After the holidays and celebrations, normal life is expected to return. Workers return to work, students return to school and life continues. For the average student, Monday is the regular resumption day. This is specifically for Primary and Day schools, not boarding schools. My first ever resumption day in FEGO was on a Friday as an unknown quantity in September 1998. Other resumption days turned out to be Sundays.
I had travelled back to Odogbolu that Sunday morning after coming back early from Church. I had to join another FEGO colleague who lived in the same vicinity. They had a car and it was a free ride for me. Before leaving home, I confirmed my list to be sure I had all I needed to survive till the next break. The ride was long. I can’t remember if I dozed off or counted the trees along the Lagos – Ijebu-Ode expressway. We arrived at about 2pm when the sun was high, smiling scorching-ly on mankind.
So there we were, in front of the great FEGO. It was a different scenario for me compared to the first time I came into FEGO. Last time the gates were wide open, but that Sunday the school gates were closed. It was the beginning of a new term. Motorists and motorcyclists were not allowed in. Thorough checks were to be made. We had to find a place to park and get our luggage out of the car in preparation for the checkpoints after the gate. The gate was crowded with all manner of persons – returning students, parents, staffs, hawkers, sellers, buyers, helpers, motorcyclists, motorists, conductors, etc.
Every student was expected to carry their luggage, with the help of friends and family to one of the four checkpoints at the beginning of the Third Mainland Road. The Third Mainland Road was the major road that linked the school gate to the Administrative blog. Same road is connected to every other road on the school except Jamaica and Ikoyi roads. No one officially leaves the school without passing the Third Mainland Road – little wonder it was named Third Mainland Road.
I carried my luggage to the Cross house checkpoint. There were 4 checkpoints at the gate – one for each of the 4 houses. You could easily identify your house by the colours worn by the officials or students around the checkpoints. Each checkpoint had a minimum of two canopies, 2 dining hall tables and 2 dining benches. You could see the house master, house captain, officials and room heads trying to check through luggage and verify that the student came with some major item. If the item was not found, he/she was to go back to the gate where it may be bought.
The captains and officials arrived a day before. They usually have a meeting about the logistics of the Resumption Sunday. Chores are assigned to the officials to make the day go smoothly. If you want to resume badly, come on Saturday – you will mega gidi-ed unless you are Rent-a-ghost. The best time to arrive is on Sunday morning when the officials are yet to get themselves together. You can bypass the checkpoint and go about your business till they are ready. You can return when you like and get yourself checked in on trust.
Another good reason of returning on Sunday morning is the high possibility of finding your lost items. Theft is regular and high in boarding school – I once resumed with 4 pieces of white shirt, I went back home with just one. I have found a good number of my lost items on Resumption Sundays. These items include – buckets, hangers, shirts, bowls, cutlass, hoes, mattress, books, etc. But you must be brave and quick because it involves ransacking the whole school – including the senior blocks. While you are on that expedition, you can also add to your arsenal *winks*
Back to the checkpoint, my bag was checked for contrabands (Sardine, Noodles, Spaghetti, Electric Irons etc.). They found none because I brought none. They verified if my cutlery and labour implement were available. I showed them. One time I had to tell them it was in my Guardian’s house. Almost everyone had a guardian, who had many functions. That will be a post for another day.
The officials loved parents coming around the checkpoints. It was an opportunity to be legal school fathers and mothers. It was also an avenue to enrich their pockets and provide information for the parent of their students. It was a point where they feign responsibilities so as to gain recognition from the parents. It was just a meeting point. Play your game well, and you become a parent’s favourite.
After the checkpoint comes the long walk to your hostel carrying your luggage. You may be helped by some hustlers. At the entrance of your hostel, you may be mobbed by seniors and Bonjehs. They want money and the meat in your food flask. Sometimes I wonder if they didn’t partake in the holidays. If you survive them, you will face another task of debris, dust and dirt in your room which you need to clear starting from your corner. The final task of the day will be getting your other stuffs from wherever you kept them – Space, guardian’s house, kitchen, town etc. You surely should have kept your provisions well away. You will need them when the heat is on.
The Sunday begins to round up with the first bell of the term – the evening food bell. Attendance that evening in the dining hall is usually paltry but the bell reminds you that you are no longer home. You are back to the land of adventures. You need to switch mode ASAP. Law and order is at minimum and thus freedom is exercised till sleep is activated by nature. A couple of gist here and there, light and heavy laughter from all angles makes the end of Resumption Sunday.
On the other side of the night comes Monday, the resumption day for the Day students. They never fully enjoyed the fun of being in FEGO but a little fun is better than none.
Mr. Balo is coming. *…races through the corridor to the hostel gate, with my belt and socks in my hand…*