Wednesdays were very stressful as Chioma hated sports with
every fiber of her being, it was hard to understand how most of her classmates
coped well enough with the pressures of the sports field.
 The bell for the kick
off of sports was rung a few minutes ago and she was thinking of a viable excuse
to escape the torture of exercise. Standing not too far away was the sports mistress
who kept shouting at the top of her voice;
“One…two…one…two.”
Chioma seriously feared for the woman’s voice which seemed
to sound louder than a loudspeaker.
She had just hurried past the sports mistress and jogged
into a long line of aspiring athletes when another bell rang. Students were
shocked, nothing ever disrupts sports time, Chioma was pleased, it seemed her
prayers were answered after all.
The sports mistress rounded up the students and they all assembled
at the assembly hall, it was still midday, so the students wondered aloud the
reason behind the assembly. The principal walked into their midst and climbed onto
the podium before them with a huge frown on her face. The assembly ground was
quiet and the students looked at her expectantly as though waiting for a
bombshell to explode. The principal addressed them.
“It has been brought to my notice, the case of a stolen
Ipad. I am deeply pained to think that one of my students has resorted to theft and this is the reason I have assembled you all, so that the culprit could confess.”
There was a deep murmur from the students as they were surprised
at the news. Chioma was baffled as well, ‘An Ipad?’ she asked herself as she turned back to look at her
classmate, Toks, but surprisingly, Toks evaded her gaze. The principal continued;
“The Ipad belongs to the Emmanuel, the senior prefect of the
junior school. Yes, we have strict rules against the possession of gadgets like
phones, Ipads, laptops and other gadgets at school and I promise that when the
gadget is found, the position of ‘senior prefect’ will be stripped from
Emmanuel as it will show him that he is supposed to set an example for the students in the junior school.”
The students shuffled their feet and kept whispering
silently, Chioma stared at Toks again and was completely ignored a second time.
The head teacher cleared his throat and continued from where the principal stopped. 
“We are in a tight corner, and we are deeply disappointed to
know that we have a thief in our midst…if anyone of you has any idea of where
the Ipad could be, please come forward and tell us.”
The students still stared on as though they were robots, no
one spoke nor lifted a finger. Chioma felt uneasy, she turned the third time to
stare at Toks again.
“We are giving you all, two minutes to say something. If anyone
of you has any idea of where the Ipad could be, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
Said the Principal.
Murmurs erupted from the assembly as students whispered to
one another, Chioma took deep breaths and exhaled. The clock ticked slowly and
after a while, time was up, the principal and teaching staff had had it.
“Since no one knows of the missing Ipad, we would take a
drastic step.” Addressing the head teacher, the principal spoke. “Instruct some
teachers to go through the bags of all the students, the Ipad must be found today…female
teachers, search the girls bags while male teachers should search the boys
bags.”
The head teacher signaled to some of the teaching staff and
they went with him to the classrooms, Chioma felt her heart beat fast, it was
as though heavy horse hooves were pounding in her chest and she felt like
choking. In a desperate attempt to clear issues, Chioma quietly sauntered towards Toks and said;
“Toks, we are in trouble ooo…”
“Why do you say that?” Toks replied.
“Have you forgotten that I have your Ipad in my bag? You heard the principal, we aren’t supposed to bring any electronic device to school, now, yours is in my bag, I hope it’s never found.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“What do you mean by that statement? Weren’t we the first of our classmates to get to school this morning? And didn’t you have an Ipad in your hands when I saw you at your desk? Remember, we played some
games with it and even browsed a little, only to stop when Folashade came into
the class and you suggested that I put it into my bag.”
“Yes…em…but it’s not in my bag, it’s in yours…you are the
one in serious trouble not me.” Toks replied offhandedly.
Chioma could only open her mouth in shock.
“What? Don’t tell me that ooo…they are already looking
through bags and soon enough, they will find the Ipad in my bag. I will tell
them the truth, that it is yours ooo.”
“You have no proof.”
“What do you mean I have no proof? It’s yours or isn’t it?”
Chioma asked with eyes opened wide.
“I never said it belongs to me.”
“My God! Whose is it then?”
“I don’t know, all I know is when I got to school this
morning, I was pretty early and…the cleaners were still dusting and cleaning up
our class. So I decided to go and sit in the Basic nine class and that was where I saw
the Ipad, it was sticking out of someone’s school bag, so I decided to use it and after
the cleaners were done with our class I just took it with me. I meant to borrow
it, that’s all.”
“What? Then that is the Ipad they are looking for.” Chioma
almost screamed.
“I don’t know, it might not be the same one.”
“But it’s from the same class as the senior prefect’s.”
Gasped Chioma.
“I really don’t know…besides, it’s in your bag and not mine.”
“What do you mean by that? So, you aren’t going to tell the truth?”
“What truth? The truth is, I am not with the Ipad and I haven’t
seen it before.”
Chioma stared at Toks in disbelief, she was angry, bitter and
dazed, looking back to the podium where the principal and some other teachers
stood, she made up her mind to tell the truth and walked towards them. The students were busy chattering and snickering, a few students formed small discussion groups while others hurdled
themselves together as they stood waiting for the final verdict.
 Chioma was not fast
enough, before she could get to the podium, the head teacher had emerged from
her class, triumph written in his gaze. In his left hand was the missing
Ipad, an identical to the same one Chioma had shared with Toks that same
morning, and in his right hand was a school bag. Chioma was transfixed, she couldn’t take another step forward, her
whole world seemed to freeze like a paused movie, as the students loud shouts threatened to deafen
her. The head teacher was too eager to give the principal the Ipad. Suddenly,
the assembly was quiet as though by magic and the head teacher’s voice reverberated
through the assembly hall.
“Who is Chioma Agballa?” He asked with a firm voice.
