i used a little of my imagination to describe the events. i did not live in the girls hostel so i can’t claim to know the exact turn of events. But I’m damn close, aren’t I?
Let me tell you something. We Tricol boys were underprivileged. The school LOVED the girls and hated us. Of course that’s the way it is everywhere in the world…ladies first! And so, our school, to us, was rather feminist. The Girls always got the new hostel (the school would have us believe that it‘s because they‘re less destructive. I beg to disagree). When we boys were not allowed to have hot water in the hostels (except you were sick) the girls had a cold/hot water dispenser.
|BOYS HOSTEL WOULD BE CRAMPED LIKE THIS
If a boy got caught doing something wrong, he’d be suspended. If it were a girl who committed the same offence, she would be given mere manual labour for two weeks (called “working suspension”). The girls served the meals in the dinning hall. Now, that seems normal. But then we boys were furious because these girls would serve themselves first, pack huge meatballs with their spaghetti and hide it! They’d heap both butter and jam with their bread (you could have either one but not both); they’d take two or three pieces of meat when they were entitled to only one! They’d get ten pieces of dodo (that’s fried plantain, non-Lagos people). When we got two scoops of ice-cream, they’d have stashed half a bowl somewhere. What robbery!
We evolved all manner of theories as to why this was so. We thought maybe Mrs. Philips (a.k.a “Princi” ) was a feminist. Maybe she didn’t know how to take care of boys because she had no sons and lived in school away from her husband. Maybe…
It was for this reason we began fantasizing about teaching her a lesson. Oh, KC boys poured sh*t on their principal. FGC boys beat their principal until he passed out, then revived him so that they could beat him MORE. Maybe we could use devil’s beans for both her and our evil housemasters!!!!
But it was mere fantasy. Nobody wanted to risk his record. See, we feared Princi more for her principles than for her “partiality”. Truth be told, she’s very disciplined and excellent and truly wanted the best for us. But tell that to high school boys who were trapped with no money and no video games and were being oppressed- you’d be mobbed!
Oh- and boys did get their chance to serve once during the mini inter-house sports. And they’ve never served again to this day…for obvious reasons!
One beautiful Monday morning, we went to the dining hall for breakfast. And beheld something beautiful. Our girls were all in their daywear. Huh? Princi’s beloved daughters? Had they all gone quite mad at the same time? Or were we unaware of any public holiday? But there’s no public holiday in November! Nobody would tell us what had gone wrong. The way they were so secretive, it was like you’d just asked them where they were in their menstrual cycle.
At the assembly ground, We lined up according to our classes. Sang the hymn for the day. Prayed. Read the bible. And then the Vice-Principal came on stage to announce the good news.
ALL THE GIRLS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED
What? What the hell’s going on? Has Mr. Odetola finally tipped over the edge of insanity? (a lot of people suspected he was very close to that edge). How could all the girls have been suspended? What kind of offence? But there were no answers. All the girls were instructed to go and change to their sportswear, pick up cutlasses, hoes and rakes and proceed to the field immediately to start their suspension.
We left that assembly, shocked of course that such a thing could happen. What could they have done? ALL the girls? This was NOT happening. Could Tolu have been involved? Omiko oko? Deborah Elomobor? Eloho Akpokhene? Wanma Yaro? Ema Oko? Omodele Makinde? I mean, these were people who had sterling character. People I’d never have imagined in such a scandal. (As for Tolu, well, I liked her so I didn‘t want her to be in such a mess). Two weeks working suspension!
They came to class later to lock their stuff up. It was then we discovered that one of our classmates wasn’t involved after all. Wanma Yaro. Phew! What a relief. It would’ve been dead boring if there were absolutely NO girls at all in class! Now, we’d learned to be sensitive enough to allow the suspended girls to go serve their punishment before we started asking questions.
As soon as they left, we in Arts/Commercial class ran to meet Wanma. What happened? What happened? What HAPPENED! And ever so eerily, she told the tale of the commando raid on their hostel that morning.
