Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 8

As we passed Chief Akpati’s house I saw two of the bodyguards rushing towards the gate entrance and some other villagers watching and laughing from a safe distance. One of the guard dogs had somehow escaped and was being led back into the compound. It was a huge dobberman and was putting up quite a fight. It tore at the sticks the guards were using on it voraciously and repeatedly tried to attack the third man who was holding on to its leash. As I watched, the dog made another grab at its masters and got its jaws around the third man’s leg. He screamed in pain and hit out at the dog but it held on stubbornly. Suddenly one of the other men pulled out a weapon and there was a loud bang that made mom slam on her brakes. The Camry came to a screeching halt as the villagers that had gathered started to run away from the scene.
“What was that?!” Mum shouted and followed my gaze to the entrance of Chief’s mansion.
The dog lay on the floor, dead, its brains blown out on the tarred road. The man that had been attacked was still holding his leg and howling and I could see his trouser had been torn and blood oozing out.
“Bastard, you could have shot my leg!” he shouted
“But I didn’t, look there was no other way, it would have gone for your genitals next. That’s how I trained it!” The burly man with the gun shouted back.
“Let’s go.” Mom said and winding the window up, she drove off.
“Those people are barbaric!” she fumed. “I mean, was that really necessary? Did they have to shoot the poor animal?”
My hands were shaking. I had never seen someone or something shot before. Mom was saying something about irresponsible politicians and rabid dogs but I barely paid attention. I was still a bit shaken by the time she dropped me off at the school.
“Bye dear!” she said and zoomed off to work.
It was 7.55am. Students were already gathering at the assembly line. I spotted Sola and Bimpe walking together ahead of me and went to join them.
“Late-comer, have you repented?” Sola said, grinning.
“She doesn’t want her Gorilla to save her again today” Bimpe laughed in her usual high pitched voice. I smacked her playfully and we entered the assembly line. I spotted Arnold standing at the Prefect’s corner. Our eyes met and I saw him visibly heave a sigh of relief. He grinned and looked like he was about to wave. I quickly looked away.
“Its past 8am already, where’s the principal?” Sola asked. I shrugged as I scanned around for Mr Adedeji.
Mr Adedeji was our school principal and a very strict man who ran a tight ship. Since he had been appointed principal two years ago our school had risen from one of the intellectually mediocre schools to the best school in the region. Mr Adedeji ran the school like it was his business, like it was his school and not government owned. He was quick to discipline and firmly call back to order any student that was seen to be out of line. He did not fear the children of the affluent neither did he pity the children of the poor. He treated everyone with an equality that deep within me I found admirable.
Of course I didn’t air my honest views about him out loud for fear of being lynched. Most pupils saw him as a tyrant, a man with no mercy, who was liberal with the cane and other exotic forms of punishment. They also saw him as extremely punctual which was why the school yard was gradually becoming rowdy with student s wondering why he had not arrived to commandeer the assembly. Mr Adedeji had been known to be late only twice since he became principal. The first time was when his wife died. Mr Adedeji had come to assembly a few minutes late the next day. Some of the teachers were even surprised he showed up at all since they all knew how close he was to her, and it was recorded some of them wept openly as he carried on the assembly with tears in his eyes but a steady voice. The second time was when a student had convulsed in his office when being asked about his studies. Mr Adedeji had taken him to the first aid room himself and made sure the student was well cared for after which he came to the assembly ten minutes late.
As time went by and no one seemed to know where the principal was, the Vice principal walked into the assembly hall, clutching her mobile phone. She was a nervous, timid looking little woman, the direct opposite of the principal. She had been appointed vice principal due to her academic prowess but other than that, she had no distinguishing features.
“The National Anthem!” She squeaked.
As we sang, I noticed a commotion in the back of the hall and suddenly our principal appeared. He was being supported by one of the burlier male teachers, and he had a bandage on his head. We all gasped as the anthem song faltered but he quickly motioned for us to finish and we did so. The vice principal looked alarmed and relieved at the same time. As soon as the anthem was over she went to meet him and they quietly exchanged a few words, after which the vice principal came back to the assembly.
“Classes with commence as usual. Assembly dismissed!”
We dispersed back to our various classes and I saw some of the teachers including our class teacher, surround the Principal.
“Wonder what happened to him?” I said and Bimpe nodded
“It looks like he was attacked or something.” Sola said.
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Re: The Day The World Ended by Royver ( m ): 1:44am On
Jul 06 , 2014
Classes did commence as usual and soon we had all forgotten about the incident at the assembly. The head boy, Dare, had come to give us a 15minute talk on class orderliness and keeping our surroundings clean. He looked as handsome as ever with his lean figure, clean shaven face, knee-weakening smile and gentle looking hands. I couldn’t help but notice the way almost all the girls in the class kept fidgeting and staring at him dreamily as he talked. I was disgusted at them, I mean really, couldn’t they keep their feelings in check like I was doing? I mean, anytime he cast a glance in my direction I didn’t grin or smile or anything, in fact I kept a straight face throughout. I admit my heart skipped a beat anytime our eyes met but that was probably because I kept thinking he was going to ask me a question or something.
