THE SHORT END OF A STICK
The last thing in the minds of the planners of Greenhill High School was a loose land loafing around their space in open idleness. About two-third of their vast acres of investment was given to administrative buildings, halls, dormitories, chapel, sickbay, laboratories, pavilions and staff quarters. The remainder went to the football field, basketball, handball and volleyball court. A tour of the school compound reveal an architecture that was not done in a hurry and obviously with an intention of squaring up with the latest trend in structural engineering. Trees and flowers found their places in the arrangement that placed the principal’s lounge in the middle of the whole activity.
The trees had a company of birds chirping from their tops and their numbers provided the spectacle needed to douse the tension of any laboured mind. Short elegant flowers were all around in glorious garments announcing their importance in the view that held passers-by in awesome wonder. Giant cauldrons on an arrangement of brick-like ovens throw up swirling aroma to be carried by sere wind through wooden obstructions so the atmosphere felt the pain of what it missed to be animate.
A bell swung under a rope pulled from within a hallow concrete column. Birds from all over fluttered in fright. Leaves fell from troubled branches under the robust jingle boarders strained their ears to hear after a hectic day at school. Lying bodies jolted from inactivity, a wild scramble triggered a swift traffic out of every nook. Plates and spoons were hurriedly washed while the halls waited for an in-pouring recorded only three times daily.
A long line of humanity besieged the kitchen. They waited anxiously as steaming bowls of rice and stew got arranged for dispatch. They end up on tables for ten set up in repeated columns where four walls ensured activities within were kept out of outside interference. Many a time, there were senior students around to maintain order, sometimes however, such daintiness were thrown out of the window and a orgy of struggle see few students cart away food meant for an entire group. There was no indicator to when the breakdown occurred, boarders only wished the spirit responsible were unavailable at each meal time.
The same path served the two male halls. Representatives from each table walked in a dispersed file flanked briefly to the right by an hostel, beyond that point they were concealed by copses of trees on both sides before they break the road leading to their destination. Once that spot was crossed without incidence, the next trouble zone was right inside where the food were to be shared. The procession moved gracefully bringing their bowls to bear on the tables as the students entered. About ten bowls were outside when their carriers suddenly dropped down and poured their contents into already prepared coolers! Like wild fire, the action travelled down the line dragging more students into the frenzy as bowls got overturned and recklessly applied efforts spilled their contents in embarrassing mottles. The ensuing noise drew those still lazily strolling on relaxed legs. They engage a dead run that spread soup-stained bowls into a free-for-all view on the road. A further push of curiosity brought the hall into scattered splodges of lingering primitiveness.
The late comers became aware of standing on the short end of a stick they had at one time extended mercilessly to others. They traced solemn steps back to their hostels taking with them the harsh homily retribution dished out at the moment of truth. The raid masters dashed into their rooms with more than enough for a bourdillon end of year party. Kind gestures were extended to friends who were not too fortunate. There were those who stood outside the loop of the distribution that had to find other means of persuading their hunger.
Steven knelt beside his locker as the knot in his stomach twisted into a roaring rumble. He moved his way around to discover the plastic container of garri he had put into careful consideration was playing the funny trick of evading his fingers. He kept on pushing empty cartons of biscuits and indomie until he eventually struck a hard object far down the corner. He dragged it out angrily and tore it open with so much expectation. A bead of sweat broke from his hair line as he gazed down emptily into the depth that was a full reflection of a shattered hope. Tears pooled in his eyes and the blood drained from his contorted face. He cursed those who put him in discomfort under his breath.
“Abeg, you get garri?”
He bit his lips before a push pitched his head backward. In order to maintain his balance, his body reacted by throwing out his hands. The effort edged the intruder’s fore arm out of place. The unexpected change in position careened Kayode over his buttress foot and he had to stagger forward to prevent from falling on his knees. The two boys rose to their feet with the full glare of angry lions.
“Is it because of garri you hit me like that?!”
“Come on get off my face, what business have I got with you!” Steven thundered back.
Kayode stamped his widespread palm violently on Steven’s face. The shove he got threw him against a nearby bunk. The cup in his hand clattered to the floor and shattered on impact!
An increased call of concern travelled across the length of their room. Heads wheeled around towards the two boys even as some climbed down the bed to stem the imminent fisty cuffs. The commotion distracted Steven a little. From the corner of his eyes, he sensed a movement. He turned just at the right time to admit the full weight of a well directed punch! The entire room took a tumble before pouring in between the duo to build an effective barricade that would stall what appeared to them as picayune. Steven held his mouth in pain while Kayode broke from the grip holding him to deliver yet another successful charge. By the time Steven recovered, Kayode was outside ranting from across the window. His shirt hung down his waist to reveal two bulging and threatening pectorals. Strings of undulating muscle fibre heaved in tandem with heavy breathing. Some students crowded the space of Steven begging him to let the matter slide. All the pleas were soon kicked aside by those who felt he would act like a weakling if he allowed Kayode have his way. Steven had more reason to take the latter option, if for anything, he had to teach Kayode a lesson he would never forget.
Their hostel was separated from the next by mango trees planted with enough respect for conviviality. A section was immediately converted to a boxing ring complete with all the usual hoopla. Students shared their supports amidst cheers, hoots and whistles from a gathering bestowed with apostolic spirits only moments ago. Shouts of encouragement followed every move that inflicted the desired punishment.
It did not take long before the supporters of Kayode discovered how poor a pugilist he was. His maneuvers were cut short by blows that seemed to pop up from everywhere. Twinkles of light dotted the horizon that gathered trees and humans into one wholesome lump. Growing pebbles of dusts wrapped in dreary mists spun at great speeds around groping hands. He was peppered to a point where tracking his attacker became a very difficult task. Hot sweats splashed out of every orifice under dry-eyed panel beating. Within minutes, his face took on the wreck of a car pulled from under a truck. His eyes were swollen and the day was getting dark at 3:00pm! Jeers and comments of mockery rang in his ears while his body struggled to keep from falling apart. The viewers tenaciously defended there bets, there was no indication of ending the fight, they were all willing to stake their gains against his life. With no hope in sight, it was up to Kayode to end his own misery.
Suddenly he lunged forward with the last of his strength following the sonar guide of a visual that almost completely eluded him. He caught Steven in mid step before slamming him against a tree trunk! Both of them then fell heavily on an exposed root. A guttoral groan escaped from under Kayode as all eyes widened and mouths flew open. A pervading silence fell on the area. Kayode stood up limply with a great effort at keeping his balance. Surprised looks turned from him to the lying figure of Steven. They waited for him to get up in vain. Kayode’s supporters could not celebrate, they joined the others as they cautiously approached Steven. When they finally got him to his feet, the sight of his right arm tore their expectation into shreds. They fled in different directions stumbling on the inability of their minds to keep pace with their strides.
Steven’s fore arm was completely sheared! The weight of the isolated bones pulled his flesh to extend his arm beyond the normal length! Only one sympathiser remained to attend to his predicament. The boy put a tourniquet in place before accompanying him to the sick bay from where they rushed him to the hospital. The narrative that he fell from a tree conflicted with the account of eye witnesses. The school authority had to wait until Steven was healthy enough to stand before a disciplinary committee.