Boarding House Memoirs…Episode 4
After dinner, there was ‘prep’ and night prayers. We all converged at the dinning hall again. Then, the daily ritual, nay nightmare began.. The whole rosary must be recited one after the other. I didn’t understand a bit of what they were saying but I heard ‘Hail Mary’. The catholic faithfuls among us were reciting it joyfully and I watched their mouth wishing I could recite along with them. It was a thing of pride in those days in a catholic school to own a rosary and be able to recite it. You dare not doze off at prayer time no matter how long it took. Aunty Justina(the house mistress) monitored everyone with her eyes and you got good strokes of the cane if caught.
The next day was sunday. The clothe for this day was a white gown with black/wine coloured beret. We all lined up in two straight lines, holding each other in twos, then we marched down to church without breaking the line. Mass usually started at 7am. So, the day started for us by 5am, long queues at the bathroom, fetching water and getting dressed. Only two bathrooms had doors. The rest of them (about six), you had to cover with your towel. As a result of this, there was usually a long queue at d bathroom with doors most especially by the matured senior students(laughing so hard now). Most of us little girls had to bathe in the doorless bathroom most times. We didn’t have much of a choice, did we? So, bathing in the enclosed bathroom was always a very great but rare privilege. Another rule was that you must not be seen bathing alone in a bathroom. Never! Four or five of us bathed at the same time. Oh yeah, because there were lots of people waiting to take their turns.
No breakfast before church since it was an early morning mass which ended at 10am. We occupied the first five pews on both sides(male and female) in church. Then, we marched back in twos the same way we came. Breakfast was bread, butter and tea. You know that kind of tea, do I need to explain further? (White tea). I didn’t know that all the bread were already buttered before I got to the dinning hall, so no breakfast for me again. I gave the bread out.
Sunday meals were usually the best and we all looked forward to the day eagerly. Bread, butter and tea in the morning, rice, stew and meat in the afternoon (mehnn, meattttt! It meant so much then to eat meat because the fish never amounted to anything) then, yam and stew in the evening. I still remember the taste of the stew,lol. Subsequently, I learnt to get my bread earlier before they buttered everything. Then, we started taking hot water only or the white tea upstairs to our room to add enough milo/bournvita or milk where necessary to make it thick. Later on, as you will get to read here, a new rule was made whereby secondary school students cooked for the whole hostel on sundays supervised by the house mistresses. The cooks were given the day off.
In those days, school registration was done with hoe, cutlass and broom. If these things were not provided, you were not ready to resume school. So, first week of resumption, you know you must avoid school especially after a long vacation. By then, the grasses would have grown taller. If you came late to school or made noise, you were made to cut grass(not minding it was a girls’ school). But usually, first week of resumption was for cutting grass. As a boarder, you didn’t have a choice. You had to go to school promptly. The teachers brought out all the hoes and cutlasses and gave us portions by class. So this was how secondary school looked like. You dared not escape because names were written down. This was the rude shock I came to witness on this day in september when I resumed school. I was placed in JSS1X….
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