(An excerpt from the novel BEHIND THE BOYS’ DORM by Abiose A. Adams… continued from last week)
On that sunny Tuesday afternoon, Loya’s fate hung like a balance, in the hands of two bickering prefects. Chris -the Library prefect and Ugo -the social prefect.
In Chris’ books, Ugo is not a prefect material. How he became one had become a major psychological disturbance for him. He considers him an anachronism to prefect-ship, despite knowing Ugo was an A student. He considers him one who lacked the moral rectitude to hold the highly esteemed position.
Whenever his eyes accidentally meet Ugo’s, Chris’ lips would shrink into a squeeze like someone who had just tasted a bitter pill. He wouldn’t even deliberately spare Ugo a glance. He permanently wore a forlorn look on his acne-riddled face, and a blue wrist-band that said, ‘Hell is real’. He was known for preaching the fragrance of Christ’s good news with a mouth and body odour, and everyone called him brother (bro) Chris. Because of that Ugo had since nicknamed him ‘Bromidrosis-one with a dysfunctional body odour’. In revenge, Chris too had name called Ugo, D.O.G- Dirty-minded. Obsessed. Gay.
At their weekly exco meeting of prefects, they part inconclusively because of their bickering. Ugo disparaged Chris and also name called him; Lean meat. Stockfish. Oversabi. ITK- I. Too. Know.
And so that afternoon, Loya was on his knees in front of the admin block, flanked by Chris and Jude-the Time Keeper, on both sides.
“Do you realise, you could be expelled from school for fighting again? This is your second time in one week,” Chris said benignly. He secretly did not believe Ugo’s allegation that Loya fought him. He believed Loya was molested by Ugo, because of similar complaints he had heard from some junior students of how Ugo molested them.
“I, I, I, I, am really sorry,”…. “sir,” Loya added, entitling his mates, (out of terror) with ‘sir.’
“Why do you like fighting, don’t you realize that he,” Jude said, pointing at Ugo, who was some meters away from them; “is a prefect? The social prefect for that matter.”
Chris shot a look of disagreement at Jude and winced as though approving of Ugo as a prefect was unacceptable.
“I was not fighting him…sir.” He was the one that was touching my private part,” Loya explained, his voice shaky. He was on his knees, sweating and crying, stretching pleading hands in open supplication unto Jude and Chris.
“…hmmh.. he really did it? Chris asked with an interest of someone not surprised, and at the same time, shooting another glance at Jude.
Both of them looked at each other and kept quiet. While Loya studied their faces, trying almost successfully to decipher what was written on them.
“Yes…I am not lying…believe me…” Loya added feeling a little relieved that they seem to believe. “I am feeling very dirty in my life now. He said I should hold his stick.”
“Shut up…what stick? Are you a child,” Jude yelled, feigning annoyance, and ignored the promptings on Chris’ face. “.. if you are feeling dirty, that’s your cup of tea….it is because you are dirty….by the time they invite your parents, you will feel clean.”
“Ha! I’m finished. Papa will kill me. Aunty Ngozi will roast me,” he placed his two hands on his head.
“Jude! Jude, please come!” Ugo yelled from far away and above the din of the hails and wails of the students watching a football match. It was the afternoon break, 2pm, and some students were milling around the school area, in the very hot sun.
“So tell me, did Ugo really touch you there,” Chris bent low, assuming the posture of gossip, and whispering, as soon as Jude went to meet him.
“Don’t call me sir,” he cautioned. And then he shook his head in pity, and said, “Do you have any evidence. Did he write you any letter? I mean love letter?”
“No…” Loya hesitated, and then blurted out, “Yes…” he placed his forefinger across his lips….” He wrote me a letter last week when I was in detention….”
Chris’ face lit and he wanted to say ‘where is the letter,’ when suddenly Loya burst his bubble.
“I have torn it…but please sir, help me beg Oga Ugo,” he rubbed both hands together “….please sir. I don’t want my father or aunt to come here. They will withdraw me from school because my father did not want me to be in school. It will be a disgrace for me.”
“Huh, he sighed, and as he did, Ugo, Jude and the VP Acad (VP Academics), a heavily built, potbellied man, sweating through a tight brown coat, summoned Loya.
