Temi knew that tune. She was sure the whole school knew it too. It was the school song. The person – for Temi had decided only human beings could whistle – repeated the chorus three times. After the third time, the whistling stopped abruptly. Everything was silent again.
Temi must have been standing near the open door for at least ten minutes. She did not know whether to go back to her bed out of fear of whoever was outside or peep to get a good look. In the end, she picked the latter. She could not remain on the same spot and produce a stream of urine, standing up. “The Uprightly Incontinent One” would be her new nickname, at least for those who could actually pronounce the word ‘incontinent.’
Taking off her slippers, she took a few steps outside the door. Could the person outside the door hear the sound of her heart beating wildly, just a few feet away? Stepping onto the corridor, she looked sharply to the right where she thought she had heard the eerie footsteps. But there was no one there. Not even a wall gecko.
Was she dreaming? Did she not hear someone walk up very close to the door, whistling the school song?
By now, she really needed to go the bathroom.
Now barefooted, she ran all the way to the bathroom, completed her mission and ran back to her bed. No one would believe the story she was about to tell them.
* * * * *
Senior Rebecca searched furtively for something under her bed. She was the dorm room captain for Room 5, Thatcher House. Thatcher house girls wore blue everything: blue-checkered housewear, blue running shorts, and possibly even blue underwear. But Senior Rebecca was not looking for blue-colored underwear that Saturday. Her shoe box was missing.
‘Oga’ which was short for ‘organization’ was her nickname among the junior girls. Being that she was in SS3, they did not dare call her by the name in her presence. However, like many other things in boarding house, it was not a secret, and she was quite aware of her other name.
Petite and skinny with a slight build, she looked like a gentle wind from the Lagos lagoon would knock her over into the neighboring state, Ogun. Despite her small frame, she commanded authority and respect. Even the Principal seemed acutely aware of Senior Rebecca’s magnetic personality. She also doubled as the Assembly prefect, and led the singing of the school song every morning.
That Saturday was visiting day, so there was no assembly. Apart from a few morning chores, the girls were free to use their time as they pleased for the rest of the day. It was now 9:30 a.m.
“Where’s my shoe box?” she kept asking, repeatedly going down on all fours to look under her bed. It was not there. A few of the junior girls were huddled together gisting. The topics were predictable: Spanish telenovelas, boys, the ‘dirty things’ some worthless seniors were caught doing, boys again, and so on. They completely ignored Senior Rebecca as they chatted away excitedly.
“I hope these girls haven’t stolen my shoes, because if they have –“
Just then, a thought occurred to her. She called to the gisters in the corner.
“Has any one of you seen my shoe box. I left it under my bed yesterday.”
Christina spoke up. “Yes, Senior Rebecca. You told me to put it by the door yesterday. during siesta.”
Rebecca was shocked. Whoever said ‘The Beautiful ones are not yet born’ must have been high on ogogoro.* The Bold-faced-Liars live among us would have been a better catch-phrase. She did not recall giving such an instruction as recently as the day before.
“Christina come here!” she barked, motioning with her hand for the junior girl to come closer.
“First of all, I want you to repeat what you just said. Slowly. Don’t change anything.”
Christina obeyed solemnly.
“Secondly, where did you say my shoe box was again?”
“By the door, Senior Rebecca,” she replied pointing in that direction. “You told me to –“
“Did I tell you to repeat yourself again? Or do you want to spend the rest of the semester scrubbing the dining hall floor with a toothbrush?”
Christina shook her head slowly and hung her head like a sad puppy.
“Now, I will ask you this question one more time and you better tell me the truth, or else –“
This time around, Christina looked up in surprise. The poor girl was clearly puzzled. Why was Senior Rebecca asking her these questions, when all she had done was to obey the instructions she had heard with her own ears? The other girls in the room were now very uncomfortable and all the gisting had stopped.
Zainab spoke up. She was a tall, muscular girl with an unusually soft voice. She had been in the room when Senior Rebecca had ordered Christina to move the shoe box to its present position. Also in SS3, she addressed Senior Rebecca as her equal.
“Rebecca, you were fast asleep, but you woke up briefly and told Christina to put the shoe box by the door. You know I sleep on the top bunk and my is right beside yours. I saw the whole thing. Christina only did what you asked. I remember it clearly because I was surprised that you would ask her to put a shoe box by the door, where it was most likely to be stolen. In fact, if you remember, I even asked you and you confirmed it. Honestly, I am still surprised that the box is still there. You know how fast things disappear around here.”
After Zainab’s testimony, Senior Rebecca released Christina and retrieved her shoe box. Not sure if the whole room was conspiring against her, she opened it just to make sure her shoes were still in there. Good. The red peep-toe heels she would be wearing to the prom the following Saturday, were still in the box. After putting the shoe box in her locker, just below her provisions, she secured it with a padlock.
“I want to see who will break this padlock and claim I told them to sell my shoes” she said, loud enough for the other girls in the room to hear her.
And with that, she walked off in anger to the field for sports practice. Zainab ran up to her and whispered something into her ears.
“Are you crazy? A whole me, doing something like that, when I am not a witch?” Almost knocking Zainab down, she marched off to the field with only one thought on her mind: someone was playing tricks on her and she had to get to the bottom of it. Fast.
THE CONCLUDING PART WILL BE HERE NEXT WEEK. STAY TUNED.