“The Elephant In The Room” by Andrew Teye.

I am the elephant in this room. There used to be two of us. He was the bigger one, but he’s no longer here. Gunn was his name, Mr. William Gunn. He was a proper English man but he got tired of being one of the elephants in this room. We disagreed on many things but we upheld mutual vows to agree on the most important things. Because … well, you know … when two elephants fight, it’s the ground that suffers, and we were careful not to make this ground suffer- at least, not then.

I teach English here. Here, is this sham of an institution they call Mekoyeya Senior High School. I have been teaching here for two years but it feels like twenty already. My colleagues are tired of me; the older teachers especially. But that’s okay because the feeling is mutual. I am ridiculed because I am a returnee and because I flaunt my borrowed English work ethic; they hate me because I embarrass them by simply being diligent at my job. They blame me for the poor performance of students in their courses; they complain that all the kids ever do is read English Literature. I have been summoned by the headmistress too many times already, but she can’t be bothered with pertinent school issues, most especially issues that attempt to present me as culprit.
‘Madam’, as we call her, smiles at me as I enter her office for today’s summons. I fancy she sometimes frets over the fact that I don’t receive the occupational-pampering I deserve. Between me and her however, we know she can’t afford me and doesn’t try to. As far as I’m concerned, she’s getting the better end of the deal with my continuous stay here. Her questions always bare the same level of irrelevance: “Are you feeling fine, Mr. Blankson?” “Do you miss London?” I briskly dispatch my answers in witty little one-liners that give her the giggles. This convinces her of my well-being, for a jovial man is easily assumed to be far from discomfort. Madam happily discharges me and I swagger placidly out of her office.

Right now, I sit in the staff room enduring my umpteenth meeting. Mr. Amponsah, the Geography teacher, as routine demands, is absent. His eternal excuse is that he’s always on impromptu cartographic expeditions to some remote part of Ghana. Mrs. Kplanyi is as usual filing away at her nails. I have always wondered which chapter of her Christian Religious Studies teaching guidebook permits this uncouthness. Mr. Sai has his nose dipped in today’s issue of The Patriot. I look to his lap and find a neatly folded issue of The Daily Query resting there. Hopefully, he’ll get no more than two periods to preach his bi-polar politics in Government class today. Mr. Oklu sits in his usual corner, employing his twisted calculus to historical records of winning lottery numbers in newsprint. The rest of my colleagues are strewn across the room. They are in a very casual mood and pay some measure of attention to proceedings. Ms. Yeboah, as usual, in her second-hand formalities, chairs the meeting. “Is there anything else?” she asks, in her sweet alto.

“Yes!” Mr. Acquah bellows. He clears his throat excessively before he proceeds. Oblivious to his constant abuse of R’s and L’s in English words, he fancies himself the most learned among us, and naturally plays the spokesman role.
“We want to know what measures have been exproited on our formar compraints to Madam.”
The little crowd stirs alive again at the sound of this. I observe them from my seat purposefully situated behind them.

“I beg your pardon. What formal complaints?” Ms. Yeboah asks bravely. She feigns ignorance, but she does not deter Acquah.

“We formarry asked you to inform Madam how the students have been indoctrialized and have conspilated with some high ortholity to grow post-harvest losses on the academic farmlands of our courses.”
Some voices murmur in admiration. Even Mr. Sai and Mr. Oklu take a few seconds off to revere Acquah’s eloquence with a smirk and a mumble of praise.

“Ohh that one?” Ms. Yeboah finally succumbs, “Ermm…the headmistress has promised to address the issue in due time. Ermm…It is high on her priority list. ”

She did not have to conjure this faux response but I reckon she fell under the weight of Acquah’s unrecognized treason against English expression. I smirk in disgust.
They start to murmur a bit louder now. Acquah is quick on his feet again; ever the timely spokesman.

“We are tired of being on pliority list or wharrever! We want response NOW!!”

The slightly incensed crowd of teachers now roar into applause and tiny whistles of approval. Acquah has yet succeeded in whipping them up into adolescent frenzy. I smile at this signal, and get up to leave the room. Nobody calls for me, not even Ms. Yeboah, who surely must have noticed the elephant getting out of the room. I sneak out and back to my single-room to check on my luggage a final time. I draw my cellphone from my pocket and dial Paa-T’s number.

