Somehow, we were sure she didn’t sneak out. She was somewhere within the school but for 2 weeks, no one could tell where my friend Q. was. There were several sightings, you know like one would sight UFOs, without proof.
“I swear I saw Q. by the borehole last night”
“2 days ago, just before sports, I saw Q. walking towards the staff quarters”
There were several claims. But did any one of you stop her and talk to her face to face? No.
She was always too far away they said, but they were sure it was her because of her waddle. It was impossible to miss Q’s waddle. We often laughed at the way she walked. It always reminded me of a duck! Mean of me I know but even as I write this, a smile cracks up my face.
It’s been 18 years. Wow! As I quote that figure, I’m suddenly struck by the fact that I’m growing
old older. 18 years is really a long time if you consider I’m just going to be thirty in a few weeks. Yup! The big three-oh!
‘Nyways, back to Q.
Every average girl loves girlish things right? I mean that’s a given – at least it should be. Well Q. didn’t! She was fearless and nothing irritated her. Nothing ever made her say “yuck!” Nothing that is, except a mass of black ants. I always thought that strange.
Most girls I know would scream if a big grasshopper hopped onto their bodies and if they ever saw a cockroach crawl past, they’re never going past that path again. Q. loved to torment us and she enjoyed watching us shriek and scream when she got hold of a really huge grasshopper and threatened to put it in our blouses. We would beg as though for our lives but Q. would just wave the monstrous thing at us and laugh.
She loved it when it rained ‘cause after the rain, the soil was moist enough for the earthworms to come out and play. Yup, for Q. earthworms were cute playthings. She held them between her thumb and forefinger and watched them wiggle and squirm. When she got tired of the play, she’d gently put them down and watch them crawl away.
Most people thought Q. was weird but I just loved her! Nope, I couldn’t stand grasshoppers or earthworms. They scared me shitless! But Q. was always ready for an adventure. It was always as though we were thinking the same thing. Even though we were barely in JS 1 (3rd Term) at the time, we’d explored all the unexplored corners of the school.
The school compound was so large that there weren’t any clear boundaries all around. There was a front gate of course and a wall that seemed to stretch for miles. Q. and I discovered however that if you walked long enough away from the hostels towards the back, you’d find yourself in the nearby village. No wall got to that part of the school, neither were there any barbed wires. We spent hours and hours exploring the ‘jungle’ behind our school and even hoped we’d see live monkeys!
I’m sure by now you’re wondering what we’re doing wandering in the ‘jungle’ when we should be reading! To tell the truth, I had no time for my books. I didn’t even really know I was in school to read! Classes seemed an uncomfortable interruption of my real life. Real life being serving seniors, or running away from the hostel to prevent you from being the ‘available junior girl’ and being sent on errands to death! Real life for me was surviving the intrigues of being in Js1 and the door mat of every senior girl. I was learning to beat the system and I was learning fast!
Classes were irrelevant as far as I was concerned. It was the dream-life where you pretended you’re in another world. Yet when the school bell rang for class dismissal, you were jarred to reality where it was dog-eat-dog!
My adventures where my escape mechanism and Q. was my worthy companion. We climbed trees and pretended we were members of the von Trapp family doing our thing.
It was Q. that showed me the difference between a toad and a frog. Of all things! I don’t know how she knew those things. We were barely 10 years old!
One night we left prep class and took a long walk towards the kitchen area. The doors were not normally locked and since huge logs of timber were used as stoves, the fire never really went out. It was always left smoldering even till the next day.
We walked around the kitchen and Q. pushed open the door. We snuck in under the cover of darkness and found some oil used to fry fish earlier. We also found some corn soaked in a huge basin. We poured the oil in a tureen and managed to balance it on one of the huge smoldering logs then we fetched several handfuls of the corn and poured it into the already hot oil. I guess we thought we could make some popcorn. We ended up burning the corn but we enjoyed eating our burnt corn outside.
“hey you two! What are you doing there?!”
We were startled and the first instinct was to run away. We were done for!
It was the night guard on his rounds. He shone his torch on our sorry faces and was surprised to see us 'little' rats by the kitchen at that time of the night.
From our faces, he shone the torch down at our half eaten burnt corn and you could see the incredulity in his eyes.
I really wasn't afraid of the guard. I was afraid he'd hand us over to our prep prefect or worse still to the head girl. But he was nice. He didn't ask for an explanation but pointed to our hostel and commanded us to be gone before he opened his eyes.
We fled! thanking our stars it wasn't worse. Once we got near the hostel, we just burst out laughing.
It was exhilarating knowing that we really could do whatever we wanted and never really get caught. I can't even begin to write it all down.
'Nyways, just before we started exams, Q. disappeared.
To be continued...