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And From That Day…

I rubbed my eyes and looked again at that direction. The scene was next to my room in the long, half- a- mile length of corridor. Ali was mid-air, next I saw was, a slam on the floor. Adolf was now on top of him pounding left right centre. The boys cheered and jeered. A full blown circle had formed now to enclose the fight. I couldn’t see anything anymore. Only loud screams and voices.

Should I turn back, should I carry on. I was in a conflict. I needed to carry on before another accident occurred. I needed to visit the little room. I was suffering from Montezuma’s revenge.

Coming back, I saw the two boys being ushered away by the dean of discipline. They walked on either side of the wall avoiding contact with each other.

“Teacher where have you been, where have you been?” my boys chorused.

“I went to Mars, I went to Mars” I repeated.

“Mars? Where is this?” one of the boys asked.

Another replied “you mean planet Mars?”

“Or you went to eat a Mars chocolate bar” another quipped in.

“Exactly” I said.

“Which one?” they asked. “Figure it out” I said.

 

I turned the door handle and they wanted to barge in.  I requested for a minute. I went in and turned on the white board, projector and wore my hallmark hat and stood at the door to receive them with the customary handshake and popular phrase of “good to see you.” The replies were what fascinated me. It always made my day. “Good to see you too, good to see you too.” Some, before I uttered a word, they had already made the pronouncement “good to see you too.” It was always a delight to shake their hands because that was where we started off on a good note. The transitioning might experience a few rough patches, but the rule was ‘always start on a pleasant note and try to end on a pleasant note’.

I personally enjoyed frustrating them just like they frustrated me. When they asked me questions about my person, I answered them in circles and it made them so jittery that they felt like strangling me, but I kept holding my smile with them.

“Good to see you” I said.

“Good to see you too” rent the air. That was one phrase they had mastered so well.

 

Nawaf stepped in, he avoided eye contact. I took his hand and asked him to connect with me. He looked at me and I rested my hand on his shoulder.

“You know you ain’t a bad kid” I said.

“Thanks Mr. B.”

“Outwardly you want to appear tough and act tough but I know that inside, you are a nice kid”.

“Thanks” he repeated.

“I am not here for you to like me. Neither are you here for me to like you. As long as you do well in your studies, I am okay with that. You are just acting your age.”

“I appreciate it Mr. B.”

A day before, we had had a mild altercation and he said he didn’t care about himself and about his future. I told him I cared and that was more important than whether he cared. I told him, that was why I was the adult and he, the student.

“Mr. B, I know you care about me and I am sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. Just do your work and then you are alright. If you like me in the process that’s a bonus.”

“Yes Mr. B.”

The routine was simple. As soon as you stepped into the room,  grab your book, there was some work on the board for you to start off with and settle down, while I poured some tea from my flask to my blue cup and made my customary walk around the room. This was my territory, this was my domain. I was in charge here. I dictated the pace here, I took control of what happened and what did not happen and that was the joy of being a dictator.

Adolf was one of the quietest in the class. Always minding his business and helping out. He wasn’t the smartest of the kids but I knew that he would go places in life because of his attitude. Always willing to learn, work and take corrections.

He didn’t function well in a group, so he preferred to work independently. During group work, he would work with the rest of the team and after the task he would retreat to himself and I respected him for that. He had good initiative. Sometimes he would hand everybody’s book out to them especially after they came in from the gym, tired and weary. Since he seemed to always have that extra ounce of energy, he went about serving his mates. He didn’t care whether they said thank you or not. He was also a bit of a strange guy. He didn’t have a mobile phone and was not into computer games. Quite an odd fella. If everybody was chatting and having a laugh, he would sit, smile and just be content being a listener.

It was this same quiet guy that slammed Ali. I knew that it was just a matter of time, that something terrible would happen to this Ali. He was so pesky. He irritated everybody. He would go about poking people and snitching on his mates, he would not do his work. I did not waste much energy on him. That was negative energy, instead I used that energy on those who wanted to learn.

It was hard to ignore him. He would cause havoc and disappear. I tried to encourage the boys to ignore him and focus. I knew that something needed to be done. I had written one or two reports about him and I knew that the mob up there did not know what to do with him.

