Alice was ill and the fever showed no signs of receding. Senior Funmi made an announcement for someone to go to the staff quarters to call Mrs Uzo, the house-mistress. Of course no one volunteered, who in their right mind would go to the staff quarters at 10pm on a path ridden with ghosts, bush babies and snakes? Why would anyone choose to meet madam kos-kos in the middle of the night? Alone? Plus of course in boarding house no junior ever volunteered. They were confined to a life of submission. Most juniors often wondered why senior Funmi and others like her never did anything for themselves.
There was one little girl who was always up for adventure. I think she did too much reading of stories of children in the woods, like the Famous Five. She was also keen to prove to everyone that she had guts.
So off T and IJ went to the staff quarters. They walked quickly and chatted quietly, knowing that in no time they would be back in their beds and hailed as the courageous ones who braved the elements and night prowlers for the sake of their sick friend. Before long they heard dogs barking. Heart in mouth T muffled to IJ that it was fine, she knew how to handle dogs. Afterall didn’t she have five dogs at home? Scooby, Scrappy, Snoopy, Lucky and Lulu?
As they approached Mr Offoh’s house, the sound of the barking got louder a result of more participants joining in the canine chorus. T, the self-styled animal lover, the fearless, the brave started to sweat rather profusely. Meanwhile IJ had leaped unto the top of Mr Offoh’s blue Volkswagen, she didn’t even know she could fly! T promptly joined her where they both knew they’ll be spending the night. Two big black dogs stood guard to ensure the girls never made it down. The barking slowly died down. Then the prayers began. “Lord as you shut the mouth of David in the Lion’s den…shut the mouth of these dogs. They slowly climbed down from the car after deciding not to risk the possibility of their male classmates seeing them in their nighties and wrappers atop Mr Offoh’s car- not even Ms Hadiza’s, at least she was nice! Considering the boy in 3B who liked IJ, and the one in 3D that T had a crush on- she was sure he liked her back- it was not worth the risk. Where would she hide her face? The other day he stared at her long and hard from the back of the class, she could feel it because every hair on the back of her neck stood still, even the tiny baby ones. Her palms became sweaty and her writing bore a striking resemblance to chicken scratches. There was the familiar churning going on in her stomach. It always started when her heart made the daily descent from its station in her chest to her stomach, triggered during assembly when she was fortunate to stand only a few kids away from him. Maybe that’s where the courage to leave the safety of Mr Offoh’s car came from. Or perhaps it was the thought of ‘failing’ at a task so great, that she would become just like everyone else, and no longer be hailed as being brave. The reason did not really matter. They gingerly walked on, one half step at a time and made it to Mrs Uzo’s house, where they encountered her own dogs- Concorde and Punch. Thankfully all the noise had awoken Mrs Uzo, who most likely slept with one ear open waiting for girls like these to come get her for one mishap or the other.
I can’t remember how we got back to the hostel that night, I vaguely recall Mrs Uzo driving us back. I have since forgiven senior Funmi, but still get a kick from using her name when I talk about seniors. I am still good friends with IJ, she is one of the blessings in my life. I don’t have any dogs currently, I can barely get the boys to keep their rooms spotless. The guy I had a crush on? Remains the first guy I ever had a crush on, but not the last. I have also stopped showing off. Sometimes the old me shows up and wants her voice to be heard above others. Sometimes she struggles to listen during conversations and wants to do all the talking. If you have recently ended up as my sounding board when you wanted to be heard,I apologize. Please be patient, God is still working on me.
Thank you for reading. Do come back for the next part!