Mensah Akposah, a fifteen year old boy too short for his age, he had a stance like that of a dwarf. His eyes were properly hidden under his thick glasses, it had a black rope, long enough to wrap around his large head. He held his mother’s hand tight as the bus conductors shouted at the top of their voices,
“Ibeku! Ibeku!! Enter with your change o!!! I no want hear story o!!!!”
Mrs Kelechi Akposah entered one of the buses with her son’s palm tightly wrapped in hers, she knew that if she lost sight of the boy, he would go missing in seconds. As they settled down in the bus, she pulled him closer making him rest on her bosom. Nothing remained the same after her husband, Joseph Akposah, died from postrate cancer.
Every single penny that he had ever earned was drowned in his medications, yet death adamantly snatched him away. Seeing no future in Ghana, she decided to take her son back to her village in Abia State, Nigeria to start life afresh.
Mensah pushed his glasses up his diminutive nose as he dragged their luggage, he never thought that the popular Giant Of Africa would be as plain as the green trees and the crickets flying around. He expected to see huge buildings and skyscrapers but the only thing that fascinated him so far was the women driving motorcycles and tricycles down the road,
“Oh, Mah, are we there yet? My hands are terribly aching!”
“Yes, we are here!”
The building he saw made his jaw drop to the ground, young and stony faces glared at them as they walked in. An older woman spat a gruesome liquid into a nearby puddle of water, nearly splashing the pungent liquid on his body,
Just as he was about to ask if they were in the right place, someone engulfed him into himself, smashing his cheeks onto something harder than a brick wall,
” My short Ghana boy is here at last!! Kelechi, nwanne m, hope your journey wasn’t too stressful, ehn?
He straightened his neck as he examined the man, he had a stomach as huge as three basketballs put together even his face was fat! He had a queer looking red cap sitting resentfully on his head. He was the famous Uncle Ferdinand Ezeocha who vouched to buy his school books and cater for his and his mother’s needs after his father passed away. As they walked in he noticed the resentfully look on the face of every child, the women, most of them pregnant, peeped from their rooms looking at us with contempt and disgust.
He started school the next week with mixed feelings. First his uncle has six wives and he personally went and counted each and every child in the house and they were twenty-five in number! How on Earth was his uncle going to care for him and his mother with so much family members. Plus he wasn’t used to that kind of environment, how would he survive? He had to help his mother set up her new Fruit stand in the market even after hawking oranges for two good hours. He missed his soft bed back home, he missed the comfort of his father’s car too but now he had no choice than to accept his fate, dust his feet and take the bull by its horns.
He searched the entire school building looking for the “SS1” class, instead he found so many SS1’s from SS1A to SS1F. He checked his entry card and entered SS1A class, that was the class his uncle signed him up for, he still had his head buried in the card when a voice stopped him,
” You’re three hours late to my class, young man! And you’re a new student, is that how you intend to continue with your studies in this distinguished institution!!”
The man had a pair of suspenders strapped like seat belts from both sides of his shoulders, they we’re not even enough to contain his bulging stomach. The class had missing windows, broken chairs and tables, the blackboard had cracked from top to bottom, even the roof leeked! This obviously wasn’t where he was going to study, was it? He thought so much that he didn’t even notice how the school looked when he walked in. He ignored the man and went outside to check the signpost and it read, “St. Barnabas Federal Boys School.”
Then realization hit him, no more classes with air-conditioning systems for him but those with leeking roofs with scrawny looking teachers. He was near tears when the harsh truth held him in the gut, this was his life now and he had to put fantasies behind and study hard to live large again.
” Young Man!! Are you not the student from Mr Ferdinand Ezeocha?”
” Y–yes, Suh!”
“It’s Sir, not surh!! So you’re the short Ghana boy—“
” My name is Mensah not Short Ghana boy sir-“
“Now, this one’s got guts! Come in, Menses! Let’s see how much you know!!”
The class was enjoying the whole scene as they laughed at his new nickname. He calculated his steps and gulped in his anger as the man made him stand in front of the class,
” Okay, Mr Menses—“
” It’s Mensah sir. I’ll appreciate it if you call me by my name sir.”
The entire class went numb, silence everywhere, the man lifted his cane and lashed me thoroughly as he cursed under his breath. He laughed at my tears and threw my audacity at my face,
” Now, Menses, what is literature?”
I stared at him with anger and hate in my eyes,
” Speak!!! You stare at me like that again, I’ll give you another twelve strokes of my cane!!!”
So far his expectations of a nice education was squashed, everything that he had imagined went downhill so suddenly that he had to blink very hard to understand it all. He bit his lip iin anger as his classmates’ laughter resounded in his head, salty tears dripped down his face but he didn’t speak,
” I said speak!!!”
“Is this how you teach? You greet your new students with the cane and ridicle them in front of their mates!! First you insult me, my name and my stature just because you want to show me that you’re in charge ! With all due respect sir, youre a disgrace to your title as a teacher!!”
I closed my eyes and expected a very nice beating but it didn’t come, when I opened them, he was no longer there and instead of an acute beating, I got a resounding standing ovation from my classmates. I made many friends that day, I was called the Hero of St. Barnabas Boys School. I walked home with a smile on my face, my first day of school wasn’t so bad after all.
As I walked down the footpath, a shadow walked behind me and my heart beat tripled when I saw the mean teacher, he walked closer to where I stood with a stern face and a huge cane in his hand,
” Your Uncle Ferdinand told me a lot about you but he spared the most important detail, your defying guts! Never has a little boy like you made an attempt to talk back at me like you did today and I must thank you for it. You made me realize my fault, Mensah. Since the government cut down teachers’ salaries, my life inside and outside that school has been a living hell. My only defense mechanism was venting my accumulated anger on my students. Thank you for making me realize my true calling, young man. My name is Dr. Chuks Ogiri and it’s nice to meet you, Mensah.”
I smiled when he stooped and extended his hand hand towards me. He dropped the cane in his other hand on the floor and then I shook his hand. I watched him walk away in surprise, I walked back home holding my head high in anticipation for the good things to come.
The Nostalgic Pen ©