Our geography teacher, Mr. Abel, was the last lecturer before the break. The topic of his lecture was earthquakes. He was a small statured man with strings of hair on his chin and cheeks that always made him appear unkempt. He always wore a brown khaki trouser atop which he mixed an assortment of colored long sleeved shirts. He was a friendly fellow and a favorite among the pupils. He could be harsh when he wanted to be though.
“Today we will be discussing earthquakes.” He said in his high tenor voice. He drew three concentric spheres on the black board and labeled them.
“The earth is divided simply into three layers. The innermost layer is the earth’s core, followed by the mantle, and the thinner outermost area which we call the ground is the Earth’s Crust. Tina, are you following me?”
“Yes sir!” A startled Tina shouted and jumped up, almost falling off her seat. She had obviously been sleeping. The class roared in laughter and Mr. Abel called for silence.
“Tina, I’ve told you to stop eating Eba before you come to class. Eat something light so your brain will be active, eh?”
“Sorry sir,” Tina replied, looking very embarrassed. “I didn’t sleep well last night, our dog was barking throughout…”
“I don’t want to know, am I the one that gave you the dog?” Mr. Abel cut her short sternly. “Just pay attention because this might come in your exam!”
“Yes Sir.” Tina replied quietly.
“See her head like coconut.” Mr. Abel fired once more before turning back and the class giggled and Tina blushed, smiling. She knew he was being playful.
“As I was saying, the Earth has three layers, The Core, the Mantle, and the Crust. The Mantle is the part we are interested in. It is a semi-solid layer of dense rock about 2900km thick. This is where earthquakes are formed. Large parts of the mantle float about and are called tectonic plates. When these plates move, we have earthquakes. When an earthquake occurs, it causes large areas of the earth’s crust to move. Sometimes this movement can be so small it is not felt at all, well it might be felt by the local wildlife like goats, dogs and cats but man won’t feel it. Other times it can be so large it destroys entire cities.”
Mr. Abel paused. He looked around the class and pointed at Bose, the repeat student, who was sitting quietly at the back.
“Bose, you have had this lecture before. Tell us what we use in measuring earthquakes.”
“A seismometer, Sir.” She replied, slowly getting up from her seat. She was a little fat. Just like the headboy liked them, I thought, giggling to myself.
“Correct. What is the scale used?”
“A Richter scale sir.” She replied.
“Good! You are doing well. Sit down.” He said, and she did.
Mr. Abel went on with his lecture and an hour later rounded up. A few questions were asked, one of which was by Sola who had been eagerly raising up her hand.
“Yes, scholar.” Mr. Abel said. He usually addressed her as ‘scholar’ instead of Sola because she always asked intelligent questions in class and
also because of her love for books.
“I wanted to know sir, what the largest earthquake we have had on the Richter scale is.”
“9.0. That was in Japan in 2011.” He replied. “It brought down skyscrapers and entire villages disappeared under landslides. I’ve taught you about landslides, haven’t I?”
“Yes Sir.” Sola said, but her hand was still raised. Mr. Abel nodded.
“Have we ever had one in Nigeria?”
The class burst into laughter. Mr. Abel shushed them.
“Why are you guys laughing? It’s a valid question. My dear, as far as I know, no. Nigeria is blessed in that we don’t have most of the natural catastrophes experienced by other parts of the world. Our own problem is worse. It has eaten into the very core and mantle and crust of our supposedly great nation. Can anyone tell me what disaster I am talking about?”
“Oil, Sir?” Sola replied hesitantly.
“No, corruption!” Mr. Abel barked. “Corruption has caused more damage than most of the Earthquakes, tsunamis, drought and all what-not other countries are experiencing. The money that Japan used to recover from the last earthquake, I can tell you, some unscrupulous persons in our polity have diverted the same amount into their dirty pockets! The way the masses are suffering is almost the same way some of the people that live in drought infested areas suffer; meanwhile there is abundant food everywhere. Anyway, I am digressing, we can discuss that some other day. For your assignment, I want you all to read up Lava and how it is formed. I will ask in the next class oh!”
At that same moment the school bell rung and we all got up, glad at the opportunity to stretch our legs. Sola and Bimpe joined me as we went down to the local snack kiosk to buy something to eat.
“Imagine if an earthquake happened in Nigeria now!” Sola was saying excitedly.
“How is that exciting you? You want to experience earthquake?” I asked.
“Maybe she should travel to Japan when the next one is happening.” Bimpe said and Sola punched her.
Somebody suddenly grabbed my shoulder roughly.
“Hey!” I shouted, turning around, only to see Arnold grinning back at me.
“Penny for your thoughts? I called out to you but it seems your mind was somewhere else.”
“We were talking about Gorillas and if one could keep them as pets.” Sola said with a straight face. Bimpe stifled a laugh.
Arnold looked puzzled. “Gorillas? What on earth will make you think of Gorillas this morning? People are discussing serious things you girls are thinking of gorillas!”
