Ekene walked into the school with his head bent slightly to the right. A shy 10-year-old boy, who couldn’t look down like he wanted, or he would hit something or someone head-on. He needed to focus on the path to the assembly hall for registration. He stopped and turned back, hoping his mother was done parking her car and would be behind him. She wasn’t.
He turned back to continue on his path and bumped into somebody. Ekene fell to the ground on his hands as he heard laughter. He checked his hands, which stung where they contacted the harsh concrete floor, and turned to look at the boy in front of him. The boy stepped forward and bent towards him.
“Watch where you are going, stupid, or next time, more than your hands will hurt.” He said and walked over Ekene and away.
Ekene’s mother hurried towards him and helped him up, upset at his clumsiness. Ekene didn’t tell her the truth. He agreed he had been clumsy and blamed himself. However, the accidents with the boy, Emem, didn’t stop there. Emem happened to be his classmate and continued picking on Ekene until their teacher stepped into the matter that year.
“Ekene, what happened to your face?” His mother asked one afternoon after he returned home from school.
“Nothing, Mama, I fell,” Ekene said.
“What a fall that must have been. Come here, let me take a closer look.”
Ekene shuffled to where she stood and stopped, waiting for her to speak. She didn’t for a while but turned around and reached for the First Aid box in the kitchen drawer.
“Do you want me to speak to your teacher about this?” She asked.
“No, Mummy, please don’t. They will call me a Mummy’s boy, which would be worse. You said when we are weak, God shows up, I waited, and God didn’t show up today. I promise to tell my teacher myself if it gets worse, and don’t tell Daddy too, please, God may show up another day.”
His mother nodded. Her inner struggle angry, almost unforgiving. She decided on a course of action and visited the school to see the boy’s teacher the next day, without Ekene’s knowledge. The following week, Emem called him Mummy’s boy and made his friends laugh at Ekene for a while.
Ekene watched his mother rush into the Principal’s office. The pain that gripped him at the look on her face far exceeded the suffering he experienced from the injuries he suffered. He bent his head and refused to look at her any further.
“Welcome, Mrs. Okoro. I am sorry we are meeting again on this note, but we need to deal with this issue.” The Principal said, gesturing to the seat before him.
“Hello sir, what’s the problem? Who beat my son this way, what’s happening here? Ekene’s mother asked, flustered and upset, unable to sit.
“Ekene fought a student in his class; however, the boy invited his friends to join him and the beat Ekene together. I have sanctioned the boy and his friends, and I must do the same to Ekene, to be fair.”
The mother looked at her son. “Ekene, is it the same boy who bullied you last year?”
Ekene remained quiet.
“I asked you a question, young man?” His mother said, in a tone, Ekene knew well.
She turned to the Principal. “How is a gang of boys beating my son, fair? This boy has been bullying Ekene since last year, and the school did nothing. Now, you want to sanction my son? How is that fair?”
“I know you are upset, but please believe that we cannot punish one without punishing the other. I am also unaware of any bullying, and I will get to the root of that matter later.”
Ekene’s mother walked out of the Principal’s office, holding her son’s hand.
“I trusted God for years, but He didn’t lift a finger to help me, so I tried to fight for myself last year, and that didn’t turn out well either,” Ekene said to his friends.
“So, because they beat you up, it means God didn’t help you?” Chiazo asked.
“Chiazo, if God helped him, would he have been beaten up?” Donald, another friend, asked, shaking his head.
“So, God didn’t help Joseph, Moses, and His son, Jesus?” Chiazo asked again.
“Those people are different, and that was another time. We are talking about help for now.” Donald said.
Chiazo looked at Ekene, who was looking at him. The look said all Chiazo wanted to know, Ekene had caught on. So he turned to Donald.
“Sometimes, God allows things for a reason. It’s left to us to ask, understand, and believe, that regardless of what we go through, He is working all things out for our good. Our Sunday school teacher taught this last Sunday. You should join us there.”
Donald hissed. “Church talk. Our guy needs serious help. If we hadn’t arrived on time, Emem and his friends would have beaten him brown and black.”
“Exactly,” Ekene said, smiling, “God showed up on time.”
Ekene shook with fear as he faced Emem. The hateful look on the boy’s face disturbed him more than the rope they tied around his body. This time, he didn’t know how far Emem would go.
Emem turned and walked to the only table in the abandoned building they brought Ekene to, to teach him a lesson. He chose a long and sturdy whip with thistles, and turned back to their captive with a smile.
“I have hated you since day one. You used your weak demeanor to gain favor with teachers. I am tired of tolerating your nonsense. I warned you that if you passed into Year 6 with us, I would deal with you. Not only did you pass, but you did in rainbow colors, to taunt me. You will never raise your head again when I walk past after this lesson.”
They stuffed Ekene’s mouth with dirty socks so that he couldn’t shout and once he saw Emem raise the stick, hot liquid passed out of his body.
“Stop there!” Someone shouted from outside the room.
All the boys ran, and some jumped out of the windowless holes in the wall.
“Emem, I know you are the one with the stick. If you run, your punishment will be worse.”
Emem still ran and jumped. Whoever it was couldn’t prove he was the culprit, and if the school made too much noise, his parents knew how to silence them.
The Principal walked into the building and saved the day, or did he? He helped Ekene to the dispensary and asked the boy to lie down until his parents came.
The next day, the school authorities expelled Emem and all the boys in his group. The Principal had proof to substantiate all the stories he heard about the gang. Ekene sailed into his sixth year as Head Boy, unharmed.
Till next time, be transformed!!