STORY: Jawboned By Uwen Precious
It matters that we start with the buzzing sound coming from
Mosquitoes , the loud – irritating noise coming from Cicadas , and then, the thickness of the night, that had no-one gallivanting on the un-tarred road. It also matters that we look at the way these group of boys march up to the separate houses this late. At the time when the earth was in flux; cause the darkness was so thick, it felt like the Earth would run down into a ‘Black Hole’. These boys had resembling apparels and an unmatched set of height. And I see a lady, with a different kind of apparel and waist chain. She moves like a queen. And she just shook her head and these boys positioned at these separate houses starts hitting the gates of Houses one and two oddly. These gates serve as a protective figure for those of us – residents, of the school’s dormitory;
“Where are the security personnel?!” I see no one.
They banged and banged that even the rats that chewed bit by bit hurried in their nightly routine of scattering things in order to find food. The sound that came from the bang on the gates made rise – from sleep, for some more girls. The next thing was a
gunshot that sounded like Heaven had fallen to a part of the Earth. And later, they brought out a kind of box and placed it on both gates. After it was placed on the gates and two men pumped something into it, they ran a distance and ducked. Then it blew in seconds, and that was how the whole school grew frantic. And you know phones are disallowed in dormitories but… at almost every corner, a phone came out and we started phoning. Bulbs were put to light, and our alarm bell was switched on: it was usually at House three but the later relocated it to House five cause there have always been complaints of rough headed girls that occupied that House, and they take pleasure – destructively.
The school is a five-housed dormitory, and you can see what is going on around if your corner is in the House five section of the school’s architectural placement. And as some of us could see, these men had infiltrated Houses one and two trading out girls in their numbers. How scary! How vile! We, the little set of girls that watched thru a window are deeply petrified, and we hear a loud drop to the floor. It seemed like our school gate had fallen. We then saw a large transporting truck drive into the little field that stood at the middle of the Houses, and we heard shootings from the Staffs Quarters with wails coming out from all angles.
“We heard that they have entered House four and they are all around us; around this school!” said by one Chioma.
The girl we considered a nerdy, disrespectful child; coming from a home considered to be ungrounded.
“Shut up! Who said that?” Chloe gave her a response.
She claims that her dad is an aviation officer, so no need to fear, he will soon be here with his Jet in no time. Just as we were talking in seconds past, we heard another dong, and this time we were sure it came from our House. And the first girl that stuck her head out the window (from where we watched) obliviously, was shot. It was Chloe that got shot. Fear gripped us. We literarily saw her fall to the ground. Quickly, we ran out of that scene. There, we gradually understood the peril we were in.
Everyone wailed and shouted: those that claimed to be quiet became noisy as a Parrot, and wilder than a gladiator itself. Everything went so dire and fiendish that we resorted to counting the boxes in the ceiling. We got to know that we had fourteen boxes horizontally and eight  boxes vertically until one of them barged into our room with grave ammunition and a ruddy kind of look. His disposition had neither jewel nor laughter, as we noticed.
“Everyone, come outside, now!” He ordered.
That was how we all moved in a single file, quivering. Some of us were with clothes that were quite revealing; it’s a girl’s dormitory and at most – it’s the nights . So, we gathered up at the field in our school and we were amazed at the trucks and battalion of men that braced themselves at all positions. We saw some teachers lay with stained shirts on the floor; dead, maybe those that claimed to be too naughty. They shot them to the ground.
As we were gathered in the field they brought out a Book : The way it was treated you would know they cherished it that much. They promised that if we would keenly denounce our faith in the One we called the Most High and follow theirs, they’d free that fellow and move onto the next. And that anyone who would profoundly choose and stand by her faith would be shot to the ground, immediately.
They started with the first girl who is quite popular for acting as a guy would, and she immediately said;
“I will denounce! Please! Spare my life!”
