For three days the mother had visited the city’s mortuary, police stations, and emergency wards. She had called the school to find out if her son had pitched up. She did not know where he was. She was summoned to come to school when the boy finally showed up to class. The principal, his deputy, and the HOD sat quietly, awaiting another teacher’s return with her child. Everyone was quiet; behind their still mouths were tempestuous minds. Not a single word was uttered.
The door opened. There he was. He hesitated before entering the room; everyone was stared at him.
I should run. The thought flashed through his mind. He steeled himself. This is the only chance I have. After all, this life is mine.
The principal cleared his throat. “Come in, my child. Come in, Ms. Hartzel”.
They walked in and sat on the chairs reserved for them. Everyone in the semi-circle could see each other. Ms. Hartzel was dispatched to fetch Mr. Moringa, the geography teacher. Soon the principal’s office filled. The principal cleared his throat. A peculiarity he adopted from imitating his own primary school’s head a long time ago: “I would like to acknowledge your presence at this odd hour as we meet regarding the boy’s conduct. He has been missing from home and school since Tuesday. We are not sure of what the boy is going through. It could be that he has issues at home.”
Eyes shifted to the mother when “home” was mentioned. She represented the boy’s home. She was his mother.
“Or maybe the problem is here at his school,” she said.
A few murmurs.
The principal continued: “If we could hear what is happening at home we might find a solution to this.”
“I don’t know what’s going on in my child’s life,” she said. “Maybe you teachers can help me. You spend more time with him here at school.”
Mr. Moringa spoke up: “I gave the students homework and asked them to hand in their books the following day. As I was marking the homework, Golden’s book—”
“Call me Gold.”
A broad smile showing off an auric tooth, fidgeting hands with bright yellow bracelets. Everyone’s eyes followed the twinkles and flashes.
The principal asked Mr. Moringa to continue.
“His book had a small note in it written to me. I took the note to the HOD who then asked him about it. He admitted to have written it and really meant what was written on it.”
The people remembered to breathe. Some of them were hearing about the letter for the first time. Even the mother.
The HOD spoke up. “It’s true. Golden—Gold—the student admitted he wrote the letter. That’s when I brought the story to the principal’s attention.”
The principal sighed. “Apparently Golden—sorry, Gold—claims to be having “whimsies” for Mr. Moringa and says that his presence is a distraction.”
A snail’s movement could have been heard in the silence which ensued. Instead, a throat was noisily cleared.
This time it was the boy’s turn to be eyed.
“Anything to say Golden—Gold?” the principal asked.
“My story is a simple one though I know you don’t understand and will never understand it.” He paused. “It’s true. I personally wrote the note to Mr. Moringa. I find him very attractive and simply irresistible. His eyes, his smile—they melt me. I try so hard to listen as he teaches but his beauty overpowers me. His voice is seductive. Especially when he calls my name on the register. I wish I could listen to him all day. I find everything about him fascinating.”
“I love him.”
The shiny truth, a golden moment.
The principal froze. The HOD stiffened. Golden’s mother fainted. Mr. Moringa and Ms. Hatzel rushed to her and fanned her with papers from the principal’s desk. She looked heavier lying on the floor than she did when she had walked into the room.
“I told you that you wouldn’t understand.” The boy shrugged. “And I prefer if you called me Gold.”
Coletta Kandemiri is a Zimbabwean writer and a PhD candidate at the University of Namibia (UNAM). She graduated with her Master’s degree cum laude from UNAM in 2018, winning the Chancellor’s and the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards at the end of her studies which merged eco-criticism and post colonialism in the analysis of literary text set in the colonial Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe). Coletta is currently pursuing her doctorate in English Studies focusing on how contemporary glitches in presented day Namibia could stem from the 1904-1908 Herero-Nama Genocide.
Image: Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash