I can’t say I really liked boarding school but those 6 years away from the comfort of home left me with two things I wouldn’t trade for the world; firstly some of my best friendships, and secondly lifelong memories, most of them hilarious in retrospect.
Today I woke up to one of those memories;
Our school nurse while I was in Junior School was a middle age German lady, whose prescription for every disease was ‘drink a lot of water, and take a lot of rest.’ It didn’t matter if you had malaria, cramps, or even the flu. Drink a lot of water it was, much to our annoyance, especially on those days when you faked a cold just to get some chewable Vitamin C tablets. The nurse lived with her dog, Forschli. I don’t know what breed it was but it seemed just as Deutsche as its owner, with its exotic dog foods and non-aggressive ajebutter behavior, very different from the other locally bred dogs around, or so we thought.
We woke up one Saturday morning to news that a house parent’s goat was missing. A house parent was a staff responsible for the welfare of students in a particular hostel, and usually lived in a flat adjoining the hostel. Let’s call this particular house parent Mr Saloko. He was responsible for one of the boys’ hostels.
We welcomed the news of Mr Saloko’s missing goat with joy for two reasons; firstly it meant a break from our usual Saturday routine to search for the missing goat. There’s no telling what excites restless adolescents in boarding school, but i digress… Secondly and more importantly, we absolutely disliked his wife, and were simply happy she lost something.
You see, Mrs Saloko ran a business from home, making and selling chin chin, a well-loved Nigerian snack. If there was Instagram back then, her bio would probably read “wife, mom, entrepreneur, pastry chef”. We had no problem with her selling chin-chin or chop-one chop-two like she called it. What annoyed us was the way she ran the business.
Guys, corruption in Nigeria has been around for a long long time. I knew what it meant to be robbed of my money by the government of the day
Mrs Saloko as an 11 year old in Junior School. We weren’t allowed to keep cash as students, so our moneys remained in the custody of the house parents who disbursed to us as needed, within reasonable limits. Records were kept for accountability, and all went well till Mrs Salako launched her chop1 chop2 business.
You could wake up thinking you had N200 in your account, go to the house parent because you needed cash for something urgent, only to find out you had a balance of N10. How? Mrs Saloko would mysteriously bill you for chop1 chop2 that you never knew you ate! This went on for a while, and there was so much we could do. It was her word against ours. I hope her chin chin business has given her a place on the Forbes top 10 list.
Anyhoo, on the morning of the missing goat, we were grouped in tens or so, and asked to scout the school campus for the missing goat. We checked everywhere, even the most unlikely places. The longer the search lasted, the angrier Mrs Saloko got. I couldn’t help thinking she was going to deduct the cost of her missing goat from our accounts, and once again blame it on chop1 chop2.
By lunchtime the search was put on hold, and we were told we would continue later. What began as a fun adventure for us was fast becoming a bore, and we cursed under our breaths, upset at the thought of spending anymore time on this ‘wild goat chase.’ Much to our relief, someone came running to the dining hall with news that the goat had been found. Our relief soon turned to amusement and bursts of laughter followed. The goat, or rather what was left of it, was found dead. In Forschli’s cage! This dog wasn’t the ajebutter German dog we thought it was after all. It enjoyed isi-ewu just as much as the next local dog.
As I go down memory lane typing this, I’m experiencing some mild bloating which has become a common occurrence over the past few months. I have done all sorts, made changes to my diet, taken some medication, but I find that the best solution to my bloated stomach remains the nurse’s prescription; drink a lot of water, take a lot of rest.