There comes a time in every academic session when the weather is so cold in the morning that your skin loathes the idea of having any contact with water – especially cold ones. This is usually in November, with peaks in December, the Harmattan season. It runs parallel with the Owu Period.
Your fingertips were the thermometer and the conductor that sends messages to the brain about the condition of the water. The brain uses the information to make a judgement as to whether to shower or Rub and Shine. It could be as a result of laziness or scarcity.
While Rub and Shine was optional, the urge was heightened by the strategic unavailability of water. The water table becomes low, the Twelve “borehole” Taps becomes dry and water becomes gold. The reservoirs that used to be filled up at least once in a day could only be serviced once in a week – Saturday mornings. Red Tank was the option like an oasis in the Sahara – but it was far and risky.
Walking down from classes on that dusty uneven red road parallel to the girl’s hostel, my eyes were looking afar towards the borehole, hoping to have an indication of water availability. At this hour, the borehole used to be filled with students especially girls with a lot of buckets like they were never going to fetch water again in their remaining stay in FEGO. But on this day, it was void of any living thing, except the dragon flies trying to do much with the nothingness at the Twelve Taps and Baba Tanker no where to be found.
This period was burdened with scarcity of everything – including Garrium Sulphate. But the scarcity of water was the height. You could do little with no water. Water was gold, only second to freedom from being sent by a senior to do anything. This water scarcity gave a lot of students – especially the junior boys – the opportunity to Rub and Shine. It was the makeshift way to have a bath in order to look alright for the day.
The Rub and Shine “kit” included:
- Water – quantity varying from two hand scoops to “one bailer“. Anything more than that could be considered a bath. It was essential to clean off dust that comes with the season.
- Vaseline – very important for the shine. It was the anti-whitening agent required for the Harmattan season. It was worth everything. Legend had it that some students just rubbed Vaseline on their body for the shine without the need to rub or have a proper bath. Woe betide you (in Mr. Balo’s voice) if you fail to rub Vaseline after your bath, you shall look like a ghost passing by, painted in white with skin dry as stale bread.
A quick rub on the visible part of the body – the arm, leg and face – and you are good to go. Your armpit is deprived of the baptism, just like the back and chest. While your odour cannot be vouched for, you can fool a good number of persons that you’ve had a proper bath.
Those exempted from the Rub and Shine were those who were not bothered by water temperature, had alliance with the kitchen women to fetch warm/hot water, had Element or boiling rings to heat up water if there is power, or were excellent in hoarding and storing water fetched from the Red Tank. You remember Red Tank in Abuja?
With Rub and Shine, you know you are incomplete and a trip to the Red Tank was needed to wash your sins away and refresh your soul. Although not encouraged, Rub and Shine were the only options for some and they survived.
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