“A child cracks a nut and not a tortoise shell”
This saying has always had me confused; are they saying kids aren’t as smart as adults? I for one considered myself quite smart actually. My nine year old self was fire. Book smarts, street smarts you name it, in my head I had it all. I was the pinnacle of human evolution.
This mindset is what had me curled up in bed in the fetal position on a Monday morning.
The aim was to miss school and if that failed, miss the first period which was French. The only thing standing in my way was my mother.
French, which was the last period the Friday before had been hell. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had had to bail. I had done what every smart person does when they see danger, run! I had lived, but it seemed I had to fight again today. I was choosing not to fight today, next week maybe, but definitely not today.
/You guys hold on, someone is opening my door.//
The door opened just a bit, I curled myself tighter, pulled my sleeping cloth closer and moaned for effect. Whoever was there, which I suspected was my mum seemed to buy it. Well, the door closed without them nudging me or calling out my name; so I am assuming they bought it.
Yes where was I, ahaa I had run from French class. It was extra classes actually, but Monsieur Akakunde won’t see it as such. He took every infringement as a personal affront. If it happened to be me in particular, then he treated it like I had dishonoured his entire clan. My having a very good reason won’t matter much. And him having already taken his pound of flesh won’t matter too. My bottom actually still smarted from the thrashing I had received the Friday evening. I was surprised I wasn’t sick for real. Between my dad’s thrashing and monsieur’s thrashing, I should have been an invalid.
Now to put the second part of my plan into action, you guys should watch and learn.
This Maa was screamed with a croaky voice. Soon as my mum entered, I convulsed and vomited. Onto the floor of course. As much as lying in my own vomit will lend credence to my vulnerability, I wasn’t an animal. I had shimmied my way to the edge of the bed and left my mum a nice puddle. That should do it.
My mum entered screaming my name, she was in such a hurry that she slipped in the vomit. Only reflexes borne of years of making a grab for me saved her. She managed to grab hold of the door and pull herself up. Making straight for me and checking my temperature and all that fussy mess mothers do when one of their brood looks to be unwell.
I had kept up my moaning and was now tossing and turning. Catching a glimpse of her face from the corner of my eye I knew I had nailed it. The woman looked pale, her face was drawn. I had to fight down the urge to smirk. I really am smart.
You guys are impressed huh, wondering how I had pulled off the vomiting move, hehe.
I had pretended not to have an appetite the night before, I had foregone supper. At dawn, just before anyone was up, I had snuck into the kitchen and taken care of my hitherto spurned meal. It was cold, but I had to make do. With the food eaten not too long ago sitting in my gut, I had stuck my finger down my throat and done the honors. I had brought it all back up.
My mum left after a while, and came back with a rag and mop to clean up my mess. She cleaning it herself meant my sisters had left for school. My plan was working to perfection, just a little more time and French period will be over.
She is going to ask how I am feeling.
“How are you feeling?”
In a really low voice so she will have to strain to hear me; I answered her.
“My stomach, it is paining me”
She came to sit by me then, feeling my neck and saying comforting words.
“You can’t go to school today erhn?”
Finally, she had asked the million dollar question. Doing a jig in my head, I answered with a moan. This moan was lower and more drawn out than any before.
“You can’t go erhn?” She repeated.
This time around, I croaked a low “daabi”.
“Hmm, today is our day oo”
“Our Day”, the sole reason for my existence. There was always a film show during our day. This time around they were showing American Ninja. I had been marking the days in my jotter. No way was today our day. This woman was trying to trick me. Our day wasn’t for three weeks. Smiling to myself, I moaned again.
“Since you are not going, do you want me to bring you your our day things?”
Now I was confused, could it be true, had I miscounted. But we hadn’t written exams yet… arrrggh! This was all in my head of course. Was that a smile I saw on her face?
Nah, it can’t be. I sneaked a look and yeah she still looked worried. Satisfied I went back to thinking.
All this while, she just sat by me, rubbing my shoulder. With no warning, she got up and left the room. She came back minutes later with a basket, it contained my our day stuff like she had said.
3 boxes of refresh.
5 malt n milk biscuits
A bowl which I supposed contained jollof.
And some toffees.
There was a napkin in there which would be my cover.
Seeing all this, I knew it was true. Why else would she go through all that trouble? She sat next to me on the bed again, she said nothing for a while.
At this point I knew I had messed up, American Ninja was all I could think about. Should I stop the charade and go for our day, or continue.
“Do you want to go for our day?”
This pulled me out of my thoughts. I nodded in reply. I still had to keep up the charade for a bit. French was the last thing on my mind now. Our day was top priority. My mum helped me out of bed, on my feet I shrugged off her hand and run to the bathroom.
Within a couple of minutes I had bathed and was all dressed up waiting for my Mum. I had the basket with the goodies of course. I couldn’t wait to get to school so I could dig in. Usually I went with my siblings or on my own, but being sick had gotten me an escort. She joined me after a while and we got a taxi to the school.
The gates were closed when we got there, but this was expected. After morning assembly they were closed to prevent students from going. Our day was usually no different. My mum went to the security man said something, he run inside and came back minutes later to open the gate for us. The man gave me a pitying look, I really must look sick. I am a better actor than I thought.
Soon as we entered the school I realized something was wrong. There were no tents, no sellers, no noise. I looked up and I saw the students gathered up front for morning Assembly. I knew I had been duped then, wasting no time, I pulled my hand from my mum’s grip and made to bolt.
But it wasn’t to be, the security man was right behind me, I had almost made it out of the gate. I tried to fight him but he was too strong.
“HEY! STOP THAT!”
I knew that voice, I looked up ahead and saw him striding gallantly towards me, Monsieur Akakunde. He had a cane.
I turned to make a last plea to my mum, she didn’t even let me utter a word. She just shook her head and showed me the opened Jollof bowl; it was empty.
I had been played.