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Life Lesson

Inner Conversation



It was a hot Friday afternoon. School was over. The loud noise of pupils happy to be free from their teachers could be heard from far off. Not far from Bafukum primary school Bambili was a large crowd of pupils within the age’s six to ten, mainly class 1 to 4 pupils Dust could be seen rising like smoke from a fire place. These pupils were covered in dust. They looked like red aliens from space. Some had no shoes on, while others had old worn out shoes. No parent in Bambili was dumb enough to buy their kid a good pair of shoes for school because of the dust and also primary pupils were usually careless. At the centre of the crowd was Lum, her brother Neba and Babila. Babila was the oldest boy in class two. He was often late for class and usually made his entrance through the window. Whenever he wanted to leave classes before they were over, he made his exit through the window as well. His size and strength made the other kids afraid of him. His bench mate however was not intimidated by him, and as such she became his target.

Today like other days, Babila had attacked Lum in class. During break, Lum had reported him to her elder brother. As if to protect some family honor, Neba and his friends all of class three had cornered Babila for a beat down after school. Neba drew a line in the dust with his foot and dared Babila to cross it. Once Babila crossed it, the fight kicked off. As the fight went on, the other kids cheered. All of a sudden, someone shouted Mr. Boniface was coming. Everyone took to their heels. The fight might have been disrupted today, but it sure was not over.

Lum, Anjikwa, Atekwana, Neba, Mangiento, Camerica, Ngum, Ngwa, Tabi and Mbah all lived close to each other. For that reason, they all walked home together. Their primary school was quite a distance from home. They walked until they came to a small bridge over a stream. They all loved this part of their journey as it provided them nourishment. They usually ravished the bush berries and ankop. They all launched into the trees and helped themselves to these wild fruits. Not far from the stream were several farms. Just as they were enjoying themselves, they heard the leaves from the forest shake. They gripped themselves in fear. Out of the woods, emerged an old woman from her farms.

“Mammy water! Run!!” Anjikwa shouted and they all fled. After running for quite a distance, they halted all breathless and burst into laughter. They played and chatted as they walked home. When they reached the junction after the Agricultural college, they all parted ways.

Anjikwa and Atekwana who were siblings stayed above Lum and Neba, so they saw each other every day. Camerica and Mangiento lived close to the Presbyterian Church. Ngum, Tabi and Mbah resided close to CCAST secondary school. After splitting with their friends, Lum and Neba headed home hungrily. The radio was on and they could hear the luncheon date song on CRTV radio. Their stomachs churned at the sound of that song. They passed through the firewood kitchen instead of the front door. It sure was not to greet mama, but to spy on the food. They could see smoke coming from the chimney. It was not a good sign; they were convinced food was not ready yet.

“Good afternoon Mama,” they greeted once they saw their mother. Mama was turning fufu corn.

“Good afternoon. How was school today?”  She said still stirring the fufu.

“It was fine mama. Is food not ready?” Lum said. This caused mama to raise her head.

“It will be ready soon madam. Jesus why are you both so dirty!” Mama shouted actually taking a good look at them. They could not dare tell Mama they had fought at school. She was going to bury them alive if they did. NOTE TO SELF: When you fight in school, make sure you don’t get dirty or you will have Mama to contend with.

“Mama we fell on our way back from school.” Neba lied.

“Common my friends you go and take off those dirty uniforms. Make sure you wash up well or you would not eat. Also take out your books from those school bags, those bags need to be washed. Next time you come back this dirty, I will beat you and then you will wash your uniforms by yourself.” Mama said.

Lum and Neba grumbled as they walked off to do as they were told…Once they took their bath, mama served a delicious meal of fufu corn and Njamanjama. Once their stomachs were full, their spirits were high again. It was Friday, so they could run off to play with Anjikwa and Atekwana. Lum and Anjikwa did Play play. They pretended to be wives and cooked food out of dirt water and leaves. Oh was mama going to leave some marks on Lum when on she saw all that mud on her dress. The boys however spend their play time making a car from bamboo and wheels carved from old slippers.  They played till they heard mama calling. Immediately they ran home. Mama froze when she saw Lum’s dress.

“Is this the dress you wore just hours ago?” Mama asked hysterically. “What will I do with this child?” she asked. She then turned to Neba and said, “Boy go and get me Dr-Do-Good.”

Neba ran into the house and returned with a cane. Lum’s eyes were already watery. Dr-Do-Good did go to work on her. She screamed, but Mama told her if she continued to scream, she will multiply the number of strokes. It was then the volume went down. Dr-Do-Good had taught Lum and Neba many lessons they were not going to forget in a hurry. Once Lum had a bathe and was in clean clothes, Mama comforted her and told her not to play with mud again. Lum smiled and nodded. She then ran off to trouble her elder brother. 
"Mama tell Lum to stop disturbing me," Neba cried.
Mama shook her head. " Oh my! What will I do with this child?" she said frustrated and then went off to see what Lum was up to now.

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