Paa-T asks no questions on my departure trip. He simply whistles to the high-life tunes blaring from his new car radio. He really doesn’t know enough, to feel sympathy for the students I’m leaving behind the tinted glass at the back of his brand-new taxi. Paa-T doesn’t know which chapter of Treasure Island the Form One students were supposed to read this week. He doesn’t know that I left the last compilation of haiku poems from the Form Two class in my pigeon hole. Even I do not know whether any student in the Form Three class will ever be taught that Ola Rotimi’s ‘The Gods Are Not To Blame’ is an African rendition of ‘Oedipus Complex’. It all matters little to me now. I will trumpet some more elsewhere.

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“Hefty Helping Herbs” by Jude E. Davids.

And all of a sudden, the door flew open. The darkness skittered into the corners and the birds of silence chirped their last song.

“This is the worst dorm in the house,” boomed the Senior Housemaster.

Ms. Nyonyu went over to the trunk by the second bunk on the right. She threw it open.

“Ei! Whose trunk is this?!” Ms. Nyonyu exclaimed.

The other teachers came around to check what all was about. Here was a trunk full of pornographic material, from mags to videos, with a Video Disc player in a hidden compartment.

“Hey, look!” directed Mr. Apem the agric teacher.

The other teachers raised their heads to see a full-body poster of a nude woman squatting underneath the lid of the trunk. A rosary was hung above it so that the crucifix settled on the most holy place.

“What is his name?!” screamed Ms. Nyonyu who was Catholic.

The Senior Housemaster turned the lid down to look at the miscreant’s name: Peter John Dzato. “Get that foolish boy for me!” he commanded.

I went to the bush he usually hid out in around this time to smoke his hefty helping of hemp. There was no way he would be in class now. How passersby never noticed the obvious scent when they bypassed the Old Science Block beats me. Maybe they were just not curious enough to investigate. I usually met him there to smoke my own cigars and to discuss some interesting events of history.

John Dzato came back to the dorm. He strolled in casually and said in an unusual husky voice – he had an indifferent tone and pitch usually, “I hear say some birthday party dey happen; where my own dey? You take some women from the town come? Abi you know say just one Geisha be enough for them.”

“Come here!” said the Senior Housemaster who slapped Pete upside the head and yanked him in, positioning him beside his trunk. “Look at your treasures.”

Pete got lucid right then and shot me a querying look. I only shrugged my shoulders. That’s all I could do.

“And you have told us your other crimes as well, you deuce,” Ms. Nyonyu said.

“You and your words,” Mr. Apem remarked.

“That’s why she is the English teacher,” supplied the Senior Housemaster.

I still wonder how many rolls Pete had to sabotage himself that way. I did inform him of the truth of the matter. But it appears he mixed it up in his mind. Wait, I recall that the scent smelled funny today. It appears he laced his jot with something. Maybe heroin? There was quite a substantial amount of it around anyway. Wouldn’t be too hard to come by around here; I have never smelled heroin but it’s most probable? The Senior Housemaster’s son even grew and sold some.

At the staff common room, Ms. Nyonyu momentarily transformed into a confessor, trying to absolve Pete of his sins. I heard she had been in the convent before but left for unknown reasons.

“Peter Dzato, there is no way to deny it now! Just renounce these ungodly desires of yours and turn over a new leaf!” she shouted into his face which was only inches from hers. Peter had once told me he felt some feminine pheromonal vibes from her when they met. She appeared to be quite fond of him; maybe that’s why she was so vehement in this matter.

“Madam, why are you trying to change me? This is the way I am. Why do you want to change me? You want to point a finger, blame my father because he is a womanizer; he gave it to me. Madam, please, why are you trying to change me?” cried Peter Dzato plaintively in response, gesticulating helplessly.

All the staff burst into laughter at this. Mr. Sempe directed amidst snickers, “come on, get out of here! Go ask Kofi Gyimsa where he put the chainsaw he used the last time and get it. Go clear up the lumber at the saw mill.”

Peter Dzato got off the hook. This kind of act usually carried either a month of suspension from school or outright dismissal. He walked out of there with a sly grin on his face.

“Please, is Mr. Jud around?” asked immaculate Ama Fatima. “We have History now.”

“Hey, National Service man, you see that boy is walking in the path you made when you were here?” said Mr. Sempe.

I watched his gaunt haggard face briefly and turned away in the direction of my faithful fans.

Today was not a simple day. No lie. But it was another scene.