Somebody had to take the blame. The architect for drawing out such a plan, the engineer for building such an hostel, the proprietors for consenting to this plan or the hostel mistress for giving me a room so far from the restrooms. None of them thought of the time it would take a student who just woke up from sleep to run down to the restroom to ease herself. None of them understood that girls like us did not think of easing ourselves till the last minute. We would turn and turn on our beds, preserving the precious minutes of sleep till we could not hold it anymore. Then the race to the restrooms at the end of the corridor of 20 rooms would begin.
Many other students faced same challenge and while some would do all they could to avoid drinking water at night, others would defy rules and ease themselves in bushes outside the hostel yet others would still race down no matter how pressed they were. A cross the school management gave us to bear all through our 6 years as boarders. Infact, some naughty students began to spread the rumour of a ghost at the end of the long tunnel so the number of students that visited the restrooms at night dwindled. No one wanted to die by the hands of a ghost whether it was a rumour or not.
My dilemma began when the kitchen cooks decided to pour a drum of pepper into our jollof rice that evening. With hunger in our stomachs and fire on our tongues, we ate and drank water after each spoon. I must have drank more than my stomach could contain that night. It was of no wonder I began dreaming of swimming in a pool, running under the rain and fetching water from a tap. Then I felt pressed and walked to the nearest restroom to ease myself. I was about to begin when it suddenly dawned on me that I was still in my dream. Waking up with a jolt, I started the race to the restroom without thinking. If only I had defied the rule and gone outside this time. My race continued but my bladder did not have an iota of patience anymore. My race slowed down to a halt and I looked left and right before answering nature’s call there on the corridor. I felt free at last.
My freedom was however short-lived when a bright light shone on me. Of all moments, our hostel mistress chose this time to move round the rooms. My guilt must must have shown on my face because she simply asked what did I do rather than where I was going or coming from? My stammering only confirmed her suspicion. She shone around me as she got closer then zoomed at the pool of liquid around me. I quickly confessed my sin and tried explaining what happened but her loud shout of “shut up” silenced me. Of course, that also attracted the seniors awake probably reading. Soon, about 5 seniors surrounded me all mocking me and vowing to punish me as soon as the day broke.
The first slap from an angry senior almost threw me off balance. She was embarrassed to be the room prefect of a junior that urinate on the corridor. I tried explaining it was my first time but nobody wanted to hear my side of the story. I inwardly blamed the architect once again and the cooks that poured a keg of pepper into our food. The house mistress dragged me by my ears towards the utility room. I was told to pick up a bucket and a scrubbing brush. My punishment began quite early as I was to scrub the whole corridor. The lights that were switched off were soon switched on as it was almost 5am. Students drowsily passed by and I saw the shock on their faces. I could almost hear snickers as students began discovering the cause of my punishment. The girl that urinated on the corridor.
My discomfit increased as the day dawned. Girls got ready for classes yet I was still scrubbing the corridor. Since they had to dress up, I waited for them before I continued scrubbing. On the assembly, I heard my name mentioned and the whole school laughed loud. There and then, I wished the earth could open up and swallow me. I wished I could reverse the time. When I finally got to class, most of my classmates made sure they referred to my ugly incident in loud discussions. I was so sure I did not learn anything that day.
The Principal called me immediately I got to class. I was flogged in front the the whole school that day. The punishment of scrubbing the corridor the whole week was given too. Seniors did not leave me alone also. I was punished at the dining hall, at the library, in the room and even the bathroom. It was an horrible experience. I was mocked and suspected for every incident that happened after. I did not know when I began avoiding drinking water at night because I did not want to wake up. My friends avoided me for a while till the issue died down. Some still came to ask what entered me to commit such act that fateful day. In all my defense stories, I shifted the blame between the authors of this structure called hostel, the cooks, my dream, my bladder but never my sane mind. I penned down that day as the most disconcerted day of my life in our year book. The day the phobia for drinking much water began.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com