274 members, 100 topics. January 19, 2019, 9:54 am
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This is another book in the Fortune City Books. It's main characters are Bidemi Adeoti and Usman Waheed. It also features Gladys Bolawole from Grabbing the Hot Gate.
This is where most of the stories began.
Boys also gossip. The most popular had always been about their escapades and fantasies. Many of the most intriguing stories were from the students residing in the boarding house for students. Bidemi Adeoti found their stories exciting and wanted to have a first-hand experience of these escapades.
Many times, he would cry to his mother to allow him relocate to the boarding section of his school, Richmond Academy, knowing fully well that she had a soft spot for him. This cry always got to his mother, who would soon start reasoning with him but would back off whenever his father, who wouldn't hear a word of it, would growl, 'in this 21st century? Impossible'.
And if one was to look at his desire from another angle, Bidemi's house was just four streets away from the school; there was no need to attend a boarding school. His father wanted him around all the time but just wasn't rich enough to regularly pick him from school with his personal car.
The previous day, a rainy day, his friends had bantered on about their desire to run around the river behind the school to stare at bathing girls- senior ones and older ones especially- in the evening. They claimed watching these girls made them hot. If one was to look at it from a cultural or religious perspective, no one had told Bidemi that what those boys were doing was wrong. And if none of those people mentioned it, he saw no reason to avoid threading the same path. In fact, he assumed these actions were things every man should secretly learn how to do. There was no way he would be an exception.
'It's what all the boys do', Ikendu Benson, one of the toughest among them, said one day. Bidemi nodded that day and hatched a great plan on how to stare at some of the girls in his class. Ikendu was one that was known for his notoriety but still had a lot of girls- senior and junior students alike- thronging to be his friend. Many of them abused him but after a little teasing and joke with them, they will soon start talking to him to the extent that he touched them at inordinate parts but they won't object to it.
So, Bidemi was really excited that Monday, October 4th 2004, as he showed his classmates the hand mirror he stole from his mother's wardrobe. They were excited and really hailed his bravery.
'That's how to be a man. You have to see things that others haven't seen before time', Ikendu whispered to him as they marched into the class from the assembly.
Bidemi was excited. It was fun to be among boys that had experienced things. The sweetest thing about it was that every one of them planned to use the mirror, giving him another opportunity to make money. They all had to pay five naira for fifteen minutes.
As the day went by, different teachers turned towards the boys to know the root of the disturbance because many of them kept murmuring in a bid to get a look at what their mates were seeing, but the only thing the teachers could do was to threaten them and focus on whatever they were doing.
'If I hear any noise from you again, I will skin you alive', their account teacher, Mrs. Tochukwu, shouted as she turned towards them. Nothing made Bidemi excited than staring at his teachers. Some of the boys told him of the way they always wanted to just stare at their teachers especially their fat bursar, Mrs. Cokers. They've told him of the pleasures their senior students gained from doing all these.
'Give it to me', Bidemi whispered and stretched his hand. The girls around glanced at them and looked away non-chanlantly. That was one thing he hated about such girls. They were ready to make fun at the boys. They would abuse them and gossip about them and mock them but none of them knew how to sit properly in the class. Their legs, always, would be wide-apart.
'Later… Later', Ifeoluwa shouted, frustrated, as Ikendu tried to wrestle the mirror from his hand.
One of his friends, Usman, saw this and decided to escape before their teacher caught them in the act. Usman repeated Jss1 and always wanted to avoids trouble. Last section, Bidemi gathered the money his parents gave him for food and asked for more from his parents, lying to them that he needed the money for some books. When his father discovered he lied to him, he flogged him till he couldn't sit in class the next day. However, his mother saw what he did as something she could support. So, she gave him money to help Usman. That made Usman's mother visit their house to show her appreciation and got more money from Bidemi's mother.
