ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS LIFE SERVED ME (Part 5)
One of the reasons I rebelled so much in that BCJS school was that shortly after my accident and time in LUTH I began to have a recurring dream.
I saw myself on several occasions over a period of time wearing a clerical collar. You see, I was born Anglican, and there was nobody on my father’s side or mother’s side that was anything else, and so the logical explanation for that dream in my little head was that something or someone wanted me to be an Anglican priest.
Then out of the blues my dad decided I was to go to a Junior Seminary while my elder ones were in a Unity School. This was in the 80s and Unity Schools then were really exclusive.
To further underscore my despair the fact that I was sent off to one local, supposedly religious institution was compounded by a situation where the two notable priests in the school, the Principal and the Chaplain, were models I wouldn’t have.
Let me explain.
Rev. Canon Ekwenchi was the Principal that looked just like your grandfather, and talked like him. He had this old cream colored Peugeot 305 which always chugged along the road as we watched from either the Administrative Building or our Dormitories.
The Chaplain was Rev. Israel Kelue Okoye; he was much younger, more boisterous, and very cerebral. One of the most intelligent men I had ever seen, but he drove this VW Beetle that looked like it came out from the set of a 1960 movie.
These were the priests I saw everyday and they were the only ones there who wore clerical collars. The problem was I had had these dreams where I was wearing a collar…. and I knew I had no plans to end up driving relics.
I had bigger plans than that.
So I threw tantrums and caused problems until I was removed from there and sent to Command Abakaliki.
It became worse and not better after joining CSSA.
I remember when I sent a junior student, I think he was in Dragon House, to go home and get guns and other weapons for me.
His father was a Commissioner of Police and so I knew he would have access to guns.
I had been watching “Juice”, the black image movie that starred Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps, and I needed to dramatize beside the military cantonment in Abakaliki what happened on the streets of Harlem.
I really didn’t have any reason for wanting those guns, at least not until I saw Uwem Ukoh and Precious Irubor.
These two guys were a year ahead of me in CSSA and, particularly with the former, I had a whole shed load of implements to grind (never mind an axe. In fact the axe was meant to be buried in his head).
A number of things happened and somewhere at the nexus of the boy I sent to get his father’s weapons being caught as he stood stupefied at the cache of weapons he saw in his dad’s bedroom and a hit targeted at Uwem Ukoh failing to hit its target, my gang and I were apprehended by the military school authorities.
We had missed Uwem so Ekene Nkwocha alerted me that Precious Irubor was in his dormitory room.
You see, these guys were S.S. 3 students and had written their final exams, and so were ready to leave.
Uwem Ukoh, though a year my senior, used to be my friend; but I messed up and started chasing his girlfriend. I should not have done that as it was a very dishonorable thing, and the fact that I was the one that started it made it easier to later forgive the horrible things he did to me.
He found out I was hitting on his girl and became my enemy. He was the Deputy Senior Prefect and he put the position to good use as he did everything to make my life miserable and crush me.
After everything he had done he attempted to apologize and let bygones be bygones, but he must have known too much water had passed under the bridge. So he went to get protection.
I was told he had a bag he had given to his junior roommate to hide for him. So I went from the hostel to the administrative block and walked into the S.S.1 class where the boy was.
There was a teacher and a lesson was on, but I called him and he came to the back of the class with a pensive look on his face.
“Where’s the bag?” I asked
“What bag?” he responded
“You have 5 seconds to get me the bag or I will kill you here, right now” I said, and pulled out a switchblade from my pocket.
He knew who I was and what I could do, so the melancholy look turned to one of raw fear as he quickly pointed to a corner of the back of the class.
I picked the bag and left.
I hid it somewhere and went to my dorm.
Moments later, Uwem Ukoh walked in with a few of his friends to ask me where the bag was.
I kept quiet.
He asked again.
I put my hand in my pocket to hold my switchblade. If anyone tried anything I was going to carve up some negroes that day.
Suddenly, I felt someone grab me from behind and shout “Ugonna, where’s the bag?” I turned ready to pull out my knife and bury it into the person’s midriff and then I saw it was Akpo Scott Victory.
Victory was my senior by a year, but he was my buddy. My best friend at the time. We actually looked alike and people that saw us together thought I was his younger brother.
As he grabbed me and pulled me out of there he shouted “where is the bag?” but concurrently he whispered in my ear “Relax, I know what I am doing. I am just trying to get you away from these guys”
At that moment I lost it and started screaming, “leave me alone. You saw what he did to me. I will kill him today.”
All the guys who came in, as well as Ukoh, turned round and left.
It was later I discovered that Stanley Iwuchukwu, the elder brother of a member of my clique and a senior student in S.S.3 like Uwem Ukoh and his friends (I was in S.S.2 at the time) had carried the bag I left in his care and returned it to them.
He had done it for a stipend.
I was livid. I learnt then that the contents of the bag were guns, and this made me more angry. I would have done either of two things if I had known what the bag carried. I would have submitted it to the school authorities, or I would have used the contents on the owners.
Stanley Iwuchukwu had taken that opportunity from us, and so I asked my guys to break out and look for him.
He was going to pay.
Stanley was a slimy one, he had read the tea leaves and taken off. It was at the point of exasperation in our search for him that I got the information that Precious Irubor was in his room.
I think he was the Labor Prefect or something, but whatever he was he had used his position to do me in.
So I put my guys together, with our knives, a machete, and mosquito net poles we found him in his room. I asked him to kneel down but he stood up to resist.
That was where it began. I attacked him with the poles and knives, he screamed and pushed Okwudili Agbo out of the way and ran with blood pouring out of multiple lacerations in his body.
I went after him with the machete in my hand.
He ran from Octopus House which was at the furthest end of the compound to the gate, and I was hot on his heels. He kept on screaming, “they have killed me. Bishop has killed me.”
As we got close to the gate I lifted the machete and was bringing it down to his head but for some reason my hand became very heavy and would not come down.
I slowed down and Precious ran out the gate, half-naked and bleeding profusely. I knew what was going to happen next. Soldiers were going to flood the whole place. Lt. Agada, the Administrative Officer, had been looking for what he would do to nail me, and I knew this was as good an opportunity as any.
I turned around, got my guys together, and we jumped the school fence and took the first motorbikes we saw and headed straight to Abakaliki town to hide out until it blew over.
Nothing was going to blow over any time soon.
To cut the story short we got caught. My guys first, then me later.
I was marched into the Commandant’s office. My guys were already in different positions of punishment. As soon as Lt. Col. Ayo Vaughan saw me he jumped up and said, “Yes, you again. You’re gone this time.”
He leapt forward from his table like he was taking a lunge at me…
(to be continued)