Adolescence is a period wherein you are still trying and struggling to form your worldview and self-concept. It is a period of questioning and adventure. That this phase of one’s life usually coincides with secondary school days brings some significance to that period.
One of the challenges I had to struggle with in school was the conflict between boarding school culture, school regulations, religious demands and my conscience.
As a boarder in FGC Idoani, and as you must have seen from this series so far, I lied and flouted school rules; I cooked (using juniors’ metal buckets and dismantled wooden lockers for firewood), I used illegal routes to get out of school, I was deliberately absent from some school activities several times and many more. I enjoyed ‘worldly songs’.
So, there was something funny I (and a lot of people) used to do then that still makes me laugh. Most of the Sundays, when we attended chapel services, and the altar call was made for those who wanted to be born-again, I would always come out. I was just a sinner and I thought I needed to constantly update my salvation in case rapture took place during the following week…who knows. After sometime, I calmed down. ‘Maybe God understands that Idoani is a special case’, I told myself.
In fact, I remember that when I first resumed into the school in JSS 1, and saw how old-looking some of our seniors were, I just hastily concluded that six years was going to be a long time (going by how people in SSS 3 looked) and that the rapture was likely to have taken place before I got anywhere close to that ultimate class.
Well, I eventually reached SSS 3; it was like a miracle.
Back in the hostel, I think we slept on 5 by 7 mattresses, or so. These mattresses existed in liquid to gaseous states. I say so because they could disappear at any point in time. You would just return to your bunk and find it empty. What a way for the night to start. You either start looking for it…and God help you…because it may have even been taken to a faraway hostel block, intentionally. As in, people go from one block to another to steal mattress so they could sleep on. Or, instead of going to look for your mattress that night, you could steal another person’s mattress. Actually….some stole to sell it off. That serious! If you are lucky, you end up seeing your mattress three days later two blocks away underneath another mattress because the person who stole yours stole two and slept on the two at once. Only him.
Another fate that could befall mattresses was that they could finish. Right. Finish! As soon as the cloth on your mattress has a hole, that’s the end…except you quickly sew it up. The foam inside is material for many day-to-day activities…so we just keep tearing and cutting the foam of the mattress till it is no more. The foam may be used for cleaning shoes/sandals, washing/cleaning plates, setting fire to a dump of refuse or a stack of firewood, eliminating a train of soldier-ants (that have paid us overnight visits to partake of spoils of oily food wrappers/containers) using fire-foams, and so on. I even once smoked foam! Trash.
We kept stuff in the ceilings, broke asbestos, wrote our nicknames/roll calls on asbestos and walls with candle flame.
We lived. It was an experience.