“Herh, you! Come here!”
The young boy walking by the palm tree on the school compound froze, cursing his stars as he heard Ambradu’s voice call out to him.
The Slash Kings, as always, were seated at their bench. It was Thursday, and Ambradu and Jake had an upcoming class test after break, so they had some exercise books on their laps, busily doing some last minute cramming, while Faisal sat next to them, giving them little reminders here and there.
As long as they were outside, though, there was always time for some form of harassment. And once Ambradu saw the lad holding what was clearly a brand new Nataraj pen, he was only too happy to snatch that opportunity. Never mind the fact that he had two Bic pens in his pocket.
The young boy walked over to them reluctantly, his face already glum as he twisted his pen in his hand.
“Give me your pen. I’m going to write a test,” Ambradu ordered in a calm but authoritative voice.
The youngster looked down at his pen, then looked up at Ambradu, despair on his face. “But-but I need it for class-“
“I said, give me your pen!” Ambradu repeated, his voice a little louder.
The young boy looked pretty unhappy. This was a new pen he had just bought for the next class, now suddenly it was being seized by this meanie. Ugh! If only he hadn’t been holding it out for the world to see…
“Don’t make me ask again, boy. I said, give me your pen!” Ambradu stated again.
“Hey, he dey tell you something, you no go do?” Faisal barked fiercely at the boy. “Will you give him the pen and stop being stupid?”
The aggression in that voice was enough to move the youngster’s hand towards the one demanding it. Ambradu reached out, snatched the pen and with a dismissive wave of the hand, sacked the boy from his sight. The victim wished he could give them a piece of his mind, but the hostile look on Faisal’s face made him think otherwise. That belligerent boy would undoubtedly give him mental scars if he spoke any further.
He walked away, tears standing at the corners of his eyes, while Ambradu and Jake snickered at the look on Faisal’s face.
“Chale, Faisal, relax eh!” Ambradu laughed. “He take the pen give me. That be all.”
“But you no see how he do ein face afterwards?” Faisal argued. “Like he dey come argue plus we. He, he make lucky waa sey he no gbele ein mouth. Like he go see ein sorrmii for here. Aboa!”
“Eiiii, we beg, relax!” Jake added. “He no talk anything. He naa, he know, so chale, forget am. Anyways, Ambradu, this test, you make ready?” Jake asked.
“Ready to the fullest. Na I dey study all night ooo, so these last minute things just be embellishments give me.”
“Chaleyyy! You dey force ooo.”
“Hwɛɛ! After the way Ms. Kyei mark me down last term, I say I never go slack for Integrated Science again. This term, the classwork and homework all, if I go score low marks kraa, 7 over 10. I no dey slack.”
“Simple kraaa,” Faisal agreed. “You no for dey lose guard give the teachers kraaa.”
“Ah, Faisal, what e dey your hand inside?” Jake asked, a mischievous grin on his face.
Faisal looked down, then shut his eyes in embarrassment. “Oh s**t, I forgot myself.”
Earlier that morning, on the way to the bus stop where he usually met with the others, he had chanced upon a hawker selling Pebbles. One of his guilty pleasures. After debating within whether or not to buy some, the part of him arguing for the motion won and he bought about four small wrappings of the chocolate treats.
So much for staying off sweet stuff.
He hadn’t wanted the boys to see him betraying his promise, but at that moment, discretion evaded him, as the wrappers were in his hand for all to see.
“Ah. Herh, Faisal, Golden Tree pebbles you dey chop for there?” Ambradu asked. “Inobi you wey you say you dey shun all sweet things?”
The goofy and guilty expression on Faisal’s face as he covered his eyes was hilarious. “Chale… old habits dey die hard…”
“Eeei, sweet king nono! You dey sweet things pass! You no catch one week sef, you dey slip up. Eiiii, boy!”
Faisal was too shy to respond.
“See, Jake, this boy, the way he get sweet tooth eh, e go translate to the waist pɛɛ. He go like c**t chop roff!”
Jake burst into loud laughter as Faisal’s eyes widened. Then he shook his head as he laughed. “You this Ambradu boy eh, you f**k up, I swear! Herrhhh!”
As they laughed, the siren to indicate break was over sounded off.
“Chale! Time for action!” Ambradu said out loud as he closed his exercise book. Readying himself to get up, he then looked at the pen he had extorted from the younger boy. “These pens sef, them be good?”
“Hoh, massa, forget these pens,” Faisal scoffed. “Abi you get Bic? That be the correct pen, chale.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
With that, Ambradu tossed the pen onto the ground and stepped on it. He smirked at his little deed before walking off with his boys to the classroom block.
All books away!”
At the sound of that order, the students placed their books under their desks and readied themselves for the test ahead of them. The teacher then moved around the class, providing each student with a plain foolscap sheet and an overturned question paper. With about forty students in the class, that was not too tedious a task for her.
Once she was done, she came to stand before the class and checked her watch. It was 12:58 pm. Another two minutes, and the test would begin.
As the digits finally switched to 13:00 on her watch, she announced, “Start work!”
The students duly turned their question sheets over and began to read as they started.
