Dimeji disappeared behind a large unused water reservoir, Matthew quickly followed, his heart doing double time. The grass around them was taller than the reservoir and reeked of urine. They crouched in it and listened.
“I saw two boys just now.”
“There’s nobody. Wey the stuff?”
“Seriously, I bin see them just now now.”
“Abegi. Abi you no bring am? You dey take me play?”
“No na. Badt guy!”
A match was soon struck and cigarette smoke wafted to them where they hid, the two boys scrunched up their noses. Coughing and some laughter followed.
“You know sey na Ashiru get the money.”
“If hin agree, we go fit rock town to…”
“Hey! What are you doing here?” the vice principal’s harsh voice broke in. Huge and menacing, the man was the terror of the school. There was the sound of scampering feet and a whip cutting through the air. Silence followed, the boys waited to be sure there was no one about before emerging.
Two half-smoked cigarette sticks smothered in the grass. Dimeji lunged at them in delight. “Take one,” he offered.
“No. Please throw it away.”
“Why? You behave like a baby too much.”
Dimeji put both sticks in his mouth and inhaled deeply. He immediately spat them out, coughing hard.
“Is it your first time?” Matthew asked. It was how his stepfather sputtered the first time and flung the white stick away, later sending him to pick and give it back. He watched the tall boy from their class approach as Dimeji scrambled to collect the half-sticks.
“Aha! so this is what you’re doing. Bad boys! I will report,” the boy said, clapping his hands loudly.
Matthew withered at these words but Dimeji seemed to puff up on self-importance. “What do you want? Did you see anything?” he said, bristling. The tall boy shrivelled at once.
“Don’t disturb us again, stupid boy,” Dimeji added.
“Sorry,” the boy replied, staring at his shoes.
“What are you waiting for?”
“Can I take too?” the boy gestured awkwardly to the half-sticks.
“Say you will not throw paper at this boy again,” Dimeji said, pointing to Matthew.
“I will not, aswear.”
“Now, go and buy fish roll and coke. Matthew, give him the money.”
The boy grabbed it and ran off. Matthew smiled in relief while Dimeji laughed out loud. For a brief moment, it felt good to get back at the bully.
Bullying happens when a person hurts someone else who can not defend him/herself. The bullied person is fearful or uncomfortable. People are bullied because of their race/colour, gender, appearance, achievement, and anything that makes them stand out differently.
It could be physical (the act of hitting, pinching, stealing, touching in a sexual manner, etc.) verbal ( involves name-calling, abusive words, unsolicited sexual comments and many others), social (excluding a person without reason, public humiliation), and cyber (using text messages or the internet to intimidate) bullying.
Bullying has long term consequences, affecting the bullied person and the bully physically and psychologically. It also affects learning in affected children, makes them feel alone and unsafe, may cause them to be sick. It can be stopped when others around stand up to the bully, or in the case of children, when an adult is informed.
Don’t hesitate to SHARE your experiences and questions.