method of keeping her under the sun or rain depending on season every Friday to do her own manual labour. “That girl has formed the habit of millingering around when others are busy doing meaningful work. He said, “well, am ready for her”.

Even in the church, the story is the same for her. During first Holy Communion, the catechist will turn his full attention to her, complaining of every small thing she does. On two occasions, he has called her and warn her to amend her ways that it is not straight, made her to clean almost 50 percent of the chairs in the church. “Mend my ways, how? What is wrong with my ways” she asked herself. “Am I this bad? No, am just a cool girl minding my own business, What is wrong will everybody?." She querried. “These people, they beginning to act like my mother. “Block Rosary prayers starts by six, I suppose to wash plates before going. If I happen to be late in washing the plate, she will use Cain. After, she will make me to be saying my own rosary in the parlour there till block rosary centre closes.” “I thought that when physical and spiritual time clashes, spiritual suppose to supersede. I am confuse.”

Her result in school is: not good,not bad. her influence on the other students: not good, not bad. Her performance in sporting activities: not good, not bad. her attitude towards work: not good, very bad. Current affairs: not good, not bad, her academic performance has always been “let my people go” result. Weak pass. In fact, the teachers has been praying that she will fail her promotional exam for them to kick her out of the school but she always manage to scale through. Community being mixed school, they were expecting her to misbehave with boys, but she seem to be rating them low in her scale. That attitude, seems to be the source of the problem she has with some boys. In fact, they are the ones that usually report her to Charles Akenkpo. Could you imagine that she has temerity to ask labour master why the school has refused to buy mowers?. “PTA members could buy even three if asked” she told the master. “They suggested to buy two, but the school said no. "The idea of manual labour is to teach you perseverance, humility and obedience”. The labour master told her. “But all these trait we have already, is it not tantamount to suffering in ignorance?” she querried. “Ignorance is source of inquisitiveness. Ignorance has its own advantages too” the master said.

Her parents Mr. and Mrs. Lazarus Okoh is not educated but they want their children to go all the way to where schooling stopped. They are not rich, not poor too. School fee has never been their headache. So, whenever any of the six kids God bless them with came to them with any list concerning books, they don’t waste time in buying their book. Nkii has always make extra cash whenever any book list is given to them. She always make sure that her behavior at home that period is impeccable. Then she has to time her two elder siblings and make sure that they are not around when she present the list to her parents. If they were asked to buy: ancient and modern hymn book, Longman dictionary, those two books will fetch her double amount of the books worth. The parents has to bring money for ancient hymn book (2) modern hymn book (3) long man and dictionary books and the books are sold in schools according to her. The father will hand over the money, she will buy books requested, use the extra cash for clothes. Her 'I don’t care’ life continued like that to her third year. the year of junior WAEC  (West African Examination Council) she was told by her father that she will be going to live in dormitory to prepare for WAEC. She don’t like that idea. She lined up all the benefits and disadvantages; and disadvantages over shadowed the benefits in her estimation. Bad food, no freedom, monitoring,no extra cash avenue, even brutality. It is like jungles and in jungles, there is “no paddy” She approaches her mother to intercede on her behave, but the mother was on her father’s side.

“It is all for your good” the mother said. “But I always pass my exam from here, what is different between those and WAEC, I will still pass it from here” she begged. “You will not understand now, but you will later". the mother said.

On the appointed day, she packed her baggages and was taken to the dormitory and handed over to the authorities. One month later, she called to narrate that her money in the account has been wiped out, that someone called ,claiming to be from the bank, told her to give them the number from her debit card for up gradement or she can come by herself. She gave them the number and two days later, all her money gone. Her father, after shouting in anger and raising up hell went to the school to change her card and deposit new money. “Lesson number one” he told her. After three months in dormitory, she settled down to time tabled life and was asking herself what she was doing all these years as day student.

October 23, 2020 14:50

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