Gunita- memory, recollection
I was a timid child. I had just left the former school I was because the school fees was abruptly increased with no meaningful explanation as to why.
In the new school, it was the beginning of a school session. I joined in the coaching classes in August of that year. I was going to be in primary four.
The name of my class was Mr. Tony Okereke. He was a light complexioned young man who always had a whiff of cologne around him, he also had a bag he slings on his shoulder each time he comes to school.
He was a good change for me. The other teachers I had before then were females and the last class (primary three) I had a male teacher who was short in stature and he didn’t think twice about flogging us when we fail our mathematics classwork or quantitative reasoning classwork. I really didn’t like him because I got flogged everyday. I flunk maths and quantitative reasoning classwork. My book had lots of 2/5 or 0/5. He instilled fear in us with the cane. When I got the new teacher, who would not flog me for failing maths, who would call me to this table to have short conversations with me, a teacher who was tall handsome and well groomed, it was a welcomed change.
I can’t forget him because he helped me come out of my shell. He saw the potential I didn’t see in myself.
One day, he wrote on the chalkboard “With”, he told us to pronounce the word. Most of my new classmates pronounced it as “Wheat”. Shy, I raised my hand and he called me. I pronounced it correctly. The gap teeth must have aided me.
“Correct. A round of applause for Booky.”
Then suddenly, I heard a resounding clap. I felt elated. I felt like a star. That should be the first time I ever got to be clapped for by the whole class. Since that day, I became the new girl everyone wanted to talk to. I suddenly had girls who wanted to walk with me home. Eugenia, Uchenna and Onome became my friends.
The concept of friendship was still strange to me but I was enjoying it.
Little did I know that the next level my teacher would push me to would get me a crush.
We had a debate. “Mothers are better than fathers in the home.”
After Mr. Okereke introduce the topic to us and explained points we can use, he choose me to be the Chief Speaker.
I took the challenge and got my facts in place, I had my mother’s assistance in developing the debate. We were speaking for mothers and primary five were speaking for fathers.
The day came and in spite of my teacher’s pep talk, I was so nervous. The whole school was seated in the large school hall. When I was called to speak, I slowly walked to the podium and my voice shook.
“Goo good day, Mister Chairman sir, ….”
I started talking, soon I was moving up and down the stage gesticulating. My classmates stood up screaming, clapping and encouraging me. I suddenly got bold. Our action intimidated our seniors and they didn’t do so well. The debate results came out and my class won.
I felt like a celebrity. My friends hugged me, my teacher patted my back and said well done. Some of my classmates got me the biggest local milk drink they could find. I couldn’t wait to get home so I can share the news with my parents and siblings.
The debate took place on a Friday. The Monday following, Rasheed walked up to me and sang a love song for me early that morning. The song was a local Nigerian song trending at the time. “Love me jeje, love me tender…”
He sang and I was smiling all through. It was a young puppy love that didn’t go beyond that morning.
My best primary school days I had at Mope Twins Nursery and Primary School, Bariga, Lagos.
Here is my take on Gunita. This is a memory worth remembering.