Since then, Usman had loved Bidemi but what Bidemi was doing was wrong and he wouldn't be a party to it. He rose and told the teacher he wanted to ease himself. A few minutes after he left, Mrs. Tochukwu, indeed, got angry and turned towards the class, just when Bidemi pocketed the mirror and focused on writing.
'You… You… You … And that tall black devil, stand up. Yes, you, Ikendu', She shouted and pointed at different boys as if fire was blazing in her eyes. Bidemi looked up and held his breathe as she was pointing to different boys, expecting that she would call him. 'You're the scape goat. I need a cane'.
'Aunty, we are not the only one…'
'Shut your nasty mouth. I will use you as the scape goat in my class. Cane'.
She spun from side to side, looking from one person to another. After what looked like forever, she turned to look at Bidemi and her eyes rested on his.
'Get up, Adeoti. You're the only sane one in my class. Get me a very strong cane that I will use to balance the brains of these boys'.
Bidemi sighed with relief and hobbled out of the class. The last thing he needed at that time was for anyone to see the mirror in his pocket. Just as he came out of the staffroom with the cane, he saw their bursar hurrying off to the toilet.
Immediately, he did something he would forever regret. Not minding that the Mrs. Tochukwu awaited his return, he ran off to the back of the toilet, to the window. If he saw the bursar in the toilet, it would give him an edge over the other boys. That was something the other boys have never gotten a chance to do. He would be way ahead of them. A lot of them have complimented how they loved to see her.
Not ready to waste another moment, Bidemi removed his mirror and was trying to see what she would look like when someone said, 'Ahan'. He turned to see Usman running towards him.
'Who is that?' Mrs, Cokers, the Bursar, shouted from the toilet.
Usman clamped his hand on Bidemi's mouth and spin his fingers as if they were cycles.
'Run', Usman whispered. 'She can't see well without her glasses'.
Bidemi didn't wait to answer Usman as he sped off and Usman was soon on his tail. Usman was right, Mrs Cokers had problem with her sight and could barely see things from afar.
They entered the class and Mrs Tochukwu stared at them as if she was aware of their mischievousness.
'Hope, you're fine?' She asked them. Bidemi nodded and handed over the cane to her. As she flogged the boys, the only place Bidemi could watch was the door. His hands shook terribly and he wished he hadn't tried to do like the other boys.
Immediately Mrs Tochukwu finished flogging the boys, the timekeeper rang the bell for a change of lesson. She hissed, picked her books and soon left the class to rowdiness because the girls jumped about mocking the boys. Usman hopped over an empty seat and lean against him.
'Give me the mirror', he whispered.
With shaky hands, Bidemi stretched it out to him. Usman snatched the mirror and hurried off to his own bag.
'What will happen if she catches me'? He whispered. Someone was shouting from the other of the corridor.
'She won't. If she asks you, you will say it was me. They know me as the bad boy. They'll flog me', Usman said and climbed back to his seat. Bidemi opened his book frantically and detached a piece of paper that had a dot of ink on it. The clouds began to form and a sky rumbled. He did the same thing for Usman once but wasn't expecting him to do the same.
'That tree at the back of our house', Usman mouthed towards him. He had told him how the tree would soon fall anytime soon. 'That's how we are'.
Bidemi nodded and pointed at Usman shorts with shaky hands. He just wanted something to take his mind off his fears. Usman always forgot to zip up. 'Your shorts'.
‘Where is the foolish boy? Bidemi Adeoti' Mrs. Ajanaku roared as she pushed her way into the class, not minding that she pushed one of the short girls in the class.
Bidemi’s heart bubbled with fear. Mrs. Ajanaku was a very fierce woman. She took flogging as a hobby, and used the strokes of the cane to talk, explain, show, and describe things to students, especially the ones that find it hard to understand quickly. She was a very fat woman, with a shrunken neck.
‘Bidemi’, she screamed,’ come out here’. Her mouth opened wide in anger.
Knowing that he had been caught, Bidemi was determined to take any punishment that will be meted out to him in good faith.