In his characteristic way he went and messed with Adolf and Adolf did not waste a moment. From narration from the boys, Adolf had warned him way back, never to mess with him. He fell into a state of amnesia. Adolf lounged at him, kicked him hard, grabbed him by the throat and almost suffocated him. Next, he went down and came up with Ali and stretched him mid air as if he was a piece of paper and slammed him to the floor.

Few moments later, Adolf strolled into the class and picked up his book and sat in his place. He got on with his work. Ali appeared a little later and came in and sat down. The whole class went into a fit at his red face and all the bruises on his face. They should have sent him to the nurse to have a quiet moment there. I guess having him walk back to the lesson with the bruises was a way of sending a salient message to the school community about being a bully and a pest. This was insult upon injury. He was deflated.

He put his face on the desk and never lifted it up. He was clothed in shame and humility. For once, I think I liked what happened to him. Sometimes some folks need to be taught a lesson the way they will understand. From that day, he never messed about in the lesson anymore.

As they were filing out of the room, I took my customary position to shake their hands and bid them a good day ahead. When Adolf’ walked up to me, we shook hands and stared at each other for about five seconds. The stare spoke volumes.

“Thank you son for fixing him.”

“You are welcome” he nodded.

 

Uwem Mbot Umana©2017

7 Comments

  1. And From That Day by Uwem Mbot Umana is an interesting young adult literary fiction set in a school. I love this story specifically because of the lessons it has to offer on life as both a teacher and a student. I see this story as a help to teachers and students facing persistent problems of miscreants.
    The story is narrated by a school teacher named Mr. B. Mr. B is a school teacher who is very interested in knowing his students on a personal level, he is a teacher who is determined to see and also bring out the best in his students. Mr. B makes it a point of duty to shake all his students hands as they come into the class, it is his way of ” connecting ” with them.
    We’re brought into the story as Mr. B, who is having diarrhoea, witnesses a scene, this seen is quite simple and not uncommon but has very great and important implications especially for Mr. B and his class. The scene Mr. B witnesses is nothing but a fight or rather the ” beat up ” of a student named Ali by another student named Adolf. Simple yet very salient. That scene fixes a problem that had been plaguing Mr. B’s class. Ali had always been a big problem to Mr. B, the class and the school as a whole. Ali was always making trouble and Mr. B had quit trying to fix him.
    Mr. B starts his class as usual, shaking students’ hands and welcoming them. A student named Nawaf with whom he had had a mild dispute tries to avoid the deep searching gaze of Mr. B but Mr. B doesn’t let him. Nawaf had told Mr. B, the previous day, that he didn’t care about himself or his future. Mr. B had shunned him telling him that what mattered more was the fact that he, Mr. B cared. As Mr. B shakes Nawaf’s hand, he gives him a few words of advice and encouragement. The day turns out to be a very good day for Mr. B because a calm and quiet student of his named Adolf has helped him fix a problem forever.
    Many people face problems in their life which seem to defy all they’ve tried in order to solve it. Some problems just SEEM unfixable. That is how the problem of Ali’s troublesome attitude seemed to Mr B. Ali was a thorn in everyone’s flesh including his teacher, Mr. B. Ali specialized in causing trouble for everyone, he was always disturbing his mates. Mr. B has tried everything possible to ” kill ” the menace of Ali’s disturbance including reporting him to the school authority, all to no avail. Mr. B decides to stop wasting time and energy on him. This story really points out to us that there is no problem without a solution, it’s all a matter of time. No matter how persistent a problem seems, don’t quit, the solution would come soon. The solution to the problem of Ali’s attitude came unexpectedly and from a surprising source. It came from a the strange, quiet, peaceful and reserved person of Adolf. The solution to some problems come with time and from a place we least expect.
    And From That Day has more lessons, It teaches us about the essence of being a good, caring and dedicated teacher. The role of a teacher in the society cannot be overemphasized. A teacher’s duty is to mold the lives of his students. A good teacher must bridge the gap between himself and his students and must be ready to get involved with his students on a personal level. A teacher’s duty is to guide, advice and encourage his students. Mr. B is a dedicated man who is determined to help his students at all cost. This story reminds me of my favourite teacher, Mr. Festus who is very interested in bringing out the best in his students and pushing students to do their best. Mr. Festus, just like Mr. B, was and is still always advicing, encouraging, and motivating us. He also despised persistent miscreants.
    And From That Day also brings to light the issue of bullying, truancy and irresponsibility found in most schools. Ali was not only a troublemaker but also a bully and like most bullies his real strength lay in his reputation and the fear other students had for him. Bullies work by creating fear and intimidation, they make their reputation of past actions incite fear in their victims. When a bully is publicly challenged, stood up to and disgraced, his or her reputation is shattered and he or she can no longer bully successfully. This is exactly what Adolf does to Ali. He publicly beats him up and humiliates him. And From That Day reminds me of another short story still by Uwem Mbot Umana titled I Feel So Sorry For You which has the central theme of bullying in which a student by name Penney stands up to a bully named Derrick, Penney’s action encourages another student named Nick who had been suffering from Derrick’s bullying to also challenge Derrick. Bullies fear and hate public humiliation.
    This story also teaches us to never underestimate people. When we underestimate people we open up ourselves to surprise attacks. It’s sheer pride and foolishness to underestimate a person. Every dog has its day, one day that person you underestimate will prove you wrong. Perhaps, due to his quiet nature, Adolf might have been underestimated by Ali. It was indeed a big surprise to everyone when Adolf threw Ali. Bullies underestimate people and so they do not know when their fall comes. Never underestimate people.
    And From That Day sheds light on the importance of encouragement and guidance in the life of a child. Every child needs support, love, care, guidance and encouragement not only from the home but from teachers too. A good teacher must be a source of encouragement and advice to his or her students. When students are down, they need words of encouragement to bring them up. Mr. B knew this, that was why he encouraged Nawaf. Here again, I am reminded of my favorite teacher, Mr. Festus who was and is always a source of encouragement to me and other students.
    This story is short but very important and educating. I believe that the author’s purpose for writing this story to communicate to the public the essence of good teachers, also to bring to light the problems most teachers face in the course of their duties. He duly achieves this purpose.
    I love the way the story is written in the first person pronoun. Stories written in the first person pronoun seem to be more captivating. I must say that this story is not climatic or suspenseful at all. It is a straight way story. Although the story is a good piece, it may not be very captivating for most young readers.
    The setting of the story, a school, is appropriate to it’s genre. I feel that the characters are well developed especially Adolf whose character I love. The readers are made to understand their lives. The plot is well structured and the central theme of this story is simply educational and academic life, Other themes include the importance of good teaching skills, the problem of troublesome students in the academic society, the issue of bullying in schools, close relationship between teacher and student to facilitate better understanding and many more. The writer makes use of a few literary devices in the story.
    In conclusion, I would say that ” And From That Day ” is a good read with good lessons. I recommend it to students, parents and teachers especially. Uwem Mbot Umana is a writer the young people should watch.

