Have you ever looked at your surroundings and thought, I saw a horror movie that started just like this! Maybe you are on a deserted road late at night, or you are in a creepy basement with the lights flickering overhead. Either way, you can’t help but think any minute someone is going to jump out with a chainsaw and hack you into little pieces. I think everyone has had those moments where they turn on every light in the house, because for some reason we think that will save us if there is a killer hiding behind the couch. Some things I had thought only happened in horror movies. Some things I thought were just crazy stories that parents tell kids so they would behave, or maybe just so they would eat their vegetables. Then, today ( 2/4/14) I watched a 14 year old girl be held down at school, and I couldn’t help but think, holy sh*t this is actually happening!? These people are preforming an exorcism in the middle of the staff room!
Starting from the beginning, I never saw this coming. We were all standing at the morning prayer assembly, just like any average day. The teachers and I were all lined up in the shade by the class rooms, while the learners stood packed in line in the already 80°F sun. With heads bowed, arms folded, and eyes closed it was a little hard to see when one of my grade 6 girls went down. When there was a little commotion the teachers realized another learner had fainted; no one was too concerned. After 19 months in country, even I have become less concerned when I see a learner pass out in assembly. Normal protocol is that some of the older boys will drag the learner off to the staff room, where they lay them on the floor, and then head back to class. Not the most sympathetic procedure, but it happens about once a week, so I wasn’t even paying attention. Then, right as the learners were finishing their final amen, a blood curdling scream stopped everyone. Heads turned just in time to see the poor girl who fainted violently trying to escape the hold of the boys who were carrying her. She started thrashing, kicking and punching at nothing in particular, all while screaming her lungs out. In hindsight, my first warning should have been the fact that none of the teachers moved. It was like they all had the same thought at the same time, and that thought was not to jump in and try to comfort the obviously distressed learner. No, they calmly asked four more of the older boys to assist the other two and drag her off to the staff room still kicking and screaming.
Now, maybe it’s because I am not religious in general, but when I see a child who is in distress, right after waking up from fainting, my first thought is not to let three boys pin her down in the staff room. While I imagined getting her some water and talking to her in quite, soothing tones, the other teaches took a different approach. Apparently here, comfort comes in the form of being pinned to the concrete floor while five women surround you screaming about the devil! If that doesn’t make her feel better, then I don’t know what will. With her arms and legs pushed into the floor, this girl fought with everything she had to get free as the teachers held their bibles over her body and screamed at the devil spirit to be gone. No dark smoky cloud was forced from her throat like it does in the movies, but the terror of watching this girl scream and wither on the floor was the closest I ever hope to come to a true horror movie.
After 15 minutes of screaming and chanting, the teachers were convinced that the devil no longer had hold over the girl. She had stopped screaming a few minutes before, and her body finally went slack on the floor. I think she was just exhausted, but everyone else agreed that she was now cleansed. Luckily, everyone else agreed that she needed to go home and rest for the remainder of the day. If I was her I would never come back to this crazy school, but once she was drug off to the back seat of someone’s car, the teachers went off to make tea as if nothing had even happened. At this point I was finally able to scrape my jaw up off the floor and pretend that what I had just witnessed didn’t completely horrify me. Not because I think the girl was actually possessed by a demon spirit, but because a child was held down against her will in the middle of a school. Maybe there is a reason exorcism are featured so often in horror movies.