But funny as it sounded, he was very excited as he thought of his imminent expulsion from school
By Nhamo Muchagumisa
The rays of the declining sun hit Munya between the eyes as he walked down the steps from the Headmaster’s office. The intensity of the beams struck him with the rapidity of arrows from a magic bow.
The tears Munya had not let fall while in the Head’s office burnt his eyes to pepper. A sob was also welling up within his chest, but he had to suppress that too.
Munya realised that it was anger and not despair that was causing the chaos within him.
He had professed his innocence before the Head and his jury that included the Deputy Head, the Senior Master and the Senior Lady.
“We are giving you the chance to own up so that your punishment would be lighter,” the Headmaster had said, the stare of his stern eyes digging into Munya’s.
“I never wrote that letter,” Munya said, the ferocity of his denial making the Deputy Head shake his Head furiously while the Senior Master folded his lower lip inwards before planting his upper teeth into the soft flesh.
The Head kept his unblinking eyes on the boy, the latter’s contumacy forcing him to take a deep breath. Only the Senior Lady remained composed.
“All you need to do is to apologise to the Senior Master for having insulted him, and your life goes back to normal,” said the Deputy Head.
Munya would have liked the fatherly tone in his words if he had committed the offence, but since he was innocent of any wrong doing, he hated the Deputy Head for his words.
“Surely, if I had done any wrong I would have apologised, taking into cognisance the disharmony my behaviour should have caused, but I have to remind you once again, with utmost sincerity, that I did not write that letter,” Munya responded, salty water oozing from his armpits and slithering down his arms and ribs.
“Munya, you have your future to think about, but do not let your pride destroy it,” the Senior Lady implored apprehensively.
“I should thank you for worrying about my future, but if I am robbed of it now, it is somebody else’s doing.”
The Senior Master finally spoke his mind. “Although the letter does not bear any signature, the handwriting is yours and also the quality of English.”
So talent had landed Munya into this muck? He felt abused. In the first place, why should he be grilled over an anonymous letter? Why should he be the only suspect in a school with over a thousand students?
“I feel for you Sir, but I did not write that letter.”
Munya walked flabbily to his dormitory. The initial penalty for his offence was exclusion from routine school activities for two days.
He was going to pack his blankets and other belongings and move into a special building that was once used as a sick bay before the school constructed a state of the art clinic. It had all the comfort one needed except company. His food would be brought to him so that he would not mix with other students at all.
Lying in bed that night, Munya thought of going on a hunger strike. That would send a clear message to the authorities that he was prepared to die for his innocence.
Although he felt blatantly abused, Munya began to consider how lack of judgement had driven him into this mess. His choice of friends had brought him down to his knees.
Now, his friends had been suspended from school for drug and alcohol abuse, and within 48 hours, the Senior Master finds an anonymous letter tucked under his door.
The salutation referred to him as Senior Monster. The letter vilified the Senior Master and accused him of being the force behind the suspension of the delinquents.
He remembered how he responded to any admonition about the bad company he valued so much. “I have no time for people who do not know how to mind their own business,” he would say.
Now it had come to this.
It was not yet water under the bridge, Munya swore to himself as he pushed the plate that contained his supper under the bed.
The following morning, he woke up with an alertness he had not anticipated. The glow of the new day filtered into the room through the lace curtain, spraying the white walls with golden spots.
He got into a serious interrogation of his situation. He knew that putting a child into solitary confinement was an offence, and that the school must stop the culture at once, but definitely, he would not have the audacity to express that point in the next disciplinary hearing when he would be expected to own up or be expelled from school.
He had written an essay on children’s rights a month before and wished he had included the issue about the solitary confinement of suspected offenders in some boarding schools.
But the essay he had written was hot enough to shock the school Head and his administrative team out of their complacency if they had had an opportunity to read it. If it was to be marked at the school, it would land him into more serious trouble.
A smile came to his face as he thought about his essay, then the door shook and he heard the click of the turning key. The Boarding Master opened the door and entered his room, carrying his breakfast, a rolled newspaper under his left arm.
“Please don’t starve yourself to death. Eat and then read your story,” the Boarding Master said cheerfully.
Munya opted for the newspaper. One of the Headlines read, “Sixteen-year-old boy wins US$15 000 stationery for his school.”
Munya’s essay on children’s rights had won the first prize in the national high school writing competition.
In addition to the prize he had won for his school, he had been awarded a scholarship to study up to the end of his first degree. He was very excited as he thought of his imminent expulsion from school.
As he celebrated his success in solitary confinement, he allowed the film of the next disciplinary hearing to play in his mind.
First, the Head’s team congratulating him for his latest achievement, exchanging warm handshakes with him, then the Headmaster resuming his superordinate posture saying, “Now back to business…”
As he indulged in the thoughts of what was coming the following day, he heard the rhythmical tap of footfalls in the passage, then a key being pushed into the keyhole from the other side of the door. The door opened once again and the Boarding Master re-entered the room.
“The School Head wants to see you right away,” the Boarding Master said.
Nhamo Muchagumisa is an English Language and Literature teacher, and he writes from Odzi. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on +263777460162. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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