By Story Teller (continued from yesterday)
I WAS reeling with excitement on my way home after my friend, John, handed me the book from Naomi with instructions that I should check in the middle. Like I alluded to earlier, I knew this trick. I knew exactly what was in the middle of the book.
There was a reply from the girl my heart was melting for but despite this anxiety, I decided not to open the letter until I got home. Upon arrival home, I opened the book and found a letter and from the decorations around it, I knew I had won the jackpot even before opening and read it.
The contents of the letter were what I was looking forward to. I had won the heart of this beautiful damsel and now the long love journey had to start! I was on cloud 9; happy beyond happiness and at the zenith and crescendo of my love story. I started visualizing how we would spend time together, dodging from school, monkeying around the village like fools, and how people would be jealous of us.
I was happy mainly for two reasons; Naomi was a teacher’s daughter. Donkey years back, dating a teacher’s daughter, or even a dependent felt like you had also enrolled at Malcom Moffat College to pursue a certificate and career in teaching.
That was not all; dating Naomi meant that I had beaten everyone who was pursuing her to the game, including teachers. I had won the prize and what was to follow was fun time at the Apollo and a moment of silence from my competitors. I had won; beaten them flat-footed and so, I was going to be the envy of the entire village and the surrounding areas combined.
The following morning, I went to school and first thing I did was to break the news to John, the deliverer of that sweet message in the letter and by sunset that day, I had read the letter a hundred times, world for word, just in case I missed something.
John was not only happy for me but was also envious of me. However, there was nothing he could do because he knew Naomi was way above his standards. Not to say that John was not up to the notch, but the fact that even basic English was still a problem for him, simply meant that he was automatically knocked out of the race to date the girl because she only spoke in English home and away. So, if you still had unfinished business with the colonial master’s language, she was a no-go area for you.
Before break time, word that Naomi had accepted my proposal had spread the whole school like bush fire. This is not what I intended but again, it gave me a sense of pride that everyone was talking about me and Naomi dating so it was a bonus on my part. Just imagine a village boy wrestling the girl from the jaws of teachers!
Long story short, Naomi and I started doing things together. We spent more time together and even studied together during prep despite belonging to different classes and because the news of us dating was all over campus, it was just time before we ran onto the booby trap. We knew danger was looming and trouble was on the horizon.
Before long, Naomi’s father started pressuring her to tell him if it was true that we were dating, to which she vehemently refused. I was also confronted and I denied it. Her father then started put us under a microscope. The time we spent together reduced. We were no longer free with each other for fear of being beaten but letters continued flowing on a daily basis and weekends turned out to be longer than usual as we could not meet.
At home, Naomi’s father started searching for evidence in every nook and cranny and before long, my letters had been discovered and confiscated from her and there was no more hiding because everything was laid bare. The school became too small for us. Due to pressure from home, Naomi suggested we break up. Her father could not stomach the fact that her daughter had settled for some useless village boy who would only ruin her bright future.
Things turned worse as my letters to Naomi were handed over to the school headteacher by her father. That was the beginning of the end. I was not going to deny my own letters and so, when I was summoned, I simply told them the truth that we had been dating for some time, thinking they would be lenient on me for my innocence but I was wrong!
The school decided to use me as a classic example of how it did not condone some useless boy-girl intimate relationships among pupils and so, on a Friday during parade, the headteacher announced there were pupils who had started misbehaving and that those would be treated as an example of how everyone who misbehaved would be treated.
I was asked to step forward before my letters to Naomi were read in front of everyone, one after another before teachers descended on me like demon-possessed maniacs and took turns beating me like an Adventist pounding groundnuts on a Friday afternoon for samp yapa Saturday.
I was clobbered to pulp like a common thief and more punishments followed the following week. I was never allowed in class for two weeks yet my partner in crime was never beaten or punished. This was the greatest injustice I experienced in school in my entire life.
To me, the only reason I was punished alone was because I had no one to speak for me. I came from a village where the most educated people we had a brush with were teachers. They were the most feared at the time so, no one would dare try to speak for me, not even my parents.
The biggest sin I had committed was to date a teacher’s child who, according to them, was not my class. Some of those teachers who beat me had proposed the same girl. To them, it was not a problem despite her being a minor because it served them right but for me, it was like committing an unpardonable sin.
I was hurting inside but I had no moral right to confront school authorities. I was at their mercy because any further misbehaving would have gotten me chucked out of school and that would have meant the end of my education.
There was no other school nearby and being expelled from this school meant I would not have been where I am today. Maybe I would have just been a village goat thief by now or some polygamous fisherman somewhere, drinking kachasu with impunity while my family goes to bed hungry.
I repented from girls and it was that beating and embarrassment that made me work like a beast in school such that I qualified to Grade 10 as the best pupil from my school, beating even Naomi and a tandem of other teachers’ children. After completing school, I met some of my former classmates- teacher’s children who never went far.
Naomi tried to contact me few years later but I had nothing to do with her after her father humiliated me. If I was not her class then, according to her debased-minded father, there was no way I would be her class now.
Through all this, I have learnt that chance and opportunities happen to all. I was a villager then, but it is now Naomi and her father who are villagers. I am still looking for that headmaster who subjected me to disdain through that inhuman treatment and when I find him, you will hear from me! Have a happy weekend ahead!