  2. The story depicts the fact that there are instances when societally acceptable solutions don’t cut it, and then a totally unorthodox means set in and saves the day; although that unconventional solution defies our pre-conceived notion of law and order, it grants us the resolution we desire.

    While considering a line in the story: “sometimes, some folks need to be taught a lesson the way they will understand”, it is evident that not every defined solution for fixing irregularities or disorderliness will prove effective, depending on the persons involved and context too.
    Imagine if Ali had faced been punished severely by the school authorities due to his unruly behavior, there is a huge probability of him brushing off the punishment just to save face amidst his peers, earn more rank as being tough and all that, and then he’ll be back again to his usual bullying, but then it took an uncharacteristic means to fix the dilemma that was Ali; he was given a piece of his own poison; got the beating of his life and severe humiliation, and of course from that day, he didn’t have the effrontery to mess with his peers again.

    For Mr. B, although he wouldn’t have recommended or even thought up that exact solution, he sure was relieved that his problem got fixed regardless of the fact that it was via a process that totally negated class management norm.

    If one ever one needed a cue that there are “solutions or breakthroughs” that are custom-made, then this is it!

    This story just re-emphasized the fact that pre-existing solutions might not apply in some cases, and while you are at your wits end, bothered, not knowing what to do just like the “mob” just know that maybe it’s time to be receptive to ideas that might seem inelegant, crude, or unconventional; as long as they proffer a lasting solution to that dilemma, and no one gets hurt in the process, then by all means, allow it!
    Mr. B did, so can you.

