When I was just about to alight from the bus, I was welcomed with a smile from a young woman. I took the smile as a sign of bad luck because of the colour of her teeth. She requested to help me carry my luggage but I rejected her offer. She insisted and I finally agreed to her offer.
I introduced myself to her as a teacher posted to serve in their community. She smiled a second time, and I gave a fake smile back because her smiles bored me. She called some kids to help carry my luggage to the chief’s house. At the chief’s palace, the chief introduced his wives and children to me. He had three wives and seven children of which two were males and the rest, females. The eldest among the children was a lady with an age of about twenty (20) years.
Although the chief mentioned the names of all the children, my mind picked only one name, and that was the name of the eldest child, Abiba. I was shocked to have been told that the lady who welcomed me at the station was the third and most loved wife of the chief. I was given a room at the palace. The chief ordered for my items to be sent to my room
I moved into my room and relaxed on my single-sized mattress because my journey was a tiresome one. As I lay on my mattress and was laying curses on GES for posting me to such a deprived community, I heard a knock on my door
I responded to the knock. It was Abiba, with a big bowl of TZ and soup. She said that was my welcome meal. I asked her to put the food on the floor and promised her I would eat the after taking some rest. She told me to feel at home and always call on her when I was in need of anything. I thanked her, but in my mind I was like, “can you provide all my needs?”
She left my room and I faced my first meal at the village. I was just wondering how to call Abiba to come back for the bowls when I heard a knock again. Guess what, it was Abiba again. She told me she had put a bucket of water in the bathroom for me to bath. I asked her to pick the bowls out of my room, and promised her I would bath very soon.
I took my bathing apparatus and tried to move to the bathroom. On seeing the population in the compound, the “shy-boy” in me pushed me back into my room. On a second thought, I moved out to the bathroom with confidence because there was no way I could dodge the bathing. From the bathroom back to my room, all eyes were on me like 2Pac. With a nervous smile on my face, I walked straight into my room without looking into the eyes of anyone.
As my room was responding to the darkness of the weather, there came Abiba, with a kerosene lamp. I took the lamp and wondered why it was always Abiba who rendered all the domestic services I needed. Was she chosen by the chief to do that or she was doing that voluntarily? I wondered.
By 7:30pm, I hardly heard any voices around. It meant everybody had already entered their room. I lay on my mattress all alone thinking of how my new school was going to look like. I made a lot of imaginations about the school, the teachers and the pupils. My imaginations gradually turned into a night sleep.
Just about two hours into my sleep, some new friends tapped me and reminded me that I was supposed to sleep under a mosquito net. Guess who those friends were. I quickly responded to the reminder and removed my mosquito net from my bag, but I couldn’t have nailed and hanged it that night, so I covered myself with it like a cloth.
At dawn, the following day, I regretted ever covering myself with a treated mosquito net. I had burning sensation all over my face. I took my bath and made Abiba to lead me to my new school, since she was a student of that school.
On our arrival at the school, I saw a young lady seated under a tree, whom I presumed was a teacher of the school. In my mind, I was like, “thank God I have gotten an enlightened person to live with”. I took my books from Abiba and asked her to enter her classroom. I was left alone with the young lady. I introduced myself to her and asked her to always call me Galaxy.
She smiled and told me she likes my name. I smiled back and in my mind I said,
“why don’t you say you like me instead of my name”.
This statement was a simple one I could have said to her hearing, but because of my cowardice nature, I had always said such emotional statements in my mind. She introduced herself as Kate. I said,
“woow, what a sweet name!”, meanwhile ‘Kate’ is not among the names I admire a lot, but just because I wanted her to feel that I appreciated something about her, I had to give that impression about her name.
I was just having a nice introductory chat with Kate when I saw a young gentleman walk towards us. I presumed he wasn’t also a native of the community according to his looks. I said to myself,
“I just hope this young gentleman has not been having nice times with my newly found Kate
I quickly questioned Kate to find out who the guy was, before he arrived. Kate told me he was one of the only two teachers they had in the school. She added that the guy was an SHS graduate who was picked by GES to serve as a “pupil teacher”. I became happy inwardly for knowing that the guy was a ‘nobody’ when it comes to professionalism. At least Kate could tell the difference between fried rice and wasawasa. In this situation, I was the fried rice.
I was still with my rivalry thoughts when the guy arrived. He greeted me with a handshake and with my palm still interlocked in his, he introduced himself as Ken, but said I could call him Starboy. I once again said to myself, “this boy must not take advantage of the K,K in his name and that of Kate to form a ‘mr and mrs’ theory”. On the other hand, he said his nick name was starboy, and mine was galaxy, which meant he was still my subset. Because so many stars form a galaxy, I thought.