They passed her and moved onto the next and almost a hundred and thirteen students flouted their faith and still counting. What was really hilarious was a girl that exclaimed;
“I’m just a regular visitor of worship centers! I don’t even feel the presence of who we go to worship! I wish I did but… I don’t, please spare my life I don’t want to die.”
The exercise continued and was almost approaching my point. Tears rolled down to my cheeks and I held the hands of the girl before me, in the shock and tremble. But she said this to me;
“Don’t… Don’t denounce your faith; don’t be jawboned into accepting what originally wasn’t what you stood for and prayed to. Be strong, he’ll come to our aid, somehow.”
Those that stood by their faith and fear for the Supreme Being they believed in were set aside from the crowd. As coincidence would have it, they reached the point where we were, and when they asked the girl before me if she would denounce her… we both shouted “NO!” tightening the grip of our hands. And the man that asked the question gave a smirk at us and dragged us out of the others. Since our house was the last, House five. The exercise had ended, and surprisingly we saw our principal come out with that Book. He came out shaking his head and tear-dropping. The Book was collected from him and as it seemed, each House name was to be mentioned. It was just a mixture of alpha-numeric figures. So the names of the several houses were imprinted on this Book; Victoria house one, Peach house two, Grace field house three, Bianca house four, and Mary’s house five. This man said he was going to mention, according to each house, the number of people that denounced their faith and those that didn’t. He started; “House one, which is the largest house, with a total population of five hundred and sixty three students, Five hundred and twenty three denounced their faith, Forty students did not. House two with a total population of four hundred and seventy two students, all of them denounced their faith…” That was how he continued, and in a school with a population that reads Two thousand and Fifty (one thousand and forty] boarders, and one thousand and ten day students) . In the one thousand and forty boarding students, just fifty two didn’t denounce their faith. The man with the Book, after reading it, turned and gave it back to our principal who was all teary. A vibrant looking man but surely he was in his late fifties. He collected the Book and bursted our bubbles; he said this exercise and the whole scenery was preplanned by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in collaboration with some military men – through their aid, all these vehicles and guns loaded with ineffectual bullets are present. Our jaws dropped instantly. He said this exercise is ongoing and its aim is to strategize and see how statistics can be gotten from citadels of learning (Secondary Schools). Statistics, of those who truly and definitely trust God and hold him to heart despite the fluming insurgencies crowding the nation, within the South, West and East coast of Nigeria is being taken, and kept. Whatever [you] heard or saw were waterproof bullets and it is ineffectual to anybody. He added that the girl (Chloe) we thought was shot from House five is really not dead. It was all an act to instill fear in our minds. “I’m disheartened that we failed wholly. And these stats will be taken to the Head office – CAN, same as other results for proper evaluation. And eventually, everyone must offer; CRK, CRS, CRE; both science and arts, everyone. Students, we can all go back to our houses, and for those of you that didn’t denounce your faith, I implore you to continue being steadfast and God-fearing, and for those that didn’t; I’d like you to go back and ponder on this event and rebuild your faith with God; he forgives, don’t worry about anything. The school’s Main Gate will be restored, and the gates in your different houses will also be replaced…’
He wasn’t done talking and those of us that didn’t denounce our faith bursted out in laughter, and most importantly, the thought that the whole thing wasn’t real stupefied us. But the cries and somber mood by the other girls (those ones that denounced) overwhelmed the laughs, and so we had to console them.
Quickly, our principal retorted;
‘Um – all… you that called your parents and made them worry, I thought according to the school’s rule; phones are contrabands, and unacceptable? I’d like you to put it to thought that those involved might be punished for that. And we’ll get through to your parents and guardians telling them of the situation. Everything will be okay,” He chuckled.
Then he turned to greet the commanding officer of the battalion, who is A Lady, and some other teachers that took active part in the exercise. We saw those teachers that we thought they shot standing up and receiving a shake from The Principal. He thanked them wholeheartedly. And eventually Chloe had woken up from her ‘supposed’ death.
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