#CapitalHighWednesdays are back! I deliberately didn’t say anything about Gagert, K Beck, Akpene and Awula in Episode 12 because I knew that was exactly what you wanted to read about. Instead, I introduced two new characters- Lawrencia and Christoff. I have a feeling they will also take us on quite a ride before we wind up our series. I hate to break it to you but Capital High will end with Episode 16. No, I haven’t figured out what will happen in the finale yet, so your ideas are more than welcome. I know it is hard to say goodbye to the old, but it also gives us room to embrace the new, whatever that may be. Last week, I had the pleasure of ‘discovering’ another of my silent readers. It is always humbling to discover how far these stories go and how diverse the following is. People like you make it worth it to stay up three extra hours to finish yet another episode. Ms Nkor, this week’s episode is dedicated to you! 🙂
‘Obroni, wake up!’
Christoff grabbed his Timex wrist watch from the top of the locker and looked at the time, all the while keeping his eyes as closed as possible.
‘5:30 am? Are you freaking kidding me?’
He realized too late that he had unconsciously raised his voice. Every one in Dorm 4 was looking at him. He tried again in a softer voice, ‘I just don’t get why you people wake up so early.I am not a morning person.’
The boy waking him up tried to unsuccessfully stifle his laughter.
‘Morning person? You will learn to become one by the time you leave this school.’
Christoff mumbled under his breath, ‘Thanks a lot, Dad!’
He had been saying that a lot lately. Anytime he got a good dose of the ‘Ghanaian culture’, he cursed his stars for landing himself in this situation. . After three weeks, he had already learnt that ‘seniority’ was taken very seriously, that ‘physical abuse’ was normal, that hot water was a luxury- you had to have a chit from the sick bay explaining why you could not bath with cold water like everyone else, that hygiene was taken seriously- you had to bath at least once a day and that the people you chose to befriend had an impact on you.
Capital High wasn’t so bad. He liked the people and the food. K Beck had been really helpful. He was a cool chap. They could talk about anything under the sun, from basketball to sci-fi movies to anime to girls to reasons why marriages fail. It was easy to talk to him, easy to trust him. It was also easy to tell that he was torn between Akpene and Awula.
‘Wait, so you like both of them?’
‘Yes and no.’
‘You know you have to explain that, right?’
K Beck laughed and absentmindedly threw a pebble at nothing in particular.
‘I am drawn to Akpene in ways I can’t explain. She is like a puzzle that I need to unravel. I feel like I need to protect her and take care of her. No, scratch that, I want to!’
‘Mmmh, the lure of the unknown?’
‘Exactly! You get it!’
‘Yeah, I used to be a psychologist in my former life.’
They both laughed.
‘With Awula, it is familiarity. She gets things Akpene can’t relate to. She is funny and genuine.’
‘Looks like we have a problem on our hands. Sounds to me like you want an Akpene you can relate to, because you were fine before Awula got here. Have you thought about teaching her those things?’
‘Some of them come naturally to you. You are not taught. Besides I don’t want her to feel like I am looking down on her background and her past. It is the last thing I want to do. She doesn’t deserve that.’
‘So what are you going to do?’
‘I have no idea mehn. How do you say that in German?’
‘Ich habe keine idee’
‘Ah yes! That one. I will just take it one day at a time.’
‘Just make sure that you don’t hurt either of them in this dilemma you are in. Neither of them deserves to be toyed around with.’
‘Ain’t that the truth? Chale, thanks.’
‘It is campaign season already, isn’t it?’, Afrakuma asked her sitting mate, Janette.
‘Yes, it is starting’
It was easy to spot them- the prefect wannabes. They were being extra polite- greeting everything that had legs, helping people to carry their buckets of water, wearing white socks that had received more than their fair portion of ‘blue’, offering to help teachers with their books and assessment sheets. They were basically kissing ass to make sure they got the votes of the students.
And the voters milked it- this momentary sense of power- because they knew it would all be over once the elections had been won. A girl walked into the 3 Science 2 class to canvas votes.
‘My name is Sherifa Issah. Please vote for me as School Prefect.’
‘Is it by force?’
‘Oh, so I should not vote for you eh?’
‘Please vote for me.’
