I can still remember my first night as a secondary school boarder. Honestly, I never knew what to expect. But the next morning, when I woke up, I knew that I was never going to remain the same. Ever again.
My first secondary school was a mixed day school. It was and still is very popular in my city, even though my city is a really small one where everyone knows everybody, and everybody knew everyone. So let’s say, you could hardly have a private life here. Having a reputation for having the coolest and freshest girls and guys, you were therefore considered cool to be a student of that school. Except for some really “too-school-for-cool” ones who were not about to blend in anytime soon.
Therefore, you cannot even imagine how annoyed and angry I was when it was decided by my parents that I was to change to the school I very much resented. I wouldn’t use hate, because it was a dislike in a disgusting manner. And worst of all, it was an all-girls school. What did they mean though? So no more fine boys willing to hold your hands and walk you to the canteen, no fine boys to entertain your eyes as they ran around in their sports outfit on the field that you could still peck a glimpse of their broad chest and progressive biceps. Forgive me, but I still think there is something appealing about guys carrying out sporting activities (the sweaty bodies…yum!) And yes, no more fine boys to willingly help you with your Technical Drawings and teach you Math, even though you cared less about what you were being taught. You just wanted someone to give you attention, while you “playfully” stroke their arms in a guise of doing it unknowingly. So yes, you can tell. It was very disappointing for me. Not just because I was going to miss the fine boys though, there was just this euphoria and confidence of attending a cool school where you could get away with almost anything.
I cried, I insisted, I persisted, and was very consistent and true to the pursuit of my cause which was to remain in my old school. Well, as the gods may have it. I had no choice but to follow my parents choice as they had already told me that they wouldn’t pay my fees in my former school or get anything new for me, and that I was technically a drop-out as all these deliberations were going on past mid-term of my senior secondary.
It was really weird and awkward for me. Changing uniforms from a pleated skirt to a straight skirt, black shoes to brown sandals, from making any hair-style to all-back weaving alone. The change wasn’t funny to me, but I managed to adjust.
Then my parents told us that we were going to become boarders because of proximity so we agreed and got out minds prepared. That was the year for the 2011 elections where Voters Card registrations held till almost February and therefore stalled the resumption of schools. While this was happening, we still had my grandmother’s burial to attend before we could go back to school. On that faithful day, as we dropped our items under the tree for the boarding mistress to cross-check out items, I could hear my heart-best so fast, I instantly knew that I was already scared. I formed composure as I couldn’t let them see my fears, but deep down I was tempted to break down, in tears. It seemed like the universe at that point was against me. Several thoughts ran into my mind, I mean I just lost my grandma and was still so emotional so I was all up in my feelings. How was I to survive? How would I cope? What if my stuff was stolen, How would I survive? What if I was seduced by a lesbian, How would I react? What if they maltreated me, What if my morning work was too hard?…and an endless doubt-full “what if’s”. I decided to take a deep breath and let it slide, my elder sister was in the same dormitory with me, so I figured that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
That night, the few senior friends who were friends with my sister and had grown to like me as well, took me around introducing me to almost all their friends. Frankly, I didn’t know how to react to all these introductions. Was I to smile and look cute, innocent and naive? Or keep a straight face and look like a hard guy? This, I did not know. So then I tried my best to look as comfortable and care-free as I could. This was after I had unpacked.
Now, it was time to take a bath. The moment I dreaded. The dormitory had two bathroom/restrooms located at the right and left extremes of the dorm, one was for SS3 students only while the other was for the rest of us. I struggled in my head and tried to imagine how that was possible. Each bathroom consisted of 6 toilets and baths. But I later found out that no-one really used the bathrooms, but rather bathed on the corridor. It was horrifying for me. I kept pondering on how I was going to take my bath that night. Well, I eventually did, and gladly there was no light then, so I didn’t feel too uncomfortable. But that wasn’t even the worst part of it all. It was time for me to sleep, as I was very tired after arranging my stuff in the dorm. It was past 10 pm when I climbed on top of my bunk to sleep, when one senior girl asked me why I wanted to sleep, because according to her, it was too early. I did not understand this. As I had felt I was done with all I needed to do, why still stay awake? I told her this, and she laughed and I proceeded to my humble abode on my destination to sweet, sweet blissful sleep.
Who was I deceiving? Who gave me the hope that I was going to sleep peacefully that night? Brethren, I had never experienced that much of mosquito bites from then till now. They were practically having a feast on my body. And the worst part of it all was that the sleep was too “sweet”, so I couldn’t even get myself to be fully awake. I just keep turning from side to side on my small bunk bed, murmuring, and letting out almost all the cuss words I knew in whispers. I was in clear torture. The mosquito territory had invaded planet Earth, had taken me hostage and decided to feast on me. Yes, I was the scapegoat as I could hear the peaceful and some loud snores of my roommate’s, whom were clearly not held hostages. I was under an attack, and I could do nothing about it than to curse under my breath.
Then I heard a loud thump like the London Bridge had fallen down, and I noticed that it felt as though my ankles and ribs were falling apart. Crack by crack, I could hear them dissociating into pieces. Only then could I let out a stifled cry of “ohhhhmmm” amidst tears which were already forming and making my eyes drown in moisture and wetness. As you can already tell, I fell from my bunk and fell to the ground with well, a lot of momentum. Almost everyone woke up to help me out and take me to the clinic, except for those who slept like corpses. I was so embarrassed. And angry at myself. I wasn’t sure if to cry and start lamenting, or to be the strong girl and act like “I got this”. But I couldn’t help it. It was obvious that I got nothing and I was falling apart. I hated my life. I hated my new school. I hated being a border. And to an extent, I detested my parents at that point for putting me through all these. It was obvious that I was looking for ways to shift the blame from my self. I was trying to look for some kind of pity . To comfort myself that it wasn’t entirely my fault, even though it was.
Well, after that night I was extra careful and never fell again. And when I look at my scars, it’s a reminder of how much I had grown to accept change and not look for excuses when I should take responsibility. Then I laugh at how silly I was.