These two boys represented hell on earth. You couldn’t imagine life with them in the same room. They were a pair that thought that life belonged to them. They did all manner of things to Mr. Nsukara. They made jests about the size of his head. They ridiculed the size of his fingers and his bald head. They asked him how much he earned. They touched his head. They made inappropriate comments about his nostrils. They would come into his lesson and the moment Mr. Nsukara began to talk or teach, they would sneeze and then start letting out loud winds that stank like rotten eggs. This would distract the attention of the other students completely. The class would roar in laughter and disgust at the stench of the winds that were let out by these two boys. The class would turn into a mini zoo and Mr. Nsukara would be so helpless.
Meshal was about 18 years old even though he looked twenty-two. He always wore a hoodie. Looking at his face you would know that he had been shaving for about five years consecutively. He wore, the beard around his mouth in the shape of an ‘O’ and would keep his mustache trimmed and lined. He looked super duper athletic and always had on him a rucksack. He wore a Nike pair of trainers all the time and always had a gum churning in his mouth. Jassim was like his sidekick. Anything Meshal asked Jassim to do, he would do it. Because they operated together, they had perfected the art of disrupting lessons. They didn’t care about anything. They didn’t care about incident reports; they didn’t care about being excluded for a day or two. The school could not establish contact with their parents and they came from a different city that was about 2 hours journey away from the location of the school.
They would go into a lesson and not lift a finger. Anytime, they slept during a lesson, the teacher would be in a temporary reprieve likened to heaven. And when they awoke it was mayhem. The sad reality of it was the teacher would be blamed for his or her inability to engage these folks. A teacher could spend as much as a year if he had such time to plan and prep for these fellas, but the output was always the same – lack of engagement. The maximum amount of work a teacher could extract from them at one go was a starter activity. After the starter, they would shut their books and start cracking silly jokes about the teacher and roll the class in laughter. Mr. Nsukara tried his levelheaded best to be nice to them, tried his best to engage them, used a few tricks he knew from his arsenal to engage these two boys and it yielded no result. He talked to other teachers and the story was the same. All the teachers couldn’t be wrong!
Each time Mr. Nsukara wrote an incident report about them, these boys would only change for the first five minutes of a new lesson, after that, they would return to their usual self.
Then Mr. Nsukara raised hell at the school. No staff meeting ever ended without Mr. Nsukara dragging the school to face this big monster that confronted them. Even during exams, these two characters would be sleeping and the whole staff would try to wake them up to no avail. The fact that this was like a penitentiary did not mean that there weren’t rules or consequences for violating these rules and expectations. Truth be told, no one knew what to do anymore! Mr. Nsukara was accused of being unable to teach the boys and that he lacked creativity. Other teachers who taught these boys corroborated that these boys were unteachable and that they would quit if nothing was done about these little monsters. There was a standoff between the teachers and the management of the school. The boys were summoned to the headmaster’s office – Captain Jaffa. They were informed that that week would be their last week at the school and that they were going to be permanently excluded from the school. Their monthly stipend would cease henceforth and they would be sent to the army camp for training. Since it was a boarding school, and it was a Wednesday, they would have to wait till weekend before they would be returned to their parents. One of the neighbouring countries, Manuverel was at war and soldiers from Etsan country were participants in the move to restore peace and order in Manuverel. So far, Etsan had lost about one hundred and fifty seven soldiers.
The two boys broke down. They wept and wailed and begged.
“Get out of my office” Captain Jaffa yelled.
They wore somber looks all over the place as they scurried out.
At Mr. Nsukara’s lesson, they were the first to arrive and the first to get settled.
“The earth rotates on its axis and tilts” Jassim shouted out.
“It takes 365 days for the earth to complete a rotation around the sun” Meshal answered the question.
Wonders shall never end! Mr. Nsukara was dazed.
“Can I have some more work Mr. Nsukara?” Meshal requested.
“And me too” Jassim added.
Mr. Nsukara was shocked at what he heard. Meshal and Jassim working, and contributing during a lesson and asking for more work? What did he do right?