‘You’, she shouted again, making Bidemi’s bone yearn to scamper from her dreadful look, and her deadly strokes of cane. The bursar, Mrs. Cokers, hobbled into the class. Bidemi's face became flushed as he wished the ground would swallow him.
'Where is the glass?' Mrs. Ajanaku yelled.
'Yes. The mirror', Mrs. Cokers said.
Mrs. Ajanaku shifted near him like lightning and dealt him a stinging slap. He yelled and tried to back off but her ironclad hand held him in place. 'Overturn your pockets'.
Quickly, he did but brought nothing fell out. His eyes darted to Usman who shook his head slightly.
‘Tell him to bring out his bag’, Mrs Cokers shrieked. Her face was pale as if she saw a wraith some moment before. Bidemi noticed her for the first time, and felt like becoming small, invisible in front of her because he had just offended her and lost his integrity.
‘Bring your bag’, Mrs. Ajanaku instructed.
Immediately, Bidemi’s heart lurched with happiness since the mirror was with Usman.
‘You’ she shouted at Usman, ‘Bring his bag’.
Usman carried a bag to her. Mrs. Ajanaku pulled it out of his hand, and opened it immediately.
‘Bu… Bu…’ Bidemi protested as he looked from Mrs. Ajanaku to Usman whose face started distorting into remorse.
‘What is the “but” all about? Every day has been for your thief today is for the owner. If you have not walked in the vicinity of falsehood, no one would falsely accuse you, and luckily for us, you are the culprit’, Mrs. Ajanaku cried, ‘you… Is this not the mirror, Mrs. Cokers?'
Mrs. Cokers, the bursar stared at the money, 'Err…’
‘Aunty…’ someone shouted to Mrs. Ajanaku.
‘Shut up’, she exclaimed, turning like a big ball,’ birds of a feather flock together, is that not how you all do it? He is the example and he would be duly punished… So first thing first…’
However, the voices of the students overshadowed her voice, and that infuriated her.
‘What?’ She snapped, shifting uncomfortably to face the students who refused to be silenced.
‘That is Usman’s bag’, someone volunteered to tell her.
‘Usman?’ Mrs. Ajanaku and the bursar said in unison.
Mrs. Ajanaku turned like a robot to face Usman, eying him angrily.
‘Did you use the mirror?’
Usman nodded stiffly.
‘Follow me’, Mrs. Ajanaku barked as she turned towards the door. The bursar followed her and if she had a tail she would have been waging it with the way she rushed after her. Bidemi followed them, but when they were about to get to the door of the principal’s office, Mrs. Ajanaku turned and glared at him.
‘Yes...? Yes...? What do you want?’ Mrs. Ajanaku asked as she turned to him. Her look said enough for Bidemi to know that if he didn’t turn back, Mrs. Ajanaku would lace his body with strokes of cane.
Bidemi returned to his class, dejected that he had just caused trouble for the person he was trying to help. Repeatedly, he glanced at the Principal’s office, which was opposite their class. Luckily for his class, their next subject was the study of the Yoruba language, and Mrs. Ajanaku was the teacher, but her current mission wouldn’t make her come to teach it.
Most of the girls expressed their hatred for Usman, and they felt Usman shouldn’t have made the teachers call Bidemi in the first place. The boys gathered round Bidemi and asked him for details. He tried to tell them to the best of his knowledge but couldn't really give them the vivid description they expected.
'So you saw her…'Ikendu said and gestured towards his chest. Bidemi glanced at the boys and could see the amused expectations on their face. He nodded. Although he didn't see what they expected him to see, he had to pretend to have an edge over them. The guys yelled excitedly. They felt Bidemi was a hero and Usman was a life-saver.
Just then, the principal marched out of his office, taking long angry strides. Today, he wasn’t putting his hand in his pocket like he was fond of, He wasn’t strolling in the corridor, teasing the students. Rather, he was angry and holding a long cane with his right hand while he pulled Usman with his left.
‘Ring the bell’, he yelled as if a megaphone was attached to his mouth, ‘Ring the bell’.