‘Ah, didn’t you just say it was not by force? How can an indecisive girl be School Prefect? You think we are here to play eh? Get out of my class!’
Sherifa was halfway to the door when another person spoke up.
‘Ah, but you have not convinced us as to why you deserve the position. Stand there!’
Afrakuma raised her voice, ‘I said, get out.’
‘I said, stand there!’
The poor girl looked like she was about to cry.
‘Ah, your lip is already quivering. Then what are you going to do when Gagert yells at you for not keeping the school in order?’
After having fun at Sherifa’s peril, Afrakuma turned back to her books.
Jason, one of the boys who rarely made it for any of the classes, sat on the desk beside her and whispered, ‘I hear say you get apor for the WASSCE.’
‘And where did you hear that from?
‘Oh abi you know? Around.’
‘Well, the person lied. So we have nothing to talk about.’
‘Oh, I am serious oo’
‘And I look like I am cracking jokes, don’t I?’
‘You sef?! It is ok wai!’
She shook her head, silently chiding her inner self to be more careful.
She did have some leaked papers for the Chemistry and Physics papers- benefits of having Nana Afari wrapped around her little finger. Nana Afari was the new Physics Tutor-he had come from St. Peter’s. One of the perks of the failed coup was that it had brought teachers who had a lot to prove and very little time to do so. It was easy for Afrakuma to woo him. All she had to do was ignore him. All the other girls were throwing themselves at him- who could blame them- he was very cute and intelligent. Ignoring him made her stand out. After that, it was all as easy as ABC.
She knew it was selfish to not share the papers with Jason, but it had to be done. How else was she going to explain how a boy like him who never came for class had managed to get all As.
The decisions I have to make!
Lawrencia squirmed in the bed.
If I have to eat rice and soup one more time, I will run away from this school.
Auntie Thelma came to her bed to check her temperature. She always had a stern look on her face, like someone had cursed her to never smile as long as she lived. The bleeding had finally stopped. Everyone now knew that she had had an abortion and she knew that Gagert was just bidding her time before she finally dismissed her. Her mother had come to see her- and just as expected, she had acted out the drama that she had played out in her mind. She had not heard from Uche- not that she expected to. She was sure that he had heard about her predicament already.
The white boy had come to the sick bay with a tummy upset. The beans had not gone down well with him. Poor boy, she thought to herself. And yet when their eyes met, she saw pity in his eyes for her.
Is that how everyone is going to look at me now? With pity?
She shut her eyes and tried to drown out all the sounds around her.
She opened her eyes again. The person didn’t seem to get the ‘I want to be left alone’ memo.
It was Ruth, one of the Scripture Union (SU) girls.
‘How are you feeling?’
‘I wanted to come and pray with you’
‘You don’t want to pray?’
‘Why do you sound surprised? Not every preacher’s kid loves Jesus.’
‘Yes, true. But Jesus loves every preacher’s kid regardless. It is not over for you.’
‘Listen, I have been bombarded with this Jesus thing since I came out of my mother’s womb. Morning devotions, evening prayers, mid week services, all nights, prayer chains- the whole shebang! There is nothing you can say that will change my mind.’
‘Ok, can I just pray with you anyway?’
As much as she hated to admit it, the prayer made her feel better. She even teared- one lone tear- but it was something.
Why does Gagert want to see me?
Akpene’s mind raced through the possibilities.
School fees? The scholarship had been cancelled? K Beck?
Gagert had a sombre look on her face.
‘Have a seat, Akpene. I have some bad news. Your mother passed away this morning.’
For what seemed like eternity, Akpene could not find her voice.
‘Is there someone you want me to call?’
She shook her head.
‘I don’t have anyone else.’
‘The Welbeck boy? I will send someone to get him.’
She was too dazed by the pain flooding her heart to register the fact that Gagert knew about K Beck. Her mind wandered through the memories of her mother- teaching her how to count with tomatoes, sitting in the kiosk in the rain, seeing the sadness in her mother’s eyes when she was molested. She didn’t hear K Beck come in. All she felt was him pulling her to his chest in an embrace. She could tell from the way his heart was racing that he had run all the way to the office.
He whispered against her ear, ‘I am so sorry.’
A pain-filled wail escaped from her lips.
See you next week!