We all knew about the rabbits. It was not a secret. Every student in my Primary 3 class – 5, 6, 7 year olds just like me – was aware that Miss Agbo, our class teacher, absolutely loved rabbits.
The first clue was the picture alphabet chart celotaped to one of the orange walls of our classroom. It was the first thing that caught your eye when you walked into class, an eruption of colors contrasting with the blackboard, which took up a sizeable portion of the wall in front of the class.
The presence of the alphabet chart was ironic; we were all well past the age of learning our A-B-Cs, and in fact, anyone who didn’t know at age 6 that “A” was for “Apple” was considered a “D”: Dunce. Or “O”: Olodo, the more pathetic, local and certainly more humiliating term for a dunce. Borrowed from Yoruba, of course.
But what was a picture alphabet chart doing in a Primary 3 classroom?
Now, that chart had once graced the walls of a nursery classroom. However, after some renovations and shuffling of classrooms to accommodate the rapidly growing student population, or ‘population explosion’ as our headmaster often squealed during assembly in the morning, the Nursery 2 classroom, got converted to the Primary 3 classroom headed by Miss Agbo.
And that chart stayed behind.
For us, it was a constant reminder that we were not the first ones to colonize that room. Or perhaps, it was a visual reminder that as young as we were, we had simply graduated from small children to older children.
The day I stepped into the classroom at the beginning of the first term, I noticed the chart for two reasons.
First, the blackboard had been newly blackened with charcoal and water, a ritual that was performed over the long holidays, and signified a new beginning, just as much as the absence of chalk dust or broken pieces of colored chalk evidenced the lack of use of the classroom for several months.
Second, my desk was right in front of the said chart. Not my doing, of course. It was my mother’s handiwork. She pulled some strings to ensure I sat in the front row. But she had very strong reasons: my poor eyesight.
I started wearing glasses the year before, and my mother who had a morbid fear of me wearing bifocals before leaving the university, ensured that I did not strain my eyes by sitting at the back.
However, because the chart was right in front of my eyes, I noticed that something was amiss with the letter “R.”
You see, someone had cut out a rather unwholesome picture of a rabbit, a square picture, mind you, of the furry, white, pink-in-some-parts, animal from a magazine or calendar (the glossy paper was a dead giveaway). Now, this person had glued this square picture on top of what I usually saw below the letter “R” on alphabet charts: “R” for “Rat.”
I should have been grateful that I was spared the horror of having my eyes assaulted by a large, ugly rat for the entire school term. But I was not grateful.
You would have to see Miss Agbo’s rabbit to appreciate my ingratitude.
The creature that had been glued to the picture alphabet chart was large, pink and white alright. But that was where it stopped bearing any resemblance to a rabbit.
It looked like a mutated rodent that had been fed on a steady diet of palmoil, garden egg and zobo (all genetically modified and pumped full of hormones, of course) for most of its baby rabbit life. And now, this monstrosity had the effrontery to call itself a rabbit!
What an insult!
Like a typical 6-year old boy, I blamed the only adult in the vicinity for this horrible assault on my fragile senses: Miss Agbo.
But, this was just the first clue that this woman loved rabbits.
As for the other clues, she wore them on her person.
Rabbit-shaped earrings in all the colors of the rainbow, dresses with rabbit prints, rabbit-shaped erasers for her exclusive use and such other clues as a 6-year old would care about.
After having recurring nightmares of that monster on the chart for the first few weeks of school, I vowed in my little heart that I would make Miss Agbo pay for the torture she had inflicted on me.
What I didn’t know was that the opportunity for my revenge would come sooner than I expected.
– to be continued –
*Image Source: Pinterest