An Exception to the Rule

by Daniel Dela Dunoo

            One early morning, I made my way to my school`s notice board to read the new notices. My eyes settled on the new duty roaster for the second year students of Pinanko House, the house I was a member of. I was only seventeen years in a senior high boarding facility several kilometers away from home and family. I was at this point in my second year. As a rule, all second year students were assigned to tidy up specific classrooms on a daily basis for the whole academic year.

            Skimming through the duty roaster, I found my name conspicuously missing. I went through the list a number of times to make sure I had not mistakenly skipped my name. For sure my name had been omitted from the duty roaster. My immediate inclination was to approach one of the house prefects to point out to him what I considered an anomaly and a mistake. All I wanted to do was to ensure that the perceived mistake was ratified.

            I was in for a pleasant surprise. The house prefect, in plain simple straightforward language admitted the omission and admitted that it was a deliberately choice. Apparently the four member team of house prefects had decided to make me an exception to the rule. Boy was I glad. What this implied was that for the whole academic year I had been given an official exemption from routine second year students work.

            The house prefect proceeded to give me the rationale behind their decision. Encapsulated in the preceding narrative is the rationale. Barely a year prior to this point, I gained admission into a reputable senior high school in my homeland. I was received as a boarder into this mixed gender school. My excitement was in the fact that I was progressing from the junior high school to the senior high school.

            Landing on campus, my excitement grew since the high towering buildings in the school and their lay out looked prestigious and classy. I had my fears though. I was only sixteen. This was the first time I was leaving home to stay somewhere else far away from home. However I kept my cool.

            A few years back, I had surrendered my life to Christ and had become seriously involved with my home church`s youth group. I had also learnt a lot from my deeply devout Christian mother, my home church and other non-denominational youth groups I had joined. By age sixteen, I had developed a robust faith, imbibed some godly habits and values that were to prove useful to me several kilometers away from home.

            The afore-mentioned notwithstanding, I had no idea what awaited me in the boarding house; the bullying and extortions perpetuated by some seniors, the challenge of combining the rigors of daily work and academics as well as several other challenges. Victimization was the lot of freshers and a few who dared to report to school authorities were considered targets for further victimization from other seniors.

            Also worth-noting is the fact that freshers were as a rule assigned to specific daily duties in and around the dormitories. We were required to do all manner of challenging tasks. It was not uncommon to observe some first year students dose off and in some cases sleep in class. I was not an exception. Life as a first year student was simply hectic and stressful.

            I personally found life as a first year student very challenging. This notwithstanding, I made sure I became an active member of a number of Christian groups on campus and that contributed significantly in strengthening my Christian walk. Many of my mates developed an escapist mentality; some had to make a habit of lying in other to escape unpleasant ordeals at the hands of some seniors and to avoid attending to their daily routine work. Some were occasionally found out and penalized.

            The afore-mentioned challenges notwithstanding, I diligently attended to my daily routine for the most part, was honest and respectful of authority. I saw these as my Christian responsibilities. For my unwavering Christian posture, I sometimes was vulnerable and susceptible to unpleasant ordeals. This picture is far from being complete though. There were many fun times as well. In a series of instances I was favored above several of my peers. It seemed to me that my choice to stay true to my Christian values brought about a mix-bug of consequences. What has been popularly termed the good, the bad, and the ugly.

            My heart bobbled with excitement when I progressed to my second year; low and behold, the vast majority of the challenges I was accustomed to in my first year became a thing of the past. What perhaps put the icing on the cake was my official exemption from routine work throughout my second year. It was indeed an exception to the rule and this became a reality on the backdrop of my diligence and respect for authority whiles in my first year. This was in essence the feedback I received from my senior prefect. Apparently I was being observed by some of my seniors as I calmly sojourned through the myriads of challenges I encountered as a first year student in the senior high school.

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