The school bell rang for recess. Children’s voices tore through the class and several of them ran out even without the permission of Miss Chika. She looked back at the rest who were seated with their eyes fastened on her looking eager.
“Alright,” she said. “You can go for your recess. Say your prayers.”
The children hailed her briefly. They recited the usual prayers they said whenever it was time to eat:
“Lord we thank you for this food,
Some have food but cannot eat,
Some can eat but have no food,
We have food and we can eat,
Glory be to thee O Lord!”
The class nanny began helping the children with their lunch boxes as they crowded in front of the shelf. She handed the lunch boxes to them one after the other after she had perused them to see what sort of food was in,side. She opened Isaac’s little peach lunch box; plantain ch¡ps and fried eggs were in it, his bottle contained Nutri C. She took one plantain and threw quickly into her mouth. She gave it to him smiling. Isaac received it with a reciprocated gesture. Nanny was fond of him that was why she took only one plantain, she usually took more if it belonged to other children. He was really a favourite in his class because he was eager to learn and please his teachers. The other children were only concerned about eating during recess and going back home.
His first day in school had been a funny scene. His grand aunt had dressed him in the school uniform; a blue plain trouser, blue tie, white shirt and blue suit with a black shoe. She told him he was going to a nice place to learn how to read and write and be intelligent like his mummy. Isaac had beamed at the sound of this, then she held his hand and they went to the second street not far from their house. They arrived at Saint Paul’s Academy, they met the headmistress who talked happily to Isaac and kept assuring Aunt Gloria “The boy is in safe hands Ma.”
The headmistress directed them to a class that was the first among a line of other classes that looked similar. It was on the third floor of the three storey building. “This is the boy’s class; Play Class A. You might want to take him in,side to limit his cry when you leave.”
Aunt Gloria nodded and took hold of Isaac and led him into the class. Isaac was all smiles when he entered. The sight of all those children in blue suits and white shirts, sitting org-nized in their chairs, looking so immaculate and pristine made him very happy. So this was where he would learn how to read and write? The class was adorned with pictures of animals, the Alphabet and numbers. It gave him a feeling of déjà vu. The class teacher welcomed him, the nanny collected his small bear shaped school bag and put it on the shelf, she motioned to him to sit in a chair that had a short red table in the centre. Three other children were seated around the table, he proudly took his seat in their midst and flashed a bigger smile at them. Turning to his grand aunt, he waved good bye at her and turned to the children to make friends.
Aunt Gloria, the teacher, the nanny and the head mistress all burst into laughter. Most children cried on their first day at school, but here was c child who was only glad to be brought to his class. Aunt Gloria waved at him and left promising to pick him up at closing time.
Isaac ate his plantain leisurely. Ene looked at him with pleading eyes. She always finished her lunch before anyone else but always remained hungry. She was confident that Isaac would give her some of his food this time as well. He always given her a little of his food, that was the reason why they remained friends. This time however he seemed not to care, he was not even looking at her, which meant he may not give her his food. This enraged Ene, she decided to take it easy and approach him diplomatically.
“Isaac, Isaac, me ba? Me ba?” She said to him in the child’s language of begging another child.
Isaac turned to Ene and when he saw her hands extended. He turned away quickly and started eating hurriedly. He was not going to share his food with her this time around. Aunt Gloria had warned him yesterday to desist from the habit because his neighbours who attended the school with him reported to his grand aunt about his Father Christmas nature. She had warned him with her voice raised not to give anybody else his food in school and not to collect any food also.
Ene, who by now was greatly offended decided to take things into her own hands. She was a bully, her friendsh¡p with Isaac only prevented her from forcefully collecting things from him, but if he was not going to give him his food, he would see the other part of her. She gripped him with one hand and snatched the lunch pack with the other hand and ran away eating the food as she did.
Isaac ran after her crying. He had barely had enough of the food and if she ate all of it that meant no food for him till he returned to the house. He shouted at her and threw stones at her calling her “Kodeyi! Glutton!” as he ran. Ene was fast in eating the food, in thirty seconds she had finished eating all the plantain and eggs, she needed a drink now, the food in her throat was not passing quickly and if she did not drink something she would end up choking. Isaac was with his bottle, it was hung around his neck. She would wait for him to come so she could snatch the bottle and drink his juice. He came soon enough and she hijacked the bottle as well before he could resist. She was older than him with a year and had older brothers so she was naturally smarter than him. She gulped down the contents of the bottle swiftly not minding that he was hitting her with the empty lunch box and crying. She was drank until she started choking, the juice had missed its way and gone the wrong path; it felt like she had just drank pepper. She choked some more and held her throat throwing the bottle. Nanny came to where they stood after seeing the commotion. When she understood Ene was choking she ordered a child to bring his water and gave Ene to drink all the while patting her at the back to calm her down. Isaac stood watching the e pisode with wonder.
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