Monday, 11 March 2013

Five Strokes

So there I was, moderating a heated argument between me and myself over my silent endorsement of corporal punishment on a boy in the biology lab. Officially, the boy got five strokes. But five strokes from AK’s born-again dual canes actually looked and undoubtedly felt like twenty four strokes- if you added all the ‘test’ strokes that unrelentingly encouraged the victim to assume the right stance- face forward, derriere out.

I was still trying to overcome the trauma of watching this inappropriate corrective measure for a delinquent twelve year old, who refused to complete his notes and whose father had brought to AK’s notice the slight fact that he returned home from school at 7pm- three full hours after school was out.

Then this mysterious call came through.

My phone screen displayed ‘Private number’ and for the second time that morning I began to wonder if I was expecting any call form outside the country. I adjusted myself on the seat and infused my voice with a smile that I did not feel.

‘Hello madam’
‘I called earlier but I could not hear what you were saying’

Vaguely, I remembered the less than 10-second call, two hours earlier, while I was still commuting to work. There had been no caller ID then too, thus I could not return the call.

‘I got your number from my husband’s phone.’

Another parent; I think to myself, momentarily scanning my memory for the male parents or guardians that I had given my phone number to in the course of the week. Her next words shock me beyond imagination

‘He is a married man ehn,  please leave him alone’
‘Who is this please?’
‘I am warning you. Leave him alone, otherwise you will die an untimely death’

I am certain that my sudden burst of laughter was the last thing she expected after her ominous declaration.
‘Ha ha ha ha ha!  Thanks, I really needed that laugh to lift up my mood.’
‘Excuse me?’
‘If this matter bothers you so much, then you should be less of a coward and not hide your phone number.’
‘I can see you are an unrepentant fool’

I yawn, more from boredom than from the hunger beginning to protest at my stomach walls.

‘If I knew this husband of yours, it could help matters you know. That way I could ‘DO’ him really good. Trust me- I’m not doing anybody’s husband at the moment, and if I did, you would know he’s been well laid’

‘Prostitute! Good for nothing husband snatcher! The wrath of God will destroy you and that your devilish body by fire!’

I am on the verge of another round of laughter but instead I continue

‘Easy on the name calling, woman. Is that what you think will make him leave that other woman for you?  Lucky for us all, I was arrested by Christ six years ago, otherwise I would have found your husband and taught you a lesson or two for daring to disturb me like this.’
‘Who do you think you are to threaten me…?’
‘Listen. I am the woman you called and threatened with untimely death over a man I do not know. If you really want to stop your man from straying, you should NEVER ever take the fight to another woman like you.
‘I’ve got more of such advice. Normally I give them for a handsome fee, but seeing how desperate you sound, I could give you some more for free.’

‘You even have the nerve to advice me! Shameless thing!’

‘Oh, by the way. Since you have my number, you can call me anytime. Good luck sister.’

I never stop wondering why women do these things; if I were a guilty chic and had been thus threatened by a scared wife, I would simply cry to the man and sweetly turn on some emotional blackmail. 
Why would a woman put her man in a situation where he gets to console a threatened girlfriend?

Back to work, I got over my guilt at witnessing heavy corporal punishment and sent for the victim- Seun.

Something in the way he had pleaded with Ak while the ordeal lasted and yet swiftly adjusted his shoulder and back as soon as the flogging was done, got to me. His soft eyes almost got me more confused till I noticed how they took on a concealed look when confronted with my warm, questioning gaze.

I give him an assignment which I expect him to submit next Monday. I hope that reading his essay about his greatest fear will help me connect the hazy lines that form his background.

Nosa  pokes his head into my office before I realize that it’s close of work already
‘Hey you! How’s this workaholic sweetheart of mine doing?’
Just as he bends over my table and smothers me with kisses, my phone gives a short beep.
‘You ready to go home? It’s a long weekend ahead’ the wink he gives me is a rush of warmth and I smile in return
‘But of course. How can I say no when you ask so nicely?’

I unlock my phone as I drop into the passenger seat beside him, and a text message accosts me

I’m very sorry about this morning… wrong number. About those tips, can I call you this weekend? Please reply. Martha.

I smile
‘Another one of those toasters again?’
‘Nah. Just a woman in near distress. Besides, haven’t you spoilt my chances with toasters since you gave me this wonderful bulge? You hardworking, goal-scorer you!’
‘Thanks for the compliment honey. You know you’ve got the hottest baby bump ever, right?’

I smile at him as he rubs my midriff tenderly
‘You are the best.’
In my mind I add: and you better remain that way.  

Now, to reply my new friend- Martha!