A turning point

5:32 pm

           A sick African proverb or was it just a mind-set? says that a man who cries should be called a woman"'.  How about a boy who cries?

           Miss J never liked me. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it was because I wasn't the neatest student in her JSS 1 class. She was my class teacher. I was 10. I just wanted to play in my spare time. It isn't my fault that my shirt, socks and shoes decided to gather dust along the way. Anyway, this isn't really about my dirty laundry, it's about what they might have done to me. While my older brother was in secondary school, he went by the nickname, Da Don. Everyone, and I mean everyone called him Da Don. Teachers, juniors, friends, haters, everyone. Even his school notes were christened Da Don.  I loved it. And I wanted to be just like him. I also had a friend nicknamed Springfire. I couldn't think of a cooler nickname and so I came up with DE DON. I know what you're thinking. So original and creative and classy and stuff.  Anyway, I stuck with it. My school was a day school, if you're wondering.
             I was in the Press and Debate society right from JSS 1. (Let's call it the P and B society for the sake of Damimyne's poor fingers).  Around the time relevant to this story, there was a big competition coming up.  I was screened and chosen as one of the students to represent my school in the junior category of the competition. Unfortunately for me, Miss J was also in the P and B society. It was like she was in every aspect of my school life. We were trained by 3 teachers most of the time, Miss J, Miss P and Springfire's mum. Occasionally, the Vice Principal trained us. I missed 3 classes every school day from 2pm till closing for training. I must admit that I was quite naïve because I never actually realized how big of a deal this competition was.
              The competition started. Basically, it consisted of several schools in Lagos State meeting up to watch a few students from 2 or more schools tear each other apart with carefully constructed sentences regarding a particular topic. Beautiful, isn't it? The first meet was at St. Finbars College. I don't really remember much of the competition but I can tell you it was like whirlwind with me right at the centre oblivious of everything around me. I was taken to different schools in air conditioned buses, met all sorts of people and always came back with fabulous gifts like giant ball pens! I became a celebrity in my school because I was always seen leaving the school grounds with the Principal and other important school officials. And let’s not forget the fabulous gifts! I gave a lot of them out to classmates. For some reason, I always found it crucial to pray and fast before any major thing I did. The day of my debate came and I slayed dragons. No, really. I was like "Off with your head!" It was truly bloody. Ah! The stuff of legends. I remember my topic was "civilization has done more harm than good" and I was arguing against the tide of civilization's haters. I had fun along the wordy journey. And I won.
                  I still didn't get that it was a big deal. I mean, why did my dad have to come for a prize presentation ceremony? Why did he keep congratulating me over and over? I also didn't get why everyone was talking about me winning a lame competition. Okay, maybe I seem a bit daft here. You're probably thinking that the vigorous training should have clued me in amongst other things. Forgive my 10 year old self. The said ceremony took place in the Gymnasium hall at the National Stadium. The crowd was massive and a lot of schools were in attendance. It was my time to shine, only I didn't know I was a star. Finally, I was called up in front of the crème de la crème of the education sector, a representative of the Lagos state Governor and the Commissioner of police, Lagos state. I was presented with a plaque with the words "Best student in Lagos State 2009, Junior Category" inscribed on it. It was so shiny and 'awardy'. I was asked to give a speech that was aired on TV.  I also received a lot of gifts and blah! I wasn't warded a scholarship even though everyone thought I was.
                About two weeks after the big day, there I was, an ignorant celebrity living a normal life unaware of his status. My class teacher, Miss J walked into class and decided to do a note check. We were asked to stand and place our notes on our desks.  We stood and she checked. When she got to me, she asked everyone except me and an offender to sit. The offender was standing behind her. She questioned me about my nickname DE DON.  I tried telling her the story behind it but the offender behind her started to dance. Of course I laughed but she started to flog me all over. I quickly sobered up. Then she looked up the meaning of the word "Don" in the dictionary and read it in front of the whole class. I always thought dons were just rich guys. Thank you Telemundo! And people wonder why I hate that stuff. Miss J then proceeded to paint a fake picture of me to class and even to me. She went on to break my heart by calling me proud and arrogant. Fine, I always had this air of aloofness about me but proud and arrogant? I didn't even know I had anything to be proud about. She was mean, spiteful and hateful and I didn't know why. My dirty socks, perhaps?

                What Miss J said created a big hole in my heart and I didn't even notice. I cried hard. My classmates tried to comfort me but it was too late. I didn't know what suicide was back then. I would have tried it if I did. If she had stopped there, it wouldn't have been so bad but she took this story and spread it in staffrooms. Suddenly, I was transformed from the guy all the teachers liked to the guy to the guy all the teachers hated. As new teachers were employed, they were updated on my gist and the baton was passed. It was relay hate at its finest. The only teacher that didn't join the bad gang was Miss P. These teachers even tried to turn the vice principal against me but she had more sense. Do you know the most annoying thing about all of it? These teachers who were supposed to be trained professionals did not realize that I was just a boy. I was once a sanguine, would you believe that? I'm now phlegmatic. I began to hate everything that had to do with the competition. I didn't take part in any other ones because I was scared of being seen. I was scared of being popular again. Even when she was no longer my class teacher, miss J would still come to my class to make fun of me. I left that school after JSS 3 but my teachers passed the "love" to my brother.

                  Miss J died last year. When my brother told me, I laughed hard. When I realized he was serious, I laughed harder. She died of liver problems. I think it is ironic seeing as she had the liver to do all those terrible things to me. I tried being sad but I got angry because I only remembered all she did to me. I never found out why she did all things those either. I just had to live with it. I got over the torment about four years after my turning point when I gave my life to Christ but I'm still not sure if I've actually forgiven her because try as I might, I can't feel bad about her death.
                                                                                                                                                     As narrated by DE DON
                                                                                                                                                     Written by DamiMyne     

IMAGES downloaded from Google Images

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