Water is a life necessity. We just cannot do without it.
Not surprisingly, water was a very important factor that influenced our daily lives at FGC Idoani.
We had an area that was designed for fetching our water from. We called it the ‘borehole’ area, or just ‘borehole’. It was far removed from the hostels. Going to borehole was like a ten-minute trek minimum, from my own hostel. On the way there, you would cross the road leading to the staff quarters, descend one hill, walk across a basketball playing area, pass through bushes and then reach the borehole. Funny journey.
At the borehole, there were maybe five to seven taps and big tanks. From there, you could see the staff quarters, and there was a path that led from the borehole to the staff quarters and some other hostels like Bola Olaniyan and Niger, or the former ‘White House’ and ‘Yellow House’, areas that used to be dreaded among (junior) students before they got declassified and hostel buildings assigned based on houses and not classes.
There was another path that led to the second section of the staff quarters (where Mr. Egarevba and Mr. Okoli stayed) and the Red land areas.
Also, from the borehole, there was another path that led to the class area. At the peak of fetching water among students, borehole usually looked like market day in a small village.
Especially on weekends, on afternoon/evening on weekdays, you would see students washing their clothes at the borehole, among the grasses and shrubs. While washing, the shrubs were your friend, because it was on them you would put your washed clothes after washing before rinsing, and after rinsing. Each student hardly had more than one bucket. Some would take their clothes to wash around that basketball court area, while playing music from their multipurpose rechargeables and gisting all the way. Others would even go along to the borehole with garri, or cornflakes/Golden Morn, to first take before starting to wash.
After washing, you could take your clothes to the hostel to spread. Most times, the cloth lines are already filled and you either spread them on the grass or bring out the metal bunk, make it stand on its side, and use hangers to hang your wet clothes on it to dry.
By the way, you may not meet your clothes. ‘The owner’ may have come to fap (steal) it/them.
Some go to the borehole to wash their plates and cutleries.
Apart from washing, some come to the borehole just to drink water directly from the tap. From the hostel, from class, after labour, from the field or from the dining hall.
Fetching water back to the hostel was also another ‘adventure’. Some carried two buckets on two hands, some with one on the head and one with the hand, some just one bucket either on the head or with the hand, others kegs, some a bucket and a keg….and so on.
Now, the scary part is here.
On your way back to the hostel with your water, you could meet a very thirsty senior, who asks you to bring the bucket of water on your head closer, and he dips his mouth into the water while it is on your head. He gulps away like a camel. You are boiling underneath him as your head vibrates with each gulp, and the bucket on your head gradually becomes lighter. Assuming you met two of such seniors on your way to the hostel. Your bucket of water may have been halved before you get to the hostel. In some cases, a senior can even collect the entire bucket of water.
Some ‘sharp’ people fetch their water in the evening/night. But this can also be a risk. You find a place to keep your water either in your cupboard-locker or under a locker room slab somewhere only to wake up the next day and its gone! You’ll be lucky to still find the empty bucket there. Or how about some extremely playful guy stumbles on your locker and it falls to the side, and your water flows. Some of us also had kegs for keeping our drinking water.
Another popular occurrence is errands from seniors. When you hear ‘One boy, Last person!!!’, you start running in the direction of the call….because the last person to show up among those who show up gets sent on the errand. Many are called but few, or only one, are chosen. Years later, when I heard someone pray that ‘when you call one person, 200 people will answer’, my mind went back to my alma mater. E don tey. The errand could include fetching water, washing clothes, going to buy something from the tuck shop, massaging the senior’s body and so on.
On some occasions when there was scarcity of water at the borehole, I can still remember some of the funny things that happened. Crazy.
People would be hunting for water like game. There is a hilly, slopy and bushy path that leads from the basketball court area to the back of the music lab area. On the path, there was a well. Abandoned well. The water in it was dirty as anything you could think of. Boys would fetch the water and filter it with a white cloth so as to get water to bathe. O ga mehn.
Then, there were all kinds of skin disease. And I can say that it was majorly because of poor hygiene & sanitation, and then maybe overcrowding. Scabies was the most popular of the skin diseases. I had my own share too in junior days. Painful, itchy and deep sores that would decorate one’s hands and legs, regularly visited by houseflies that cannot be shaken off. I still have some of the scars from these sores on my legs as I type this.
Sores that remind me of Idoani.