As the ‘semi’ teacher that I am, one lesson I’ve learnt from pupils is that they are, as young and innocent as you may consider them to be, the best, just and truthful judges to say everything about you. At times, they seem to know you more than you know yourself.
Mike is one of the most brilliant pupils in my class. He seems to be far from ordinary, he actually is. He grabs and understands everything he is taught and he asks questions to increase his knowledge base.
I once taught them “Communicable Diseases” taking Malaria as a case study and mosquito as its vector. After the lesson, Mike stood up and asked “excuse me sir, you said mosquitoes carry malaria from one person to another”. I answered in the affirmative and motioned for him to continue. “Okay Sir, what if a mosquito bites a witch and it bites another person, will it transfer the witchcraft?”, he concluded his question. The whole class burst into laughter.
“Witchcraft is not contained in the blood so mosquitoes cannot transfer it”, I answered him after making the other pupils calm down. He sighed, relief apparent on his face and sat down. He must have been suspecting someone, someone living with him!
It was the same boy who wrote about me during their last English Language examination. The way he presented and innocently said the truth he knew about me, one would like to see his so called teacher. Parts of my favourite lines in his composition include
“Mr. Solomon is the name we call my teacher. He’s a much disciplined teacher. He is handsome especially when he smiles. He dresses so smartly and can do anything to make sure one understands his lessons. He speaks English language so fluently but makes grammatical mistakes at times, though he immediately corrects himself at such times. He loves children and once confessed to have wished he were a kid once again. He is very time conscious. He doesn’t overdo things. He doesn’t work too much and doesn’t play too much as well. So he does the two; work and play. Much as I like to be like him, I dislike his overbearing anger”.
The boy has a way of judging you without attracting any negative reaction. He hit the nail on the head in that composition.
After reading his composition, I was totally confused. How do I award his mark? He seemed to have given me a difficult puzzle to solve. I wish I was like him when I was his age. I can still remember how poor my writing was when I was his age.
When I was just transferred to a private Nursery School, my first day was a nightmare. “The man is coming to our house tomorrow. It will be my brother’s birthday. The man will be supplying musical instruments”, the teacher dictated to me. I wrote to the best of my ability as “De man es komin to awa haos tomoro. It we be my brodas betday. De man we be suplain musika enstruments”. After the marking, I got 2 out of 20. It was the prize for my pencil lead.
Back to my story, Mike performed another wonder during this term’s examination. The question read “write a letter to your father living in another country telling him about the latest developments at home”. This is where Mike opened the can of worms. Read his five paragraph letter below.
3, Alegongo Street,
3rd December, 2012.
How are you and the cold in America? I hope you’re coping with all the differences between Nigeria and that place. I am very happy to write this letter to you and the purpose is to tell you the latest developments at home which I believe you’ll find very interesting to read.
I like to start by expressing my disappointment in the fact that you never introduced Uncle Jack to me. Anyway, he has come to our place several times since you left. He claimed to be a Pastor because he comes with Bible every time he visits us at home. He teaches me the word of God and he has also taught me so many things you were never able to let me know. Although he asked me not to tell you, I am telling you in case you’ll like to teach me more. He’s very good at teaching the word of God and that’s why he holds the adult session with mum upstairs while I study two chapters of a book in the Bible until he returns to ask me questions. He really prays so hard during each adult session with mum upstairs. I knew this when he gave it as the reason for the sweat and his wet clothes after each session.
Also Dad, Uncle Jack is a very caring uncle. He never made me feel like you were not around. He has really been acting to me like a father and like a husband to mum. Mum told me it’s the traditional responsibility of my Uncle to take care of his brother’s wife and children. Mum does not feel any loneliness anymore. That’s why I wonder each time she tells you on phone that she misses you. When I questioned her on this, she told me it was to make sure that your miss her too. I hope you do. But then, she doesn’t. I had liked to tell you this on phone but mum won’t allow me, she only tells me to say hi and hear your voice.
Moreover dad, Uncle has bought a game for me. I am to play it each day I do not have Bible studies. One day, the game stopped working while adult session was going on upstairs. I had no choice but to go upstairs for assistance. As I knocked on the door, they were already praying because I heard mum screaming. Demons must be getting out of her. She told me from inside that I wasn’t supposed to come in during prayers because of evil spirit. It was on that day I became angry with you again for not having cast out the devils before you travelled out but I later remembered you’re not a Pastor like Uncle Jack and also that it might be in our tradition that things like that should be done by brothers as Uncle once told me that our tradition allows him to do some things in your place, a reason why I wonder if it still okay for a Pastor to believe in tradition. So I rushed downstairs to avoid any spiritual attack.
Finally Dad, I’ve also discovered a lie you told me that no one can act in place of father. I must confess, Uncle Jack is more than a father, to me and mum. I therefore plead that you buy him gifts on your next trip home to show that you’re grateful. As I have not been able to talk to you on phone, I hope my teacher will deliver this letter to you. I should have sent Uncle’s phone number to you but he didn’t give it to me when I asked. He said I can always send mum to him. I am not really missing you so I should only say I love you. Bye.
Ki la gbe, ki le ju? (translated as what did we carry, what did we throw?) As Mike had hoped that I deliver his letter, one thing that came to my mind was the regular report you receive for sending text on phone without sufficient air time, that is “Sending failed”.
Now that I have seen the letter, parents are to be given their children’s papers after the exams. What do you think I should do?