POSTED 09/18/2018 12:58:33
When my brother gets angry, he spreads his lips. He’s lips are red; earthworm red, almost black. They remain a constant remainder of our days in blue uniforms. He wasn’t a bad boy or bully or dat kind. We call him Soso by the way. Soso was small, smaller than his navy blue uniform.
When we scurried out of Mom’s tired Peugeot 505, he’ll freeze at the oxblood school gate.
“Can I do this?” he’d say. “Yep . . . somehow” he’d probably tell himself.
He’ll reach the sick bay and regret not returning in our old Peugeot. You see, there was this man in his life. He called himself Mr. Saheed. And Soso feared him, even more than Mummy’s long bought-in-Ariaria cane.
Mr. Saheed was one of the two or three English teachers we had. He was also Soso’s form master. And Soso was also his class prefect. I remember his bald head. How sparse it was, every single strand of hair gone like the headless chicken Emma chased us with last Easter. He oiled it, giving his head a sunset yellow glow. While he sang during assembly, I’ll yearn to touch his head, to slap the oil till it dried.
Mr. Saheed hated children. He’d seize their food; make them finish a puzzle in Ugo C. Ugo before it was released. He hated timidity too.
“I hate timidity,” he’d say, flecks of saliva escaping his mouth.
That would be after one of his students couldn’t respond to his question. Mr. Saheed would go on to draw a medium-sized sheep on the board. It would have a slimy back, indicated by a yellow chalk colouration. He’d called it opportunity.
“Don’t be shy.”
“Opportunity comes once!”
“You grab it by the head.”
“...not the tail,”
He taught parts of speech on Mondays. Comprehension on Wednesdays. While he taught the evening class, his eyes fixed on Soso whose fingers covered the Black Book. The black book was Mr. Saheed’s way of punishing kids. All that was needed was your name being in it. It wasn’t black. It was a normal sixty leaved Vista exercise book. On its cover page was the image of a flying football with the letters black book heavily printed in black ink.
Within the confines, were dates and names, of noisemakers and timidities.
“Yes! Where are the names?”
“Erm... ermu... dire no...”
“Don’t be timid! Speak up boy.”
“No names. Sir”
“I see. You’re hiding your friends. Eh. You’ll take the punishment.”
By now, Soso’s eyes filled with tears. He’d grab his blue shorts, messaging his buttocks, probably to estimate the amount of damage it would receive.
He’d rub his hands, slapping them on his cheeks. The big boys would laugh. Others would murmur. Some would offer advice too.
“Pad your bum bum.”
“Rub sand on your hand.”
“Tight your bum bum... odieshi.”
While they consoled Soso, Mr. Saheed would be on a journey to find the best cane ever. He would begin with the principal’s office. After being turned down, he’d head to room 212.
“Do you have a beautiful instrument? I want to discipline somebody.” He’d say.
Ten minutes later, he’d appear with a fat bruised cane. He’d fling it continuously as he admonished poor Soso. And when the thick stokes fell like pebbles on Soso’s soft flesh, little bags would form in my eyes. When Mr. Saheed was done and the tears stopped pouring, Soso would walk back defeated.
Yesterday, I saw his large lips. Mr. Saheed laced his buttocks with many strokes. And Soso didn’t shed a tear. Aunty, I was scared. He stood fixed looking in Mr. Saheed eyes. His lips spread till they were in a ‘ready to kiss’ position. I saw them fold till they became purple. I wished to hold him but I remained glued to my seat.
Soso drew the yellow knife – mother’s knife for oranges. He charged towards Mr.Saheed, burying the sharp edge in his abdomen. While we all scurried, Soso dug into his abdomen, emptying it of its contents.
When Mummy came to pick us, he sat in front. He greeted Mummy effortlessly this time.
“Gudd evening, mummy!” he said with a long smile.
And when mummy complained of a bad engine, he laughed. He asked if it needed oil. She said yes. He laughed harder. He gave her a container full of red fluid. And when she asked what kind of oil is this? He answered;
“The timid type.”
Did you enjoy the story? Let your friends know about it