Chapter 1: The Beginning
“Kwadobe nu. Unu na-aga boarding house,” my father said to me and my old brother as he stepped into the house that day after work.
He had just announced that we’d be going to the boarding school. I received the news with some apprehension, because I hadn’t expected it. The concept of boarding house wasn’t really strange to me because my older siblings all went to boarding schools and I always looked forward to the interesting stories they brought back home with them during the holidays. In my own case, I had already started JSS1 as a day student and I was already enjoying myself that way. To have that routine so abruptly turned around was unsettling for me. I went to bed that night full of thoughts and a heavy uncertainty about how to feel about this change.
The next morning, I got ready for school with many questions I had for the boarders in my class concerning life in the hostel.
During break-time, I went over to Sanni’s seat to bombard him with the questions on my mind.
“Them go tear your nyash if you enter here o,” was the first thing he said the moment I told him I’d soon be a boarder.
I thought he was just being mischievous as usual, until Ahmed, his seat partner joined our conversation and confirmed what Sanni earlier said. The two of them began bombarding me with lots of gist on how the seniors loved to pick on effeminate boys like me.
“If you fuck up with them, they will rape you till you bleed,” Ahmed said with relish.
They were unrelenting, carrying on with story after grisly story of boys who had supposedly been raped in the boarding house. I almost pissed my pants as I listened to them, and it seemed that Ahmed and Sanni were enjoying my obvious terror. So, they intensified the scare factor by going from tales about abusive seniors to horror stories about Bush Baby, Madam koi-koi, Baba Olode and Bunk Shakers, punctuating each narration with ribald laughter.
I left school that day full of worries. My panic went up a notch when I learned that my father had already arranged a meeting with the senior boarding house master regarding the boarding house admission of my brother and I. I protested, tried to talk him out of the idea, but my father explained to me that we’d be moving soon to a new place which was a considerable distance from my school, which would make it difficult to commute. It became very clear that there was no going back. However, I had one last hope of survival, and that was my brother. I comforted myself with the knowledge that my older brother would protect me from the evil seniors.
Weeks went by and everything was going on well. In fact, enough time went by to make me start thinking that perhaps, the move to boarding house was now a forgotten idea. And then, one day, my father informed us that he’d be meeting with the boarding house master. My anxiety returned, and when he returned home from the meeting, I was all over him with questions about how it went. He told us that the house master had recommended we start boarding school in the new session.
This was very distressing news for me. Almost in tears, I was brought face to face with the shredding of the hope I’d been comforting myself with over my brother’s protection. You see, in my school, SS2s and SS3s were located in another campus on a different side of town. This meant that in the campus where I was, the most senior students there were SS1s. And my brother was in SS1. With the commencement of the new session, he would relocate to the other campus. So I would be starting life as a boarder without any protection.
I felt very miserable at the thought of that.
With time, I had to suck it up and accept my fate. The school session closed, and we went on holiday. As the holidays wound to an end, the terror and anxiety I felt intensified. My dad had already made final arrangements with the boarding house master. We were already placed in houses and our fees were already taken care of. I would be resuming into JSS2. What little time we had before the resumption of school was spent shopping, which lightened my mood a little.
The day for resumption was on a Friday. On the following Sunday, in the hot afternoon after church service, my dad asked us to get dressed. He’d be dropping us off. I was going to be the first to get settled. After the stressful process of checking in, my dad handed me over to Mr. Akinyemi to be my guardian. But I wasn’t ready to be left on my own just yet. I asked my dad to accompany me to my hostel. He acquiesced. In the hostel, I selected a good bunk space, and then my dad prayed with me, before leaving to take my brother to the other campus.
I sat there on my bed, on my own, for almost an hour, staring blankly ahead of me, not knowing what next to do. Then I shrugged out of my melancholy and managed to unpack and set my things up. After which I went downstairs to the field to mingle with my mates. The first person I saw was Deji from my class. I immediately stuck to him like glue, and stayed by his side throughout the day. After evening meal, we took a stroll around the school, and before long, we were joined by other boys from our class. We kept on walking about the school, gisting about our holidays and getting orientation tips from the experienced boarders. Turned out, I wasn’t the only new boarder. In time, I’d forgotten all about my worries and I was feeling quite confident in my new reality.
Nighttime came and we returned to the hostel. I was moving toward my dorm, pleasantly tired and ready to retire for the night, when I came upon a group of boys. They were my set-mates but in different classes from me. Among them was Kelvin, who was absolutely hunky for a JSS2 boy. You see, Kelvin looked a lot older than the rest of us, and he had this thug appeal, with his muscles and manliness in all the right places. Right from JSS1, I’d always had a distant crush on him, but it was a fleeting feeling for me, not something I took seriously, mainly because we weren’t in the same class and he mostly hung out with the gangsters in our set.
“Hey, Bunny,” he hailed when he saw me. “Welcome to boarding school.” He had broken away from his group and was coming toward me.
I said “Thank you”. He came to a stop before me and started some small talk. We talked for a while about boarding school stuff, laughing each time either of us said something funny.
Then, we must have suddenly run out of things to say, because a sudden awkward silence descended on us, and Kelvin drew even closer to me. I felt my heart take on an instant faster beat as he leaned close to me and said in a low tone, “Now that you have entered boarding house, I bet you’re going to be my girlfriend.”
That’s the thing about my all-boys secondary school. the effeminate boys were automatically made to assume the roles of girls.
When I heard this, my heart skipped a beat and I felt an outbreak of butterflies in my stomach. Kelvin was staring straight into my eyes as he carried on telling me how he’d had a crush on me since our first year and all that jazz. At this point, I could feel my face burning up with abashment. I couldn’t believe he was telling me these things, and I wasn’t able to look him in the eyes.
He held my hand and drew even closer to me, so close that I could feel the heat of his body. even though it was dark, I was afraid that someone would see us, and so, I drew back. Feeling flustered, I told him “Thank you” for his professions, pulled my hand from his grasp and fled upstairs to my dorm. When I got to the door, I looked back to see him still standing there, staring after me. I smiled at him and went inside my dorm.
That night, I was just in bed smiling as I thought about the day I’d had. I could barely retain any other thing except for my encounter with Kelvin. The hunkiest boy in my set had just told me he wanted me. I felt hot all over as the words he said to me kept replaying in my head. I couldn’t believe my crush had come to me and chyked me.
As I lay there, strategizing on my next move with Kelvin, I thought to myself: Boarding school isn’t going to be that bad after all.
Written by Pleasure Bunny