They were having their morning devotions. Singing and clapping. Feeling like the special daughters of the school. (okay, I added that part. I don’t know what they were feeling like). And then the impartial Princi walked into the hostel. If you’ve been to Trinity, you’ll know that Mrs Philips walks as silently as an FBI Agent. As silent as a ghost. You’re alone in a class but suddenly you get this unnerving feeling you’re being watched. You know what that feels like, don’t you? And blam! There she is fixedly watching you like a specimen!
The girls were surprised. She’d never been to their devotion before. What was she doing here? Of course, they instantly became more orderly. The movements ceased. Those “stabbing” (that’s skipping) devotions quickly received miraculous healings of their illnesses. The volume and pitch of the singing increased. The fervency of the prayers intensified. Anything to impress the Principal.
Maybe she wasn’t there for them after all. She was busy conferring with the housemistress. Probably something to do with telephone privileges. Or the new gas lamps they’d gotten (which till I graduated did not get to the boys. They had to use rechargeable lanterns) Maybe she came to announce a new upgrade for the girls. Maybe a professional shoe-shiner to keep their shoes always shiny!
Wait a minute…where was she going? Why are they locking the rooms? All the rooms? Is there a snake in the hostel? What’s up?
Mrs Philips announced that everyone should remain at the quadrangle while members of room one lined up in front of their room. The room was opened and everyone was told to stand by her locker. The lockers were searched. The buckets, spray starch cans, under the bed, backpacks, under the pillows, inside the bed sheets. On top of the lockers. Even unopened stuff. They searched all the rooms. Even the box-room. And they way they did it, the rooms were searched sequentially while the rest were locked tight. Guess who conducted the search? Mrs. Philips and Mrs Ademola! Now, tricol people, you know these two people are eagle-eyed!!! They’d never miss a thing!!!
It was a massive massacre. The search turned up all manner of things. Food hidden EVERYWHERE. Even under mattresses (and you think boys are disgusting?) In their buckets, under their beds, on top of their lockers! Even In their boxes! There was money everywhere! You’d be surprised the kinds of things girls had in the hostel. There were even speculations that some girls had some…TOYS…(which were obviously not for kids). Mobile phones, Alcohol and other crazy, CRAZY stuff.
It must’ve been hard for Princi. Her beloved girls messing her up so badly. Was there no righteous one among them? The refrain was “no, not one! No, not one!”. It was in this spirit of vengeance that she descended on the girls and gave them what, for once, they truly deserved. NO ONE was spared. Not even Tomi Adetiba (sob!). The punishment was bad and far-reaching. If anything was found in your possession or among your possessions, you’d be punished. I remember Fiyin Owa who wasn’t even in school when this raid was conducted was indicted because something was found In her box! It could easily have been hidden there in her absence…(or alternatively, it could actually be hers, you’ll never know!)
Painful was Ife Gbosi, who received the big stick just because five naira was found on her. FIVE NAIRA (that’s like 2 cents!)! Gosh- it could easily have been change from buying bubble gum…besides, we always resumed on Sundays…it could easily have been leftover money from a brief stopover at Church’s Chicken or even offering money from church! Even the guilty felt it was rather harsh- just let her go! But Princi was on Fire and there was no stopping her! (Do I need to remind you that Ife Gbosi was withdrawn from Tricol that session, do I?)
The girls became guys…cos when they were done with a week of work, they began to grow big arms and legs like tennis and football players. And of course, Mrs Philip’s motherly instinct and unfathomable love for the girls kicked in. And she let them all off the hook.
This taught us a big lesson. MRS PHILIPS LOVES ONLY THE GIRLS.
We human beings love order, patterns and things we can easily recognize and give labels. For example, we have an overwhelming tendency to categorise. Oh, the sky is blue! Or look, that’s a negro walking down the white neighbourhood! This tendency can be quite helpful to members of our species so they don’t keep changing things and “discovering” river Niger like Mungo Park Discovered River Niger, or like Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.
But the problem with this habit of classification is that we tend to get arrogant. Once something looks like something that has been classified before, we tend to try to force that new thing into fall into that category. For example, we say that some kind of literature is “Shakespearean” simply because the poet wrote in sonnets (but we refuse to take into account the fact that the poet wrote that poem in a remote village in Adamawa state before it was translated into English). Or we cancel a Tsunami warning simply because an undersea earthquake measured only 6.3 on the Richter Scale.