I attended two secondary schools and lived in 3 different hostels from 2003 – 2009. The main reason for these transfers was senior girls – they were a terror, but that is a conversation for another day.
Everything about the place made me feel it was designed with the sole intent to make its students suffer
When I resumed Junior secondary school at Lagos State Model College Igbokuta (LSMCI) for the 2003/04 session as a boarding house student, I couldn’t count more up to three things that I liked about the school. It felt like being sentenced to a life of daily struggles and hard labor. Everything about the place made me feel it was designed with the sole intent to make its students suffer. From the landscape to the infrastructure and then the teachers, everything was a nightmare – at least from the eyes of an 11 year old who had never been away from home for so long. The gate, administrative area, and assembly ground were uphill, while the hostels were way down. The water facilities and sick bay were positioned several kilometers away from students’ residence, the dining benches were totally uncomfortable, and let’s not talk about the food – only Saturday’s beans and hot bread was something to write home about.
Now to the senior girls, oh Lord! They were the reason I was withdrawn from the school by my father after only one year. They were slave drivers and trust me we had many profane names for them back then. Us junior girls were at their mercy every day, and they honestly didn’t know what mercy meant. On top of that I wasn’t even pretty as a JSS1 girl, so I had no chance at hooking an influential School Mother to rely on for immunity. But again, today is not the day, this post is about my darling Ify.
It was amid this life, that I found my first best-friend – or we found each other. Our relationship started like an explosion…
It was amid this life, that I found my first best-friend – or we found each other. Our relationship started like an explosion, it caught us both unawares and it blossomed into the most sisterly and perfect kind of friendship you can imagine for 11-year-olds. We brought comfort to each other and made surviving the harsh realities of that school a possibility. We were inseparable – plus we looked alike though she was slightly taller. We shared each other’s bed and provisions and helped each other with chores. What was hers was mine and what was mine was hers (down to enemies). Our room had between 15 – 20 of us living in it, so trust me, everyone was bound to have beef with someone else at some point. I knew all about her family and she mine. With Ify, life was good and LSMCI tolerable. When we got flogged on the bathing yard (stark naked and clad in soap lather) with other fellow late bathers, we’d cry our eyes out together and then laugh hard together. She was catholic, always had her rosary draped on her neck even while sleeping, yet we prayed my way every time we prayed. Something about home troubled her, something she didn’t quite understand and so I never did.
This thing, whatever it was ended up breaking my heart. Ify did not show up for 3rd term, and just like we started, we ended – no warnings, no heads up! I had no way of contacting her. Throughout this horrible 3rd term, I kept falling in and out of malaria & typhoid bouts. I hated the school, and I knew I wasn’t coming back – I just knew it.
when I finally registered on Facebook, I searched out Ify so often that it felt like an obsession. I wanted to find her, I wondered if she still thought of me…
Years later, when I finally registered on Facebook, I searched out Ify so often that it felt like an obsession. I wanted to find her, I wondered if she still thought of me, but she was not there, she was nowhere. Sometime later, I found out Ify died.
My darling Ify, I still know your face.