“Tap his head”, Ikenna whispered sharply from the desk behind me.
“Why? He’ll report.” I replied, desperately looking for a reason not to.
“Tap his head or I’ll slap yours” said Ikenna, more harshly than the first time. Ikenna was the bona fide class bully and I, though unwilling, had become his second-in-command so I could be sure that the threat that came with his coercion wasn’t empty.
I reached out a little and paused. If I didn’t do it, he would make good on his threat and everyone would laugh and it would be spoken of probably for the rest of the week. I couldn’t risk that. So I did it.
It wasn’t loud or painful in any way but it made Tope mad. Tope who, like I had once been, was the subject of bullying. I think he had had it.
“ARE YOU MAD?!” he half shouted, causing the teacher to look in our direction.
“What is the meaning of this?” was the teacher’s implied rhetoric.
“He slapped my head!” Tope yelled, gesticulating furiously in my direction. A snicker went round the class. I was told to come to the front of the class to kneel for the remainder of it. Truth be told, I was at peace with this. The class was boring so this would keep me awake and I wouldn’t have to sit in front of Ikenna anymore, it was a win-win.
Then it happened.
I looked at where I had been sitting and saw Ikenna mouth the words “we go kill am” while swiping his forefinger across his throat to signal his intent. All I could think of was “oh shit!“.
Recess came and trepidation came with it. I tried to avoid being in the class by scurrying to the restroom to hide. It didn’t work.
“You no dey come?” I heard while I stood in the stall and dread again washed over me. I wanted to back out but I could not, ‘survival of the fittest’ was the religion I lived by and nonconformity with its demands was dealt with harshly. I had come too far to go back down.
“Chill, I dey show”, was the reply I came up with.
We walked back to the class, Ikenna bouncing in anticipation at the fore while I feigned excitement of my own behind.
“Tope, so you think you can mess with us?!” Ikenna shouted immediately we entered. The hush that fell over the class was palpable. Don’t retort, Tope, don’t retort, I kept repeating in my mind. Just ignore him.
But Tope was not in a gracious mood and indeed he retorted, “Screw you very much”. The room hosted another snicker. The fool had signed himself off to Death.
Ikenna charged. He was a bull of a person by any standard, Tope was not. Soon they were on the floor, Ikenna on top, of course, beating any future retorts out of Tope’s head. My moment had come. It was expected that I would join in and literally leave my mark. So I did my duty and- I have to say- did it well.
Tope began to cry.
“What did I do to you? Why are you picking on me?” He asked in between streams of tears. This brought about much laughter from the class. This was the part Ikenna loved, the part he thrived on; he had broken Tope.
Soon enough though, he grew bored. He let Tope stand up and smiled and watched. I just stared, entranced by the surrealism of it all.
Tope stood and looked at us, the tears doing nothing to mask the hatred in his eyes and cursed us. From the days we were conceived till the days our lineages would end, he cursed us with all the deities he was familiar with and Ikenna laughed. In my mind I concluded that I had to stop this, I had to apologise.
I started forward and suddenly he collapsed. The entire room freaked out. Time suddenly stopped. Seemingly from a place in the distance, I heard my voice babbling.
Another voice, clearer than mine said something that chilled me to my bones.
“Ikenna, una don kill am…”
By Omosivwe Clinton – a GreenBlackTales partner and creative mind. You can follow him on Twitter with the handle @_InGenieUs_