In those days before GSM found its way into the Nigerian market and when people depended solely on NITEL, my parents who used to work in LUTH went on a trip and on one of those days, my sister fell ill and needed urgent medical attention (unfortunately, I think LUTH was on strike). You can imagine how confused I was as the eldest child, though not mature enough to handle a delicate situation like this.
I didn’t know what to do, where to go and we didn’t have a NITEL line that I could have used to reach my parents. So the nearest person I could turn to at that time was our Pastor. He then recommended us to a specialist who could attend to us on his recommendation without any down payment pending my parents return. Where was this hospital? Ilasamaja. Ilasamaja ke! Where was that? It sounded like somewhere outside Lagos to me. I wasn’t the adventurous or outgoing type of girl then (though now I’m different); I was only familiar with neighbouring streets in my Surulere locality.
But what could I do? Here I was, a desperate young girl whose parents weren’t in town, no GSM back then and a kid sister in need of urgent medical attention. I had no choice but to discover Ilasamaja by force. So, with address in hand, I chartered a taxi to take us there and while on our way, I decided to take mental notes and pictures of the streets and corners the taxi driver took to arrive at the hospital.
I took notes of some landmarks within the area one of them being an Anglican church. But the next one that caught my attention in a weird way was a school- a nursery/primary school. What could be so weird about a school, you ask? You know how some school buildings and walls are labelled or should I say ‘designed’ with objects that start with letters of the alphabet, well this particular school was one of such- and the wall was long enough to contain all 26 letters of the alphabets with corresponding objects. While in traffic I had no option but to patiently read the alphabets and drawings on the school wall, (as if I hadn’t had enough of that in my primary school days) I got to letter P and there it was: P- for PANT! (with the painting of the pant in screaming red).
Abeg o, who teaches a child P is for Pant in school? I mean, aren’t there other objects that starts with the letter P like pencil, pen, pot, paint, purse,… why pant for goodness sakes? Someone will say, ‘doesn’t pant start with P?’ Okay- shebi B is for Brassiere (picture a drawing of a black bra) or Buttocks, G for G-string or P for poo-poo. Imagine these objects painted on the wall of a school-public or private.
I would have loved to share that image, but like I said back then, there was no GSM not to talk of smart phones to capture such moments.
Now I do not know if that school is still there and even if they are, I do hope that weird graffiti has been replaced with something more decent.