Jake was pretty excited as he scanned the question paper. That last minute session with Ambradu and Faisal had been a lot more beneficial than he had anticipated. Virtually everything they had discussed at their base was what could be found on the paper.
Alaa, no be small firing I go fire this paper. Herrrrhh!! Ɛbɛyɛ dɛ kɛkɛ! he thought triumphantly as he took up his pen and steadied himself to begin work.
He looked briefly in Ambradu’s direction. His friend was staring hard at the question paper on his desk.
Eii, this boy. By now, he dey cook up some killer answers for ein head inside, he laughed inwardly as he turned back to his sheet. He began to write.
Two lines into his answer, however, he began to feel something in his belly.
A pain that seemed to gain strength with each passing second.
As it started up, Jake ignored it, hoping it would remain at a bearable stage. But it refused to remain at the mild stage.
Slowly it climbed. From mild… to moderate… to severe.
Soon, Jake’s head was on the table, wincing at the sharp pain rippling through him. The urge to visit the loo was slowly getting so intense, he could feel his attempts to hold it in get weaker.
Squirming in his seat, the attention of a few around him. And the teacher.
“Mr. Jake Yorke, is something wrong?” she asked. Quite typical of her to call students out by their full names.
Jake quickly raised his head from the table. “I need to go to the bathroom, please!” he blurted out, the discomfort all over his face.
Seeing how much anguish he was in, she nodded and gestured toward the door. Jake immediately rushed out, to the concern of many, and the amusement of some.
A few minutes later, Jake walked back in, looking a bit weaker. Ms. Kyei looked quite concerned. “Jake, can you continue with the paper?”
He nodded. “Yes, madam. I’m okay now.”
He returned to his seat and resumed writing. That had been some nasty bout of agony, but that rush to the bathroom was a reliever. Now he could get back to killing this paper.
Five minutes passed, and he was halfway through answering the first question. Feeling pleased with himself, he had a smirk on his face as he wrote…
… then suddenly the pain returned.
And this time, it jumped straight to severe. Severe to the extent that Jake practically shrieked in pain as he held his stomach.
Now the class, and the teacher, were worried. Those who found his first reaction funny weren’t laughing now; it was clear the boy was in serious pain.
Two of his mates and Ambradu rushed to his side as Ms. Kyei called out to them to take him out of the classroom ASAP.
“Boys, please, take him to the dispensary. Quickly!”
Whatever Jake was going through did not make Ambradu happy, but it was a bit of a welcome distraction for him. He had been hoping the little interruption would restore some sanity to his brain.
But as he sat before the paper, nothing had changed.
He sighed and gritted his teeth in anger.
How the f**k am I not able to remember a thing?
Since Ms. Kyei announced ‘Start Work!’, it’s as if something had snuck into his brain and placed a veil over everything he had studied. He had learned hard for this test, yet as he sat there, it was almost like he had not even bothered to crack a book open in months.
He looked at the questions. These were questions he could answer with no fuss. None at all. Yet it felt like the answers had been stuffed in some corner of his brain and locked up, with no key in sight.
His head leaning on his upright right arm, he seethed to himself.
“Come on, gademmit! I know this stuff. I know it! Come on!”
His brain still wouldn’t open up. Just hazy ideas upon hazy ideas. This was so infuriating.
“Come on, come on, come onnnnnnn!”
No recollection. No remembrance. The lights in his brain were like lightbulbs of homes powered by ECG or NEPA.
And until the moment he heard ‘Stop Work!’, nothing changed.
Whatever blocked the information from being used for the test held on till the bitter end, much to the frustration of Ambradu.
“Ah. But how?” Faisal wondered out loud, standing next to Ambradu as they watched their friend accompanied by two teachers, walk to the car park where his mother’s car was conveniently parked.
Jake had spent the rest of the afternoon in the school dispensary, unable to do anything but rush to the bathroom every time a stinging pain ripped through his belly. Eventually, his mother was called to come and pick him.
She had come just as school was over for the day, and Faisal, wondering what the commotion had been about, had stepped out of his class to see his fellow Slash King looking pretty weak and pale and leaning on one of the teachers.
Ambradu shook his head, at a total loss. “I no dey understand sef. Sudden diarrhea, but what he chop, we too we chop the same thing. Wey notin do we. Very strange.”
“Very. So he no write kraaa?”
Ambradu shook his head. “Small, but he no fit finish. The way things happen, them say them go give am special time make he write after recovery.”
As they watched the car drive out of the premises, Ambradu shook his head again. Of course, he was concerned about Jake’s well-being and hoped he’d recover speedily. But his mind was fixed on what happened to him in the classroom; he still couldn’t understand how his brain suddenly shut down and refused to function for the entirety of the test. He had huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed, but just like the brick house of the third pig, his efforts to break through that barrier failed.
Eventually, he had to resort to writing utter gibberish. Something he knew would get him in trouble with Ms. Kyei.
Sighing as he trudged back to the classroom to take his bag, he kept asking himself the same question over and over again…
“What the hell happened?”
Things have started happening! What else is in store for them? The next episode will have more information for us!