When our parents would be sure to visit sweet sensation, Mr Bigg’s, Chicken Licken, Chicken Republic, Nando’s, Church’s Chicken, Tastee Fried Chicken (Nigeria’s version of KFC) and all the other popular fast-food outlets and return with bags of delicious booty (by that I mean loot, you pervert! lol). Oh- and, sweet drinks, Chocolates (I’ll never forget Skittles and Toublerone), lollipops, ice-cream, bubble gum et cetera! It was a day of delight. You’d hear different kinds of music coming from the newest cars. I remember when Seun Osunsan’s brother shayo drove their Nissan Armada to see him on visiting day. It was shiny and red…with these 2o-something inch chrome spinning rims (which we were quite mad about back then). We watched in awe from the Senior Boys’ Hostel as the car drove around the bend towards the dining hall.
Note: there’s a lot of fiction here. Tricol staff don’t engage in stuff like that. and the bucket method? we only tried it once. It was too risky…i mean, what if someone found your stash?
Back in Tricol, everybody had a sweet tooth. Which is understandable for 9-17 year-olds. Which was one reason we absolutely loved holidays and visiting days. Ah! Visiting days! We were practically locked down in school, we had no access to phones except we were sick or URGENTLY needed something that couldn’t be got in Ofada. Our parents couldn’t come see us for a whole month…31 days of eating mass-cooked food…except we were sick and required surgery. I remember people used to feign appendicitis…we knew the symptoms…sharp stomach pain in your right side. Just hold your stomach tightly, and “accidentally” drop your keys when you entered the sick bay and scream in pain when aunty Dare (the school nurse) was looking. And when she asked you what was wrong, you placed an excruciating look on your face and “bravely” told her not to worry, it was just a stomach pain. And quick, your parents would come pick you up by that night! Oh, did I mention- after an appendectomy, you wouldn’t be given chores in school just in case your stitches came loose by accident!
Make no mistakes…we were privileged in Tricol. We had at least two options for each meal. Jam or butter? Okro or Egusi? garri or semovita? But when you cook food for five hundred people at once, it loses taste. So we looked forward to visiting day with glee.
Need I mention that the dining hall would be particularly empty on visiting days? Except for the Port Harcourt and Abuja students who flew in to school every term, nobody would go to the dining hall on Sunday afternoon. Because if you did, you’d end up with a runny stomach that night. By the time it was 5pm, Tricol’s usually immaculate lawns would be littered with half-eaten packs of rice, empty juice packs, chicken bones and all sorts of expensive nonsense.
But what were we going to do with all the excess stuff? Food was absolutely banned in the hostels and classrooms (except on birthdays, when Aunty Lara would allow us, bless her!). And we had Eagle-Eyed housemasters like Mr. Aluyah and Monsieur Elegbede who would diligently search us before we entered the hostel that night. How on earth were we going to ensure that our taste buds would be adequately provided for over the next two or three days? Bribery was definitely out of the question. The Tricol staff were Christians, and believed in following rules. Besides, they’d lose their jobs if they were caught in any kind of malpractice.
But you see, NO system on earth is completely fool-proof. Even if you wrote the world’s most advanced algorithm to change a password every ten minutes, it’s only a matter of time before a smarter hacker wrote another algorithm to control the first. In simple basic (Q-Basic) programming, it’s called nesting (and you really should learn at least two programming languages…programmers will soon take over the world! Hahaha). Even Hitler’s army could be infiltrated. Even the CIA and MI6 can be infiltrated.
Soon we began to identify the menial workers (I’m sorry to use that phrase. Okay- casual workers would be better) that could assist us in our quest. Certainly, no one would question a mason carrying a heavy bag. He could easily have his trowel and plumb line in his bag…or he could have a box of Kellogg’s coco pops or Nestle’s Golden Morn in there…or a packet of St. Louis Sugar. It was a dangerous game, because he could very well turn against you and hide them somewhere (or worse, turn you in). On the worker’s part, he could be fired if he got caught! But we never did get caught.
Soon, we became tired of paying these guys and began to think of more ingenious ways to sneak these things. Then we discovered buckets. Yes, plastic buckets. Nobody would suspect a couple of, handless, broken buckets standing under the clothesline would they? Since we knew they’d be checking that night, we would put out stuff in a bucket, cover them and hide them in the shrubs behind the hostel. You do understand that we did so to prevent people from accidentally finding our stash, don’t you?
Early the next morning, we would bring the buckets in when it was shower time. You had to be insane to start checking our buckets when we wanted to have our baths! Besides, the school believed that we kids were not smart enough to outsmart them, and we believed there was no way they could catch us, ever!
So even though the Housemasters conducted random raids on the hostels, they’d NEVER find anything. We would tuck the contraband into our mattresses, inside our buckets, on top of our wardrobes. Fortunately our housemasters were short so they couldn’t find our stuff there.
Wait. Did I say short? I’m sorry. The word “SHORT” is very offensive. A more acceptable replacement would be “VERTICALLY CHALLENGED”.
We grew so confident that we even started cooking meals IN our rooms. We would soak noodles in our bathroom bowls or toothbrush cups depending on the size of your noodles or the number of people involved (you may think boys are disgusting but I assure you, we’re cleaner than the girls!). After thirty minutes the noodles would have risen to twice or thrice their original size. We would then mix in the seasoning (and hide the empty sachets in the cover of our easy-on spray starch (of course you couldn’t throw it in the bin or else the housemasters would surely tip housemasters off! Our mothers would’ve been horrified if they saw what we were actually eating. But then, boys WILL be boys.
`Our life like this was comfortable until…