Monday, December 10, 2007

The Narrow Escape

“Iyabo Olayinka”
“Nurudeen odeyemi”
“Murktar Yaradua”
“Bolanle same last name as Allied”

My heart skipped a beat as the name bellowed through the loud microphone. My eyes; although fixed on my sandals saw the chilled stares of the other students through my peripheral vision. I also heard whispers of scandal rumored through the whole assembly.

“Bolanle same last name as Allied”

Even though I considered Bolanle a wimp, I knew she would not dare go on stage. Punishment was inflicted in the presence of all while exoneration was privately awarded, that was how it was unjustly done in our school. She couldn’t take the chance for a tabooed crime as mine.

“Class teacher and house mistress of Bolanle last name as Allied” please see to it that she reports to my office immediately. She is in more trouble than she can imagine, no one is allowed to skip morning assembly” Mr. Paseda and Ms Osikoya both nodded to the principal.

Courageous enough to return an intense gaze of my own, I looked up to search for Bolanle in the next row. Our eyes met. She gave me a deadly look which was contrary to her character. Molade and Rita, her friends did likewise. I made a mental note to write their names as both noise makers and vernacular speakers for that afternoon. The ascendancy of a class captain gave me such rights. The extent of my power was limitless within the thousand square feet of our classroom. It wasn’t my fault her name was called at the assembly, our English teacher Mr. Adeyemi made his common mistake.

Mr. Adeyemi, who regarded himself as a no nonsense teacher with well behaved students had a snobbish mannerism to him. He was one of those teachers who affect an offensive air of self satisfied superiority in matters of taste and intellect. I think he schooled in Ghana because he seized every opportunity to correct students and staffs alike; on their English pronunciation. “It is not pronounced eDUcation, its eJUcation”.

I still cannot fathom why Mr. Adeyemi called me Bolanle. She and I had nothing in common except our last name. We looked nothing alike neither do our initials. Bolanle is short, fair and robust compared to my tall, dark and lanky. There was a day I was brave enough to correct him after my rationalization of his unexcused able behavior. You would think wining the best English student for three consecutive years and also being one of the top students in the school would make my name an icon, but his man couldn’t be bothered. That day ended with me kneeling down in the sun for three hours because I interrupted him during his lesson.

Students trotted out of the assembly hall after we were dismissed to our various classes. Bolanle cornered me on the staircase.

“Allied, you need to rectify this situation. We need to let the principal know the wrong name was called”.

“I will take care of it”

I made the decision to confess to the principal. He was amicably calm when I told him I was responsible for the crime and not Bolanle. His disbelief echoed in his voice. He knew of my achievements in the school and would not have guessed that a nerdy quiet Allied is capable of breaking serious school violations. With his head abased he declared his judgment. The utmost punishment was my parents being notified of my infamy. My grandmother would be disappointed the most. She recently told my dad that he needed to trust me more.

The rangy bursar was called to thrash me. I was glad that it was done in the privacy of the principal’s office and not in public like the others. My cooking stove was confiscated along with a small bag of rice and a carton of indomine noodles. I was also given a long stone throw portion of dry and stubborn grass to cut. That punishment was for inviting Murktar Yaradua into the girl’s hostel for dinner during extention.

Mr. Adeyemi was called by the principal to see to it that our parents were informed of our recalcitrance. I watched him outside the principal’s office as he dictated to the school secretary what the letter is to say.

“Can you please give me the names of the offenders’ sir, I need to pull out their files to get their home address” she asked

“Sure. The miscreant names are Iyabo Olayinka, Nurudeen odeyemi, Murktar Yaradua, and Bolanle same last name as Allied”.