Grandpa was not an innocent boy in school. This is one of many shenanigans, soon to be released, now in his retirement, when nobody can catch him. LOL.
I thought this particular one would be better if written from the perspective of my grandfather, Charles Seth Ofori.
I never quite understood what it was that set prefects and monitors apart from the rest of us civilians. They got extended time before lights-out to study. As if we didn’t all attend the same classes and write the same exams. Even worse than that was the logic-lacking allocation of resources. Every once in a while, the Powers That Be of Achimota School provided us without necessary toiletries. But for some reason I just couldn’t not fathom, the prefects and monitors always got more toilet roll than the rest of us. You can’t imagine how incredulously I laughed when I discovered that.
“Ah!” I bellowed. “Is it not the same food we are eating? What makes them think that a monitor can shank more than the rest of us?” And I continued to laugh.
What irked me the most, however, had to have been their beds.
I don’t know what the girls had in their dormitories, but we the boys, our beds were made up of three wooden boards placed across two adequately spaced trestles, before a mattress, blankets and sheets were placed on it. I think that should have been fair enough accommodation for all of us – but clearly, whoever put the prefects in charge did not share my opinion.
The prefects, when given their position, were allowed to elevate their beds – like pedestals, as if their sleeping arrangement gave them the right of precedence over us. They did this by placing blocks under the four corners of their trestles. It raised them a worthless further six inches or so off the ground.
The only benefit I ever could see of these raised beds was an avenue for the playing of practical jokes, which is exactly what we used it for.
The sentry stood at the mouth of the door, watching the figure of the older boy disappear down the hallway.
“Is he gone?” I asked.
“Shh!” he reprimanded. The five of us in the room waited for a few more seconds, until the sentry finally said, “I can’t see him anymore.”
We all sprang into action then – the sentry remained at the door; the other four moved to the four corners of the monitor’s bed, while I remained standing, to supervise. It was a delicate task, really. Each person had to shift just one block of the three under each corner far enough to be unstable, but just right to keep the illusion of stability. The whole plan would go to shreds without the power of optical deception.
“Hurry up,” I told them. “He could be back any minute!”
Just as they finished, our sentry whispered in alarm, “He’s coming!”
We all briskly returned o our beds, lay there obediently and pretended to read. Even I must say now that we must have looked like we were definitely hiding something. Upon entry, the monitor regarded us with suspicion, but, finding nothing exactly askew, he disregarded his gut feeling.
“Put your books away,” he commanded. “It’s lights-out.” He did not leave his position in front of the door until, after thorough scrutiny with those beady, over-analysing eyes of his, he assured himself that everyone was present and in his bed, with his eyes closed. Satisfied, he turned off the lights and went out to study for a few more minutes.
Nobody had moved a muscle by the time he returned, but I can assure you that not a soul was genuinely asleep. Pretending, with our eyes closed, we waited in anticipation for the climax.
The monitor closed the door behind him, and he walked towards his bed. Ever so slightly, every head inclined.
Then it came – the mighty “GBAN!” that signalled that the King had indeed fallen – literally – from his throne.
Every dorm heard our laughter that night. We must have woken up the whole wing. My own stomach cramped up from laughter. I can never, ever forget that day.
He became a doctor, that prefect. And I’m eighty-one right now, but I tell you that still, whenever I see him, I make sure to have a good laugh at him before we separate – not because he deserves it, but because, quite frankly, it was HILARIOUS.