You have to learn a new skill. Do you prefer to read about it, watch someone else do it, hear someone describe it, or try it yourself?
Someone once told me that ignorance is the worst thing that can happen to anyone in this life. Well, is ignorance the same as ignoring someone? Because if it is, I would love to learn how to ignore some people even though it’s the worst thing that can happen to me in this life.
I want to ignore Senior Ruth. I am even surprised that I can call her name here because in real life, just the mention of her name in my dreams causes me to bolt out of the bed. I remember my first mid-term break; it was when I was in Jss1. I happily went home to rest for the one week before returning to the hellish room. As soon as my mom and I drove into the compound, she wound down and shouted, ‘Ruth! come and carry these bag inside’. I gripped the car seat and started hyperventilating until my mom said, ‘Ehehn, we have a new maid’.
The way she scares me is not actually funny. Senior Ruth is the worst bully in this life. I overheard some other seniors talking about her last year. They said that her dad and her mom are not together and so she’s pouring all the anger on everyone. I was just wondering what kind of talk that is. My own mom and dad are also not together but you don’t see me flinging a hot iron at another person’s child; you don’t see me slapping someone 50 times and asking them to count; you don’t see me asking the juniors in the room to surrender their provisions to my locker; you don’t see me telling my bunkmate to move her bed to the latrine and sleep there because she shifted the bunk when she was trying to sweep the dorm, you don’t see me making it the duty of a junior to wash all my cloths everyday whether or not they are dirty (even if a bolt was missing from my head, I could never do this particular one. Doesn’t she know the principle of wash and fade?).
The funny thing is that, I have seen her dad and mom come for her visiting day. Although, I sensed a strange vibe around them, they were all eating ice cream! I mean, that’s luxury in my own family. I see my own father only twice a year – on his birthday and on his wife’s birthday, and it’s only because they always do well to congratulate each other on clocking another year in the newspapers – with pictures of them holding themselves.
If we measure meanness by how compatible our parents are, I ought to be the devil himself. But hey… someone already beat me to it.
I remember the first time I met her. It was my first day in Jss1 and I was moody. I was already missing my mom. I slept off on my bed in a bid to stop meditating on how depressed I was but I was woken by a terribly hot slap. The slap was so hot that I started running a temperature even before I could open my eyes. I saw her glaring down at me in her bum shorts and tank top. ‘Come on, would you stand up!’ she commanded. I rushed to stand up. Before I even found my feet she landed another slap on my left cheek. I was dazed. Then she said, ‘I’m in a really good mood that’s why I’m letting you even look at me. Where were you when I asked all the juniors to assemble in my corner so that I’ll give them their duties for this night?’ I suffered that night.
One night when she came back to the room past lights out, one of the other seniors (who is her junior anyway), told us, ‘I saw her after night prep. She’s with that her boyfriend’. I froze in time. I thought relationships were only for good people. I thought you had to have some degree of good character for someone to find you attractive. I honestly thought that no one found a witch dateable. But alas alas! There are people who love to dine with the devil… and even eat food from his hand.
Something incredible happened today anyway. Tofunmi, my classmate, did something amazing that has, perhaps, changed everything. You know all those people who always tell you their plans to do big stuff but they never do it? That was Tofunmi. Was. She used to tell me that, ‘One day, I will show that Senior Ruth that my mother is from Delta. And we are not really normal. It’s just because my blood has not gotten hot since. It’s just the Yoruba in me that is still making me do like I don’t see what she’s doing. Ignoring this nonsense and just accepting it. We’re in Jss2 now. She’s in SS3. If we don’t do something, she will leave this school thinking that things go well for witches. We have to show that that they don’t.’ Whenever I asked her what her plan was, she’d say, ‘No plan na. It’s what comes to my head when it scatters, that’s what I’ll do’
And today, Tofunmi’s head scattered and it came to her head to ignore Senior Ruth. Senior Ruth said, ‘All Juniors!’ Everyone ran to her corner. Not Tofunmi. Tofunmi sat on her bed, folded her legs in some yoga position and she just kept eating her cereal. I almost pissed my pants. Senior Ruth said again, ‘All juniors!’ Tofunmi took another spoonful of her cereal.
Senior Ruth opened her eyes in shock. No one had ever done that to her, I’ll bet. ‘Tofunmi, are you deaf?’
Tofunmi shook her head.
Senior Ruth stood up, went over to Tofunmi’s bed and slapped her cereal bowl out of her hand. She pulled Tofunmi by the neck of her nightie and threw her on the floor. Tofunmi stood up and without even looking at Senior Ruth, started walking towards the laundry. Chai! Everybody started shouting and suddenly, my room was filled with dozens of juniors asking for what happened. As Senior Ruth ran after Tofunmi screaming like a witch on fire, the crowd ran after her and started throwing things at her. Someone switched off the light on the corridor, so she could not see anyone hitting her. We beat her silly…and didn’t feel silly about it. It felt nice.
Even though I’m pretty sure Tofunmi will disappear mysteriously this night, I told her that I’d like to learn how to ignore people like a pro. I suggested that if she wrote a book, organised a seminar and released songs teaching how to ignore bullies, I’d patronise her. She laughed and said to me, ‘Thank you. But you learn by doing, and doing alone’.
I laughed with her, not because it was funny, but because I realised that it might be the last laugh I’ll have with her.