The very second Teacher Osai yelled out Alaka’s name, he knew he was in trouble. What had he done this time? Leave out the percentage sign on his answers? Fail to underline his final answers? He scanned his mind like a folder.
“Alaka, didn’t you hear me calling you? COME HERE!” Teacher Osai bellowed.
He groped the area around his leg till his fingers clasped around his four foot cane.
Alaka hesitated once he saw the cane had been touched and gulped. Confident he had completed his homework satisfactorily; he had not worn his thicker underwear and opted rather for his lighter briefs. He was so sure today would be a stroke-free day. Homework had been completed in time and submitted on time. He had even made sure this time around that his grandmother signed in Teacher Osai’s stipulated bottom right corner. In spite of all that, he was about to face the music for whatever reason yet to be revealed.
“C’mon touch your toes…You fool! How can you do homework without writing the date and topic? Foolish fool! … C’mon bend down and touch your toes!”
Alaka’s heart sunk. Of all the possible things he could have forgotten he had chosen to forget to write the date and topic for his homework. He shook his head, disappointed in himself and drew closer to the blackboard before he bent down halfway.
Failure to write the date was worth three strokes from Teacher Osai’s cane and failure to write the topic, another three. Alaka contemplated; six strokes on his thinly protected buttocks with this new cane would be excruciating. He recalled how ‘No Shaking’ Badu, shrieked unusually when he was being caned with this new bamboo piece and his fear heightened. Teacher Osai bellowed again, something Alaka didn’t hear but understood to mean his final call to touch his toes. Experience had taught him to contract his buttocks muscles to reduce the impact of the stroke on his skin. With a sigh of resignation, he swiftly bent lower and touched his toes with his fingers. He quickly contracted his buttock muscles, shut his eyes and waited.
“Class, count with me…He’s taking six,” Teacher Osai announced and raised his cane high above his head. He swung mercilessly with the force of an angry butcher. The cane struck Alaka’s buttocks and snapped right in the middle; the entire class roared “OOOONE!” and erupted into applause.