BEHIND THE MASK – ALL EPISODES
© Jones K. Tagbor
*John and his friends faces hard labour.
Everybody who heard this news got surprised because they didn’t know about that behaviour of me. My father said he had nothing to say so he gave the school the go ahead to apply their disciplinary actions for me to learn from my behaviour. My mother could not withheld her tears for once. Eric’s parents also heard the news and came to the school. I regretted ever being on earth that day. I wished I rather died for Eric to live.
We were summoned at the staff common room with my parents by the headmaster. The headmaster looked into my face and said, “you have destroyed the reputation of this school and I won’t let you go scot-free. I knew you to be one of the disciplined students little did I know that you are even the worst behaved student. I will personally write your testimonial. How many of you went to the club?”. With my bowed head and an innocent voice, I replied, “we were five sir.” “Just look at that. As the senior prefect, you should be preventing your colleagues from going to such places, you were rather encouraging them. The parents of the senior girl’s prefect reported the case to the police and according to the girl, you asked her to follow you to the place. You have also made us lose one student and his parents are blaming us for death of their son. I hope you now appreciate the mess you’ve caused the school. You will soon meet the disciplinary committee. Go and your parents for me “, said the Headmaster. Tears started rolling from my eyes. “God, why should you allow this to happen to me?” I asked myself in tears. To varnish was the best option to console myself, but it was impossible.
I went out to call my parents into the headmaster’s office.
My Dad: Good morning, sir.
Headmaster: Good morning but I remember we greeted each other before I came into my office. Well, I’m not to tell you what has happened since you know it yourself. The issue is now handled by police. I was called when I was home to come to the hospital where the girl who your son took with him to the club is admitted. Her parents handed me over to the police and I needed to sign a police report on behalf of the school. The boy who died is also another issue this school is taking responsibility of. In this case, since it is your son who initiated all this, we are also involving you in the case and you will equally pay for the damages caused. For your son, the disciplinary committee will invite him and we will talk about that.”
My mother, as calm as ever before, said, “sir please…hmmmm. I don’t even know what to say. My son is not like that. I can’t believe so easily it was my son involved in this. I’m not sure he is the one who initiated this. Please my son is innocent about this. Oh God, the devil has finally gotten me. hmm God I still believe in you.
Headmaster (in a relatively harsh tone): Woman, Please this is not where you should be covering for your son. Besides, my office is not a prayer camp. Your son might not be the person he is to you at home when he comes to school. Am sorry we need to use the laws at this point. Please wait for me outside.
My dad just asked the headmaster to apply all disciplinary rules against me. Even the Bible says train the child the way he should go so that when he grows, he will not depart from it. None of my children ever behaved like this. First lady are you sure this boy is my son?
Mum: Don’t let my God get provoked at you this morning. What question is that?
Headmaster: Please wait for me at the staff common room. I will join you soon.
We went back to the staff common room. In fact the whole school was very quiet and mourning Eric. In no time, Eric’s parents arrived at the campus with the police to arrest me. But the headmaster got in their way and told them that they had to deal with the school and not directly me. He made them aware that I was not the only one involved in the case. The very unfortunate side of it Is that Eric’s body could not be identified due to the level of fire burns so he was added to the mass and buried together.
The case now involved the Ghana Education Service, the club authorities, the police and the parents of the students involved.
After one week of admission, Enyonam was discharged from the hospital. To be honest, she lost her beauty due to the fire burns. Now we were to face the disciplinary committee which myself and Enyonam were members before our handing over. The headmaster was present, the school counsellor, our parents and other staffs.
They first started by asking me to brief the house how we got there and what actually happened.
Me: I want to first say I’m sorry for all what went on. It was all the work of the devil.
Assistant Housemaster: My friend, go straight to the reason and tell us why you were given the opportunity to talk.
School counsellor: Mr. Asante, I think we should allow him the opportunity to say whatever he has to say. He is traumatized because seeing people burning in flames and seeing their colleague die from that incident is not easy to go through and talk about. They actually needed time to relax and even if possible, go through counseling.
Headmaster: John go ahead we are listening to you.
