Neema was anxious and depressed at the same time. She was leaving her four months old son to go back to work. Any new mother knows how nostalgic one feels leaving a baby you had been with since their birth.
You wonder if the baby will notice your absence and how he will cope with it. You pray that the nanny will be good to the baby.You even question your decision to be a working mother and envy the stay at home mums. For Neema,she knew she had to work. She was the sole breadwinner.
During her maternity leave,she had receieved a transfer letter to a new school. She was supposed to report to her new station when her maternity leave was over. Her anxiety came from the rumours she had heard about her new station.
They had said that the boys school had the most indisciplined calibre of boys in the county. They were known to insult teachers ,sometimes even flog teachers. The boys would harass the neighbours of the school. They would always go on rampages tearing down the village market.
Nevertheless, her stern demeanor was well known. She was known to change defiance to respect. She transformed malevolent juveniles to sweet benevolent students. She did not have a laid out plan of how she did it. All she beleieved is that the noble career was a calling for her. She would do everything possible to change society through her students.
May 5th was the reporting date. She met a welcoming principal who introduced her to the teachers in the room next to his office. They were all male. It was on a Monday,a national flag raising day. The students lazily assembled at the meeting grounds.
As soon as she appeared from the staffroom, excitement filled the air. The boys made catcalls at her. There were mimicks of cockerel noises. The short ones raised their necks to catch a glimpse of the visitor. The braver boys would hold their groins and scream. Then they broke into a song,
“Finally, a dame for us!”
“Finally, a dame for us!”
The mantra became so loud that the teachers’ efforts to hush them up fell on deaf ears. So they resigned to waiting for the boys to get tired. But the boys were not getting tired any time soon. What happened next shocked all.
Teacher Neema walked to the raised stage. The boys lowered their chant but there were a few brave ones. She walked to one ,picked him out, ordering him to stay aside. She had that menacing look that made any student think twice about defying her. She picked another student and by the time she had picked a third,there was pindrop silence.
The boys were attentive to the announcements for the rest of the assembly time. When they were released,there were hushed voices from the students as they went to class.They were now uncomfortable about this lady teacher who looked so sure of herself.
However, Neema faced another test of her life as a teacher. She walked to the first class assigned to her. As soon as she walked in,the boys tore the air with howls of laughter. Others fell under their desks in jest. Then a few behind made baby noises. When she looked down her blouse,her heart sunk.
She was all wet . Her breasts had leaked milk. How did she not know? Her first thought was to run out of class and never come back but she pulled herself together. She smiled and moved near one of the boys on the front desk. She asked for a piece of paper and wrote down something. She sent him to the staffroom with the note. It read
To any teacher in the staffroom, kindly pick my scarf from my desk and give it to this student to bring it to me . TR. NEEMA.
As she waited for her scarf,she perused through the boys’ Mathematics exercise books. When the boy brought the scarf,she covered herself, an aura of very strong confidence around her. The boys were bewildered.
“Now that there’s nothing to laugh about anymore,can we start our lesson? I need total attention from all of you.”
She ended her lesson by handing them an assignment, which she threateningly ordered that it had to be done by the next day.
By the end of the day, speculations were flying all over. Some said she had been in the army. Then there were conjectures that she had a murderous temper. Then there were others who claimed that she had some supernatural powers.
Despite the wild guesses,one thing was for sure. The epoch of indiscipline was over. Neema was armed to the teeth to fight the rebellion that had dug deep in the school.