As long as I had waited for this day and as happy as I should have been, I was still very sad about what happened between me and uncle Sam. I couldn’t just smile at the tall building that was standing in front of me with ‘Girls hostel’ written on it. I wanted to be happy that I was finally going to experience the life as a boarder but I just couldn’t take my mind off everything. I put on a fake smile as my dad helped me with my suitcases. My mother who carried her bag and just my pillow in her hands was smiling warmly at me. I guess she still thought I was sad about leaving home. My sister on the other hand really looked sad that I was leaving. She took my buckets out of the trunk and went to stand beside my mum, not saying a single word. I felt really bad that I was leaving her but it had been the decision of our parents to make me boarder. I couldn’t even console her. I was just too weak to be in any other mood. We walked into the gates after greeting the security guards who stood there. They even helped with some of my items which made it easier for us while one of the security guards directed us to where we were supposed to get checked in. We walked about five minutes until we c@m£ to a point where five women were seated at a table un-der a canopy. They looked like the ‘house mothers’ like I usually hear the boarders call them. They looked a little old except two who looked like they were in their early thirties. They smiled at us as we approached them. My dad and mum who had been smiling all the way from home greeted them and exchanged words before I was asked to open my suitcases for search. They said it was a normal thing since provisions and some other things weren’t allowed, they nee-ded to make sure there was no contraband brou-ght to the hostel.
“Did you label your items with your name written on them?” one of the house mothers asked.
I nodded my head and muttered a “yes ma” while I and my dad were asked to sign some papers. After I was being checked in, they told me to say my goodbyes as my family weren’t allowed further at that point. After holding everything in, the tears that had built up since began to drop and I cried as I hvgged them. I didn’t just cry because I was going to miss them. I cried because all of a sudden I bec@m£ scared. While clinging to them, one of the house mothers called me a baby and asked to take my things to room seven on the second floor. I waved my family goodbye as I watch them leave the premises. I carried the lightest items and hoped that I would find someone to help me with the rest and just when I was thinking about it, one of the young house mothers decided to help with some of my belongings. She just kept smiling at me which made me feel a little better. On getting to room seven on the second floor, I heard one of my friends, Annabelle talking loudly. As I opened the door of room seven, I saw some of my mates seated at a corner in the room, just talking. By the time they looked up, they all shouted “Meso!!! Meso!!!” as they ran towards me. Smiling, I hvgged them one after the other. They collected my belongings from the house mother who had helped me carry some of them and they all followed me to get the rest. I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden, my sadness dissolved and I was filled with joy.
After about two hours, I was done unpacking. My friends had helped me with most of the unpacking. They arranged my clothes into the closet, they arranged my be-d and helped me with a few other things. Not long after, I heard the bell ring and asked Annabelle the reason for the bell.
“It’s time for dinner,” Anabelle said. She hadn’t st©pped smiling ever since I arrived..
“I’m so happy you’re here” She had said earlier.
I said, “okay” and followed them as we all left the room to the dining hall which was a two minutes walk from the girls hostel. We all got into the hall and went to take our seats. The hall was a big one indeed, the hostel boys and girls shared it and so it was flooded with a lot of students. I looked around while seated on my chair amazed at the plenty students that c@m£ in. From the s£nior boys and girls to the junior boys and girls, all in our house wear. The junior girls had a long ugly looking go-wn while the s£nior girls had a different type of go-wn but much more good looking. Same as the boys with the juniors in shorts and s£niors in trou-sers. You could tell the difference from the way they dressed and also the way they behaved. You could see the junior boys like the ones in my set, Ayo and co, running around and pla-ying in their short bodies while the s£nior boys strolled in coolly with their hands in their pockets. I noticed s£nior Daniel among the midst of some of the other s£nior boys laughing and chatting but I looked away not wanting him to notice me yet.
“Everyone settle down and keep quiet,” I heard the s£nior prefect boy shout and immediately the hall was as quiet as a graveyard. “Shall we pray,” he said again and everyone stood up with their heads bowed and eyes closed.
The next thing I heard was “For the food we are about to eat, we thank you oh lord” echoing all over the hall before they took their seats again. They began to call row by row to line up for their food. While I and my friends were still waiting to be called on, we kept on chatting until I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked at who had tapped me and saw a junior boy holding a plate with a piece of meat in his hands.
“s£nior Daniel said I should give you this,” looking at him confused, I told him I didn’t want it. I mean how did he even know I was around. I didn’t even tell him I was going to be a boarder. I guessed he had seen me too. The boy refused to return it and said s£nior Daniel had said not to go back without handing the plate of meat to me. I sighed and collected the plate from his hands before he dashed out of sight.
“If you don’t want it, give me oo. You people will just be forming for school father again,” Funke who had probably been eyeing the meat said.
I just laughed and handed her the plate of meat before our row was called to get our food. After dinner, the same junior boy who had brou-ght the plate of meat earlier c@m£ walking towards me.
“s£nior Daniel said he wants to see you now,” he said. “He is beside the palm tree just outside the dining hall”
I nodded at his message and went immediately to see him. I alre-ady waved my friends bye and told them I would see them in the hostel. On getting to the place the junior boy had describe-d, I saw s£nior Daniel leaning coolly on the palm tree.
“Hey! my baby,” he said when he saw me.
I smiled and greeted him with a ‘good evening’.