  3. This story ‘And from that day’ by Uwem Umana is a young adult literary fiction that makes you nod and smile in utter satisfaction to the beauty of the story. I love it because,apart from the lessons, it’s one real story that I’ve seen happen countless time.
    This story is about a teacher, Mr. B. who taught at a high school. He was a teacher whose students looked forward to his classes not only because of how much he cared about their academics but because of his impeccable teaching methods and conduct.He had a rule to ‘always start on a good note and try to end on a good note’ He would always stand at the door before any of his classes to shake their hands and create eye contacts with his students as he welcomes them with the greeting ‘good to see you’ which they always cheerfully replied as they walked to their seats.
    As he welcomed his students in, he shook the hands of one of his students, Nawaf. Nawaf had a long face because of what had happened between he and Mr B. They had a little argument the previous day with Nawaf who didn’t see the need to be studious or care about his academics but Mr.B would not allow such laxity. So as they shook hands, he made sure Nawaf made eye contact with him, he advised Nawaf on the need to rethink and be studious. He tried to make Nawaf understand that what he did was only for his benefit.
    Mr. B always repeated this customary handshake even after his lessons. This particular day, as he shook the hands of one of his students, Adolf, he commended Adolf for what he Adolf had done.
    Adolf was a quiet, reserved boy who loved his personal space yet also loved helping his mates in whatever ways he could. He wasn’t the smartest of them but he was one that was certain to go places because of his good nature. He was the kind that would listen and laugh as others gisted so it was very annoying to see Ali, another student of Mr. B, who was very pesky, pick on him. Adolf had warned him but Ali was recalcitrant and didn’t expect what came his way.
    I love this story because it is real and embedded in it are virtues to be coveted. It portrayed discipline, good teaching methods and superb coordinative skills. It made me know that anyone whether teacher or student, could still be disciplined yet welcoming.
    From that day is a story that reaffirms the adage “ninety nine days for the thief, one day for the owner”. It is a call to all especially to bullies, telling them that they cannot run away from the consequences of their actions as their ‘judgement day’ is inevitable.
    I believe the author’s purpose for this story was to portray discipline, good teaching methods, the need to understand that ‘being quiet’ doesn’t mean being ‘stupid or powerless’ and and also the need to understand that the day of recompense for any action would always come, sometimes sooner and possibly unexpected as one would imagine.
    The settings for this story was the school and I would say it was appropriate because it is one place where people are always ridden on by others with little or no defence.
    The characters were well developed and they acted and spoke in a believable way. I, for one, could relate with Mr.B’s joy of seeing Ali finally put in his place. That joy is indescribable especially if that person had been a continual thorn in the flesh.
    I wouldn’t say this story was suspenseful because the events looked quite predictable but it was a good one. One that I’ve experienced countless times.
    I believe the theme of this story is to show the need to develop discipline, good cordial and leadership skills. This to me, is because leadership is needed in almost every sphere of our lives, so we should be able to blend these virtues together as Mr B did.
    The lessons I’ve got here is the need to be cordial yet disciplined. Discipline would help me even in my relationship with others. I have learnt not to underestimate people. I believe that Ali underestimated Adolf and we see what happened. There is also the lesson that resounds this truth that seems buried these days, it is the need for us to understand that every actions of ours has consequences and no matter how long it takes to come, it would surely come.
    This story did not have a twist or unexpected ending.
    In conclusion, I would say this story is one that always happens not only in schools but at work places too, thus there is a need for everyone to read it especially people who think they are insurmountable. It is a nice read and I would recommend it to anyone.

  4. “And From That Day” by Uwem Umana is a Realistic Fiction. A story that can actually happen and is true even in real life. I like the story because it is a simple, easy-to- read story that I will recommend it to Teachers, Parents and anyone who work with people. But as good as this story is, I wouldn’t want to really recommend it for young students so won’t take matters into their hands like Adolf did. We even see the Teacher appreciating Adolf, shacking his hand saying: ‘“Thank you son for fixing him.” Really? What if Ali got badly injured or died?

