By Bukola Omotoso
Looking back over my life, I can think of several moments that were significant. The first time I ate Ice Cream, my first kiss, the day I lost my dad, the day I discovered how depressing Pounded Yam really is, the first time I tried to make Amala, etc, etc, but one day stands out to me. It was the day I got to school late.
Let me give you a little background. I must have been between ages 5 and 6, attending a primary school owned by my grandfather. We lived right in the school compound, so there was no reason for me to be late, ever.
My grandfather was a stickler for timeliness; invite him someplace and he would be there two hours early, waiting for you to wake up. He never, ever showed up late. Ever. So, it really grated on his nerves whenever people would show up late, without regard for time.
Prior to this fateful day, he had issued verbal warnings to late comers, admonishing them to come to school on time. He didn’t flog anyone though, not yet.
On this day, I thought to myself, “I never do anything wrong. I always obey all the rules. I ought to relax just this once. I mean, my house is literally a minute away from the assembly ground; I could still be a couple of minutes late and I would be fine.”
Fam, when you start thinking thoughts like this, beware; the devil has a surprise beating planned for you.
So, there I was, strolling to school, late, and with my belt untied. My grandfather saw me, and I don’t remember much else. All I know is, he beat me so much, I had bumps and depressions on my head. My class teacher was pretty strict, but when he saw me that morning, he felt so bad for me. I could see the pity in his eyes. My whole life turned around that morning.
Later, in secondary school, I became some sort of rebel (emphasis on “some sort”); I sagged my uniform skirt, tucked my shirt in loosely, wore my beret only on one side of my head, so that it completely covered my left ear. I was one of the shortest people in my entire class, but on the assembly ground, I preferred to stay at the very back of the line, behind the tallest boys. I carried a towel (a big one, not a face towel) around my neck for one term. It wasn’t part of the school uniform, but yea, I did it.
In all of that “rebellion”, not once did it even occur to me to show up late. I never showed up late to school again. Because, even though my grandfather had retired at that point, and didn’t attend our assembly gatherings often, the memory of that experience never left me. Also, there was a new sheriff in town. And this one didn’t deal in cane; she doled out slaps that would literally make you see sparks. You could be deaf or disillusioned for a full minute as a result.
Even now in my adult life, every time I show up late, I remember the bumps and depressions and think, “Girl, you know better than to be late. Grandpa’s cane taught you better.”
Talk about a day I will never forget.
Tomorrow on #ItChangedMyLife; Day 6 I Discovered Purpose #ItChangedMyLife By Daniel Otabor
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