SCHOOL MEMORIES: Of reputation and retribution

We were tired of her acting like she owned the universe and everything and everyone in it. She was just a headgirl but one would have thought she was a demigod.

We were tired of her acting like she owned the universe and everything and everyone in it. She was just a headgirl but one would have thought she was a demigod.

She walked as though it hurt to have to share the same pathway with common man.

Whenever she walked into a noisy classroom (and ours was always noisy), she didn’t say anything at all. It was though we were not worth the effort.

She just stood there, in the doorway, arms folded, with her eyes hovering over the room and like magic, the room would suddenly turn as silent as a grave. She would then roll her eyes and walk away.

Her skirt was always wrinkle-free. What was up with that? Did she not sit or wriggle around like the rest of us normal human beings?

There were two explanations for that. One was that she went to her room (also known as Statehouse) and ironed her skirt every fifteen minutes.

The second explanation, the one we chose to believe (okay fine, it was us who conjured it up) was that she realised bad air ever so often and ever so forcefully that it straightened out her skirt.

And we loathed her. We loathed her for forcing a British accent even though it was possible that our school was the furthest she had ever gone from her hometown. Her hometown was three hours away.

We loathed her for her for “thinking that she is pretty” but most of all, we loathed her for being the one person whose authority we couldn’t challenge.

We made student teachers cry. We drove old teachers into retirement. We ate raw maize from gardens belonging to other classes, just to spite them. We got running stomachs but still we made our point. Our point was that our level of rebellion was unbeatable.

We caused intercessors to starve themselves all in the name of fasting and praying for us.

And yet that girl, that tiny human being inspired fear in us. We had a reputation to uphold and she stood in the way of that. For some reason, disrespecting a student leader was a greater crime than disrespecting a teacher. 

And so we were reduced to hissing and humming at the sight of her. But it wasn’t enough. We had to do something. We had to put her in her place. But we had to think smart.

I for one couldn’t afford a suspension, later on an expulsion. My mother had told me that if I got sent home again, I would be relieved of the burden of attending a good school. She was not one to make empty threats.

We sat down and made a plan. We would buy gifts for “people who have been our source of inspiration.” We would give gifts to the entire cabinet and leave her out. And we did. And the entire school noticed. And they laughed about it. And we parted ourselves on the shoulder.

We weren’t feeling as proud the next day as we walked from school to the main road, dripping wet, carrying our luggage on our heads and receiving no sympathy from passersby. “Ungrateful! Spoiled! Unsympathetic to parents!” they shouted.

I apologised to my mother but this time, she was hell-bent on retribution. For two weeks, I studied in a school where teachers were allergic to teaching and students were allergic to good grades.

 

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