Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 12

Mom was silent all the way to the school. I imagined she was thinking of Ayo and how he could have gotten himself involved with cultists. I tried making random conversation but she wasn’t interested so I finally gave up and busied myself watching the landscape and other cars go by.
The time was 8.30am. This was the latest I had ever come to school and I wondered what the prefects would say. At least my mom was here with me, she would do all the explaining.
As we got closer to the school compound I saw a large number of cars parked around at the school gate. More vehicles came in through the gate with us and we struggled to find a good parking spot.
“What’s going on?” I thought to myself and then saw that Admin office was surrounded by parents. Angry parents. My mom sighed and grabbing my hand, steered me towards the principal’s office. As we approached I looked around and realized most of the classrooms were empty.
Apparently it wasn’t only my mother that had been alarmed by yesterday’s happenings. Parents were sitting in the corridor with their children, talking in agitated tones while their wards strolled around aimlessly. Some of the teachers were there as well but none dared caution the wandering students.
“Where is he? He should have been here by now!” One of the parents, a big fat man, said.
“Ever since the last teacher’s strike this school has gone to the dogs!” Another one growled.
It looked like they were going to start a riot soon. The security guards came and stood at the principal’s door to prevent any mishap but this only angered the crowd further. They shouted and screamed until finally the vice principal came out. There was a sudden hush.
“Good morning Sirs and Madams. You are all welcome to our school…” She began timidly. Her nervous disposition infuriated them and soon they began to complain again.
“What have you done to ensure the safety of our children?!”
“See this woman oh, does she think we came here to play?”
“Where is the principal?!”
The crowd got louder and the vice principal’s words could barely be heard over the noise.
“I assure you we are doing everything in our power…it wasn’t our fault…a contract has already been sent out to fumigate the school…” Her voice kept getting lower and lower as the crowd grew angrier. One of the male teachers walked forward and tried to calm them but was pushed violently away by the big fat man. They started exchanging words and pretty soon it looked like they were going to progress to exchanging blows.
A loudspeaker crackled and came to life, its high pitched whistling sound drawing everyone’s attention. We all turned around to see the School Principal, Mr. Adedeji. His head was still in a bandage but he looked far better than the day before. He stared stoically at the crowd and they all fell silent, except for the big fat man.
“Where have you been Oga?” The fat man bellowed.”Is this how you behave in this school? I have a good mind to remove my child...”
“What’s his name?” the Principal said, interrupting his tirade.
The man paused. Then, “Akin, Akin Shittu.”
“Mabel,” Mr. Adedeji barked. The vice principal jumped like she had been electrocuted and came to his side.
“Pull out Akin Shittu’s file. If his school fees have been paid please refund it. Do the necessary paperwork. He is no longer a member of this school.”
“Yes Sir,” The vice principal said and hurried back into the office.
The other parents gasped. The big fat man, Mr. Shittu, seemed disoriented.
“Wait, you can’t do that…I didn’t mean I wanted to remove…”
“Then what did you mean, Sir?” Mr. Adedeji asked, staring straight at him. Mr. Shittu wanted to say something else but the woman by his side, probably his wife, jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow and he kept quiet.
“I lost a staff yesterday.” Mr. Adedeji said abruptly, now facing the crowd of parents. “A promising young woman whose fiancée has been crying on my neck since then. Three more teachers are lying critically ill in hospital. They were hit by vehicles and bitten by animals as they tried to save your children from the unusual incident that occurred yesterday. I am aware that three children lost their lives and I have gotten up from my sickbed, discharged myself against the doctor’s advice to personally visit the parents of these unfortunate children one after the other.”
“Do you think we are happy with what happened? Do you think we couldn’t have avoided the ugly incident if we could? It was an unforeseen circumstance, an accident, one in which I myself nearly lost my life in as I believe what happened to me and what happened at the school was related somehow. Do you think we like it knowing that we were responsible for those children when they died yesterday? Please if you want to remove your children from the school, then do so. It would ease the burden on us. I would however have you know that the same thing happened in nearly all the schools in the district. More lives were lost, more casualties happened. What saved our students was the fence which prevented a lot of them running into the streets.”
“It’s true.” One of the parents spoke up. “My neighbor’s children go to Ampoko secondary school. They said no less than five students and three teachers lost their lives.”
There was an audible collective gasp from the crowd.
“The same thing happened at Emeto and Supreme College.” Mr. Adedeji said, shifting his glasses. “So you see, it wasn’t peculiar to our school alone. The local authorities have called a meeting for all the community hunters to ask if any of them is using illegal methods in their hunting practices. So things are actually getting done.”
“I cannot commiserate strongly enough with the families of those who died or were injured. I can only imagine what you are going through and I feel terrible for your loss. I can however let you know that I am not sleeping on my job. I will continue to ensure the safe keeping of those you place under my care to the best of my ability. You know who I am. You know what I can do.”
By now the whole gathering was listening with rapt attention. Mr. Adedeji had this air of authority around him, you could almost touch it. He looked from one parent to the other, straight in the eye, his gaze unwavering, and slowly the confidence of the parents that had eroded the day before sprung back to life. One by one they dispersed, getting into their vehicles and zooming off. I escorted mom back to the car, casting a final proud glance at my brave principal as he was accosted by the Shittus earnestly pleading for their son to be reinstated.