I smiled at him and he innocently smiled back without knowing what I thought about him. Before I could say a word to introduce myself, Kate chipped in with her melodious voice and did the introduction. I added something she left out-my level of professionalism in GES.
Kate and Ken took me into the various classrooms and introduced me to the pupils. In every class that we entered, the usual “class stand” was said to make the pupils stand up for greeting. I became an automatic headteacher because Kate was a National Service Personnel whiles Ken was a ‘pupil teacher’.
We went back to our staff common tree to plan on how to reschedule the classrooms for ourselves. We were busy with the discussion when a lady with a protruded tommy appeared. She greeted us and asked Ken to give her some money to prepare their lunch. My little knowledge about love and its related matters told me the lady was not just a wife to Ken, but a pregnant wife for that matter.
“I have now gotten the Achilles’ heels of this dude”, I thought. All that while, I failed to understand that my primary reason for being in the community was to train pupils and not to build love relationships.
While I was thinking of how to question Ken about the lady, he remarked,
“My brother, it is not easy to be a landlord ooo”.
I quickly buttressed his statement by saying, “in fact oo”. I was quite sure Kate would not like to go for somebody’s husband, so I quickly raised a point to print a picture that Ken had no reason to go for ladies again. I was surprised he supported that idea and it gave me a feeling that he had nothing to do with Kate.
We shared the classrooms among ourselves. I was made to handle classes 5 and 6. Kate was given classes 3 and 4 whiles Ken took classes 1 and 2. We did nothing serious that day. When it was time for closing, Abiba came and took my books and we went home together. I never even asked to know where Kate was residing. When we reached home, I ate my lunch and then relaxed on my mattress.
A boy came and told me the chief wanted to see me. I rushed to his quarters and my anticipation of meeting the chief alone turned out to be a meeting with the chief’s family. I was also shocked to had seen Abiba in the middle of the horse-shoe sitting arrangement of the family, with the chief on a stool facing the horse-shoe sitting arrangement.
Guess what, the chief told me with a smile on his face and smiles on the faces of everybody except me, that he had given Abiba to me as a wife. He added that a grown man like me needed a wife for survival. I got instant fever on hearing that. He gave so many reasons why a grown man must have a wife but I heard none of the reason, because my mind was busy formulating something to reject that offer.
An idea dropped in my mind.
“I have a wife already”, I said. The chief laughed out loudly with his damaged throat that produced a horrible sound, and told me,
“a man with a single wife is just a bachelor. Can’t you see I have three wives”.
At that point I was confused and developed a sudden fever. “Abiba, my pupil. How? What about my plans towards Kate? When I’ve already found out that Ken is married and thought Kate is all mine. Hmmm. What do I do now
As I moved from the chief’s quarters to my room, the emotional department of my brain was busy debating out ideas to face the love virus the chief had injected into me. I gradually moved from brain-talking to speaking out loud my feelings. After minutes of thinking, I had gotten a plan. Since Abiba was my student, I would accept to take her as a wife but a “play” wife. I would assume she was a kid, although she was physically grown even beyond adolescence. I still held the view that she was a kid on the ground of schooling because she was in class six. I would take her as a TOC (Teacher’s Own Choice), I thought.
“But come to think of it. Abiba is a good and caring girl, although she has some village ingredients in her pot of beauty.” I soliloquized. I still had to put my libido under check if not for any reason, but the Noble Profession. I had been trained to impart both academic and moral values onto my pupils. I had wished the chief reasoned along the same line with me. I became my own counselor because I had been given some guidance and counseling lectures back at the college.
No sooner than later did darkness overshadow daylight. My heart had begun to palpitate based on one reason. It was no other reason than how I was going to face that night with my new partner in matrimony. “ Wettin man no see before? What can come can come.” I built self-confidence to console myself and to prepare for the sweet mistake that was on the way.
I soliloquized “yes” to my self-confidence and it coincided with a knock on my door. Guess who! It was Abiba, my wife. She had come in with a bowl of fufu with chicken-light-soup. Her care had graduated to a higher level. She sat on the floor and asked me to wash my hands in a bowl she held. Although not abressed with their tradition, I believed her action was a symbol of respect from a wife to a husband. In my mind I was like, “if not because you are my student, I will eat this fufu and………… hmmmm”. While I was in my thinking mood, I heard,
“Master, please eat. What are you thinking?”. “hmmm, nothing” I responded. In fact, I was actually humbled with her domestic care and respect. For the first time, the ghetto boy who used to eat with a bowl in the palm with other niggers was then being treated like a prince.
Watchout for the conclusion this evening
Credit Abdul-Jalil Abukari