“Lord, if you help me get past that dining hall door, I will stop fantasizing about Cynthia.” Henry prayed under his breath.
Henry had a painful crush on Cynthia. She was a class ahead of him, with the face of an angel, and a figure dreams were made of. He knew God disapproved of fantasizing about girls—at least that’s what the Chaplain drilled into their heads during their compulsory worship meetings—but he couldn’t help the images that flooded his mind every time he thought of her. His school was very religious. The girls were kept separate from the boys as much as possible; the only time they had an opportunity to relate with them was in class. But sometimes, when the boys came to dining, they would be able to see the girls leave their hostels.
It made sense to do a little bargain with the Most High. No more fantasy equals to slipping into the dining hall without a cutlery set undetected. Henry wanted—no, needed to eat. That was the only way to survive the rest of the day. Personal provisions were not allowed and he was just a liver-less JSS 2 boy who didn’t have the balls to sneak in contraband.
Henry’s heart sunk to his stomach before resuming its heavy thumps as he drew nearer to the dining double doors. Cold sweat rolled down his forehead as he subconsciously pulled his trouser higher. The thing was two times his size. At the waist it was quite snug, but it flared like shapeless sacs on its way down. It was a humiliating attire but it was all he had. He hoped Cynthia wouldn’t see him in the state he was in. Dragging in a breath, he marched forward with all the confidence he could muster. He nearly made it through…nearly.
Henry froze mid-step but refused to turn. Maybe the prefect was speaking to someone else.
“Junior boy with the bongo trouser.”
Henry turned and pointed at himself “M-me?” he stammered.
“No, your father. Show me your cutlery, jare!”
Henry was dead. Finished. He slouched and walked back to the prefect. Senior Niyi was fearfully made. Sometimes Henry wondered if God got inspired by a rock when creating him. His short muscular build gave him the look of an angry bull dog–an ugly angry bull dog. No one crossed him, not even his mates.
Gulping his heart down his chest, Henry discarded the notion of begging as he retraced his steps.
“Fool! You think sey you fit escape. You wan enter dining chop with hand. Chimpanzee. Go join your family members for there.” He pointed at two boys kneeling on the grass close to the dining door.
“But senior, someone stole my—”
A sharp slap at the back of his head caused him to stumble forward. He quickly righted his steps, saving himself from a fall in the process. One of the boys was a class below his, and the other was Emeka, one of his roommates. He sunk to his knees beside him.
“Guy, you sef dey here?”
Henry gritted his teeth and looked away, refusing to react to Emeka’s stupid jab. Thankfully, he stopped speaking when he saw he wasn’t in the mood.
The delightful aroma of jollof rice wafted around him, teasing his senses and causing his stomach to rumble. Henry was close to bursting into tears. Senior Niyi had the habit of preventing those without cutlery from eating. He’d make them kneel throughout the meal time, permitting them to leave only when the dining hall was emptied.
A light bump at Henry’s left ankle caused him to shift a little. He frowned. Something was slowly trying to make its way up his leg. Springing to his feet, he stumped a foot on the grass in a desperate attempt to dislodge whatever it was. He froze when he felt the scrape and wriggle of the thing as it moved higher. It had somehow found its way to the back of his knee.
“Wetin dey do you?” Emeka asked, half-rising from his kneeling position.
“Something is in my trouser!” Henry pressed his knees together in a desperate attempt to stop the creature from crawling further. When it wiggled against his skin, he made an awkward jump, hoping to get the attention of the prefect.
“Senior Niyi!” Henry called out. “Senior, something is in my trouser!”
The prefect lifted a brow as he turned in his direction. He strolled over. “What is it?”
Henry was about to answer when he felt it again. The thing’s claws scrapped across the skin of his thigh. Henry was certain it was a lizard. The reptiles were everywhere in school, especially the walls of the dining hall. But why him? Why was it struggling so hard to climb up his leg? His whimpered when his mind began to think up the craziest possibilities. Could it be the witches from the village? Was it going to attach itself to a precious part of his anatomy? He grew still at the horrifying thought.
“There is a lizard…” He couldn’t complete his statement. He had managed to grab on to the animal’s…tail? It twisted about, fiercely determined to break from his hold.
“Help me!” Henry didn’t care that the prefect was laughing at the situation; all he wanted was freedom.
“Oya, remove your trouser.”
At the prefect’s suggestion, Henry wanted to laugh and cry all at once. He would have to momentarily let go of the squirming creature in order to achieve that…or did he need both hands to take off the belt? He couldn’t even think straight!
“What are you waiting for? Abi you want make the thing chop your blokus?” Senior Niyi asked before howling in laughter once more.
Henry acted as fast as his shaky fingers would let him. He pulled at the belt, dragging it through the loops of his trouser in a mad rush. He was sweating profusely, his heart doing a double in his chest. In his struggle to dislodge his zipper, he subconsciously let go of the lizard. He realised his mistake too late. The creature, finally free, went wild. It clawed about, racing up his leg and heading towards his groin like a heat seeking missile.
“Jesus! Oh God, help me. Blood of Jesus!” Henry shouted. He stumped about, tugging at his zipper like he was suffering from an epileptic seizure. The thing wouldn’t budge. His hands flew to his crotch when the lizard ran across it. Henry nearly went insane.
It’s going to eat my blokus. Jesus! I know it’ll eat it!
Emeka saved him. He dragged his trouser down in one pull, exposing his briefs and legs to all that cared to see. Henry didn’t mind a bit; he was free. A black fat lizard lazily crawled out of his white trouser. The creature looked like a demon from hell! Henry stumbled away then fell on his rear.
With his trousers still bunched around his ankles, Henry sighed in relief. The fact that he was in such an undignified position close to the girls’ hostel meant nothing to him. The lizard was gone. Finally rising to his feet and bending to pull his trouser up his scrawny legs, Henry saw her. Cynthia, in all her dreaminess, was walking with two girls and he was in her direct line of sight. He pleaded, begging God to save him from his impending embarrassment. For wia? God no gree. He turned his face away, refusing to answer Henry’s desperate plea. Cynthia and her companions chose that moment to look in his direction, and when they did they laughed at him. Perhaps, he would have lived through it all if Cynthia’s laughter wasn’t the loudest.