I searched her face for a sign: something, anything to convince me about the Principal’s statement a few seconds ago but there was none. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore as I dropped back into my seat and Mrs. Hakeem rushed for me.
When I got a call from the office of the Principal through his Personal Assistant stating that I was needed urgently, a lot of thoughts fled through my mind. I had just returned from lunch at the office when the call came in. I didn’t know what to think. Was Simisola sick? Did she have an accident? Did her father show up –as he had been threatening he would—at her school? It just didn’t cross my mind that Simi, my only child would be involved in bullying of any sort. So I was amazed when the Principal said, “your daughter flogged a child into coma.”
As soon as the call had dropped, I picked my purse and keys, locked my office and left the building in a haste. I only remembered on my way out to call Mr. John, a colleague, and ask him to tell anyone who asked that I was called at my daughter’s school.
The drive to Simi’s school that afternoon was filled with mixed feelings. Unlike the normal excitement and ecstasy I felt when going on the usual monthly visits, I was filled this time with fear and rage. What had happened to her? I feared. “Oh, is it that man, her uncaring father who had come to take her? I raged. Whatever it was, I would soon find out.
I hurriedly pulled over at the Visitors’ park and didn’t notice the windows were still wound down. The security tried to call my attention but I ignored him. It was Harmattan and there could possibly be no rains. The dry winds blew harshly on my face and on my thoughts. I was almost sure by now that it was her Dad, he had come for her.
As I walked to the Principal’s office, I met a few members of the staff. We exchanged greetings. Their faces wore expressions of sympathy and shame. My heart got heavier. I didn’t have an idea what the problem was, so I hastened my steps. In the office, even as the Principal tried exchanging pleasantries, I remained worried. I wanted him to spill the beans as soon as he could. It was until he asked that Simi and the house mistress, Mrs. Hakeem be called in that I began to think, it may not be her Dad after all. Yet I still knew it was a serious matter. I began praying inaudibly.
In a few minutes, Simi came in with head bowed, shoulders slouched and fists clenched in front of her. Mrs. Hakeem walked in, after her. It was then that the Principal started talking about why I was called. He started by saying that Simi had been a good girl. I nodded in panic and saw Mrs. Hakeem nod too. Then, he said that he was disappointed in ‘my daughter’. She had flogged a 13-year old JSS3 student mercilessly. I sprang up before I knew what I did.
While I was still trying to understand where such behavior came from, he made the statement. “your daughter flogged a child into coma.” That was when I slumped back into my seat and began screaming, “Simisola Ogechi Akala has killed me.” “Madam, calm down, calm down Ma.” I heard Mrs Hakeem say as she rushed for me. Her plea wouldn’t console me.
After about thirty minutes, I am sitting in the car with Simi. I parked my car after I drove us a few meters away from the school gate.
“Simisola, what is your problem?” I ask, not looking in her direction.
My cheeks feel cold from the tears dried up by the harmattan wind and my eyes sting: hot and teary. She doesn’t respond. I pick the envelope that the Principal gave me. I didn’t open it then because he already told me its content- a suspension letter- but now, I open it and pull the letter out. I give it to her to read aloud. She does. I barely hear anything she reads because she is muttering the words.
When she is done, I take her face in my palms and look her in the eye. She begins to cry profusely. I let her go and ask her why she did it. She says the junior girl was rude to her and her classmates were looking to know what she would do.
“So it was your pride that put someone in the hospital and I have to foot the bills now. Eh?”
“She was asthmatic.”
“You shouldn’t have beaten anybody!!!”
“I’m sorry mum.” And she bursts into another round of tears.
“You are a child of God, Simi. Even though your dad is far away, which is best for us, you know how your dad…I point to the car roof, behaves. Love is God’s nature. It should be all you do and know. You would have let the junior go and reported her to the house mistress. Your classmates and some other students saw you right?” She nods.
“They would have witnessed for you. Pride is a very stupid emotion to act on. The Bible says God resists the proud and because you know God does not hate anybody, you understand that he hates such character and attitude. Everything done in pride doesn’t give glory to God. Why are we created?”
“For His glory”
“Good! You didn’t give God glory. You acted in the flesh!”
“Mum, I’m sorry.”
“I know. So what do we do?”
With a voice shaken from crying, belching at intervals, she said, “We will go and visit her in the hospital. I will use all my savings. You say what is best for us to buy.”
I hug her tightly, and say a word of prayer in gratitude for God’s word and His work in our lives when we let Him.