Me: After our handing over, we decided to go and have fun outside the school that night. We chose no where than that club. I invited Enyonam to go with us. When We got there, I told them we should return to the school but Eric didn’t agree with me. My other friends too didn’t agree so I didn’t hesitate to follow them inside. My mother called me, around midnight on phone so I left the premises to receive the call. In the process, the next thing I heard was, people shouting for help. I ran there only see the place on fire. Amos and Joshua were able to escape but according to a nurse working with the ambulance, Eric gave up the ghost trying to save Enyonam. He managed to bring Enyonam to a safer place but he couldn’t help himself.
My mother stood up and left the room because she couldn’t stand listening to what I was saying. Her reason was that, had it not been for the fact that God revealed what was happening to Her, probably I would have been dead. Her tears could even boil a tuber of yam in an aluminium sauce.
Headmaster: (Looking into the faces of my colleagues in crime) Do you people believe what he just reported?
They were all silent.
Headmaster: (With a deep angry voice ) Am I talking to humans or ghosts? Mr Suley Please I have some canes in the corner of my office, go and bring me one.
Mr Suley, our Chemistry teacher, who Eric accused of having something to do with Enyonam, left the staff common room to get the Cane.
Enyonam was already in tears. Mr Suley went and returned with the biggest cane he could find to the room.
Headmaster: Are you going to answer my question?
In chorus, they all agreed to my report.
Headmaster: Alright. This has never happened in this school before and I won’t allow you to bring the name of this school down. Mr Suley, give their gang leader ten (10) lashes, six(6) to Amos and Joshua and give five(5) to Enyonam.
In my mind, after the canes, everything would come to an end so I decided to gather courage to receive my portion.
Mr Suley came to me first. Actually every student do fear him because no one can withstand even one lash of his canes. I was on my kneels.
Mr Suley: You’ve been dodging my class for some time now. I thought it was due to your position as SP not knowing, you were grooming yourself to become stubborn. Make sure you don’t move or shout because if you do, I will start all over again.
Headmaster: Wait. Call for an assembly of all the students and cane them before the whole school to serve as deterrent to the other students.
Mr Suley went to call for an assembly and we were moved to the assembly grounds like stubborn slaves. He explained to the school what we did and later called me to come forward. He repeated his instructions. After the first two, I swelled myself because the cane went very deep into me. If you ever watched the passion of Christ movie before, you would understand me better. After receiving five of it, I felt a cut at my back but I managed to receive all of the ten. Most of the students cried seeing how I was suffering.
Joshua and Amos also received their share. When it got to Enyonam, the whole school became very noisy. You could see students using sign language to each other. The secret was that, Enyonam was indeed the girlfriend of Mr Suley. You could clearly see it when he was doing the caning. He was just doing something to represent something. Well, it is said that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others. He was even taking the pleasure in holding the lady’s boobs.
After the canes, the headmaster stepped forward and said; “this is to serve as a deterrent to the whole school. Any border that leaves this campus without permission and caught will receive severe ones than this.
Now these are your punishments. The cane was just by the way”. My heart jump like a cat over a wall following that pronouncement.
Amos, you are not going step a foot into any class during learning hours. Everyday, I want to see you on the school park weeding the whole field. No one will help you. You will do this for the next one week and you must finish after a week. When you finish, you will suspended for the next one year. Meaning you are repeating one class.
Joshua, you will carry the pantry balls with food from the kitchen to the dinning hall and back to the kitchen after dining for the next two weeks. You are also to work on the school farm. Weed the three hectare maize farm. After that you will be suspended for one year.
Enyonam, you survived the fire and not well. You will be responsible for washing all pantry balls after dining for the next two weeks. You will also sweep your dormitory for the same number of weeks. After which you will go home and come to school next year and repeat your class.
John, for your punishment and as the SP for the school, you know we are building a new library. You are going to the stone grove and break stones which will be used for the building. You are to crack half a tipper. After which you are going to be suspended for the next one year and repeat your class.
Parents, these are the punishments your children are to face. Now, you are all going to pay Ghc5,000.00 each as parents for the damages caused.
