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I love stories, but I don’t enjoy telling mine, because it takes me back into a ‘dark’ entangled web of horrible emotions and self-pity. But I believe with telling comes a healing.
I was a ‘truck-pusher’ at 14, a gambler in video game centers for years, and a bitter boy who quickly became a man.
At times I grin at the fact that I don’t know what the BECE registration form looked/looks like.
On the morning of the deadline of the registration, three of my mates came to my house to find out why I had still not registered. I was busy getting dirty at “brodo park aka beach”, playing football, while my mates and dad formed a search party, which eventually gave up on the task of finding me.
By the time I was located and marched home, dad was already at Providence Preparatory School, Kotobabi, sorting out my registration. I had to wipe my legs with my maternal aunts skirt, which was hanging on the line after washing the dirt off.
Well, dad flew back to his base in Saudi Arabia a few weeks later, and two months after my parents separation worsened.
Mom relocated to Alajo with my brother, in January 2003, a few months before my first BECE paper on Monday April 7, 2003.
I was sent to Prince of Peace ‘boarding camp’ for BECE candidates , at Dzorwulu, where I was resident until my final paper on Friday, April 11, 2003. Over 40 boys, myself included were housed in a single room without proper ventilation. We were so crowded like I have only seen in images of Ghanaian prisons.
I was only 14, and the idea of being independent with 200,000 cedis pocket money was an exciting prospect. However, the daily sojourn from Dzorwulu to school at Kotobabi, and back increasingly became a major problem.
I remember often leaving the ‘camp’ by 3am, after barely 4 hours of sleep, because we often studied from 7pm to midnight, amid mosquito bites. I walked from Dzorwulu, through the vegetable farms around Ebony while it was still very dark and quiet, occasionally coming across fighting dogs, big rodents and the odd man on a ‘Busanga volvo’ with a cutlass wrapped in a sack.
These were terrifying moments, as I couldn’t help the gory front page headlines I imagined, involving myself being discussed on Grace Omaboe’s “Odo ne Asomdwe”.
I would eventually reach school around 4am having walked slowly, to a locked gate, because the proprietors of Providence Preparatory School were either still asleep, or not ready to open the gate. Waiting till daybreak was never an option I considered, especially when home as about a 20 minutes walk away.
For the first few days this was the option- walk home, lodge in granny’s room, where I prayed, and had breakfast. But that was accompanied with brutal punishment from one of my uncles, who doubled as my guardian then, because according to him I wasn’t supposed to come home no matter what (I later found out he wanted to keep the chamber and hall all to himself for various reasons including promiscuity). I still have no doubt, that his actions were borne of bitterness and hatred for my mom, as well.
His slaps and knocks prompted the choosing of my other option, which was walking to Alajo, to the warmth of a mother’s love.
The walk from Dzorwulu to mom’s was shorter, and exciting as her door always opened upon my arrival. I’d sometimes sleep for about an hour in my school uniform, pray Fajr and continue the journey to school on an empty stomach, except for the occasions during my final weeks at the camp that she insisted, that I stay longer for breakfast.
As it were, I survived not having the breakfast the Prince of Peace BECE candidates had, because it was served at 9am, when I was far away, but it left a lasting mark- I’ve not been much of a breakfast person since then. I also survived my uncle’s harsh treatment and multiple assaults before, during and after this period of my life.
Loneliness and bitterness were among the the greatest qualities this period instilled in me. But the days after the BECE, before Secondary School were the real period of baptism into manhood. I turned 15 a month after BECE, and I developed the survival instinct, which led me into ‘truck-pushing’, gambling for ‘food and a job’ and playing football for joy.
Source: Larry Musah Prince
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