The Old man fell down
It was poem day in my ‘story hut’ so I got the children to write poems about anything they wanted to. Today, they will be reading out their literary masterpieces and I still had to endure the hostile company of Mr Ajadi.At least his attitude towards me remained consistent,which is more than I could say for some of the other teachers. There was Mrs Bakare, the headmistress secretary, who despite offering me some of her dodo and rice on a daily basis also had to whisper things to Miss Chika – the languages teacher for senior primary,although she only managed to teach them Igbo- whenever I was around them.
The children filed in and when they had settled down, I said ‘Good afternoon Children’
‘Good afternuuuuuuuun,Aunty T’ they responded
‘Today is poem day and that means we get to read out our poems to everyone,are we excited?
‘Yessss Aunty T, they replied, some reluctantly
‘Good,who would like to go first?’ little hands shot up into the air and I picked Chioma to read her poem to us. She came to the front of the hut and began
‘The title of my poem is the Old man fell down,
The Old man fell down
On the cold hard ground
on the ground so stale
oh so frail
in front of the train rail
he sat on the ground, so ill
people pointed and laughed still
because the old man fell down
‘And that is the end of my poem,thank you’ Chioma said. ‘That was a wonderful poem,don’t you think so,children?’I asked, ‘Yes,Aunty T ‘they replied.I called on some of the other children to read their poems and I was really impressed,even Mr Ajadi looked pleased.At the end of the session,Mr Ajadi came up to me ‘Miss Ogbonna,this is last story session that I will be attending’ he said.I could not believe my ears,the persecution of Tochi had finally come to an end. And as if he could read my thoughts,he continued ‘ we are having a new addition to the English department.the new teacher will be arriving next week and will observe your story sessions for a while.’
‘Why sir’ I asked, anger already mounting in my chest. ‘this will be part of the new teacher’s orientation’,he answered. ‘are you okay with this?’he asked,like I seriously had a choice.
‘sure,that’s fine by me’
‘That will be all then’,he said as he began to walk out the hut.
I wasn’t exactly happy having another teacher join the ‘persecute Miss Tochi club’but the fact that the new teacher will be observing other classes put my mind at considerable ease.By the end of the school day,I had heard from Miss Chika that the new teacher will be arriving from England.
‘Oyinbo, we are having oyinbo teacher in our school!’ she exclaimed. I could not understand her fascination with this, especially as Greenfield’s proprietor was married to a white man and she had seen him around the school on numerous occasions. This little piece of information had given the queen of staffroom gossip something else to focus on besides me.I must say I was really glad for the distraction.For Chika,that is.