My Life Story; Episode 6
The 6’o clock alarmed buzzed with It’s usual disrespect and insolence. I hated that alarm. It seems to go up during the sweetest part of my sleep. Unlike most people though, I loved Monday mornings. It meant going back to school. It was my getaway, my only chance of leaving this cell called home and gaining my freedom for few hours before returning back to my parent’s den.
Today was a special Monday, I was going to do something I had never done before. I was excited and scared at the same time. My day began like every other day, I jumped out of bed 5 minutes after the alarm, and dragged myself to the sitting room for morning devotion. Once again, other than mumbling a few unintelligible words, I had no active participation in the prayers. My mind was solely focused on getting to school. As soon as the prayer ended, I greeted every one, and headed straight for the kitchen to do my chores. I finished up quite early, the zeal and speed with which I finished my chores surprised my mum, I was fond of lingering on chores….this woman will start suspecting something fishy🙄
I bathed swiftly, and got set for school. My white shirt and blue skirt were properly ironed. There was not a single stain on my stockings. I looked as neat and tidy as possible, everything was in order. I came out of the house, and sat inside my mum’s car waiting for her to take me to school. She took me to and from school every single day of my six (6) years in secondary school. As I sat there, my mind began to wander. I was about to do something strange and unfamiliar. How will this day turn out? Where exactly is Matthew going to take me? I was unsure of myself, but I just couldn’t wait to find out.
My mum joined me in the car few minutes later, it was already 7:45 am. She started the engine and we zoomed off. My day was just about to start.😊
The usual traffic in Lagos ensured that I was almost late for school. My mum dropped me off exactly three (3) minutes before 8 0’clock. She handed me a #200 for lunch, and zoomed off. As I walked through the gate, I took time to examine the entire school compound. And kept wondering how I would be able to make it out without being noticed. Was I even ready to take this risk at all? I asked myself. The entire compound was tightly secured. The perimeter fence was high, and lined with barbed wire. It was impossible to jump over. The school had 2 entrances, and 2 security posts. One in front and one behind. Each had stern looking security manning the gates, with strict warning not to allow students out of the compound till the school closes. The security arrangement in the school, coupled with the hostile nature of the gate-men made the school look more like a federal prison than a learning center.
I walked straight to the assembly hall with my bag firmly hung on my shoulders, as I was already late. The morning assembly was like every other one. We sang some hymns, recited the national anthem and performed other daily routine. The principal made an announcement, reminding all SS3 students of the commencement of WAEC and NECO registration, we were to part with the sum of #35,000 thousand Naira in all. The announcement was welcomed with great happiness, it meant we would soon be out of secondary school. I can’t wait to be in the university, it would mean one thing….. Freedom!!!!
We marched to our various classes, singing along. As soon as we sat in class, I moved to Sarah’s seat. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I wanted all the details of the escape plan. How exactly am I going to leave this school compound? Sarah and Hannah looked at me with surprise and laughed hysterically. My naivity must have amused them. I looked like a curious lamb perhaps.
“Did you bring extra clothes?” Sarah asked
“Why? What for?” I asked, genuinely surprised.
“Haba you can’t be walking outside with your school uniform na, you want to tell the entire city that you escaped from school?” Hannah replied, a little irritated.
I didn’t know I had to, so what do we do now?” I asked, with a worried look
“Hannah will give you her own”
Sarah obliged, she always comes in handy for evil deeds. She was like the devil’s assistant to me.😂
I was about to ask other questions, when the class suddenly became quiet. Our class teacher had just walked in. I turned around and headed for my seat.
“Last period before break” Sarah whispered to me. As I approached my seat.
The morning lessons went by slowly. I barely understood anything that was said in class, thanks to the fear and excitement building up inside me. The bell rang, to signify the end of the third lesson of the day, and the beginning of the last lesson before break.
The subject was geography, which I don’t offer. I got up and hurriedly left the class before the teacher arrives. Sarah and Hannah were right behind me. They were both holding their school bags, mine was still on my seat. (Still a novice). They led me towards the security post behind the school. I kept wondering how we were going to walk past the gate-man.
As soon as the gate-man saw us, he beckoned on us to hurry up. I was quite amazed, that means this happens often. We quickened our pace, and entered the gate house. I saw two other girls inside the house, I couldn’t tell which class they were, because they were no longer on their uniforms.
One was putting on blue jean trousers, with a pink shirt, with a slightly opened neck line.
She was busy applying make up, she hardly noticed our presence. Her companion seemed a little more decent, she was uneasy and shy just like me, the novice. They finished their make up, and handed #1000 naira note to the gate man. He stepped outside, opened the gate and looked around for a while. When he was sure no one was in sight, he beckoned on them to proceed. They both walked briskly across the gate and out of sight. It would be really difficult for anyone to spot them, because the rear gate was quite far from the main school compound, and it was shielded by trees and tall grasses. It is rare for anyone to use the rear gate. It is mainly used during the morning hours, to ease traffic.
As I stood and watched, I began to understand how the whole process works. The gate man was merely making money off the girls. He collects, a fee of 500 naira from each girl, and allows them escape unnoticed. The gateman house was their changing room. The gateman even keeps their uniform safe when they are gone. It all seemed like a safe plan, at least for now.
“Here, put this on” Sarah ordered, as she handed me a pair of leggings and a yellow top. I struggled into the trousers. It felt really weird, I had never worn trousers before, my mum doesn’t like it on me. Even if she permits, I must have to tie wrapper on top.
Hannah opened her school bag, and brought out a box containing make up accessories, and handed them over to me. I held on to them, not knowing what exactly to do with them. I have never used heavy makeup before. This was a whole new experience for me. Sarah noticed my dilemma, and came to my rescue. She applied the makeup on my face, layer after layer. I felt like a different person already.
I grabbed a mirror from the box, and looked at my face. I couldn’t believe how pretty I was. The red lipstick matched my earrings, the handbag went with the shoes, everything looked perfect. I wished I could look like this every day. Sarah brought out her phone, and dialed a number. I guess she called Matthew.
Few minutes later, we heard the sound of a car horn just outside the gate.
The gateman came out, looked around as usual, to make sure no one sees us. He signaled us to go. Hannah handed over a thousand naira note to him, as we made our way outside. Sarah waved me farewell with a smile on her face, urging me to have fun. She did not go with us, because I had borrowed her cloths.
A car was packed just outside the fence. I recognized it, it was the same car from Sunday. The door opened, and I sat in front. Hannah took the back seat. There was someone else at the back, a boy. I haven’t seen him before. But judging by his appearance, he was in his late twenties.
I turned towards Matthew at the driver’s seat. He smiled as my eyes met his.
“You look beautiful honey”
“Thank you” I replied, almost blushing.
He introduced me to the boy at the back, his name was Joseph, he was a cousin of Matthew, who just returned from his NYSC.
I turned around and greeted him in English. He extended a hand, and I gave him mine. He drew my hand up to his mouth and kissed the back of my palm.
“You are such a pretty lady” he said, staring down my body.
I was a little embarrassed
“Thank you sir” I replied, trying to turn around quickly before he tears of my clothes with his eyes.
Matthew started the ignition, and drove straight ahead. I had no idea where we were going, or what we were going to do. Matthew simply said we would hang out.
I raised my head and looked at the rear view mirror, I could see Hannah and Joseph. They were kissing lustfully and engaging in some ungodly activities with him which really irritated me and I felt like slapping her.
My heart began to beat faster. I felt the tension building up in my head. Only then I realised what was going to happen that day.
I was deeply terrified, I didn’t think I wanted to do this anymore. But it was already too late, as Matthew pulled over and stopped the car.