Ezekiel was a fair-skinned village schoolteacher who always moved around with his pair of thick spectacles. He wasn’t quite fashionable at that and was always dressed in outrageous outfits. Today, he was wearing a loud suit which also looked as if it had belonged to someone who was twice his size and height. It was sewn in the styles of the seventies, and the bottom-end of the trousers was quite a sight with its bell-like shape. His bicycle was another old piece of machine which had so much frequented the blacksmith that the latter would only need touch the iron frame without looking, for him to know it belonged to Ezekiel the teacher.
His youngest child saw him, ran toward him, then she dropped to her knees as a form of greeting before taking from Ezekiel the office file he was – always – carrying.
Ezekiel was half-way through his afternoon meal when his son arrived from school. The boy was in his fourth year in secondary school and was very used to trekking the two-mile distance from school in the afternoon heat everyday, after his father would have taken him on his bicycle in the mornings. Though both father and son were in different schools.
The boy was afraid, almost shivering. He had got engaged in a fight with a bully at school who had the size of two of him combined, and it was useless to argue with the bully that he was too tired to defend himself. At the end, Nweke – for everyone called him by his indigenous name – suffered a swollen, closing eye.
Nweke thought the school bully he’d fought ought to be hanged for putting him in such ugly predicament. He had been virtually powerless fighting the bigger boy and had been forced to bite him on his chest with every power he had in his jaws. This had even made other boys start calling him sissy names. Whatever his reasons were for fighting the bully, the fight has obviously settled nothing, rather it would make things worse for him. The bully wouldn’t like the scar of his bite on his chest and that’d make him come back endlessly for more combats. The boy stood outside for a short while, watching his father eating and hearing the singing voice of his mother from the kitchen. He realised that standing there would not solve anything. Then his sister came out from the kitchen, and her mouth flew open at the sight of Nweke’s swollen eye. The boy quickly touched his own lips with his forefinger, signifying silence. But it was the girl’s stunned silence and frozen stance which attracted the mother from the kitchen, for she had notice the sudden halt.
The mother gasped in disbelief; ” For God’s sake what have you been doing to yourself?” almost screaming at the sight.
Nweke had a way of wiping his nose – which was always running like a tiny stream – with the back of his hand. He kept mute expecting his father to come into the scene curiously.
“I asked you to explain your swollen eye, Nweke.”
Then Ezekiel came out, frowning at the sight of his son’s eye. “Now,” said he, “don’t tell me you’ve been fighting?” Nweke looked at his father with his one good eye. Ezekiel’s face was quite angry. “Answer me before I shut your other eye!”
“I got into a fight”
Nweke’s sentence was followed by a thundering slap on a side of his face. “What have I told you about fighting?”
“Don’t hurt him the more”, pleaded Ezekiel’s wife.
“Quiet, woman! What this boy needs is a good hiding to obey me.”
Goosebumps prickled Nweke’s arms as his father dragged him by the collar into the house. Nweke thought of looking straight into his father’s eyes with the bruised, badly-swolen eye, maybe the horrific sight would make Ezekiel shiver and then pity him. Nweke wondered how he could suffer such ugly fate within two hours; first was the sound beating he had received from the bully, turning him into a laughing stock when he’d had to bite and claw like a sissy, oh, what shame awaited him at school the next day. And secondly, his father was about to continue where the bully stopped. He wondered whom he’d first seen when he woke up that morning. It was a belief that the first person whom one saw in the morning could either bring good or bad luck to one throughout the day.
—->>>To be continued.
Watch out for Episode 2