I marched back to class from the assembly and settled in, it felt odd. I didn’t fit into my new school in ways. My mates wore brown and yellow school uniforms, white socks and black shoes while I wore mufti, although, I had measured with the tailor.
I came from an urban school in Lagos where I lived with my father and my new school was rural. Unlike the resplendent structure of my old school, this new school was an uncompleted duplex-structure L-shaped decking with functional classrooms. It was plastered but without the basic necessities that made a building one, doors or windows. The classrooms were scarcely furnished with ashy desks and chairs, and the blackboard was just another layer of cemented surface on the wall painted with charcoal.
Yoruba was the spoken language and I spoke just English. But, as students chattered I assumed they told one another how they spent their last holidays.
They simmered down when our teacher walked in. He had full lips that made his oblong face look womanly and small hands for a man.
“Take out a sheet of paper,” he announced. “Your first exercise is to write about how you spent your last holidays.”
Students got busy, everyone but me.
I stared at the sheet in front of me and thought of what to write but couldn’t find words, I almost started to cry.
My father’s long-time mistress moved into our home during the long vacation, and if he spent a while with me after work he never had time. They went out every day in the mornings and returned at night. Mother had been away from home since primary three when father kicked her out because she found out he was a miserable cheater, either that, or because he was tired of her endless nagging and fights when he came home with another woman’s scent on his body. A week towards the end of the primary four long-vacation mother came when father was out and crammed me at the back of her car and then drove off. That’s how I found myself here. That was after I called and begged her to come because I couldn’t continue to live like that. I couldn’t write the aforementioned and so I wrote this:
I spent my holiday in Ibadan. I and my family stayed at a beautiful hotel. Ibadan is a big city and there were many things to see. We went to a new amusement park that opened; in the car were me, father and mother. When we finally got there dad bought cotton candies and tickets to ride everything, the gondola, the carousel, the rollercoaster which made me vomit all over my shoes. Train rides, the Ferris wheel and then we went to see a clown in a dark room with red lights, and it terrified me.
We returned two days before school reopened for the new term. I enjoyed my stay in Ibadan; I had never had that much fun in my life.
Then I submitted.