If you are female and went to a boarding house in the 80s, 90s, maybe even early 2000s, you may have heard about Lady ‘koi koi.’
Who is Lady koi koi? She is the young lady, a teacher, we were told, who was said to have been jilted by her lover as she was preparing for her wedding.
She all dressed up, the story goes, when she was told her husband-to-be had married another person. She was said to have walked in a daze out of the house, was hit by an oncoming car and her footsteps have since been echoing the corridors of boarding house hotels for years.
We would hear her at the beginning of the corridor and listen as her steps receded; then she would start again at the beginning of the corridor…we never heard her steps as she returned, she always began her koi koi steps at the beginning of the corridor then all the way down.
I was about 12 years old when I first came across that story and I believed it! What was there not to believe?
I was young, impressionable, I had heard ‘koi koi’ sounds some nights after lights out, everyone in my dorm had too, so we all believed it!
By the time I was almost done with my senior year at the boarding school, it had become a ‘myth,’ several students in other boarding schools all over the nation had also ‘heard’ about her and heard her and we concluded it was someone playing practical jokes on us…she became a sort of Miss Havisham, the character in Charles Dickens book, ‘Great Expectations’.
To be honest, I had my doubts about Lady koi koi’s story, and it didn’t leave my mind. I doubted that she was a myth. There were more than a hundred secondary schools nationwide where they had heard about this so called Lady koi koi, if indeed it was some practical joke, who was the joker who moved from school to school and at midnight?
It didn’t make sense that she wasn’t real. I pretended like the rest of us students that she wasn’t real until one night, in my final year at school when I woke up to pee. Everywhere was dark, I held a weak torch and made my way to where we normally stood to pee. At night we dared not go to the toilet which was at the very end of the long corridor. That day, as I stood to pee, I heard lady koi koi approaching, I froze!
Even my pee stopped! I heard her heels clapping down the corridor floor koi… kio… koi, my head swelled, as in I felt it increase in size. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t shout, I just stood with my weak torchlight. I saw her, well , I saw a form, I saw red heeled shoes, I saw something white and like a veil and she was gone.
Did I scream?
Noooo, I just walked quietly to my bed and covered up…I was shaking like a leaf.
I never said a word to anybody, no body!
Why? they would laugh at me and they would never believe me!
Till I left that school, I never got up to take a midnight piss, if it worried me, I would just hold the piss in and pray for day break.
So why am I talking about Lady koi koi many years after school? Something happened in my family back when. An aunt of mine was also betrayed by her amour, the man she was meant to marry. He left her for another. The bad part was that, everyone expected my aunty to cry, to wail, to you know, display sadness. She didn’t. Instead she broke into a song, sad mournful songs…she sang and sang and didn’t cry.
People would come to talk to her, console her, you know commiseration of sorts…aunty would just keep singing…she died of a broken heart three months later and guess what? We hear her singing.
Yes, we hear her sing every time the anniversary of her wedding draws near; in the middle of the night she comes around the family house to sing! It’s over 19 years now.
So you tell me, people who say things about issues like these don’t know anything!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)