During the three weeks in camp, I grew affection for a girl who stayed in as much as I did. She stayed on the lower bunk, I stayed up. For some personal reasons as I did, she never stayed out after the parade was over. We’d lie in our beds and chat away, occasionally going out to the corridor when it was fully dark to watch others fondle and kiss.
My friend never liked to use the hostel toilet for few reasons. Like me, she paid the mama who owned a two-block toilet whenever she was pressed. We had confidence that with the way mama was always washing and using izal, it was fairly less risky to use than the hostel toilets that were rarely flushed and yet constantly in use. The girls, in their thorough neatness felt too neat to wash or flush it because the camp had women who were supposedly assigned to make sure it was clean. So like spoiled brats, they used it and tiptoed out.
On the day it happened, the emir came to camp to “address” us. Minutes into the sloppy and boring speech we could barely hear above the chatters and hissings of corp members, my friend whispered to me that she was pressed and suspected she might have a running stomach. I accompanied her, glad to get away from the stank smell of hot breaths and sweaty bodies. We got round to Mama’s corner and saw padlocks on the hinges. Mama was not around.
Nothing prepared us for the absence of mama. We did not know she would find the visit of the emir an interesting thing enough to leave her post and leave making money.
Desperate, my friend said she would ease herself in the bush. I waited.
Minutes later when she came out all sweaty and panting, I asked her to check her boots in case she stepped on something, there was nothing. We began the deliberately slow walk back to the hall.
Flies kept hovering around her. I thought I perceived the smell of shit and asked her to check her boots again, she did and there was nothing.
Before we got to the hall, I was convinced she had shit smeared somewhere on her body. I stopped her and checked, much to her irritation. She said it was in my head, that smells easily irritated me.
We went back to the hall and found our way through the crowd to our seats which we preserved with books.
The flies were still perching on her. Few minutes later, the person sitted besides her waved her fancy handfan and squeezed her face.
I tapped my friend gently and gestured to her to bring her ears closer for me to whisper in it. “Check yourself well again, please. The smell is still there.”
To my surprise, she agreed, “yes, I can perceive it. But maybe it’s the crowd?”
“It can’t be.”
The girl beside her had a nasty expression on her face. She made it her job to make sure that people several seats away could see her flapping her hands like a weak bird and shaking her head. Occasionally she would look at my friend completely from head to toe, bat her eyelids and look away. My friend paid no attention but I could tell she was uncomfortable already.
“Escort me out again please, Kachi, please, please.”
We stood to leave when the girl beside her screamed, “oh my gosh! Is that poo on your belt? Jesus! Is that poo on your belt?”
Everybody turned to my friend who’s head was bent to look at her belt. Sure enough, there was something there; a pale yellowish smear.
The girl sprang up screaming. The officials came rushing down the spot and other corp members tried to come forward.
I started at the girl, “and why are you yelling like you’re mad? You’ve never seen poo before?”
“Look at this one…”
My friend was livid, we couldn’t get out because we were surrounded by enthusiastic spectators. An official made his way through, asking everybody to calm down. He shook my friend’s shoulder, asking the shouting girl to be quiet.
I also didn’t expect what happened next. My friend fell at the touch onto the girl who was shouting and moved her waist on top the fallen girl.
Fight broke out.