“You know, you can just say ‘hey dad’ or ‘hello dad’ or ‘hey Daniel’ you don’t have to be so formal. I’m not the house master. Anyway, how are you?
“I’m fine,” I replied.
“You know I’m angry with you,” he said again.
Smiling I said, “Did I do something wrong?”
“Your number one offence is you were coming to the hostel as a boarder and you didn’t even tell me. Two, you rejected my meat, you think I didn’t see you ehn and three you can’t even hvg your school father. Chai!! My life”
“No now, it’s not…” before I could complete my statement he completed it for me.
“like that. I know oo. It’s not always like that.” he said and opened his arms gesturing me to hvg him in which I did.
“I’m just teasing you but I’m still angry oo” he said but before we could talk further, I heard and saw someone call his name while walking up to us.
“Daniel, the s£nior prefect boy is calling you” the other s£nior boy said.
I’m guessing it was his friend because I used to see them hanging around together. s£nior Daniel who heard this told me to go back to my hostel, that he would see me later and immediately he followed the other boy as they walked towards the boys hostel. I guessed he couldn’t say no to the s£nior prefect since he was still a clas-s below him so he had to leave..
On my way to the hostel, I met two s£nior girls who were also walking to the hostel a stone throw away from me.
“Junior babe! Junior babe!” one of them called out.
I looked at them to see who they were calling and realized it was me so I walked up to them and greeted them. When I did, they laughed and insisted I say hi or hello. I didn’t know why the s£niors had a big deal with good afternoon or good evening. I guess to them it was their way of acting tush like Anabelle once said. They asked if I was new in the hostel and I told them I had just arrived that afternoon. They also said they had seen me with s£nior Daniel and asked if I knew him and all. I told them that he was my school father and their face seemed to brighten up when I mentioned it.
“So he is your school father. So what’s your name?” one of them said.
“Meso,” I replied.
“Okay Meso, my name is Onome and this is Joy,” the same s£nior girl said as she pointed at the other girl.
“Okay s£nior Onome and s£nior Joy,” I replied.
“No! No! No! You don’t nee-d to call me s£nior. Just call me by my name, Onome. From now on, I will take care of you as my school daughter. If you nee-d anything, food, money, advice. Just meet me okay? My room is room seventeen. So you know where to find me now. Okay?” s£nior Onome said.
“Yes s£nior…I mean Onome.”
“Good, now you can go to the hostel, freshen up and prepare for lights out. The s£nior prefect girl will be ringing the bell for that soon”
“Hmmn Onome, the school mother. You know we also observe lights out too, we better start going to. I don’t want s£nior Ada to start her madness this night.” I heard s£nior Joy, the other s£nior girl say while I was walking away from them.
When I got to the hostel, I noticed that most of my mates were in their towels, some alre-ady in their night go-wns. I guessed they were all preparing for lights out. I asked Anabelle what time they observed lights out and she told me the bell was to be rang by 10:00pm every night. I asked if there would be prep before then and she said there wouldn’t be because it was the first week of school so I also took a shower before changing into my nighties..
An hour later, the bell was rung for lights out. Demilade stood up from her be-d and went to put out the lights while every other person cu-mddled up in their be-ds. A few minutes later, a s£nior c@m£ into the room and when she saw everyone was on their be-ds, she left the room, closing the doors behind her.
The next day, I heard the bell ring for some time and Immediately all my mates who were slee-ping stood up from their be-ds, rushing out and yelling, “I’m after you! I’m after you!”. As confused as I was, I decided to ask Anabelle why they were yelling.
“You know we take turns to have our bath and the lines for each of the bathroom are usually long. That’s why we keep spaces oo because sometimes some s£niors even come to bounce us so that they’ll have their bath first,” Anabelle said.
That was when I un-derstood the reason for the yelling. I asked Anabelle if she had found space to take her bath and she said she alre-ady kept spaces for both of us. I thanked her and hvgged her dearly. Meanwhile, I decided to get my uniform and shoes re-ady. While doing so, I remembered the very day my uncle took advantage of me and tears began to roll down. I didn’t want anyone in the room to see my tears so I tried hiding my face. Anabelle who left the room a few minutes ago c@m£ inside again. She walked up straight to me and I tried to wipe my tears as quic-kly as I could but Anabelle caught up with me. She looked at my eyes and saw that I had been crying. She said she was going to tell me to go and have my bath as I was after the person that was in the bathroom at the moment but she met me crying instead. She asked why I had been crying and I remember saying I was missing home. I didn’t want to tell anyone about uncle Sam and I. I was too embarras-sed and I didn’t want people to think uncle Sam was a bad person. How stupid I was. Anabelle consoled me and tried to make me laugh. She told me it was normal to miss home and I shouldn’t be crying because I just got to the hostel the day before. She told me it would be okay and even though de-ep down I wasn’t okay, I nodded at her statement. I wasn’t okay for a reason completely different from what she thought but I told her I was fine and thanked her. Anabelle had always been like a young mother even from primary school. We had been very close, sometimes people mistook us as siblings because we did almost everything together. I told her almost all my secrets but this was one secret I didn’t think I had the guts to spill. Later that morning, the bell was rung for a morning devotion which was conducted by the chapel prefect boy and girl, and after we had our breakfast. Throu-ghout that day, I tried as much as possible to forget everything that was in the past, but I guess as much as I tried to forget, the sicker I got. I just wasn’t feeling fine..
TO BE CONTINUED