“Are you saying we are not discussing anything serious?” I countered, fuming in annoyance. “You think we don’t know how to discuss serious or intelligent topics? In your mind we are babies now, right?”
Arnold threw his hands in the air in exasperation. “That’s not what I meant oh. Why are you looking for fault where there is none? I was just saying in light of recent happenings you girls should be discussing other things, that’s all.”
“Recent happenings like what?” Sola asked as I hissed and turned away.
“The school principal! Didn’t you hear? He was involved in an accident!”
“Thought so,” Bimpe said. “What happened?”
“Is he going to be alright?” I added turning back, now genuinely concerned.
Arnold smiled gleefully. He seemed so glad he had finally caught my attention. I was tempted to tell him off but was eager to know what had happened to the principal so I held my peace.
“He said he was coming to school as usual when he ran into a herd of cattle. He said he spotted the Fulani man battling furiously with the bull to lead the herd. Anytime he faced the bull in one direction it would stubbornly refuse and go in the opposite direction, and that the herd kept on trying to follow the bull. He said the man was flogging the bull with a staff mercilessly when it bolted away from him and towards his vehicle. The collision was so violent he hit his head on the windscreen and cracked his skull!” Arnold’s eyes were now huge with excitement. He looked at us from one person to another as if daring us to disbelieve the story.
“That’s terrible!” I said. “Has he been to the hospital?”
“The Vice principal is sending him off now. The bandage on his head is from a roadside chemist. His car refused to start after the incident and he says the bull, although injured was still putting up a fight and had to be shot by a soldier just before he was carried off the scene.”
“Why would they shoot the animal?” Sola cried.
“So it won’t run off and injure others, of course!” Arnold retorted. “What did you want them to do before since the owner couldn’t control it? Em…Temi, are you all right?”
Arnold’s voice shook me out of my reviere.
“Deja vous.” I said.
“What?” Sola asked and Bimpe looked at me quizzically.
“Same thing happened to my neighbor’s dog this morning.” I said, trembling a little at the memory. “It was out of control. The guard had to shoot it.”
“Chief Akpati’s dog?” Sola gasped. “I don’t like those people one bit. Are they policemen? Why should they have guns?”
“My mom said he’s a thief and an armed robber.” Bimpe said. How else would he build such a huge and magnificent house?”
“Don’t ‘thief’ and ‘armed robber’ mean the same thing?” Sola said. Bimpe ignored her.
“Hello, he’s a Chief! He’s supposed to have a huge house!” Arnold chipped in.
“How? Does the government pay him for having a house?” Bimpe inquired placing her hands on her hips. “Let’s leave that thing jo. The man is dubious.”
Everybody in our area knew about Chief Akpati. His house which was a duplex was the largest in the town and a work of art if ever there was one. It was beautifully designed green and yellow with pillars in front and a huge bronze statue of a man sitting beside a lion at the entrance. Most people however had only seen it from the outside and usually when the gates were opened to allow the coming and going of mysterious vehicles. Parents warned their kids not to go anywhere near the compound and the children mostly obeyed. Even the guards on the outside didn’t look friendly at all and never talked to passersby, not so much as a wave. They kept to themselves as much as the community did.
Arnold opened his mouth to say something but I had lost patience.
“Thanks for the info, Arnold.” I said dismissively. “We have to go to class now.”
“Really? But the break is still on.” He replied, obviously saddened that our discussion was coming to an end.
“Exactly.” I said. “We still have a lot of things to do before class resumes. Come on girls.”
We left him staring at his feet as we hurried down to the snack kiosk.
“Don’t you think you are a little harsh on your gorilla?” Sola asked teasingly and Bimpe giggled. I made a rude face at her and bought some bean cakes. Bimpe bought some soft drinks in take-away plastic bottles and we went back to class. Sola was hardly ever given snack money and was usually very embarrassed when we asked why and so we had learned to refrain from questions although Bimpe had hinted me that her parents were having some financial crises. We shared the delicacies among ourselves and talked some more, waiting for the break to be over. We were busy munching on our delicacies in a brief moment of silence when we heard two voices arguing.
“Come and see na, I’m telling you I've seen it on discovery channel! That dog is trying to tell his oga something.”
“Dog dey get sense? Abeg I have heard about rabid dogs o, they start to behave crazy and can even bite their owner. The man should run!”
We turned around to look for where the voices were coming from, only to see a small crowd of those in the class had gathered around the class window looking out of the school compound. Students were chatting excitedly and pointing at something. All three of us got up immediately and ran to the window, pushing and shoving our way through to the front to have a better view.
“It’s only a dog playing with its master.” Bimpe said.
The dog was in the compound opposite the school and it was running circles around a man who was carrying his laundry inside. Every once in a while the dog would grab at the man’s trousers and pull violently. Sometimes the dog would hurl its body at the man, who would use his leg to push it gently away. But the dog persisted, howling miserably at intervals.
“It’s not play.” A pupil said. “The dog is trying to tell the man something.”
Tbc

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