Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. The conversations between my mind (the sharp witty one), my soul (the lover and the spiritual one) and my body (the playful one concerned with the more mundane things of life). She is the eternal referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul. This is Isio. So, here’s to making private conversations public.
The little me eyed the bar of metallic railing that separated the cemented floor of my dormitory veranda from the sands of the outside play area. Little Me was contemplating doing something others thought ridiculously impossible, except that she was confident that she could do it. “It is a pity I don’t have an audience…” Little Me thought to herself. “Something truly epic is about to ’apun!”
Adult Me does not know how Little Me convinced herself that it would be a terrific idea to perform a gymnastic swing through the railing, but thinking back, all I remember of the next few moments were…
My belly on the bar poised for the swing…
The heady adrenaline rush as I swung elaborately upside down on the thing (gymnast style)…
The most unnatural feeling of being suspended between “two worlds”. My head where the dormitory was and my tiny feet where the play area was. As I tried to wiggle out of the cold metallic grip the evil railing had cast upon my glorious neck, I realised anxiously that I had misjudged the size of my head, and the athletic powers our matrons swore the ugly brown beans we were forced to eat twice daily gave each student. This was a lie. If I had my head back I would have gritted my teeth at this realization. But first things first… my head. I needed it back.
God must have looked down from heaven and pitied me, because after a few moments of struggling like a goat I got my head back. I didn’t even wait to find my Dunlop slippers- the second I realized I had my head back I just fled with the velocity of a galloping horse. Far far away from the dormitory and the evil railing. Useless thing wan kill me sha. Odieshi.
I didn’t speak for the next few hours.
Luckily for me it was the last day of the school term and when it was announced that Mother had come for my sisters and I, I tucked my report card into my school bag and grabbed my portmanteau from the Box Room very quietly. I noticed the astonishment of the Matron at my slipper-less feet. She didn’t ask and I didn’t explain. As horrible as it was, the encounter with the “evil railing” was already in the past. At that moment, I was more worried about the future that awaited me in Lagos.
On the ride home I gingerly consulted my report card again.
YEEEKPA! Father was not going to like this at all.
It was true. Father was an intellectual who placed platinum value on academic excellence. He gave us everything we needed and only asked for one thing in return. NO AVERAGE GRADES. Your “A”s must be more than your “B”s. Don’t be accumulating “C”s please. Two “C”s per term is one “C” too many. In my family, having a “C” was borderline fail. “D” was a disaster and a blatant fail that meant you were doomed. “E” and “F” were abominations that did not even exist in our household and had no business being in your report card. Ha! Just kidnap yourself and disappear after the school term.
My sisters were chattering away, happily comparing their grades. One said she had seven “A”s and two “B”s.
I wondered if it was too late to kidnap myself…
They wondered who would get the presents… Father always bought the one with the highest grades presents. They asked to see my report card…
I closed my eyes and played dead.
And Mother continued to drive home merrily…
Exactly two days after we got home, Father called me to bring him my report card. I wondered why he called me first. I was the last born, couldn’t he have called for the older ones first? As I stood there woodenly, reluctant to stretch forth the hand that held the report card, I tried to remind myself that I was Daddy’s little princess. The one he loved most dearly.
Surely he wouldn’t actually do anything badddd to meeeee. For sure he would scold me like he had done the last two times. I would be ashamed for a while and say that I was sorry and then I would go play, and run and practice kung-fu with decapitated broom-sticks. And while we are at it… I didn’t actually fail naaaa, So what if I got a few “C”s and “D”s. Fine, okay, only one “A” but who was counting? Besides. I was always one of the best in my class before the last two terms. That had got to count for something.
I realized I was still standing there.
He gave me “The Look”.
I stretched forth my hand.
“What is this?” Father was not a man of many words, but that day he said even less. Though he said something like – he might very well just go fling his money into the ocean, as I had decided to come home with yama-yama grades – which was especially annoying, considering the amount of money he spent on my education per term. Upon further perusal, he saw that I had failed Mathematics, and so he sent me to go bring a pen, a paper but no calculator.
I thought he wanted to tutor me o, little did I know.
He made me calculate some things shaaaaaa. Manually. My age, the total of my grades, something minus this and that, plus this- raised to power that and then divided by this, this and that. And then add that first one to the square root of this – raised to power that.
Shuo, Papa, which kain Maths be dis?
Somehow the final figure came to 88.
He said that was the number of strokes of Koboko I had earned for my yama-yama report card. I was sent to go fetch the Koboko of my choice. I started to cry.
Did he flog me? Yes. But definitely nothing close to 88 strokes. Doubtful it was even up to six strokes sef. But I screamed and ran around the compound in circles after every stroke. Either it broke his heart to see me so tormented or he was simply exhausted by my theatrics, all I know was that he ceased and let me cry it out. He later took me out for ice-cream and made me promise to do better. Father was a just man. Strict, but just.
I can tell you this, that Koboko reset my brain. In fact, it gave it a futuristic upgrade. Never again would I forget that “D”, “E”, and “F” did not exist.. So powerful was this reset, that in the summation of all the courses I took in the years I studied in UNILAG, I can count the number of “C”s I ever had. The other students asked how I did it while working part-time. Some whispered that it was witchcraft. But it was nothing so grand. It was simply the Consequence of the Koboko. (Chuckles!)
So… can you recall you at your naughtiest as a child? Did your parents wipe you for your own good? How did it make you better? Please share.