Boarding House Memoirs…Episode 8
However, schools of nowadays as I read somewhere on “naijamum’s blog” (private though) have such food like hot dogs and burger, ice cream, jollof rice and chicken, chicken and chips, designer rice, etc on their menu and seem to be better than those schools where Mama put(Iya Kafaya) will bring her basin of rice and beans and ponmo to sell everyday without fail. However while such schools are more concerned about nutrition and balanced diet, it has been discovered that Mama put floors them in the taste department.” I haven’t been to any school lately to be sure if the ‘mama put’ method still exists like before. For people like Ronke Adesina, her stolen food was one hard lesson even though it wasn’t chicken and chips. Everybody loved iya kafaya’s rice and macaroni, dodo and ponmo(lol).
Ronke, like I said before, even though was just a year or two ahead of us in junior school, was still highly revered by us. Probably because of her uniqueness; she was usually very neat, highly brilliant and very tall so she ran for the school. She had reverend sister-guardians in the convent as well. She was a catholic from home.
On a particular visiting day, usually saturdays like in most schools, parents came from far and near and started trooping in as early as morning. Owambe things were not rampant in those days. I wonder what would happen to kids in hostels these days whose parents have to attend like three owambes on a saturday.
Throughout my stay in the dormitory, Ronke was only visited once by her dad and younger brother from Abeokuta. I don’t know if she had a mum. There were times she stayed in the convent during breaks.
On this day, a particular family came from Lagos to visit their kids(two boys). One of the boys was handicapped- his entire left hand was not straight but curved inward. I don’t know why Ronke picked interest in this boy and made him a subject of mockery and bully. She nicknamed him ‘omo-aja'( the child of a dog/puppy) and the name stuck.
As the boy was climbing the staircase with his parents to the dormitory, Ronke surfaced from nowhere not knowing his parents were behind him. She called him ‘omo-aja’ as usual and the parents heard. Trust Ibo parents, they marched straight to the convent and went to report to almighty Mother Catherine who came with them.
Immediately we saw them from afar, we alerted Ronke who already knew the game was up and went to hide. Thankfully, nobody knew she was the culprit except we, the junior students and the boy involved(a boy of about 5years). His parents didn’t see her face, the house mistresses didn’t know about the bullying.
Mother marched in, in all her fury asking us who did it. Nobody dared talk. The boy entered our room with his parents and was told to identify the culprit. He said the person wasn’t there and the description he gave fitted Ronke who was also the only one absent. Mother then vowed that if it was actually Ronke who she trusted so much, she would be in great trouble. The parents were really angry and provoked about the situation but they only left after getting assurance from Mother that the culprit would be dealt with.
Mother then declared a manhunt for Ronke. At this time, she knew the game was already up and was so afraid. Everybody feared Mother Catherine. Her sister-guardians in the convent must not even hear. She had been hiding in a nearby bush and it was only at night that she stealthily came back into the dorm after missing lunch and dinner. We thought it would die down naturally but Mother came back at night asking for Ronke who came out and denied vehemently. She said she was in class reading at the time and only just entered so it couldn’t have been her.
Mother faced the JSS 1 students and said the culprit must be among us and we should say the truth. Everyone knew the truth but could not say it. In annoyance, Mother told us to follow her, that she was going to lock us out of the hostel, out of the fence to sleep outside in front of the convent very close to the main gate and main road. We almost started crying. Ronke warned us not to talk, begged us not to worry.
So, off we went with our wrappers and pillows to the gate entrance and slept on bare floor bemoaning our fate. A reverend father who was coming on a visit met us there and promised to help us beg but Mother wouldn’t budge. Some reverend sisters too also came and asked us to tell the truth, we still maintained our innocence and they could do nothing.
Ronke sneaked to us and brought her provisions-milo and biscuit that we should eat, still warning us not to talk. She stayed for a while and went back.
These JSS1 students included Abimbola Kolapo, Basirat Adesokan, Constance Ejiogu, Taiwo Bello and yours truly. Like in every situation, there would always be people ‘for or against’. “Constance Omo Ibo” was no longer comfortable. She wanted to say the truth and go back to her comfy bed even after eating the biscuit and milo.
She was a very muscular, tall and daring girl too. She had muscles which made her look like a boy and she lived in Lagos. So we started arguing back and forth among ourselves on whether to say the truth and go back back to the dorm or not. By this time, it was already getting close to midnight. The midnight owl was already singing, the darkness had an eerie feeling to it, it held a note of dread and foreboding. The guava and mango trees rustled occassionally. There were some hissing sounds too, maybe from a snake or its family. The almighty mosquitoes moved around noisily feasting on us with glee.
Some of us were almost in tears. Sleep eluded us. Then, we reasoned. The actual person that muredered sleep was in the dorm enjoying her warm bed while we were left to pay for her sins in these darkness because she was a damn senior.
At the point when our tough stance was already reduced, the door of the convent opened and Mother sauntered in. “So are you going to tell me the real culprit among you now?”
We started begging profusely again until Constance Ejiogu stood up and said “mother it was senior Ronke”.
All hell was let loose immediately. She got so mad asking why we didn’t tell her sooner. In annoyance, she marched us back to the hostel, opening a smaller gate that led to our own block. Everybody was already in dreamland when we came back. Mother charged at Ronke and hit her before asking her to pack her things and follow her.
We could not look up because we felt like we had betrayed her. Only Constance Ejiogu was bold enough to stand and still repeat it. That was how Ronke went and slept in front of the convent till the following day. She came back the next morning with bloodshot eyes. She didn’t talk to anyone throughout. She still went back to the convent during the day for another round of punishment with constant threats that her father would be told.
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