Preparing for class on Monday morning and suddenly, I remembered Segun, a classmate in Primary 6. It was at this point that it dawned on me that after over 12 years, I could still remember what happened…or what almost happened that afternoon.

It was another afternoon in class and our class teacher Mr Irabor was going through some Mathematics with us. I remember the sweltering room, windows open because for some odd reason, the A/C in class had refused to come on . And thank God for that! Who knows, we might not have been able to hear the screams that alerted all of us.
“Excuse me Sir, can I use the toilet?”
Those were not his exact words but they were something to that effect and with a nod of the head as approval, Segun left the class.
I will give the briefest history on Segun; he was the quiet one in class. I wasn’t exactly gregarious myself but at that age, I always tended to play and hang out more with the boys.
He never played football; or I never played football with him and that was saying something considerng the fact I’d played with almost all the boys in class.
At that age and at that point, if someone had asked me to tell them about a boy who was probably in my class from Primary 1 Yellow, I would have been stumped.
It was after the incident I learnt his full name which I’d leave out for confidential purposes.

Back to class, we were still trying to fan ourselves with our hands and papers when we heard a faint thud. We had no idea what had happened, too busy being bored.
What snapped our necks to attention was the scream of a woman; a scream that was echoed by screams of children.
Lesson forgotten, we all ran to the open window, the nearest people scanning for the source of the screams, the fartherst, struggling to make it near the window .
“Everybody sit down!” our tacher barked at us and we obeyed with alacrity. Huffing, I remember he dropped his book and walked out of the class, probably going to find out what was happening.
“Can you see anything?” I remember someone asking a student who sat by the window, the craned their necks and after a few seconds shook their heads.
We decided to wait for our teacher, the only person who’d be able to tell us what was happening.
We noticed other teachers leaving their classes, intent too to find out about the screams.
We waited.
The headmaster walked in a few minutes later with a stern expression on his face, threatning any student who thought about stepping out of cass with expulsion.
Worry mixed with curiosity, we talked in hushed tones, as if trying not to drag any unwanted attention to our class.
The tension built up, fidgeting eleven year olds in their seats.
Our teacher walked in later with an inscrutable expression on his face. Class continued as usual and no one dared to ask him just what had happened.
Minutes stretched to almost an hour and soon, we got tired of waiting to know what had happened. We’d know at the end of the day anyway.

New filtered in after class.
Segun had jumped from the window of the boy’s toilet. The toilet was on the third floor.
There was a hushed silence of disbelief and fear. I think someone actually cried.
“He is possessed” a girl murmured. Apparently, a rumour was going round that a voice had commanded him to jump.
The more creative minds painted a scenario where he was pushed out of the window by a cleaner for soiling the place. Better still, he was pushed out by another student after a fight. The accepted story was that he was trying to sneak out of school and didn’t know we were on the third floor. That seemed the most plausible.
What we didn’t think of or chose not to think about what the fact that maybe, just maybe Segun jumped out of that toilet window to kill himself.
You see, suicide was so unfathomable for a Nigerian and a youngster that I only got exposed to the idea from reading Western novels.

Killing ourselves was something we indulged in our thinking maybe after a particularly bad session of flogging from our parents. We’d imagine dying just as the final whip lash was administered, somehow dying and simultaenously enjoying the sight of shock on our parent’s faces when they realised the error of their discipline-friendly ways.
We imagined ourselves croning in delight, knowing they’d carry our lifeless body in their hands, weeping and promising never to flog us again
The idea was to suddenly come back to life and be treated like royals for the rest of our lives.
That was as far as we thought when it came to death.
But Segun didn’t go for the dramatic pose.
He wanted the real deal.
He wanted to die.
I remember how scared I was that evening and the next day, the hush that enveloped the whole of Primary 6.
Was there a special assembly the next morning? I cannot rememeber.
All we knew at that point was that he was alive.
He fell from the third floor and landed downstairs where the nursery classes were situated but he managed to survive.
We thanked God privately for that. He only suffered a broken arm.
Was the incident swept under the carpet? Most likely.
I vaguely remember Segun coming back to school with a cast on his broken arm.
It was then i tried to study and know him. All i could get out of him was his name.
Sadly, my memories after that are a bit hazy.
Did he graduate with us? I doubt it. I think he finally left the school.
Expulsion?

Monday morning, and suddenly Segun comes to mind.
Walking to the bus stop, a question springs to mind.
“Where is Segun?”
Is he still alive?
Or did he manage to complete the deed he tried to do?
Has he finally killed himself?

——————————————————————————

Based on a true story.

Advertisements