Those Indispensable Teachers

by - May 17, 2017

Chronicles of Paulinus

Distant footsteps dragged towards our classroom; we adjusted on our seats to look focused and set for class. The door swung open with a creaking sound, revealing the tall chocolate Madam Okwara on her usual black and white skirt and blouse. She stood, her eyes danced with anger. A small pair of round spectacle rested crookedly on the bridge of her flattened nose. Her glance fell on a mass of sand - a remnant of packed refuse from the class. She dabbed her feet on the dusty heap, provoking flakes of dust to rise and settle on her brown-polished okirika shoe.  


“Who are those responsible for sweeping this class today? How can you stay in such filth?” She chided. A caustic silence gripped the class. We cast our bulging eyes on the class prefect; he wore a glassy expression of inattention. He stared into space and simply tapped his pen on the desk. Her resentment of such uncleanness spilled into her large koboko causing it to sway uneasily. 'Someone must surely smell her wrath; but who?' Our eyes were drilling inquisitively into the prefect to search the answer ourselves.

'Obinna Eke!' she yelled curiously😠. Obinna jolted to life and immediately buried his head and hands in his backpack that lay on the floor between his legs. Steamy sweats wet his brows as he rummaged through his bag. He yanked out a paper containing the list of names. After skimming vigorously through the list he called remorsefully - 'Ifeanyi Ekpunobi'.

My heart skipped and gradually melted into my stomach. I heard my classmates heaved in relief. Her face creased into a frown.

‘Ifeanyi stand up and tell me the reason why I shouldn’t welt your back with this koboko?’ she fired. I stared reticently; every excuse evanesced into fleeting vapour. I couldn’t stare at her flaming gaze. ‘Follow me to the staff room,’ she said after a long wait of painful quietness. I heard stifled giggles from my classmates. They wanted me to be punished. I don’t associate with them, so my bums deserved to always feel the edge of the cane. My legs weakened in an uncomfortable fear. She glowered at me and strode to the staff room.

I was still standing transfixed on my chair when a large hand gripped my wrist and shoved me outside the classroom – it was Madam Okwara. The staff room was not a place for chin-wag especially when one has broken a rule. Something seemed eerie in her gait. Outside the classroom, she walked with the grace of a cat; a sharp contrast to what I had imagined. Her painful grip had loosened into a stroking hold. I trailed one foot behind her trying to not meet her gliding pace. Turning around, I saw my classmates poking their heads out of the windows which held broken louvres. Although I knew they wanted me to be punished; I was consoled that at least three persons prayed for me to gain mercy - Obinna, Chioma and Noono.

She turned the handle and yanked the termite infested door; it lazily stood ajar. Piles of books cluttered on the table in a messy arrangement. The teachers had gone to teach leaving the staff room to the watch of wall geckos that hunted across the broken ceiling. From the arrangements of the books on the tables, it was very easy to spot that of madam Okwara. Her meticulous nature painted every aspect of her life: her neatly trimmed afro hair, her well-polished shoes, her finely ironed shirts down to her ordered handwriting on the blackboard. She was our model. I watched the wall geckos skulking on the wall, throwing their sticky tongues on aimlessly flying flies. She straddled on her wooden chair; a position that caught me off guard. She was not wont to sitting like that but I perceived she wanted me to feel relaxed; her brown legs glowing with what seemed to be palm kernel pomade.

She dropped her two hands on the desk and heaved, ‘Ifeanyi, o gini! What is it? Why are you this cold to studies?’ I was robbed of speech, not knowing what to say that might aggravate her seemingly calm state. ‘I know you have difficulties in learning. You may not be like others in terms of understanding, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.’ A few tears came to soften my seared vision. I choked back a sob. ‘Nnaa bia, come, my dear,’ she dropped her leg and pulled me to herself. My sobbing grew to matured cry and I let it out. Her left hand gently caressed my shoulder. I saw someone more than a teacher: a mother.


‘Tell me Nnaa, what is the problem? You know I can help you.’ My spirit knitted to hers. I opened my mouth; between sobs and hiccups, I started talking.           

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5 comments

  1. Wonderful. Some teachers are really our first role models in life, they are sometimes so difficult to meet.

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  2. "She dabbed her feet on the dusty heap, provoking flakes of dust to rise and settle on her brown-polished okirika shoe."

    This line literally came out of my scree, taped my cheek, until i sheepishly surrendered in a grin.

    This is the first story I am reading on this blog, and I think you really did justice to em words.

    Kudos!!!

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    Replies
    1. It is a pleasure to get your comment here dear John. Thanks for taking time to read. Glad you find it worth a read!

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