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Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Even with the rickety ceiling fan wobbling above, doing its best to vent the small office room, Chisom was feeling hot beads of sweat rolling down his armpit and dampening his school uniform. His forehead was also dotted with perspiration. With his nervous hands clasped behind him, fidgeting with his fingers did little to help the situation. At the moment, the only thing he dared to put his eyes on was the floor. He was counting the number of sand holes on the badly finished and old office floor just to keep his mind away from where he was and the possible disaster ahead. If the ground before him could open, he would not hesitate to jump in and be swallowed up, just to escape from the four pair of eyes staring at him.

Chisom was not one of the key trouble makers in SS1C but in the last few weeks, he had been involved in two severe punishable acts; the Biology teacher’s missing note was found in his locker and few days later, he was involved in a classroom fight. Miss Ebere, his Form Mistress did not take those acts lightly with him. Each of those times, he had been dragged to the principal’s office for adequate discipline and the memory of the experience he had there always sent chills down his spine. The truth was, only Chisom and few other witnesses in class knew who the actual culprit was and why he was after Chisom but who would dare speak up? Who would confront the dreaded Bobby Black?

“Why did you throw this paper at your teacher’s buttocks while she was copying notes for the class?” Mr. Okpara was holding up the paper ball for everyone in his office to see, as if it was courtroom evidence. He repeated the question to Chisom and it was the fifth time already. How was he expected to defend himself when all fingers pointed at him? Who in the office would believe him? Was it his Form Mistress who had now rated him a miscreant, or his seated father who was rocking his chin on his staff with visible embarrassment and anger? Was it Bobby Black standing beside the Form Mistress, who claimed to have been a witness when Chisom threw the paper ball? Who would believe him if he told them the whole setup started two weeks ago when Amaka, the new student began showing interest in him over Bobby Black? Why would Bobby implicate him to this extent?

Mr. Okpara was not a man to toy with on matters of student discipline. He had been nick-named after a popular drink, Dr. Pepper as rumors carried that he usually applied pepper over the thick stem of his cane. Chisom had fallen a victim of that dreaded cane two times and he could swear he rubbed something worse than pepper. He remembered how the tingling sensation affected his sitting posture for several days. After those incidences, he made up his mind to steer clear of Amaka for his own sake but the young girl kept pressing her interest on him. He did like her a lot. Who wouldn’t like such a free spirited and jovial young beauty? But the conditions were not fertile, Bobby was at least three years older than everyone in class, he was a small lord.

“Ewu! Don’t you hear your principal?” A very indignant Chisom’s father spat out. The lanky middle aged man wanted to say more but held back, he would finish it off at home. Mr. Okpara had been patient enough, it was time for discipline. Rising with agility, he picked up his cane and came around his table. For the first time, Chisom looked up, his eyes so sorrowful one would think he’d just been diagnosed of an incurable disease. The moment he dreaded most was here, no amount of extra undershorts could absorb the venom. “In this school, discipline is our watchword,” Mr. Okpara began to say. “If we let you continue like this, you will end up a scoundrel in the society. I will send that demon out of you now before it’s too late. Hold the wall! I’m giving you twenty-four!”

The first lash was like a hot iron bar on his skin. He was tempted to rub the searing pain on his buttocks but if he did, the principal would start afresh. The second stroke was electrifying and he was already yelling in agony when the fourteenth stroke came. “Shut up! Hold the wall!” His principal yelled repeatedly at him. The pain was going on a crescendo and it did not take any more dignity from him when he started crying on the twentieth stroke. There was no fairness at all.

It was on the twenty-second stroke that the door to the principal’s office flew open and everyone’s attention was diverted. “Please stop! Please Sir! It was not him Sir! It was Bobby!” Amaka was panting breathlessly, she was almost in tears.

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