The committee’s recommendation came in the following day -a bright Wednesday, and Loya was back to detention. He was missing classes, skipping meals and his parents were to appear before the school principal, the following day. Chris was determined to free him, but Ugo would play all his cards and reserve his aces.
Depressed beyond description, he removed his shirt in the hot detention room and fanned himself with it. He lay face up staring at the handwriting that looked like murals, on the wall of the room. One, written with chalk said, ‘One Franklin was here, but he passed through. Chidi too was here, but he passed through. He wanted to append his own signature: Loya too was here but he passed through when he perceived that oddly familiar perfume. He refused to turn until he heard the voice.
“So how are you enjoying your new room,” Ugo said with sadistic glee.
It was around 7pm when he came and his shirt was tucked out, his collar flying.
Loya was too grieved to answer.
“I told you, you need me in this school. I have the power to free you from here,” he bragged, making shuffling sounds with his feet as he sauntered the length and breadth of the corridor. And then finally Loya sat up from his lying position, tossed his shirt around his neck, turned to look at him. His eyes were red with pain. Not physical pain, but the pain of being falsely accused and unjustly treated.
“You, y, y, you have done your worse. You, y, y, you have lied. You are the one that first started to touch my private. You have turned the story upside down, what else do you want?”
“How many times would you say ‘you’,” he jested. “What I want is you of course. If you agree right now, you will be released?” Ugo came closer and leaned on the iron grill of the cell. His fingers folded around the vertical iron rods, displaying his nails that crawled out like claws. He tried to grab Loya.
“Me? Me?… as what?” Loya sensing him advancing retreated into the hollow room.
“Lover?” He said, his eyes, concentrated with passion, and he ran his hands on the metal rods.
A look of shock settled on his face and spread across as he stared at Ugo, thinking of the travesty of his detention because he broke the school code of ethics. The very same offence he was punished for is what this guy is getting away with -jerry-curled hair, long fingernails, improper dressing, intimidating others with perfume, sexual harassment. Indeed, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
“I, I, I am a boy like you, with penis…not a girl.”
“I thought you were a girl,” he winked at him; his eyes, fell on Loya’s bare chest, and he fastened them on his breasts. He unbuttoned his blue uniform to reveal an inner black T-shirt on which was written B-A-D-S.
“You know what this means?”
Loya stared at the words, wordless, wondering.
“I’ve got Brains. Androgen in the right amount. Determined in the right way and of course. Sexy.”
“Abomination!” Tufia Kwa,” Loya spat, heaved his shoulders and snapped his fingers across and over his head, in all directions, precisely. “You, you, you are mad! Ugo or what they call you…you, you are mad… your head is upside down,” Loya pointed his forefinger at him, indignantly.
“Very good,” he said, clapping. “You will remain detained.”
Abiose A. Adams is a novelist, investigative journalist and programme officer at TheCable Newspaper Journalism Foundation. She can be reached on [email protected], @abioseadams, 08174217144(WhatsApp only); or on www.itiswrittensite.wordpress.com for more exciting reads.
Synopsis (Behind the boys’ dorm)
On the day Loya resumes at a boys’ boarding school in Enugu, he meets Ugo a rich, slightly rebellious sixteen-year-old classmate, who was at once arrested by his crude, but good looks.
Ugo begins throwing advances at him. Loya steadily rebuffs his overtures which he considers weird, warped, obsessive, anti-cultural, anti-nature and against his personal puritanical principles. He tries to ignore Ugo and concentrate on his studies, but he cannot because of several schooling distractions, of which poverty, is chief. At the end of the first academic term, Loya returns home for Christmas, during which his father, DOMINIC, catches him in a compromising posture with his twenty-two-year-old wife -Loya’s stepmother. Without waiting for an explanation he kicks him out of his house.
Following this drama, fleeing from Ugo suddenly turned into fleeing right into his arms, as poverty and the pain of false accusation stings him. Now he needs shelter. Ugo gives him much more- a roof over his head, a shoulder to cry on and a bullion van to meet his needs. Will he throw away his puritanical principles to join the boys club? Will he achieve his life’s ambition? BEHIND THE BOYS DORM is a story of teenage struggles- identity crisis, puberty, pursuit, and triumph.
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