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Growing me: The Red Distress

“Kojo get up. Bath time.” A pretty round faced woman in her early forties tried to woo me off my bed. I writhed away from her voice but she reached across the bed and grabbed my arm. “Mama I beg, call Philo,” I pleaded.

“You begged yesterday,” she cooed softly. She lifted me to her shoulder and started stripping a semi-conscious boy en route the bathroom. She set me down in only my green and blue spiderman pants (I was obsessed with spiderman), the last piece of clothing to come off. First came the cold water which set my teeth singing and then the inhuman scrubbing followed. I'm eight years old in class three and it is 3:30 in the morning. It's the start of a new day in the Senanu house. I've never had great love for school but today was different. I can still hear myself chanting the previous day with the other boys “Class three Papa! Class three Papa!” And so it came to be that Anaya-the class three Papa-saw no one but me chanting and clapping in refreshed ecstasy and promised me (or did he swear?) a refreshing beating. Of course mama knew nothing of this for she had always loathed teasing. Telling her wasn't the safest thing to do. But something worse than Anaya and all the drubbing he could give was coming to school today. Something far worse.

I stripped myself of my red and blue spiderman pants. She mustn't catch me wearing anything red! I can hear dad drumming at his horn. Patience and calm were foreign words to my dad (that man!); he doesn't understand my dire predicament. Now a local legend existed of a teacher who was taunted by her students in school. They made fun of her because she wore red high heels. The poor woman was locked up in a cupboard and one of her heels taken for trophy. She died crying in the stuffy cupboard, and now she's out for revenge on school kids wearing anything even faintly red. She wants her red heel back! Reliable sources (school chatter) had it that Madam high-heels was passing by school today. No one will wear anything red today. I took one last look at my sneakers with smudges of white toothpaste where flecks of red had existed and sigh in satisfaction.

My mind is fraught with thoughts of Madam high-heels (the tooth paste on my sneakers had begun to fade). I've already scored a series of fine zeroes in half a dozen exercises. In the corner of the classroom a girl had been isolated. News had broken (from a reliable source) that she had a red chemise on. Everyone knew Fredua was going to be easy pickings for Madam high-heels. No one will touch her. Once she called my name for assistance and I bolted clear of her (I had my own problems after all). Every now and then cries of “Madam high-heel is coming!” would ring out. The bold ones would run out to catch a glimpse while the chicken-livered ones like me were in competition of how fast a human heart could run. I took a quick look across the classroom to see how our 'class sacrifice' was doing. She wasn't all! Her hair was a mess and her eyes were constantly darting to the door. No one wanted to die.

School is out and I race for home. My pants are considerably wet and not from perspiration. My little heart is singing praises to the Most High. I've promised never to sleep in church, take commission off my offerings or lurk around the girls' bathroom. In the distance, a silhouette stood still in the road. My little church service is halted as I approach; my heart starts to beat all over again. In the road stood Anaya, determined. Surely I'll be limping home today. Suddenly my tormentor seems to find something of majorly interest and absconds. Behind me stood the smallish frame and bright eyes of the class sacrifice, behind me stood Fredua. She smiled and held out her hand in the middle of the road...I hugged her.

by D.S. Senanu

 Posted by: D.S. Senanu

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