“Your Principal is a strong man.” She said and I nodded.
“He reminds me of your father. I hope he comes home soon so he can fix this your senior brother’s issue.”
“It’s all right mom,” I said. “And don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Our Principal is a sturdy and trustworthy man.”
“Yes, I can see he is quite…principled.” She said, and then laughed. I laughed along with her, relieved that she had finally relaxed. I waited until
she had entered the car and waved as she drove off. Then I rushed to my class eager to see and talk to my group of friends. I hoped Deji and Ayo wouldn't do anything to upset mom until I got back.
Little did I know that I wouldn’t see her again, not for a long while.
Back in class, lessons continued as usual although there was still an air of tension in the atmosphere. The Prefects were seen patrolling the SS and JSS blocks more frequently, almost at every half hour. Arnold had passed my class four times now and each time he tried to catch my eye and smile. It was quite irritating especially as others began to notice his searching gaze was constantly directed at where I sat.
Someone else was also looking out for me. Dare the Head-boy. At first I thought it was a casual glance in my direction but then I noticed it the second and third time. My heart was beating faster than a drummer boy on steroids. I caught my breath and watched his gaze as he passed by the window the fourth time. Yes! He had actually looked straight at me before making a sweeping glance of the entire class and moving on.
I was ecstatic! But what about the girl they said he was going out with, the fat one in SS2? I urged the time to go faster so I could talk with my girls at break-time...
Sola’s face was bleeding. I saw a cut on her forehead oozing out a lot of blood. I screamed for help but that seemed to trigger shouts from
everywhere as people who had been injured began to shout as well. Soon there was chaos everywhere as people got up and started moving about, some of them with cuts and bruises, others apparently unhurt but not knowing what to do or who to help. Others sat on the ground and wept. I was kind of among the last group as I held my unconscious friend in my arms, not knowing what to do, with tears running down my eyes and mixing with her blood. The school had only two staff nurses and a doctor and currently none of them could be found. I took matters in my own hands, pouring some of the drinking water I had bought during break on her forehead and then using a handkerchief to bandage the wound. I sat beside her and placed her head in my lap. She moaned as I pressed the handkerchief to the wound, but refused to open her eyes. I looked around desperately for anyone who could help, but it seemed everyone had their hands full.
“There they are!” I heard Biola’s shrill voice. “Hurry!”
I turned and saw Biola running towards me with Arnold besides her holding a First Aid Kit. He ran up to us and raised Sola to a sitting position then he put something to her nose. She gasped and coughed and woke up.
“Oh thank God!” Biola squealed and then gasped when she saw my bloodied handkerchief. “What happened?”
“I think she hit her head on the floor or something.” Arnold said as he dressed her wound. He didn’t meet my eyes once and I didn’t know why but
it annoyed me. I waited until he had finished bandaging Sola and she was conscious enough to tell us where she was.
“I’m glad you are alright.” Arnold said quietly. “I thought…”
“Hey Temi, are you alright?” Dare’s voice floated unto the scene. I turned around to see him carrying some water and bandages towards us. “Do you girls need anything? Sola are you okay?”
“We are fine thanks, Dare.” I replied, and glanced at Arnold who still didn’t want to meet my eyes. I decided to ignore him. “You came just in time.”
Dare handed us some water which we used to clean up as much dirt as possible from our uniforms. Arnold stayed around for a while then went on to help others that had been injured. I was even angrier to see him go. What was wrong with me?
“If that is what an earthquake feels like, I never want to experience another one for as long as I live.” Sola said weakly. We all heaved a sigh of relief and helped her to her feet.
Mr. Abel was speaking into the loudspeaker. “Does anyone still need help? If you have not been attended to please raise your hand and we’ll get to you! Where is the Head-boy?”
Dare raised his hand and winked at us then went to meet him. They quickly got all the other prefects together and assessed the damage. Mr Adedeji was in the Junior section trying to organize the other students together and occasionally sent word through one of the mobile policemen on how he was progressing.
“Thank goodness that’s over.” Sola said. “It could have been worse."
And then someone screamed.
We all turned in the direction of the screaming. It was then we noticed the buses.
The buses had been parked one behind the other before the earthquake but now a considerable number of them were missing. At first I thought they had driven off since I couldn’t see any sign of them at all. It was only on approaching the park that I saw the huge crevise that had formed between our school gate and the outside world. It was long and deep and seemed to go down forever.
“That is a very deep crevise.” Mr. Abel exclaimed as he ventured towards the edge. One of the female teachers pulled him back.
I went a little closer and inspected it. It was like the earthquake had carved a very deep gutter into the ground. It was so deep I couldn’t really see the bottom, and so wide I estimated three coaster buses joined end to end would be what we would need to make a bridge across it. We were essentially cut off from the other side of the world.
“Damn.” One of the students swore. Some others, as they saw our predicament, started crying all over again. I was just wondering how I was going to get home.
“How far does it go lengthwise? Maybe we can walk around it?” One of the teachers suggested to Mr. Abel and he nodded.
“What happened to the other Coaster buses?”
He shook his head sadly and pointed into the crevise. The earthquake had claimed its first victims.
Tbc

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