The students knew that only two things could make them come out of their class at that time- an exceptionally good news for the students (days like the one that the principal was forced to ask the students to go back home because of a riot happening within the school's area). The other reason, which seemed to be more popular, was when someone had been caught in a bad act and was to be used as a scapegoat.
The Jss2 students came out of their class first, with Bidemi coming out last. Many of them looked at their friends who were in the senior class and those in the junior class, telling them with the eyes that they had full details of the situation, one better than what the principal would tell them.
‘Arrange yourself, arrange the line’, the principal bellowed.
‘Do you see this boy?’ He said pushing Usman forward.
Bidemi felt he should be the one there and not Usman. He wished he could change the time to another day, that a terrible event could happen- earthquake, riots etc- that Usman could just fall down in pain, maybe even faint.
‘He has done the unheard’, the Principal said, twitching the cane as Usman tried to balance himself on the podium.
‘This boy you are looking at is a pervert and believed that the school authority wouldn’t discover’, the principal said. The redness of his anger reflected on his eyes and frowning face.
‘I need four hefty boys’, the Principal should, ‘if we do not punish him now, there would be no use of his parents sending him to school. You are a disgrace to your mother, who is just a petty goods seller’.
The principal spun around with the expectation that the boys he requested for would have gotten to the podium, but he didn’t see any of them, and that infuriated him. He stormed to the lines of the senior boys and flogged them, one stroke per person.
‘I said you should provide four hefty boys, none of you can come out. You are the ones teaching these children bad things’.
After he flogged them, about six male students hurried out at once. Two of them returned to the assembly line.
'He had the had the effrontery to take a peek at his teacher in the toilet', the principal continued and tapped Usman's head with a cane. 'I don't mind that Fortune City educational law forbids us from flogging students but this is Nigeria and we will teach you in the way of our culture. Ti e ma ba e o'.
Many of the student shouted ‘ah’. The boys carried Usman and the Principal began to flog him. He only winced, moaned and groaned but didn’t cry.
Although the principal didn’t tell the students the number of strokes he would give Usman, he knew that Usman ought to have cried and that enraged him the more. Seeing Usman in such state compelled him to flog him harder; yet, Usman didn’t cry.
‘Foolish boys, they have become used to cane that they don’t know the feeling’, the principal complained when he got to the twentieth stroke, which still met Usman tearless as if he was only being bitten by a mosquito and nothing else. There was no strain in his voice, no tears in his eyes, no fear in his demeanor, and no despair whatsoever. His reaction enraged the principal the more.
‘Sir, let me help you’, Mr. Alani offered.
A gravy hush dropped among the students, even among the stubborn students. The air suddenly began to play soft music in Bidemi’s ears; the voice of bird chirping filled the air, and students shuffled their feet on the floor as they expected the Principal’s reply.
Mr. Alani was a very famous teacher. His stroke of cane was named ‘eru’ i.e. load. He himself was given ‘iberu’ which does not have the conventional Yoruba meaning of ‘fear’; instead it was a name coined by an Ijebu girl, who used her dialect of Yoruba to call Mr. Alani the father of ‘Eru’ (fear); since, ‘iba’ in her dialect meant father, so she called him the father of ‘eru’- ‘Iberu’ (the father of fear).
Bidemi's throat went dry as he watched the Principal stood for some seconds to decide if he wanted to release the cane to Mr. Alani. Mr. Alani wasn’t known for flogging like the other teachers in the school. He flogged as if he was sipping the pain off the student and was enjoying the student’s pain, strengthening himself with it. He flogged once and allowed the student cry over that pain, savour it and rub it well before he gave the other strokes. And one very bad habit he had was that he rarely gave less than five strokes of cane for minor offences and he wouldn’t give anything less than ten stroke cane for things such as what Usman had just done. He flogged passionately-one could clearly see the joy, happiness, delight in his eyes. The students kept staring at the Principal as if he was their only hope.
a 'life-saver' indeed
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