Why I nearly lost interest in rice-water?

Wed, 24 Jan 2018 Source: Effah Elvis

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It was an early morning. The weather was very chilly and biting. The students of Nafana Senior High School awoke to a very bewitching aroma of “rice water” coming from the pantry. The trees surrounding the boys’ dormitory formed a dense canopy of darkness around it. The Sapele trees behind house one and the big mahogany trees between house four and house one provided a thick cloud of darkness around the dormitories in the night. It was a scary moment anytime the lights were out. “It is exactly 10:00 pm and all greenhorns should be in their beds!” the seniors bellowed across the room like a sergeant bellowing commands to his troops.

A midnight in the school was a very dangerous moment. In the heart of the night, strange voices were being heard. A dog could be heard barking and another dog howling. The shooting sound of the owl was very intimidating. The silent hissing of a snake was even heard by me in the midnight. I was gripped into fear in the silence of the night by the frightening barking of dogs and the chirping of birds on trees. As a form one student, my young mind knew more about the midnight dangers in Nafana Senior High School because I was told so by my seniors.

A flashback of these stories compelled me to wrap myself in the warmth of my heavy slippery blanket in fear. Overwhelmed by fear, I kept on turning from one side of my students’ mattress to its extreme end. As I constantly turned my bony and tiny body, my wooden bed creaked noisily in the silence of the night like the fringes of an old door which needed to be greased.

Drifting into sleep like a new-born baby, I was brought into the world of the living by the deep voice of a lousy senior in my dormitory. “Hey! Kabui boy, take this bowl and fill it with gari, a little sugar and milk. Lest I forget, don’t forget to make it dirty by adding milo!” shouted Bygot who was just playing his bully-boy tactics. Hmmmmm…..at this moment, I wondered if my chop box was a supermarket or a mini- mall. “kabui” was the name used for littluns like myself. Though very irritating, there was nothing I could do as a form one student. Well, I guess you have understood why no one fancied midnight in Nafana Senior High School?

After these rigorous rituals in the night, I was left exhausted in the morning. At long last, the night gradually and slowly paved way for an early fresh morning. While in class that early morning on Wednesdays, the sound of the school's siren always brought relief to everyone especially form one student. Murmuring and grumbling of students in an early morning class were indicative of the fact that breakfast time was fast approaching. Most of us were excited about Wednesday’s breakfast than the one served on Saturdays. The breakfast served on Saturdays was made from corn dough. It was considered as a dog’s breakfast because it made us slept too much.

From a distant, you could hear the sound from the boys’ dormitory as the boys deliberately hit their spoons against their plates. The boys were always seen ranting with rage anytime there was a delay in serving breakfast. The excitement and attendance to the meal were impressive and massive. Students who were late were seen running helter-skelter and bumping into each other as they rushed for their plates. But I was battling alone with my thoughts and fears.

As a young little tiny and bony boy, I was shivering in my emaciated bones. “Will she repeat that same attitude in the dining hall? Have I ever offended her in any way or she just didn’t like me? These were the questions on my mind as I steadily walked to the dining hall. “Well, maybe for the first time, she will have pity on my poor soul and be nice to me” I consoled my young mind with these words.

Feeling quite reluctant, I sluggishly walked towards the dining hall. “Hey lazy baboon, are you coming here?” yelled the dining hall perfect. My heart quickened and I walked a bit faster. A momentary look of anxiety passed across my face as I was getting closer to my table. It was apparent that I was the last to register my presence on the table of twelve. Everyone was seated. It seems I was given a fierce glare by everyone as entered the hall.

Surprisingly, she seemed to be happy and full of live while serving the meal for breakfast. Thanks to God. That angry glower was replaced with passionate smiles. The spring of joy boiling within me came to an abrupt end. Once again, my fears were being confirmed. It was now my turn to be served. Suddenly, the big broad smile on her face had vanished into thin air.

With a grimace of disgust and in a lackadaisical manner, she pressed hard on the tin of milk and only a droplet of milk fell in my “rice water”. The droplet of milk rolled off the tin like pips from cherries. How could I have complained? Wasn’t I supposed to be a gentleman? Changing my table to a different table was never an option. No……not at all! Never could I also have stopped going to the dining hall. That was practically impossible. I planned of diverse ways to turn my foe in the dining hall into a friend.

Lo and behold it was another Wednesday and I had to face my fears of being served with only a droplet of milk. I timidly walked in the direction of the dining hall and gradually made my way to my table. This time around, I had a plan. As I looked at her intently from the other side of the table, nothing had changed. She was that same girl with that same scowl on her face. The only difference was that I now knew her name. Thanks to the Clinic Prefect (Kofi Selaawana) who mentioned her name when she visited the sickbay.

I assumed a good posture in my well-ironed uniform and with a wink and an irresistible smile, I said, “hello Eyram, how are you feeling today?” for the first time, she smiled at me. It struck me so forcibly that I shall never forget it. Never had I seen such a concentrated smile in my entire life. It worked like magic.

As if I was the only one on the table, she filled my plate to the brim and poured in enough milk. After I had gently eaten my breakfast and was just about to leave the hall, I was affectionately patted on my shoulder. I turned quickly. To my amazement, that gentle touch was the touch of Eyram. “Please may I know your name?” she politely asked. I shyly responded that I am Issah Malorie. With such a relief, I knew that was an opportunity for me to put on more weight before completing Senior High School.

But my expectations and joy were brought to an unexpected end. In a clear voice, the Dining Hall Prefect announced, “every table in the hall will be dissolved by next week”. Poor me. That’s how come I never crossed path with Eyram again. With that smile still fresh in my mind, destiny has never crossed our paths again.


Columnist: Effah Elvis