INFERNO

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We were all sitting on the grass, on the football pitch. 800 girls sitting silently, the tension was palpable in the air. No one was speaking. Tears hanged in between eyes and chin, just barely touching the cheeks. Others had white lines, the ghosts of tears shed for the last six hours. It was just like a movie, albeit a traumatic one that will haunt my dreams forever.

From the grounds where we were all seated we could see them, hanging there, staring at us, mocking us, accusing us.

It all started three days ago, we were at school, happy. Anyone who has been to a public secondary school in Kenya knows how it is. Saturday, was the best day because all we did was clean, play games and wait for entertainment. The letters from the boys also arrived on Saturdays and you could see which boy was still crushing on you or if he has moved on to the lighter skinned girl hahaha. Then you would start wondering, was it your hair or the fact that your skirt was always bellow your knees. But not me, most times the list of boys crushing on me would have grown and I would feel accomplished. Adolescent hormones, huh! My best friend and I would go and sit on a little green hill, just over the school vegetable garden, where we could see the highway home. We always talked about what we were going to do when we finished high school and ditched these stupid uniforms.

There had been some tension in the school after the recent prefect appointments. The teachers did not go with the popular vote of the students but decided to take the matter into their hands and pick girls they felt could do the job better. This was interpreted by the students as the teachers picking the girls they could control. The poor girls were looked upon as little snitches and little pranks were played on them. For one month these pranks continued. Some resigned, some strove on, and guilty people were punished. Funny thing is that the pranks kept on evolving, became more creative, and dangerous but no one saw this coming.

This started as a normal Saturday, after cleaning we just lazed around waiting for entertainment. I noticed some mini barazas happening all over. Hushed, hushed talk that made the air chilly. As I stood there trying to put two and two together, a classmate I normally don’t talk to approached me, “Why do you hang out with Irene, that little snitch”, I was taken back, Irene was one of my best friends and coincidentally one of the selected prefects. I said it is because she is cool and that is really none of her business. She warned me to stay away from her that weekend. I brushed it off and mentioned it to my bestie, we laughed it off and went to our normal little hill to chat. We did not bother with it anymore, We should have.

During weekends, I would sleep over at Irene’s room in the prefect’s dormitory because she had a double decker bed all to herself. But today we went to mine because I had received some chocolates from one of my suitors and wanted to share the loot. We talked, talked, and somehow fell asleep.

“Did you hear that?” A sleepy Irene was shaking me, “I think I smell…”, Before she finished the sentence, a blood cuddling scream pierced through the night. We jumped out of bed fast and saw smoke, the gruesome, painful screams continued. “Quick, we need to get out, I think there is a fire,” I shouted frantically at my room mates as we put on our shoes and ran to the corridor. We thought our hostel was on fire as we ran out. There it was a big inferno, so fierce that we could feel the heat. Al the smoke was coming from the prefect’s dormitory. We froze.

Rogue students had kidnapped all the prefects and tied them up the roof beams. That was the initial commotion that we heard. After stringing them up, they set fire to the dormitory and watched them scream and burn. Thirteen girls died that night, helpless in the hands of their schoolmates. When the rest of us woke up they escaped through the school maize farm but we saw them, we knew them.

From the grounds where we were all sited, we could see them, hanging there, staring at us, mocking us, accusing us. I could see them clearly, a charcoal of themselves just hanging there. The wind blowing slowly as they swung slightly to the breeze. The fire had been too intense for us to fight it but the fire brigade came quickly, but not in time to save anyone that was inside. I clutched my besties hand. “If we went to my dorm we would be hanging there too,” she whispered through sobs.

“Next!” a stern police officer voice called out and it was, my turn to go in and give my account of that fateful day.

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