A lot of people had it good in boarding schools. Sadly I wasn’t one of those people. In the year 2000 and something, my common entrance result came out, I scored 493. I made the cut off mark for federal schools. It was one of my happiest days on earth.
‘Luckily’ for me, my dream of attending a federal government college came true and I got posted to one in Kogi State. I was so happy because my best cousin, Ogbonna, was there and I was sure we were carrying over our Hillcrest primary school enjoyment there. My dad kept telling me to reconsider and go to a private school in Enugu, I refused. In my head, those schools were for people who didn’t pass federal. How foolish. I carried this federal thing on my head like a basket. Even the people who scored 500 and above were humble.
That year, the long vacation seemed to have lasted too long, my spirit was already in JSS1 in my federal government college. I even took the time to learn the school anthem, I was that excited. September finally came and I was on my way to school. I was so happy but that happiness didn’t last long. As soon as my mother left, I realized that the school I used to see when I came to visit Ogbonna was different from the one I was actually about to experience.
The hazing was normal, so it wasn’t really a problem. My problem was the deplorable living conditions. The bathrooms, maggots-infested toilets, open water source, and the worst were the living halls with no windows. When I say no windows, I mean we practically lived outside. Imagine living in a house where anybody can access you from outside.
I spent one academic year in that school and I can beat my chest and say at least half of the nights were spent running from one night visitor or another. This is not one of those madam koi koi stories. We would wake up and see footprints in front of our hostels. It was so bad we use to bring down our mattresses from the bunks and keep them on the ground in clusters just to feel safe from what we used to call “akpu man”. I repeat that this is not a madam koi koi story.
The main reason I said my children will never experience that kind of boarding school or any boarding school at all is because I experienced this “akpu man” personally. One night, after we had arranged our mattresses on the floor to sleep, I decided to lie on one of the bunks to get more fresh air before finally going down to sleep with the rest. I didn’t know when I fell asleep on the bunk. My leg was out close to the window. In the middle of the night, I felt someone touching my toes from outside. I opened my eyes slightly and I saw a man wearing red and white stripe shorts. The moon was full that night so I saw him. Out of fear, I shut my eyes tight and prayed for a miracle. A few seconds later, my prayer got answered. A girl named Peace, who I will never forget, shouted so loud “Akpu man!” He left me and ran away. Then all of us started running. This is one of my scariest experiences to date.
After my JSS1, I left there and went to another federal government college. This one was better in terms of infrastructure but we didn’t have water. My mum would bring gallons of water and sachet water from home for me. Water was an essential part of our visiting day provisions. Another problem was that some of the senior girls in that school were mean (shoutout to my girls, Baiibii, Onyi, Ugochi, and ReeRee, you people are not among oo). I remember one period, there was so much water scarcity that we had to pay the villagers to bring water for us. After buying water with my pocket money, my ‘bonki’ will share the water with her friends without asking how it came about.
One Monday morning, I didn’t have any more cash because I had spent the money my guardian gave me for the weekend so I didn’t fetch water, my bonki gave me one dirty slap. I saw kirikiri stars that day. No cap. The slap wasn’t enough for her, she threw me out of the corner. I had to perch from one hostel to another till I finished JSS3. How wicked can somebody be? That bonki is what my village people call mgbashi. Dear bonki, I just liked your picture on Instagram. Hope you see I am doing well and I am about to become a superstar.
As soon as I finished JSS3, my mum decided I had suffered enough, pulled me out of that hellhole, and I completed my secondary school as a day student in a different school much closer to home. The traumatic experiences in boarding school haven’t left my body. I hardly ever leave my windows open till now. I still feel someone will crawl up and touch my toes. The only good thing I learned was how to struggle for things. To be honest, I don’t think there is anywhere I can’t enter if we had to struggle for it. This skill helped me when I was in university. Struggling for a bus at peace park should be added to my CV. This is as a result of constantly fighting in line to get water and food. I also learned how to be petty and how to form alliances with enemies (this isn’t good but IO, you left me no choice). That my bonki learned the hard way.
I know a lot of people enjoyed boarding school and will gladly let their children go back to the same schools they graduated from but I am not one of you. When I am talking about boarding school, I mean boarding school, not home extension. I don’t even like to argue with my siblings about boarding houses. Their problems are always that they reduced the cake they give them and that the nightcap Ribena was too diluted when my own problem was finding the driest bread to hold belle. I will never forget the day a girl I will call IA spat in our ogbono soup because we were struggling. Garri will fall on the ground and we will pick it and remove the sand. Chineke!!! If I went there as the ajebo that I am now, I would have died since.
Another thing I learned in boarding school is to make sure that in my next life, I won’t be a human guinea pig, AKA firstborn. I will gladly bribe the angels with CloudCoin or any currency it is they use up there. If I must go to any boarding school, let me go to the type my two youngest brothers attend. Where you can go home just because you feel like. Nothing like bonki or other evil seniors. I will sha prefer to go from home. I also thank God for saving me from that dirty water I used to drink in FGCUK and other terrible things. Do you know how terrible a place would be that I chose to have surgery than to stay there? Yes, I lied my way to the theatre just to escape that school. Fortunately for me, that lie saved my life because my appendix was already bad. Still doesn’t change the fact I lied because I desperately wanted to go home.
I hope the government looks into these schools and fix them up if they haven’t, I don’t understand why schools owned by the government are in such deplorable conditions. Those toilets! Emi n’ob’g’ m. I had to speak Nsukka for this one.
Pro Unitate! Aha.