By Amarachi Okpunobi
My hands were beginning to get cold and my feet were becoming unstable. Hot tears fell from my eyes on my dry skin. I could feel the hotness. My heart beat faster like never before. I knew they were all packs of lies but I stood there watching like a dumb dull. I tried opening my mouth to speak the truth but my lips could not utter a word. My friends stood in total dismay watching as each episode ends with the beginning of a more tragic episode. It seemed like we were day dreaming but it was all happening to us. We kept watching each other in total dismay as the Provost turned her words against us. Even the other staff members denied it all happed in their presence.
“At your age you gossip? You are all a bunch of disappointment to this profession. The reputation of this school has been dragged to the mud because of you. In fact leave my office, you filthy garments”, yes that was coming from our Provost.
Who could have thought that she would have said those awful words to me and my friends. We knew we did nothing wrong or was it a crime to say the truth. I wished I never uttered a word. Maybe it would have been better if I had behaved like a dumb dull. They wouldn't have forced words out of my mouth. How could she have accused us that much? Why would the truth be buried so easily in such broad day light.
At a snail's pace we left the office, like a child bitten black and blue under the rain. We couldn't believe what happened but it did happen.
I have known my course Rep. for some time as a reputable young woman but what I don't know was how reputable she was. She was my friend, in fact my very close neighbour in class. I had thought that she was whom I think she was till she unveiled her virgin self to me. I had seen her taking shots of her notes before test, but I had never thought it twice what she would be doing with them till I saw her writing from it during test. Sincerely, I couldn't believe my eyes, I was adjacent to her and I saw it clearly. I held my peace and came out when I had finished writing. I confided in a friend whom I bought her advice of reporting to the school authority. I also thought it wise too, I wouldn't bear disgracing my able and capable course Rep. in just a disgusting manner. Thereafter, I opened up to one of the lecturers who began tracing her actions during test. She was always found with same phone and a handkerchief to cover it during test. The school authority had also made it clear that the penalty for examination malpractice was explosion.
Dear reader, till date nothing was done to my course Rep. for malpractice. She still moved around the school and attend lectures as free as the air. I reluctantly overlooked everything till the drummers changed the songs that I couldn't dance any longer. It was bitter seeing someone who never read her book have the same grade with you after test. I became worried as the lecturers weren't seeing malpractice as a crime anymore but a regular thing to do and go scot-free.
I knew I was not going to say anything about her actions during test anymore, so I tried to get used to seeing her that way and not hating her. One after the other, her friends were caught displaying same character with her. Some would be punished while some would be over looked. This kept happening till we began exams.
News began filtering the air that she was at it again. One of her friends was afterward caught with a paper from which she wrote from. We all expected the school authority to really penalize her for her crime but the reverse was the case. The following morning, with the permission from the school, the Coruse Rep. was asked to search all the students for any illegal or malicious objects that would aid their exams. I stood there looking like a lost sheep. How could a thief be asked to search for a fellow thief? Believe you me, there would never be a culprit. The paper that day went well, thanks goodness, no one was caught.
We continued that way till, one afternoon after exams. We were all sitted in the refectory waiting patiently for our lunch when the Course Rep. entered and ordered that all should sit quietly. Obviously, curiosity was written in the faces of most of the students. It was unlike us to have a meeting in the afternoon, more so in empty stomachs.
Good afternoon my fellow students”, she greeted
Good afternoon Course Rep” we echoed back.
“I couldn't believe that one of us could sabotage her fellow students just to obtain favour from the school or probably a particular lecturer” she expressed with total disappointment written all over her.
At this point, eyes have started flying in the air like microorganisms . One would hear whispers and may think we were in a shrine.
“I do not hold anything against such person, but God knows that I have not done that of which I have been accused of” the course Rep. continued.
At this point I was beginning to wonder what it was till she hit the nail on its head.
“One of us here reported me to the school that I have been engaging in malpractice since we started examination, but I wish to swear before you all that I do not know anything about that.”
As she swore, she beat her chest. Then I wished we were still in the old testament, possibly, God would have struck her dead because all she said was all lies. I saw her several times. How could she have the nerves to blow such lies to all the students.
She was still talking when one of us came in and called her and a few of others who knew about the case to see the School Panel. Honestly, was happy within me, maybe she would be cautioned once and for all but I guess that was the beginning of the movie for us. Trust students with stories, many cooked many things that sounded like the truth but I knew our Course rep. Some said the exam papers were leaked for them. What I was sure was that she was guilty of malpractice and her friends too. But what would you have done, implicate myself? No! I dare not.
Thereafter that evening, there was a fight outside the school. It was between the students who reported and those defendants. I still couldn't believe it but it still did happen. That never called for fight. They should have resolved their differences amicably without a fight. This is what the provost should have called a slap on the face of the Profession and not me and my friends. That same evening, I had a chat with the course Rep who still confessed that she only used her phone once during test and after that she never did it again. She expressed her disappointment in me. Nevertheless, I was not moved aback by this because I know she did what she was accused of.
The following day, they were all summoned in the Deputy Provost office and the school reached the decision that they should invite their parents to school. Prior to this, the Course Rep. had fed the authority with lies and she was let free remaining her friends. For the whole week, we waited for their parents to show up in school but none was coming. Does it mean that it was all a joke? Or maybe the school never meant to reprimand them.
Sooner than we thought, it was another week. We were still in our exam week. The Provost is back, yes! All will be resolved, we had thought. We needed peace and unity to help each other scale this hurdles of examination and not such disunity and hatred that had began to spring up in our hearts for each other. Some began to show attitude to each other, everything was falling apart. I prayed day and night for peace. Peace and love! That was what we needed most. We can't leave under the same roof and wouldn't talk to each other. There were beginning to be divisions in the school. Each with a group head and name. My once peaceful and loving school turned a battle field in a twinkling of an eye.
Yes! It was for the Provost to talk. I was taking my siesta when one of the lecturers, came to call me, my roommate and two other of my friends to the Provost office. Our hearts flew. The Provost wouldn't call us in a broad day light especially during siesta, something was amidst.
We all marched to the provost’s office with bewilderment and curiosity. The School Panel was already sitted and awaiting our arrival. We were told to narrate what we know about the whole dust that has been raised in the school since the absence of the Provost. Initially, I had a second thought. Why would I be asked to talk when I haven't committed any crime. But on the other hand, the instruction was coming from the Provost, I dare not disobey. One after another, we narrated our own part of the story unknowing that all was but a camouflage.
“What then is your business if they engage in examination malpractice?” Shouted the Provost.
I couldn't just believe what I heard, yet it was true. It was coming from the provost.
Dear reader, till date nothing has been done to the students who engaged in malpractice and that is the end of the case. The case as it stands now revolve around me and my friends who had nothing to do with it. The said students are now allowed to go about while we are being looked upon with disdain even by the lecturers.
Oh Nigeria! My Fatherland, My country! Why have we decided to turn evil? When are we going to outsmart corruption and bribery. Where have our consciences flown to? Where did we cover our morality? The Truth yells for resurrection or better still a befitting burial. One thing is sure, there is Kama. All things that move around must turn around!