Everybody had left the room and Mr. Nsukara was preparing for his next lesson when he noticed that Meshal and Jassim were waiting patiently for him.
“Yes, how can I help?” he queried them.
“Mr. Nsukara please would you be kind enough to tell Captain Jaffa, the headmaster that we are making progress?” Jassim spoke.
So, this is what this sudden change was all about, Mr. Nsukara thought.
“Why not? Didn’t we do work?” Meshal spoke softly.
“Yes, I agree you did work, but we cannot use one lesson to measure progress. Progress has to be measured over a period of time for it to be valid.”
“I need to see some consistency for about two weeks before I can mention anything to the head” Mr. Nsukara concluded.
“But, we are getting sent home this weekend, Captain told us” Meshal pushed on.
During lunch time, Mr. Nsukara went over to see Captain Jaffa who told him that, those two little monsters were getting expelled permanently and paper work was being prepared to send them off to the army camp.
Mr. Nsukara knew exactly what to do. As he came out of the office, he saw the two boys pushing wheelbarrow in a distance. He called them over.
“Meshal and Jassim, I hear you are going home finally.”
“I am so sorry to hear you are going home finally. I shall miss you lot” Mr. Nsukara finally muscled the strength to say.
Even though they knew that Mr. Nsukara was a kind and honest man, they doubted his sincerity at this point. Their minds must have flashed back to all the griefs they caused him. Their minds must have flashed back to all the accusations they levelled against him.
Even more significant, the day they hid his freshly brewed coffee during break time and his sandwich and Mr. Nsukara was forced to starve the entire morning.
Their minds must have gone to that fateful day when Meshal commanded everybody to sleep during Mr. Nsukara’s lesson and all the students in the class went to sleep in that lesson.
“Mr. Nsukara we are very sorry for all what we did,” Meshal said.
“Teacher we are very sorry, it will never happen again, we swear to God” Jassim managed to whisper.
“Now list all the things you are sorry for?” Mr. Nsukara instructed them.
“I am sorry for taking your coffee” Meshal said.
“I am sorry for breaking into your cabinet and taking your Hobnob biscuits” Jassim confessed.
The list went on.
Finally the unexpected happened.
“Teacher I am sorry for pinning at the back of your jacket, I am a ladyboy” Meshal said. It was Jassim’s idea though.
At this point Mr. Nsukara had to calm himself down. He suddenly felt like lunging at them and strangling them. His stomach felt sick. The muscles in his body tightened and ached. His fists curled. He felt like swearing. The bastards he thought.
It was a nice hot evening. Another hard day. Mr. Nsukara had picked up his jacket from the back of his chair and wore it. He didn’t look at the back as in most instances people wouldn’t do that.
On his way home from work, he stopped by at the supermarket to buy some items and everybody stared at him in some sort of awkward way. He didn’t give a second thought to it and kept making his purchases until the supervisor at the cereal section, an acquaintance of his, said “sir you don’t necessarily have to announce what you are?”
“What are you talking about?” Mr. Nsukara inquired.
“I mean your ‘ladyboy’ status pinned to the back of your jacket.”
He was alarmed that all these while he had been walking about with that sign.
He couldn’t figure out who did it. All his Sherlock Holmes’ skills at reconstructing the events of the day towards unraveling this mystery failed. He would have to let go on this one, he concluded.
Right in front of him now, few months after the incident, the answer was before him.
“Please teacher save us, my father will kill me if I get sent home. I don’t want to go to the army camp,” Jassim pleaded.
‘Father!’, he thought. How many attempts did the Centre make in reaching out to their fathers without any success and all of a sudden, the word ‘father’ appeared on the horizon.
“Teacher, me, my mother sick, please help me beg Mr. Jaffa. I can’t go to camp.”
“We will not mess around anymore, we will do whatever you ask us to do and even extra work.”
They burst into tears and wailed.
“Why don’t you want to go to camp?”
“After training we will be posted to Manuveral and Etsan has already lost one hundred and fifty seven soldiers and we don’t want to die, we don’t want to die.”