‘You are wasting time Jamila’ Mrs Okeke said to me, the tone in her voice sounded impatience.
I looked at her helplessly and then turned to look at my classmates who gave me the look of lost hope.
“I am still waiting for you to start” Mrs Okeke said.
I put the marker on the board and write a 2 before the Cl. It was one of the numbers I remembered seeing when I briefly glanced at Bola’s notebook. I looked at Mrs Okeke for approval but the look on her face was otherwise. I was confused. I did not understand how to balance equations so even if Bola was wrong I would not know. I turned around to look at my classmates for validation, most of them had a confused look on their face and I didn’t even know what that meant either. Was I doing the right thing or didn’t they know what the answer was? I became more and more confused but I tried to hide it by acting as if I was thinking.
“What are you thinking about?” Mrs Okeke asked as she grabbed a huge cane from the table behind her. I heard someone gasp. The revelation of a cane meant trouble. I have never been flogged in my entire life, not my parents and not anyone else. The thought of being flogged terrified me.
” I don’t know where to start from” I said. I had to give u p because I realized the longer I spent in front of the blackboard, the more angry it made her so I had to spare one or both of us the emotional trauma .
She laughed. I turned around to stare at my classmates. By this time Bola had put her face in her hands. Mrs Okeke pointed at Winifred who was sitting by the window. Winifred stood up and walked to the whiteboard. I gave her the marker and she began to plug numbers into the equation. I watched her cross off numbers and add numbers to the other side of the equation and looked at it to make sure she had balanced it out perfectly. She looked at Mrs Okeke for validation.
“Winifred you are missing one more, count and make sure that they are balanced on both sides, if there are two chorines on one side, there has to be two chlorine son the other side, so check and make sure” Mrs Okeke said. I stood beside Winifred shameful. It was so embarrassing to watch my classmate solve a problem so quickly. Winifred looked at the equation and she seemed to find what she had done wrong. She took the blackboard eraser and wiped out what she had previously written and then corrected herself. Mrs Okeke beamed with a smile I had never seen before.
“Great job” Mrs. Okeke said.
“Thank you” Winifred replied and quickly gave me a consoling glance.
” You may go back to your seat” Mrs. Okeke instructed her and she briskly walked back to her seat leaving me standing beside Mrs Okeke who looked at me and shook her head in what I would call disappointment
“Why are you wasting your time taking this class Jamila? You apparently have no clue what is going on in here for you to stand in front of the board for good two minutes and not know where to start when it comes to balancing equations.” She told me. I could not say a word. She was right. Why was I taking chemistry instead of government? I didn’t like science but my father wanted me to be a medical doctor or a pharmacist. He didn’t want me in government, most of his colleagues had children who went to school in Europe and studied noble professions. During official dinners, the parents would discuss the success of their children in their various schools and professions and it was my father’s ambition to also have something to talk about. My mother could care less.
And because my mother cared less and my father wanted me to do something against my will, it landed me in this predicament right in front of the blackboard in an embarrassing situation.
‘Jamila I am talking to you’ Mrs Okeke said interrupting my thoughts.
‘I didn’t know’ I responded. I really didn’t know what to say in this situation. She looked as if she was about to explode in anger.
“Don’t allow your parents to waste money sending you to school and you are not learning anything?”Mrs Okeke said. I was quiet. What made her think that my parents finances was any of her business, her job was just to teach me and allow me assimilate the material not wonder if my parents spend millions. It is my tuition that also pays her too. She gave the cane to Wendy who was sitting by the door. Wendy hesitatingly took the cane from her.
“You are going to flog Jamila,” Mrs Okeke instructed Wendy who looked shocked. Wendy looked at the rest of the class. She could not believe what Mrs Okeke had just told her to do.
“I can’t ma, I am sorry” Wendy told Mrs Okeke
“I beg your pardon?”Mrs Okeke asked. Her voice had changed and she sounded hostile, she did not like any form of defiance to her orders and it seemed like Wendy was trying to do so.
“I can’t flog Jamila” Wendy told her with an uneasy look on her face.
“I am instructing you to flog her and that is an order” Mrs Okeke yelled angrily at Jamila. Wendy looked at me, and then she looked at Mrs Okeke and put the cane of the table and folded her arms. I heard someone gasp.
“You won’t flog Jamila?”Mrs Okeke asked, Wendy shook her head in response.
“Very well then, I will flog the both of you, I will flog you for being disobedient and I will flog Jamila for not attempting to get the correct answer to the question.”Mrs Okeke informed as she took the cane from the table and tapped it slowly but painfully on Wendy’s back. She flinched.