The door slowly opens after about twenty minutes of waiting, and what I see scares me out of my skin. I take two steps backwards just to regain my balance, and because my feet still badly hurt, I take one more. Then I trip, and fall flat on my face, right in front of the SBHM’s house. My embarrassment knows no bounds. But my shock? It skyrockets to the heights of heaven. What in the wide world is Sinemile doing here? With a plastered face?
I cry my eyes sore at these new turn of events. I am the terrible person, I am the one who instigates people to bully my bunkmate because she is manic, I am the one whose case will be looked into because I have done harm to a fellow student. I cannot contain my grief.
I remember the look the SBHM gave me while I struggled to rise from my humiliating fall. I remember her biting words:
‘Oh, the culprit came to report herself already.’
I remember smiling to myself and thinking:
‘Thank God, Sinemile finally did the right thing…’ only to be shocked by her indignant voice asking me to get inside her house before she lost it.
Sinemile was seen-off, and by the time the SBHM got back in, all hell was let loose.
‘You scratched her with your nails, you evil little girl!’
Confusion hit me like a power surge.
‘Oh, don’t feign innocence with me. Emily has told me everything. Your house captain is on her way to confirm them. If she gets here and corroborates Emily’s stories, I’m afraid I’m going to personally take up this case. I am tired of people being treated inhumanly just because they are different. I cannot stand for it.’
I started to cry.
‘Please ma, everything she said is a lie ma. I swear it ma. I was even coming to report her to you ma…’
‘Keep your explanations to yourself, my dear girl. Sunmbo, your house captain, will settle this question of who is lying and who is not when she gets here.
Senior Sunmbo got there just in time. I was happy that finally, I’d get vindicated from this minefield I had found myself in. Alas, I was wrong! Senior Sunmbo said she never witnesses any form of bullying take place, either to me or by me. She decided to play the neutral card, and I wondered who she was trying to protect. No, I knew who she was trying to protect. I was very disappointed.
The SBHM had immediately lost her cool and slapped me across the face. She ordered me to vamoose from her presence and report to her office during break time the following day. She assured me that I was in big trouble. I knew I was.
This episode replays in my head tonight and weep again till my pillow is sodden. Sinemile lays there on the lower bunk, playing the victim and sleeping soundly. I want to jump down and do the things she accused me of doing. I want to scratch her face with erm…not fingers, knives. Or nails. I want to make her bleed for bringing nothing but pain into my life. I want to snuff the life out of her lungs and end her ruthless sorry existence.
But you are not like her, Ebube. You will not be spiteful. You will fight this battle, and you will win.
At these soul-lifting thoughts, I doze off and dream dreams I cannot remember.
The next morning, I meet every junior girl in my room one on one, and tell them of my plight. Their ‘eeyah’s don’t move me, I need support right now, not pity. I manage to cajole three of them, including Tanya and Bilikis to testify. I’m pleasantly surprised at Bilikis’ reaction towards my predicament, and it dawns on me that this is the sorry she owes me for her betrayal two years ago.
I rebel. I do no chores for Sinemile this morning. Damn her and her consequences, this is war!
I limp to class feeling hopeful. The third volunteer I spoke to this morning, Charity, already said she saw Sinemile use a blade to cut herself on her temple. It isn’t beyond her, and I am no longer surprised. If nothing else works, Charity’s testimony will set me free. I limp to class feeling very hopeful.
The day moves faster than usual. It’s funny how the faster days are the dreadful ones. Before long, the bell for break time rings. I stand, check in on Bilikis in her class. She joins me. We walk all the way to Tanya’s arm. She joins us. Charity is the only one left. We walk to her class together: JSS3F.
Her seat is empty.
‘Maybe she has gone out for break.’ Bilikis high-pitched voice says into my ears.
We sight a tall girl, Ejide or so, can’t clearly recall her name, and I could not be bothered.
‘Hello’ I say to her.
‘Yes?’ she replies with obvious impatience.
‘Please where is Charity?’
‘I don’t know’ she says as she shrugs.
‘But did you see her earlier?’ Tanya cuts in.
‘Nope. Charity hasn’t been to class today.’
‘What?!!!’ the three of us scream in unison, our mouths forming three perfect ‘O’s.
Where the hell is Charity?