    The setting of this story is in a classroom. Mr. B the classroom teacher is the main character who handles different challenges his work presents him daily by putting systems in place that helps him make a success of his job and be a great teacher. Characters like Adolf, Ali and Nawaf and other students in the classroom presents peculiarities of personalities that make up the challenges Mr. B had to deal with as a class teacher.

    This Story reminds me of another story “Coza” written by the same author. But, unlike Coza, the writer did not give us a background information about Ali who is portrayed in a negative light. I personally dislike profiling individuals or defining them by their actions. There will always be a reason a child behaves the way they do. The author did a good job in the other story by showing us Coza’s home/family life. Thus the readers was not quick in condemning him and we see a change in Coza’s life when he met with a turning point event of his life. Yes Ali had a turning point too but did not get the reader’s sympathy nor understanding of his behavior.

    The purpose of the story is to give a general overview of the challenges a teacher faces. How he has to understand and deal with each child. However, the lessons from the story can also be applied wherever humans are found. This purpose was achieved.

    The classroom is the setting used in this story which is very fitting for a Realistic Fiction genre. What we see in the story is very real and can easily happen anywhere in the world.

    The theme of the story is premised upon taking control and not playing the victim. This is clear in the 8th paragraph: “This was my territory, this was my domain. I was in charge here. I dictated the pace here, I took control of what happened and what did not happen and that was the joy of being a dictator.” We see this in the character of Mr. B, Adolf and even Ali as the turning point of his life brings him to that realization.

    The writer did a great job in character development. I can’t help but continue to admire this character-Mr. B. The writer did an awesome job. From what goes on in his mind to his actions. From welcoming the kids to strategically having control over them while in class.

    Mr. B also had the ability of knowing all his students and mastered their strength and weak points. He is a great protagonist.
    He does not react but rather responds to situations. These are lessons and insights on true leadership, people’s skill/human management and personal growth. We must be the master of every circumstance or learn to be in charge always. Mr. B has mastered human management especially his students. He would give them a puzzle to solve and remain in charge.
    He has also mastered his environment. He knows what works and sticks to it. He has a system in place. Nothing beats having a system in place. If it works, why change it, stick to it.
    The teacher also has a positive attitude even in the face of a bad situation. He would look for something good that will delight you.

    To spice up this beautiful piece, the writer uses these figure of speech:
    1. Humor: “frustrates” the kids in return and 2. Metonymy: “suffering from Montezuma’s revenge”.

    What a great character this teacher is even to the troublesome boy, he says something nice and remains positive. What an encouragement he must have been to Ali who I am sure may have thought Mr. B would scold him, be cold or indifferent to him.

    In developing the character of Adolf, the writer adopts the figure of speech of Irony. In the first paragraph he is a skilled, strong fighter: “Adolf was now on top of him pounding left right centre. The boys cheered and jeered. A full blown circle had formed now to enclose the fight. I couldn’t see anything anymore. Only loud screams and voices.” But in the 9th paragraph, we see Adolf as “one of the quietest in the class. Always minding his business and helping out.” These two descriptions of this character is Ironical.
    Adolf portrays the theme of good self esteem, He is self reliant but also a good team player. A perfect character if not for the fight with Ali. This shows that no one truly is perfect or that we all may at one time or the other manifest a breaking point. Adolf is also outstanding. It’s rare to see a kid act so matured and put together. Perhaps we could have been given a little insight to his home background.

    Ali was the opposite of Adolf and it was Adolf and no other person in his class that decided to put Ali in his place. Is Adolf a dominating character? Why did he choose to play that part?

    For me, the writer’s description of how Adolf dealt with Ali negates all his good quality. How can such rage reside in a character so godly described?
    I feel some sort of sympathy for Ali.
    What if Ali was a kid who was in need of attention? The writer should have given us some insights about his home life instead of portraying him as a ‘problem child’

    The conversation between Nawaf and the teacher shows maturity on the teacher’s side.

