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Episode 1

Smelling a Rat…

It was on April fool’s day in 1993. I was a JSS 2 Student at Command Secondary School
Abakaliki, a total boarding school with military
affiliation for Boys and Girls.

We have just had our last lesson for the day
delivered by Madam Ezumah, the Home
economics Teacher. It was almost close of
school and time for lunch. Thursdays were very significant days at School back then because at lunch we were served Jollof y rice, fish and Banana. We called it “Banana race” day and it was serious business because you prepare for itas if preparing for a local Olympic!

Once the School time keeper picks the Bell up to ring at 2.30PM, the first clang of the bell sends every Banana ambitious Student out of the class room dashing at 100 metres speed towards the dining hall. The race was for the swift.

The aim was to arrive at the Dining table first and pick the biggest and most succulent Banana and if possible steal from other Dining tables en-route yours. You could equally steal one or two from your own Table and pass it to a friend for keeps before the arrival of other Table members, there by rendering late arrivals Banana less! If you attended a Boarding School, you will fomy drift.

The Dining Hall was divided into Boys and Girls
sections and we normally queue into the hall
during meals but on Thursday, that rule does not apply as every opening like, Doors, windows and vents becomes an entry point. Only do not be caught, you would be so sorry if you are.

I had my plans well la!d out. My cutlery and that of my senior roommate in my nylon bag, my mind set on the open window by my dining Table, and on the main entrance as my plan “B”. My eyes focused on the class room exit, my ears drawn and stretched to capture the faintest sound of a bell. The sound of a spoon dropping on the floor would spring me out of the Class room. And that is the same mood majority of the Students were at such period.

The Clock was ticking! My heart was beating!

One hundred and eighty seconds more and the anxiety would be over…Let this Cup pass me by, though it is self-imposed, let it pass.

I looked around the Classroom; everyone was on alert, all eyes at the exit! The mood here was tensed.

Some Boys were already on their feet, some
stood close the door restless, and I wished I was a Boy, I so wished I was a Boy! But as a Girl I had to pretend. Pretend all was well until the bell rings and all hell will be let loose as if a fire alarm had sounded. The only sign of anxiety I displayed was the tapping of my pen on my Desk.

Suddenly the Boys at the Door ran back to their
Desks and sat. Meaning that a teacher or prefect was approaching. What a time for an intruder to come into our Class? At the eleventh hour? The Bell would sound any moment from now, this is injury time!

Into the Class room came Madam Mbaneto, my
House Mistress as well as French Teacher.

We all stood up and chorused: Bonjour madam
Mbaneto!

Bonjour te le monde! She replied, comment te le vous?

And we replied “Tres bien! Merci!

Asii! She said and we sat down.

She moved about the Classroom looking at our
faces. Ten seconds more. Be gone woman!

Deborah Amadi! She called out.

Deborah Amadi! She called out.


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