Welcome to December!! I love Christmas for the obvious reasons- the music, the food, the company and the lights. I am sad to report that Capital High will go on a two week break but we will be back with a bang before Christmas, I promise. Promise you will wait for us! *insert tear-jerking movie soundtrack appropriate for lovers bidding each other farewell* 😊 Oh, and for those of you who want to enroll in Capital High given what happened in Episode 3, hold your horses. I will speak to Gagert this week to see if she still has space for a few more students! Happy reading!
‘You didn’t need to do that. I can take care of myself’
Those were the first words out of Akpene’s mouth.
‘Wait, what? I was just trying to help here. Don’t make me the enemy.’
‘And all I am saying is thanks but no thanks. I can handle it.’
‘Unbelievable! Because that is what you were doing, isn’t it? Handling it!’
‘Listen! I said thank you, didn’t I? I also said I didn’t need help. You don’t get it, do you? I am used to fighting my own battles. I have been fighting them since I was 6. I don’t need to be helped- not by a tall Michael Jackson who smells like trouble. Besides, did you see the look on their faces? They are more likely to pick on me now that they know the famous K Beck has a ‘stake’ in the matter. You have done me more harm than good. And get this, I didn’t fight back not because I couldn’t. I didn’t fight back because all I want is to pass through this school quietly. I don’t have parents that can swoop in and fix things. I don’t have any exceptional talents to save me from trouble. All I want is to pass my exams and if it takes stomaching taunts from rich, shallow-minded airheads, then that is what I am going to do. So when I say no, thank you, I mean no, thank you.’
A smile played at Kwamena’s lips, not because of the way Akpene’s hips swayed effortlessly in the house dress as she stomped away from him, but because he could relate to her defiance. He too had grown up fighting. He and his brothers had to learn how to survive without a mother simply because their father was both too stubborn and too proud to accept help from anyone, regardless of whether or not they had good intentions. He was drawn to her in some weird way. She didn’t have the Adriana kind of face- her lips were thicker, her eyes bulging and she had lines in her neck. She didn’t have the kind of face that would win Miss Capital High, but she definitely had something that made one look at her and pay attention, something that even her ‘hand me down’ house dress could not hide. And no, it was something more than just her impeccable figure which gave new meaning to the word proportionate.
Kwamena headed into the dining hall and sat waiting for the siren to go off for dinner. With Delali as permanent senior on duty, it was wiser to be five minutes early for any school programme. Today, it was kontomire stew with rice and boiled eggs. Everyone knew it was not really kontomire and everyone also knew that the eggs always vanished mysteriously, right after the grace had been said. When the DHP asked them to rise for the grace, he involuntarily noticed that Akpene was not at her table. He knew that she never missed dining- in fact, she lived for it. Nothing like a woman with a healthy appetite, he thought to himself. When dining was over, he stepped outside and found her kneeling in the graveled courtyard, right in front of the dining hall.
Apparently, she had gone to fetch water for her school mother just before dining and had been spotted by Afrakuma, hence the punishment. Kwamena’s first instinct was to swoop in and save the day, but Akpene’s eyes gave him the ‘stay out of it’ message. He suppressed the Superman in him and walked to his dorm. It was almost time for prep.
It was everyone’s favourite time of the day, in Capital High.
For the Form 1s, it was time to catch up on some sleep. Between running errands, entertaining seniors, getting punished and class, there was almost no time to sleep and prep gave them a good two hours of uninterrupted sleep. Those who didn’t sleep spent most of the time chatting or passing round notes. The ‘keeping up appearances’ squad hid magazines and storybooks behind their notebooks, probably not to send the wrong impression to the prep supervisor, that is on days when there was a prep supervisor.
For the boys, it meant the thrill of watching the girls walk into the classroom, hair brushed, lips glossed with their legs on fleek. Prep trousers were the only trousers the girls were allowed to have in school and most of them had taken it upon themselves to alter the trousers to suit them. The prep trousers could metamorphose into anything- from bell bottoms to skinnies to ankle grazers. There were girls who were actually making a fortune out of altering prep trousers. For some other boys, it meant sneaking into the dining hall to watch a football match, when it was Champion League or El Classico season.
It was only Form 3s who studied during prep- even with that, it was just a select few who actually studied for the full two hours. For some of them, that was the time to huddle up with their boyfriends in different parts of the school- the chapel, the dining hall, the common rooms in the house, anywhere they could find. For those whose boyfriends were not in Capital High, prep was the time to wheel out the phones and make calls. The bolder ones went to the phone booth not too far off from the staff common room.
Prep- the time for everything other than what it was originally intended for- studying.
All this happened because Gagert did not live on campus. Everyday at 6:30pm, she would get into her car and drive up the hill to her husband’s house. That was when hell broke loose. Rumour had it that she had her own spies while she was away, and so the fear of being caught always kept things within limits. In Gagert’s school, even chaos and indiscipline had some harmony to it.
In Kwamena’s class, three people studied throughout prep time- Akpene, Kumiwaa and Nicholas. Kumiwaa and Nicholas had potential prefect written all over them. Kumiwaa had a way of walking like her ankles were allergic to the ground and she had this air of importance about her. One of the boys had sent her a love note once during prep. She opened it, read it and sent it back to him, with all the grammatical errors circled. The poor boy had still not been able to live it down. Nicholas was the one that everyone suspected of being Gagert’s spy. All he wanted was to be in the good books of the powers that be. He was also Class Prefect and he took great pleasure in saying, ‘Silence, it is prep time’, every 30 minutes.
When Akpene sat at her desk, she noticed that there was a box of biscuits and a drink on her desk. There was also a note.
‘Miss Independent, I noticed you didn’t get to eat dinner so I brought you something to eat. Don’t worry, nobody saw me put it there. The class was empty when I got here. Nice prep, and oh you are welcome.’
Akpene smiled in spite of herself, folded up the note and looked into her notebook. Her tummy was growling and she was running out of supplies.
This Kwamena guy was something else. As sweet as the gesture was, she was still weary of him. In her experience, men were rarely nice unless they had an ulterior motive. The biscuits remained untouched. Yes, she was hungry but wouldn’t be the first time she had slept on an empty stomach.
Meanwhile, in the staff common room, a group of teachers were meeting. There was a rep from every department as well as a few house masters and house mistresses. The conversation was entirely in hushed whispers.
When the siren went off, one of the boys who had spent all night sleeping jumped up almost as though a gunshot had been fired, with saliva trickling down the left corner of his mouth. Everyone burst laughing and headed out for house prayers.
At Liberation House, Mr Hormeku was waiting with a frown on his face. It was time for an impromptu house search. Kwamena sighed. It was going to be a long night.
Denise didn’t plan to overhear what she heard on Saturday morning when she went to work in Ms Ampadu’s house. She had bent over trying to dust the coffee table in the corner of the living room when she overheard Ms Ampadu on the phone in the next room.
‘That woman has to go. She is unfit to manage the affairs of this school. It is only a matter of time.We just need to set a trap for her to walk into it….no, I don’t trust Hormeku. Everyone knows his wife beats him up. If he can’t handle the woman he lives with, how can he plan a coup? This is serious business. If it goes wrong, we are all screwed. We would have to do this my way. And nobody else must know about it.’
See you next two weeks!