    I sure hope everyone who plays any leadership role especially who seek for mastery in human management, situation and emotion, reads this beautiful piece

    Thank you

  5. Reading this story was bringing back memories of a previous story, “I feel so sorry for you”.

    This is a case of bullying; mistreating others at the expense of their feelings. As the saying goes, “Every day for the thief, one day for the owner”. Ali had had his time of messing around and being a terror to both students and school committee, that no one knew what to do with him anymore. But his reign had come to an end when he messed with the wrong dude. Although he was one of the quietest ones in class, Adolf was through putting up with Ali’s attitude and finally gave him a taste of his own medicine that he would never forget.

    Lesson for all: don’t go around mistreating others when you don’t own the universe. What goes around, comes around; the way you treat people would be the way you would be treated- after all, Karma is… if you give good vibes to people, you will get good vibes in return, if you give bad vibes to people, you will get bad vibes in return. Be careful how you treat others because you don’t know what or who is around the corner and when you’d meet your match.

    Interesting read!

  6. And From That Day is a short story that addresses the life of a young boy Adolf, shedding light on his ways, his actions and reactions to being bullied and the aftermath of his fight with the pesky, troublesome Ali.

    Adolf is a quiet lad who likes to go about his day to day activities in silence and alone; he enjoys his own company and would rather not engage with people but would sit and listen while others spoke. He absorbed all the information like a computer memory and digested them.

    Adolf’s teacher Mr B is a caring young man who strives to create a conducive learning environment for his students, making them feel safe and able to trust him. He likes to control his class and engage each and every one of his students. He admires Adolf and kept an eye on him specially.

    Adolf’s altercation with Ali is one that had been brewing for a while as he had previously warned Ali too desist from seeking his trouble. Much to his annoyance, Ali refused to stop. Hence, Ali got what he deserved, proceeding to get a thorough beating as well as humiliation before the whole school.

    As Mr B said, “Thank you son for fixing him.” That’s what Ali deserved : fixing. And boy did Adolf fix him!!

  7. Introduction:
    “The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.” Says the holy book. This was the case of Ali one of the amazing characters of the story “ And From That Day…” a narrative story by Uwem Umana. The story, “And From That Day…” is a story full of suspense that any reader will have to finish the whole article to be able to relate the title with the story and the Author did well t carry the reader along till the final punctuation.

    Summery:
    Mr. B is a school teacher who made his students stand out by the method he applied in relating with them. Ali a very troublesome student whom the school authority didn’t know how to handle, underestimated Adolf a quiet and reserved, messed with him, and got the beating of his life. Nawal, a rough student got reassured that he is a good lad and could even be better.

    Personal Reflection:
    I admire the relationship between Mr. B and his students.
    E.g the salutations “good to see you”. And also the interaction between Mr. B and one of his students,Nawal.
    The story reminded me of a biography of Prof J.P Clark I read online. He creates a make believe reality of whatever literature he is treating with his students just to ensure that his student gets the real picture of the whole story. And in some occasions he takes the students to the site that was being talked about in the story.

    Critical Analysis:
    From my point of view, the Author’s purpose of writing the story was to send a clear message to teachers , guardians or even parents the importance of having a healthy relationship with their students or children. And the writer achieved his purpose.
    • The setting of the story was a school environment and it was very appropriate to the genre.
    • The characters were so well developed and the whole scene were so believable that I finished reading the story with a big smile.
    • The actions were very suspenseful and unpredictable especially that of Adolf and Mr. B

    Themes:
    • Perseverance: Mr. B, though faced with children from different backgrounds dared to believe in them to behave right, love one another and eventually end up right. He once told Nawal, “Even if you dont believe in yourself, I believe in you”
    • Love: Mr. B as teacher loved his profession and that helped him to positively impact his students.
    • Friendship: Mr. B imbibed friendship in the learning atmosphere for the students to thrive. He did this by ensuring that they start each day on a very good note; a firm handshake, a smile and an affirmative “good to see you”
    The lesson I got from the story was to never underestimate a disciplined person.
    The story had an unexpected ending. Adolf did the unexpected and the teacher reacted in a very unexpected manner. That is, Mr.B responded to the whole incident with a silence.
    At the beginning of the story we could see touches of Anaphora here and there. E.g “good to see you” “good to see you”

    In Conclusion, the story has a lot of moral that goes with it, the part where Mr. B ask Nawaf to connect with him, melted my heart. And for anyone who have and loved caring for children, here is an appropriate article for you.
    Thank you

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