We were all packed in the small room; each one of us hedging the other with both shoulders.
Quite a large number of us stood on our toes at the back, trying to get a look at the Television placed in the far front of the hostel’s common room.
It was the final of the World Cup, and everyone wanted to see who would finish the one-month tournament a winner.
It was a difficult match but more difficult was the struggle among us to see the TV. Some persons with very large heads came to the Common Room quicker than me, and they made sure all I could see was the oval shape of their heads.
No matter how I shifted and moved, it seemed the heads moved around and blocked my view the way the sun does, no matter where one stays.
Even when the first goal went it, I didn’t see it. It was the shout of those in front that alerted me.
I add to pinch one of the large-headed boys on the shoulder until he shifted his head and looked back.
Expertly, I looked away from his head and focused all my attention on the TV as soon as he looked back, pretending it wasn’t me that touched him.
‘Who be that one? The person dey craze abi?!’ The guy shouted fiercely.
I didn’t mind, nor did I reply.
I hated fighting, especially on Sundays, the Sabbath day.
I was glad I pinched him because when he finally rotated his head to the front, I had been able to watch how the ball went in.
Not many minutes passed before someone returned the favour and pinched me on my own shoulders.
Karma will always have its way, I guess.
I didn’t even bother looking backwards. I adjusted my head and heard a muffled ‘Thanks bros’ from behind me.
After just over forty five minutes of football on the pitch and the constant elbowing and pushing I was subjected to, the referee blew the halftime whistle and brought the first half to a close.
I heaved a deep sigh of relief as I finally could move around and rest my legs a bit.
Hardly had I turned away from the TV than someone shouted out from just the front of the room.
It was a very loud shout, laced with both fear and pain.
Many of us ran towards the door out of fear but even that was closed.
Then the same voice that shouted announced for everyone to stop where they were.
‘I am looking for my phone!’ it said.
The voice came from a large mouth in a small head placed on a very broad shoulder.
With his intonation and build, I inferred the guy hailed from the Eastern part of the country.
And he was intelligent too; he had quickly instructed one of his friends to stand by the door and ensure no one left.
There were protests from many of us but no one approached the doorway lest it made you look like the culprit.
‘Guy! Heat dey here! Which kin phone you dey find wey go make us sit down here till we begin boil?’ Someone shouted this from my front.
It was the guy I pinched.
Even though the situation was uncomfortable, I had to laugh at the guy’s comment.
So I added my own comment,
‘He fit be say na Nokia Torchlight so o’.
Many people laughed loudly until the guy manning the door started asking for who made the comment.
The laughter died off and I quickly lowered my head and hid behind the large-headed boy.
After some seconds, they returned attention to the phone and someone suggested they call the number of the stolen phone and see if it would ring.
I knew it wouldn’t but I kept my opinion to myself this time.
Though the room was filled with largely unruly and loud boys, the room became relatively quiet as the call was made.
‘Your credit is too low for this call’, said the network operator.
We all heard it for it was on Loudspeaker and there were some muffled laughters.
The guy whose phone was stolen collected another person’s phone and tried again.
This time, it rang.
We all heard the ringing through the loudspeaker.
And we all became gravely silent.
But we couldn’t hear anything until the call ended.
The guy tried again but it was the same story.
Some students were becoming tired of having to just stand around and they demanded the door be opened.
‘We will search pockets and bags before anyone leaves here!’ The phone owner shouted; he was getting visibly agigated and angry.
So many grumbled their disagreements and told the guy what they thought about him and his phone.
‘Look, let us find this phone before the second half starts so that we can all watch this match in peace’, the guy manning the door suggested.
Everyone seemed to finally agree to the pocket-search and the first person presented himself.
Three queues were quickly formed with the phone owner and some of his roommates checking pockets and bags.
I was at the rear of the queue when I noticed a short, very short guy trying to climb out through the window.
‘Guy! Guy! Guy! Make una see that guy!’ I shouted and pointed in his direction.
Before I could finish the sentence, the guy manning the door had jumped on the chair before him and onto the next chair.
The way he did it made me realize Jack Chan truly doesn’t use film tricks when jumping in his movies.
Acrobatically, the guy moved on the chairs and before you could spell Hippopotamus, he had reached the window.
Before the escapee could jump down throught the outer side of the window, this Jackie-Chan-guy had caught up with him.
Since the escapee was short, it took him a while to get a firm hold of the window bars and land.
‘Jackie Chan’ caught him by the scruff of his shirt and left him dangling some metres to the ground.
While all these happened, the rest of the students were busy shouting and hailing, happy to witness a live action movie.
Some of us ran outside to get a closer look and saw the short escapee already begging and pleading.
Two guys approached his dangling figure and brought him down.
It was the first slap, it landed on the back of his head even before they confirmed if he had the phone on him.
‘Where is the phone?’
‘It is the devil’s work, I didn’t know he was the owner’, the thief quickly confessed.
‘Pooooooooow! Poooooooow! Pooooooooow!’
Three hot and fresh slaps landed on his cheek this time.
The phone owner finally came around and confirmed the phone was his.
As soon as he collected his phone, he placed it in his pocket and ‘Gboooosaaaa!’ he also landed a heavy blow on the very centre of the thief’s head.
The force brought him crashing into the gutter beside the common room.
When he managed to again, he staggered and almost fell in again. His blue shirt had become a mixture of black, green and ash.
But the boys were not satisfied. It seemed everyone who had ever lost something to a thief came out to land their blows.
After satisfyingly beating the guy, he was led outside the hostel by a mass of angry boys and delivered to the security post.
Amidst laughters and small talks, we all returned to the common room to continue the match.
As we all settled in to watch the second forty five minutes of the match, one of the boys who was busy landing blows some moments ago walked up to the front of the common room.
He switched off the TV and drew a lot of curses and abuse to himself.
But he raised his hand and called for attention. Once the grumbles died down, he started,
‘Please and Please, if you know you are the one that ‘collected’ my phone, please just Say so now and I won’t bother asking questions.’
‘It was in my pocket when we went to beat that boy.’ he continued.
I tried as much as possible to ‘swallow’ the laughter that was building up within me but I couldn’t.
And so couldn’t many other boys.
We laughed and laughed at the situation.
It turned out one of the crucifiers of the thief had stolen his fellow-crucifier’s phone.
Turned out one of the judges of the theft case was a criminal mastermind.
Needless to say, this time around, the phone was not found.
‘World Cup Thieves’