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The sun had just had just sneaked into its bedroom and dusk was in full swing.  Zolozolo Girls Secondary School was graveyard silent.  All the students were busy with the evening study, or ‘prep’ as they enjoyed calling it. 

The teacher was seated at his working desk in the staffroom, marking a Form 4 English composition exercise, whistling a latest Nigerian tune he had only heard last night at his favourite thirst spot in town, known as Paris.  There was no place like Paris, or ‘Parie’ as many fun seekers dubbed it in an attempt to give it its French accent.  The loud music blasting from tortured speakers, the crowd, the women of all description outnumbering the men, the craziness…

Then he came to one pupil’s notebook, which sent a chill down his spine. At the end her exercise, this student wrote in block letters: “I LOVE YOU SIR.  YOU FINISH ME.”    No, wait a minute.

The teacher observed a minute of silence in loving memory of what he thought was the untimely death of manners in this student.  And again, silence because he was confused.  I LOVE YOU.  YOU FINISH ME.  Jesus Christ.  This girl has a big heart.  Girl of no shame, no remorse, no what.  Girls of today, they stir men like porridge. 

He was just a young male teacher, fresh from college, a bachelor. Down in his heart, he knew only too well that he had an obligation to guard against any temptation from the students to protect his job. There is no money in teaching, or breaking chalk as people in the profeesion called it.  B if breaking chalk keeps you in town, you have to respect it.

As such he put the notebook aside and continued marking the rest.  He would deal with the matter later.

I LOVE YOU SIR.  YOU FINISH ME.  The message in the notebook was refusing to go out of the teacher’s head. 

There was no doubt that the message was unwelcome.  But at the same time it was a sweet message, was it not.  The teacher was, after all, a human being with blood in his veins and oxygen in his lungs.  Which man with his head correct does not want to be loved? 

So there he was, our friend the poor teacher trapped in a very tricky situation to sacrifice the student’s ‘special offer’ on the altar of professionalism.

Perhaps what made matters worse was her looks.  Even if Chniua Achebe were raised from his grave to come and describe this girl’s looks, he would ask for a lot of years to complete the work.  It would mean novels upon novels of description. One novel for the eyes, another for the hair, another for the nose, another for the body structure and so on. 

When she walked, her bottom shook up and down it if it will fall off.  When she flashed her five star smiles, she exposed a dash on her dental sentence.  People died and came back. 

After giving it enough thought, he decided to ignore the issue.  It would be as if he never saw the message.  Inside his heart, however, he had not forgotten the message.  I LOVE YOU…YOU FINISH ME.  It so much paralysed his mental faculties that it even denied him enough sleep for the next few days.
   
A week later the naughty girl pulled another one. Like at first, she wrote another message, a reminder: SIR, I SAID YOU FINISH ME.  HOW ELSE DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY?

Now this was too much.  The teacher had to put an end to this nonsense lest it put him on the fast track to self destruction.  And so he called her, to warn her verbally.  Yes.  First, it would be a verbal warning privately.  If she persisted, he would invoke the wrath of school rules and regulations to thrash her.  

“I decided to summon you young woman, so that you explain what you mean by writing useless “I love you” messages in your exercises!” The teacher thundered at the girl kneeling before his working desk in the staffroom.  There were just the two of them.

She was silent.  You could hear cockroaches making love…

“Speak you fool!  Am I wasting my breath by asking you? For whom do you write those foolish messages?”
“For you,” she found her words in a half whisper.
“For whom?”
“For you sir…and I mean it.  I am in love sir,” she spoke spiritedly while playing around with her fingernails.

Iwe be serious.  I mean those messages you have been writing.  They are for who?”  The teacher found himself asking the same question, not because he had not understood her answer, but because he wanted her to repeat what was turning into sweet news for him.  He did not even hear the sweet answer to his last ‘question’ because his whole mind went blank.    

He felt defeated.  He picked up a dictionary on the desk and pretended to be looking up a word.  Suddenly another teacher entered the staff room, forcing him to send the student away. 

All the same, he somehow felt happy that he had neither rejected nor accepted the student’s proposal.  He had the right to remain silent. 

Later in the evening, soon after his supper, he got a knock at his door.  Some of his fellow teachers liked visiting him at such a time and so he ordered whoever it was to walk in.

Like a gun from a bullet, the guest walked in.  Unbelievable!  A student dressed in very small clothes. No breathing space between cloth and skin, to borrow writer Temwani Mgunda’s expression.  Most of her body outside.   How could a student come to teacher’s house at 7 pm?  Some of these girls stir you like soya porridge.

And this was another student, not the you-finish-me one, another one.  This one was now from form three.  Honestly, she was more beautiful than the form four one.  More irresistible to a lonely bachelor like the teacher. 

“Sir, I am sorry to come here and at such an hour but I had no choice.  Ngagasa chakudya (I was too late to be served supper) at the dining hall and I need some food.   I can even cook if you don’t have anything ready,” she spoke with a smile that would unite USA and Al Queda.

Immediately the sky broke up and it began to rain heavily.  Much as the teacher wanted her to leave his house tout de suite for fear of tomorrow, nut how could someone’s daughter move in that heavy downpour?  It would be inhumane. And again, being a man of church, the teacher was suddenly filled with so much Christianity that he remembered that verse which says “I was hungry and you did not give me food…”.
 And so he allowed the gir…no! the temptation…he allowed the temptation prepare some rice and eggs for herself, as he sat back enjoying a movie.  He vowed internally that even if his grandfather had resurrected that night, the ‘temptation’ would make her meal and leave.  No any other business.  
 After moments, the rains stopped but since the student was now in the middle of cooking, he did not send her back immediately.
 But just before the student finished her cooking, there was another knock at the door.  The teacher carefully peeped through the window to see who it was.  He had to be careful because if only wagging tongues saw a student in his house at that ungodly hour, then he was finished. 
He saw another shock standing at his doorstep.  The ‘you-finish-me’ student.  She was in the company of some of her form four colleagues.  These students had now gone too far.  They were digging a deep grave for him.  The Christianity immediately abandoned him.  He rushed out, to ‘distribute slaps’ to these naughty creatures.   
 “We have heard that a form three girl has come here to snatch somebody’s own man.  We have come to deal with her,” declared one of the form fours as soon as the teacher stepped out of the house.  
 “And moreover, her relatives have come at the campus to take her home for her brother’s funeral.  And we have told them the whole truth that she is here at your house snatching somebody’s man,” chipped in another.
 The teacher was finished.  These girls finished him. He was not going to convince anybody in the universe that this form three girl only had food at his house. Well, even if she only had food, he was still finished because that too was unacceptable.
 But he felt it would be foolish if he lost both the job and the beautiful temptation.  Probably, the girl would be his compensation.  His pension, perhaps. But some of these girls of today, why do they shake men like packets of Chibuku?

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