The students gasped in shock as they all turned to stare at
her, Chioma felt strange, it was bad enough that the Ipad was seen in her bag
but definitely worse to be labeled a thief. She slowly raised up her right hand
to indicate that she was the one behind the name and the angry teaching staff
of the school beckoned her to climb unto the podium. She climbed and faced the
students, the principal spoke to her with a sharp voice.
“Are you Chioma Agballa?”
“Yes ma.”
“Is this your school bag?”
“It is my school bag ma.”
“This Ipad was found in your school bag, do you have an
explanation to that effect?”
“Yes I do ma.”
“I hope your explanation saves you from the consequences
attached to this grievous crime, talk, we are listening.”
Chioma recounted the events of the morning to the staff and
students of her school and by the time she mentioned Toks name, Toks was called
out to climb the podium. The principal stared sharply at Toks and asked her
strict questions.
“Toks, do you know anything about this Ipad?”
“No ma, I have not seen it before.” Toks replied.
Chioma was shocked, she stared at Toks in anger and burst
out.
“What? Toks how could you? Please ma, ask Folashade, she
came into the class while we were together. Toks is lying.”
The principal looked at Chioma angrily over her outburst, Folashade
was called to climb the podium. Folashade was the only girl in their class who uses recommended glasses and even with her glasses, she was almost as blind as a
bat.
“Folashade, Chioma says you came into the class while she
was playing games on the Ipad with Toks, how true is that?”
“When I came into the class…this morning…I saw many people …I
mean…I can’t remember…besides I had eye drops in my eyes at that time so…I could
see properly…I think I saw Chioma….I don’t remember seeing anyone else….I am not
sure I saw anyone…the class was dark ma.” Blurted a very confused Folashade.
The principal shook her head, she dismissed the assembly and
let Toks and Folashade go with the students to their respective classes while she told Chioma to follow her
to her office.
The teaching staff expressed their worries aloud over having
a thief in the school, some of them even hinted to the Principal that Chioma
should be expelled so as to teach other students who had theft in mind, a
serious lesson. Chioma felt bad, she wanted to cry but the tears refused to
flow, she tried hard to explain but her words fell on deaf ears.
She was given the task of clearing the grasses in the school
compound with her bare hands. By the time the bell rang for closing time, she was petrified over the way her so-called class mates and friends
called her a thief while she did her share of punishment. She was still
clearing the grasses when her father emerged through the gate of the school
with her brothers in tow. He barely spared her a glance and his hardened look suggested that he must have been informed of her ‘supposed’ actions prior to his coming. He walked straight to the
principal’s office, after a while one of the administrative hands of the school
told her that she was needed in the principal’s office. Her back ached badly
and she realized that she hadn’t eaten lunch, the door to the principal’s
office was open so she didn’t need to knock. Her father was seated directly
opposite the principal and he kept shaking his head in disappointment. The principal
was speaking to him in a calm voice.
“We have no doubt, Mr. Agballa that your daughter stole the
Ipad. Let’s look at things this way, Toks is from a good family and her parents
are very wealthy too, she is always the first student to pay her school fees.
Most of her vacations are spent abroad and she has everything she needs. She couldn’t have possibly stolen the Ipad
besides it wasn’t found in her bag but Chioma’s.”
“What are you implying? That my daughter is poor?  Is it due to the fact that I haven’t paid her school fees for
this term? How many times do I explain this to you, I have lost my job and all
efforts to get a new one has been to no avail. Chioma is a good girl, she will
never steal anything because she doesn’t have it, I have brought her up well.” Stated her father.
“We want to believe that as well, but you must understand that this
school is of a high standard and we try our best to avoid miscreants and mischievous
students in our school as they spoil our system.”
“Wait a minute…are you calling my daughter a miscreant?”
Screamed her father.
“Please speak to me with respect, I never called your child
a miscreant I was just trying to explain things to you.”
“Explain what?” Demanded Chioma’s father angrily.
“The fact that we cannot allow Chioma to continue her
studies in this school, apart from the incident that happened today, we have
noticed that her grades have dropped drastically and for a school with an enviable standard like ours, we try our best to stay at the top, to this effect, we cannot have any student
spoil what we have struggled to build over the years.”
Chioma’s father stared at the principal in disgust, he was
baffled and his facial expression didn’t hide that fact. Chioma felt fear creep
into her heart, she fell on her knees and pleaded with the principal.
“Believe me ma, I never stole the Ipad, I thought it
belonged to Toks…please don’t send me away, I am not lying to you.”
“I am sorry Chioma, if it were within my power I would have
considered you but it isn’t….the school constitution stands. As of this day, you
are expelled from the Esteemed Heights Secondary school, your books have been
packed alongside your expulsion letter, the head teacher made sure he placed
them inside your school bag. ”
The principal retrieved her school bag which was sitting at a corner in her office and gave the bag to her, Chioma hesitated, she didn’t want
to take it, she couldn’t imagine been expelled from  a school she had attended all her life from
the primary section where her brothers currently schooled, to the secondary section.
The pain was too hard to bear and she broke down in tears, her father took the
school bag from the principal and beckoned to Chioma who rose gingerly from her
kneeling position, her brothers were at the door off the office and they had tired looks on their faces.
Quietly, the Agballa family walked out of the school compound,
long gone was the luxury of a car, so they trekked to the bustop and waited patiently for the bus.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I like happy ending … I have imagined a sequel were Toks conscience just didn't allow her much rest until she told the truth and that principal who quickly dismissed the Agballa family just because they were poor also had her conscience hunted. Sad.

  2. I imagined it too because Chioma shouldn't have been blamed at all. At the same time, she should have thought twice before placing the Ipad in her bag.
    I hope another sequel would come when the principal and the school finds out the truth.
    Thank you for reading!

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