There was this time I was in primary three that I got really sick. I complained at home but no one was ready to listen to me.
Dad would say "she is a liar. She is pretending to be sick to dodge her duties" and mama too would add her own version of how lazy I was.
Every afternoon in school, I would go to the school nurse for painkiller pills which were always paracetamol.
After visiting the nurse for everyday in two weeks, she told me not to come again and that I should get myself treated.
Thankfully few days after, Julianna also became sick and Juliet also joined the queue. So in short all of us became sick but still no one did anything about us. It was after I started losing the colours in my eyes that mom took the sickness serious and took the three of us to our insurance hospital.
We got there around 5 in the evening on a motorcycle and joined the queue. We were to be injected that day and start the drug the next day, but something caught my attention before I was injected.
"Do you bring a car with you ma?" The nurse asked Mom but mom pretended not to have heard because I guessed she was ashamed that she had no car.
The nurse shrugged and injected the three of us and I became dizzy the moment the fluid got into my blood. What the fuck was that?
Mom practically dragged us home and made sure we stayed home for the rest of the week. And even after the injection and the drugs, I was still sick.
A week later, I became dehydrated and started drinking water like a camel. I couldn't sleep because of the dehydration and stayed awake for almost three-quarter of the night and it was then that dad realized that something might be wrong for real. The next day, he took me back to the hospital and got me tested for the second time and that was when It was diagnosed that I had typhoid fever.
I got admitted and stayed in the hospital for almost a week. I stayed home for another week 'to recover fully' as mom said and on the third week, I went back to school.
I wasn't one of the pupils that used to owe school fee but this time around, I was owing the school my examination fee which I would have paid if I had been in school regularly. So in short, I was one of the pupils sent home for their fees.
One thing about we girls was that once we were sent home, we would gather ourselves and planned our visiting. We would go to each other's house and played all the way there. When it was my turn, we went to my house and I got the #200 examination fee from mama because 'dad had no money' as usual.
We went to Fatima's house later and was on our way to Yetunde's house when we met dad. We greeted him even though everyone already greeted him when we went to my house. He answered with a nod and scanned our hand for the juice each of us was holding.
It was Fatima's mom who gave it to us, which was like a bonus to our little journey. Yetunde's house was the last, we had left it for the last because it was the closest house to the school.
We got back to school and all of us went to the school accountant either to pay the money or to ask for more time. Like some girls, I paid mine and was about to go back to my class, when four female teachers double crossed me and called back the other girls that were already on their way to class. The accountant also stood up and joined the teachers. All of them were with canes and I became scared. I scanned my brain to know what I had done wrong but couldn't find any.
"Where is the money?" A very short, round, fat, thick woman asked, directing the question at me.
"The #1000 you stole from your grandmother"
"I don't know what you are talking about. I didn't steal any money. She was the one who gave me the #200 I just paid"
"Mrs Adebisi go and check her bag"
She took my bag and went through everything.
"Where did you get this from?" Mrs Adebisi asked raising a #20 note up.
"This is my refreshment money. Mom gave it to me in the morning"
"I'm sure you have spent out of it. Where is the change?" The short woman asked
"I don't know anything about any #1000. It was mama who gave me the #200 I paid now" I panicked
"Your dad came here not long ago and said that a #1000 note went missing as soon as you left the house"
To tell the truth, I knew nothing about that #1000. What would a girl like me want to do with a #1000 note. #1000 was a very big money for a primary three girl to spend back then.
Before I could say anything else, four out of the five teachers started beating me at once and the fifth one lined the other girls up and gave them three strokes each for lying.
After like two minutes, one of them left and the remaining three continued to gang beat me. Not long after another one left and not long after that another one left and I was left with the short, round woman. She continued to beat me for another five minutes before stopping. They called me names and rained abuses on my head before telling me to go back to my class
It was really hard on me to climb the stairs but I managed. I quietly got to class and was about to sit down when my class teacher, a very handsome man whose name I have forgotten called me. He asked me the same questions I was asked downstairs and I repeated my answers "No. She gave me #200. I've not even seen #1000 note today. I swear to God I didn't take the money" and I was very heartbroken when his face fell. He didn't believe me. I liked him because he was handsome and he liked me because I was brilliant. He would play with my names and made me do everything for him.
"I won't beat you because you just got discharged from the hospital, but you know #1000 is a big money. So go and kneel down inside the store"
I cried more than I cried when I was beaten downstairs. It hurts my ego that he didn't believe me and thought I was a thief. It was a soundless cry. It was different from the one I cried downstairs but it hurt me more.
Fifteen minutes later, he told me to go back to my seat and to never do it again. I shook my head in understanding because I knew that if I tried to talk, I would definitely cry. I went to my seat and put my head on my table. I was broken. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated for a sin I didn't commit.
I sobbed quietly on my table. Less than ten minutes later, my mom and my aunt [mom's youngest sister] came to my school. It was the first time something like that happened and it was actually the last. The visit took me by surprise and my tears rolled freely down my cheeks.
Mom rushed at me
"Why are you crying?"
I sobbed more. I wanted to talk but I was unable to. The tears just kept rolling. I breath in air heavily and tried to find my voice.
"Iya ewe" I said at last. That wasn't a real name but it was the only name I knew the short, round woman with.
Mom knew her. Mom knew all the teachers in my school except the new ones like my class teacher. But she wasn't getting what I was saying.
"What's with Iya ewe?"
I looked at my teacher but he looked the other side "She gave me ninety four strokes of cane"
I was sure that the strokes I received downstairs was more than hundred but ninety four was the first thing that came out of my mouth and I also blamed Iya ewe for everything. I hated her. I've hated her since I was a kid and I knew the feelings was mutual.
Mom didn't wait to listen to the rest, she rushed out of the class like a mad woman - I guessed madness was just part of my family history- and started screaming as she took the steps three at a time.
"Who the fuck is Iya ewe?" She screamed even though she knew who she was and where to find her.
I rushed after her too, praying with everything I had that she should reach her on time and give her the beating she deserved.
Luckily for her, she was notified before we got there and ran for her life. Mrs Adebisi, one of the teachers that beat me was among the teachers that were telling mom to calm down and I regretted my words instantly. If only I had tagged her and the others along, she wouldn't have been here playing a good person or at least she would have been hit twice across the face.
I got home and asked mama about the #1000 which she said she had found not long after dad left home. She said she warned him not to go but he didn't listen and did as he pleased.
My stupid dad acted as if been beaten all over the body was nothing and said "What if she took the money for real?" When mom was blaming him for his actions.