Enyonams parents argued that the school is also to pay the hospital bill of their ward because they couldn’t protect Her. They said they won’t allow their daughter to face her punishment at the date she was to start but after she has fully recovered.
They sorted everything out among themselves and it was settled. Enyonams parents decided to take her away to the house for further care. Enyonam came to meet me outside while my father was blasting me very well for what I’ve caused and the disgrace I brought them. I left my parents and came to her.
Me: Enyonam, I’m sorry for everything. Please find a place in heart and forgive me.
Enyonam: Don’t worry I will be fine. We will meet again.
She left me, joined her parents and they left.
My mother consoled me after Enyonam left. She said “my son, first thank God he saved you. You now know the consequences of bad company and bad behaviour. What I want to tell you is that, we have not left you, we will continue to pray for you. Don’t dwell too much of the problem or challenge on you, but be focused on how to finish or solve it. We will pay the money but you also need to be a good boy. We will leave now.” She said looking very sad. I also joined her in tears. My father asked, “what are you crying for? Make sure you finish the punishment. We will continue when you come home. If it were not your mother I would have forsaken you. Woman get into the car and let’s go.” They also left without giving me any money.
The following day, we started with our respective works. Some friends of mine sneak at midnight and come to help us. Within a week, I was almost done with the half tipper. One of the security men went to report to the headmaster that, our friends were helping us at night. Actually the security nearly lost his job due to our case so he was very mean to us and was waiting for an opportunity to get us into his trap. The headmaster woke up one night and saw two other guys helping me. He recognized them and asked the security to arrest them. They were also punished. They added some more work to mine but gradually, I finished with it. Amos and Joshua also finished theirs and we packed our bags and trunks and off we left.
At home, people were mocking at my mother that she claimed she was a disciplinarian but couldn’t nurture Her son well. Due to anger, she even replied some people and it became another problem for her. She was gradually getting weaker in prayers because day in and day out, she was embarrassed about this same issue.
I realized my mistakes and vowed not to go into such events again. I took church more serious and reading my bible became my hobby.
Soon our days were due to return to school. We went back when the new academic year started. Enyonam didn’t come back again because her parents took her to a different school. Amos and Joshua came. We managed to complete with our juniors but unfortunately, our results were not very good. My parents wanted me to go to medical school but my results couldn’t help so I had no choice to than to go back to school. This time around, I changed my program and studied Business. My parents didn’t want me to mingle with the boys in my area again so he sent me to a school in the Volta region, Keta Business School. KETABUSCO. I completed the full three years but my resorts were still not the best.
The reason for my poor performance was because, I do see a playback of the incident at the club and it was interfering with my studies. Sometimes I do feel like Eric was around and talking to me. Sometimes, I do hear his voice accusing me for his death. I reported it to my parents and they took me to the hospital. They said I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I was put on medication and the situation subsided a bit. I was sent to Ho Polytechnic where I read Accounting eventually.
After school, I was posted to do my national service at Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority, Tema. I was at the accounting department. All there while, I forgot about Enyonam. One Sunday, I decided to visit a church in my area at Tema community 4. During worship, there was this lady who came to lead the worship session. To be honest, the whole atmosphere got filled with the holy spirit. The face of the lady looked very familiar. I was just on the second row so I saw her very well. After the worship, my eyes never stopped looking where she was seated. Occasionally, our eyes do crash in space. After the closing prayer, the conductor said we should shake hands with each other and also hug if the need be. All my target was to get to this lady. I couldn’t notice it even when other people were asking for a handshake from me. I was already jealous when I saw a guy hugging her. She was very jovial and outspoken just like the Enyonam I knew. I managed to go closer to her and waved at her. She also waved and smiled back. I made a sign indicating I want to see her. She came and stood in front of me.
Me: Sister I was really touched with your worship today. In fact you carry a great anointing.
She smiled and thanked me.
Me: I’m John what about you?
Lady: I’m Enyonam
Me: Enyonam? the Enyonam that I know or which of the Enyonams?
Enyonam: Haha but how do I know your Enyonam?
Everything that goes around, comes around. Was that Enyonam the GP or a different Enyonam?