Gili lay on his back on a big and comfy leather sofa in his sitting room, he was waiting for his wife to serve him lunch, but she was taking her time in the kitchen because she wanted to serve him his delicacy, plantain porridge, snails and vegetables. The aroma of his wife’s cooking floated to him where he was and his stomach growled as though to catch it and gobble it up. Gili decided to play his favourite game of counting the ceiling, in order to remove his mind from hunger.
“One, two, three, four” He counted, but he couldn’t concentrate on an empty stomach. His mind raced back to his days at the Centre, it’s been five years now since he left them. The lyrics of an old song he taught his class several years back fleeted across his mind. He smiled singing it out loud:
“Ain’t you glad you are outta here? Ain’t you glad you are outta here? Be glad that you are outta here.”
Then a particular image stood out on his mind, it was that of Captain Hussain. There was something really strange about the way he looked at you. It was that stare that seemed very harmless yet dangerous. He looked so fragile like a broom stick. He looked as if a strong sound current would blow him away, that Captain Hussain!
The Centre was not exactly a bad place to work irrespective of all the dodgy characters that made the place so alive. Gili tried to relive some very nice memories of the place. He joggled his brains for a long time. Finally, he remembered Saeed.
Saeed was a very heavy set young man. He hadn’t had a shave in probably six months and his face was full on with beard. His beard was black and shimmering. His face was always dripping with perspiration anytime he walked in from the sun. This also gave his face a glistening effect. His hair was constantly being shaved, because he was always getting into some sort of misdemeanor or the other. One peculiar thing about him though was his smile. He had a very broad smile. He had a body odour and he was aware of it which made him to always have some perfume in his pocket. This he used intermittently to neutralize the effect of his body emission.
Clad in their military attire, they all stood at rapt attention. The class captain had a big folder in his hand. This was the register. Their mobile phones had all been confiscated from them and locked away till the end of the school day. This was like a semi- penitentiary. This was the morning routine of every work day. This was life in Mekkida Boys centre, Dibba. This was a life Gili got so used to that it almost consumed him. But Gili would not allow his work to consume his life, especially his marriage, so he took the popular option B, and resigned his appointment. Before his departure from the Centre, the head of the Centre had a heart to heart discussion with him.
Gili replayed his last conversation with the head of the Centre over and over in his mind. Each time he replayed it, it was like a car about to choke. You know when the battery of a car is gone and you try to kick start it and it makes that awry sound kiakkiakkiakkiak vehemently and then kiakkiakkiak with the very life of it snuffing out at each attempt. That was how Gili felt each time he recollected his last conversation with the head.
“Please, can you reconsider your stance?”
“Mr. Ga, you are a man I respect so much but I am afraid on this occasion I wouldn’t be able to reconsider my stance.”
“May I ask why?”
“Because I have been away for too long, since 1976, I have been away from home, in work sojourn. I started off in Kuwait, from Kuwait, I went to Iraq, from Iraq, I went to Libya and from Libya, I went to Oman, I returned to Ireland for a six months stint, then came out to Abu Dhabi. And while in the UAE I have been in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Ajman. I have done my time I need to go back home.”
“I do understand that Mr. Gili, but what I do not understand, is the sudden departure mode.”
“My wife wants me home. If I do not go back home, my marriage may dent some more.”
“Mr. Gili, you can take a second wife from here. Because you reside here, you may as well take advantage of the laws of our land.”
“Thanks for your kind gesture and suggestion, I shall think about it but in the meantime, I have to go.”
Two weeks later, Gili rushed back home to Accra, Ghana to stay with his family. His wife Derby had threatened to divorce him if he didn’t come back that summer. He had been away for 8 good years! He soon discovered that life at home wasn’t bad after all, and picked up a job with a government school in Accra.
Gili’s mind has been working extra since he got back; he had gathered so much experience from teaching in various cultures and would like to use his wealth of experience to improve education in Ghana. He was busy gathering materials to write a book on the advantages of Trans cultural education.
I must surely feature Saeed’s character in my book, he thought. “Saeed never failed to amuse me”, he said to himself, laughing aloud. His wife heard him laughing one moment and the next he was crying and wiping tears from his eye. She has been trying to get used to this new and sporadic habit of his, since he returned from the Middle East.
“What is it this time honey?” She asked poking her head through the kitchen door.
“Oh, it’s nothing to worry about. I just remembered Saeed.”
“Saeed, from the Centre I suppose?”
“Yes, poor fella Saeed from the Centre.”
Derby hissed and continued with her cooking. She wasn’t keen on stories from the Centre; in fact, she was never going to be keen on anything that could take her husband away again from Accra.
Gili wondered how Saeed was doing, the other students never really liked Saeed because of his heavy set nature and because he could not participate in the fun and sporty activities. He walked like an overfed hippopotamus. Gili had watched him over a three year spell, balloon and balloon away. When he first noticed the signs of expansion, he called Saeed to his office and had a quiet word with him. He warned him about the unfolding scenario and advised him to curb it before it got dangerous.
“Teacher no problem. *MafiMuskila” he said.
“Oh, ok. If you say so” Gili said back to him. Funny enough, three years after his initial warning, Saeed had moved from 2XL to 5XL!
Despite his excessive weight, Saeed was a darn clever boy. During the exams period, all the boys would clamour to sit next to him. He would at times let out some real bad wind which will take a combined effort of opening all the windows and using his perfume to eradicate the foul odour. Saeed often does this during exams period and his mates would not say anything because they knew they had to put up with him in order to benefit from the dividends of the mental calculator called- Saeed.
*MafiMuskila – colloquial Arabic meaning no problem.