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I promise myself

A very clever young man he was and a very engaging one for that matter. He had a good command of English. He liked to play with his phone every time, however, he did his work. I didn’t have any problems with him as long as he did his work. He got bored very easily and that was the problem with the class he was in. Because of the option he had chosen, he had to be in this class and his level was way different to the rest of the guys. I had to prepare different and extra material for him sufficiently designed to challenge him and keep him tuned in. He loved such challenges and he enjoyed doing such tasks. The issue with him though was his being a fan of hip hop and rap music. Whatever music he chose to listen to, I did not mind but we both knew that the lyrics of some of these raps are not user friendly. So, I would rather he doesn’t vocalize the lyrics out. In your head, let it stay. In your mind, let it stay. Don’t vocalize it when I am around or near me or in my territory. It was, is and will always be unacceptable. I don’t have the shock absorbers for the profanities and expletives. This, he struggled with and was our pressure point. I had to confiscate his phone on a few occasions or kicked his butt out of my territory. Then the parents’ meeting night came and he was mighty scared. He did not want his mum to meet with me. A day to the meeting, he tried to be a super-duper conformist.

“Teacher what are you going to say to my mother?”

“I will tell your mother how you are doing at school.”

“You will tell her the bad things I have been doing?”

“I will tell her the truth.”

Standing in front of me and quaking like a leaf on a windy springy day with his mother.

“Hello ma’am, welcome and very good to see you.”

“Thank you teacher. Tell me about my son.”

“Maybe we should start with him. Buddy, tell us, how have you been doing in my lesson?”

“Not too bad. I do mess around sometimes and sometimes I can get distracted but I still do my work though or try to do my work.”

The mum shot an eye at him. That eye spoke a whole book, cover to cover. You knew straightaway that this lady was a specialist in non-verbal communication and Buddy understood what that meant. The next set of events will determine how that book will end.

The moment I opened my mouth to speak, it was like the president of a country on a mounted podium about to deliver an important address on the current situation that has just emerged in the country.

Yes, it was a very important speech and dialogue that was going on, and that required uttermost attention.

“I love teaching him. I love having him in my classroom. He is very smart. He engages with the lesson and loves to express himself.”

“Is that not a problem because I know he talks too much?”

“I am alright with that as long as he listens to me when I need him to listen to me. As long as he does his work, I am okay with that.”

“Thanks teacher. I am delighted to hear this. Does he do his work and what are his current grades like?”

Buddy breathed a silent sigh of relief. His face softened a little and his face non-verbalised ‘thanks teacher.’

“Mrs. Hamilton, honestly I have the deepest believe that Buddy can surpass this so called level 6. Clearly he is a level 8. His depth of analysis of characters  is superb. The type of vocabulary he uses to express himself is unique and excellent. The way he synthesizes ideas and produces a final piece is just excellent.”

Mrs. Hamilton, removed her glasses and sat a bit more upright and stared at the spreadsheet some more. She smiled for once at Buddy and Buddy beamed.

“What can we do teacher? I know he has some real talent especially in creative arts apart from the so called rap music he listens to which I told him if I ever hear him play that nonsense on his phone again, I will confiscate his phone.”

I looked at Buddy and saw that where he sat was damp. He was frozen. This was our pressure point. This was it. So even right from home, it has been a pain point.

I looked at Buddy. His eyes spoke volumes – a plea and a promise. I knew that eyes spoke, but never did I ever imagine how loud it could speak like it did last Tuesday night.

“Mr. Teach, let me ask you a question?”

“Go ahead Mrs.Hamilton.”

“Do you think I am old fashioned when I ask my son not to listen to these rap music with a lot of swear words in it?”

“Absolutely not. I think you are being a fantastic mother.”

“Buddy thinks I am old fashioned and believes that…”

“Sir I need to use the toilet desperately. Mama I need to use the toilet” as he stood up and we all saw the wetness in the front of his trousers.

“Oh no. Why didn’t you say so earlier on Buddy? We have a little accident here.”

I opened the drawer and pulled out a hoody I had confiscated from a student that was unclaimed and gave Buddy. He wrapped it around his waist and went to take care of his business.

That was the pain point. That will always be the pain point. That pain point will always cause accidents.

We chatted on some more and looked at the spreadsheet that showed some more data projections and bade each other farewell.”

The next day, when Buddy saw me, he still couldn’t get over the positive feedback I gave his mum and how I saved his butt.

“Teacher thank you for saying nice things about me to my mother. You were the only one who said good things about me and concentrated on the good things.”

“Well, I spoke the truth. You are a good kid and you do your work. You are also acting your age. The fact that you make some stupid decisions doesn’t mean you don’t do good stuff.”

“True teacher. But everybody talks about the bad stuff I do and not the good stuff.”

“I am not everybody. You do bad stuff; you get the consequence for that. The key thing is that I am here to point you to the good future awaiting you. I will do all I can to point you and encourage you to take that path that will lead you to achieve your dream, but the final choice lays with you. Five years down the road of life, you will not blame anybody if you took the wrong choice.”

“That is true Mr. Teach. I will only have myself to blame.”

“I want to see you celebrate your success and be proud of yourself. That’s all I wish for you.”

‘Thanks very much Mr. Teach. I promise you I will not let you down.”

“No! Promise yourself that you will not let yourself down.”

“I promise myself that.”

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3 Comments

  • Gideon Wachira Kariuki Posted February 6, 2020 5:50 pm

    Wow! what an incredible piece to read there!
    Well crafted and a very unique way of expression by the writer.

    • Uwem Mbot Umana Posted February 6, 2020 8:01 pm

      Thank you very much!!

    • Uwem Mbot Umana Posted February 17, 2020 6:39 pm

      Thank you Gideon!!

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