“CALLED TO GLORY”….her obituary poster reads. She was 65 and she died peacefully in a hospital. As I stood there facing the poster on the wall, I didn’t know whether to cry or to be happy for the departed soul who once showed me the deeper love of a friend, a true friend and a mother.
She was a food seller whom I usually bought food from during my secondary school days in Winneba. She was selling her food in the university campus, about a kilometer from my school campus. Usually, I would run from school with some friends and go there to eat.
She liked me for no reason apart from the fact that I resemble a pastor she once knew. She will always tell me about how good that pastor was and how she helped her escape from her demons.
Then one day I had a very serious problem in school. I was charged with examination malpractice; an offense I never committed. This is what actually happened. During our mock exams in 2002, a very petit lady sitting next to me had her answer sheet blown away by the wind, and the sheet landed right under my table. I picked it up for her and as I was about handing the sheet over to the lady, the invigilator saw it and questioned. I told him the truth but he would have none of what I was saying.
The next day, the assistant headmaster asked me to call my parent and come face the school’s disciplinary committee. I didn’t want my parent to know about it. I was scared they would judge me. A part of me was sure they were going to get angry at me. I thought they wouldn’t come so I better find a way of solving my own issues without them.
The food seller is who I ran to. I told her my story and she said; “don’t worry, I would be your mother in this issue. I would let them get you off the hook.”
The day came that we had to meet the school’s disciplinary committee. She was there with me. They asked why I should not be suspended for examination malpractice.
I told them my story and before I could end, this food seller; my mother at that moment stood up and said “Sirs, why is the lady involved in this issue not here? Why is my son here alone trying to defend an issue that occurred between him and another?”
At this moment the room was quiet. She continued; This boy right here is my son; my first. I raised him to be a responsible fellow. I believe his story, why? Because I’ve lived with him for 17 good years. I know when he’s telling untruth and I know when the truth is coming from his mouth. He might not be good academically but he won’t cheat. He’s too scared a boy to do that.
He’s a shallow little man. If you suspend him today, he would come home still an innocent boy. But you, everyone of you sitting right here would have been unfair judges. You couldn’t discharge a simple duty of setting an innocent boy free.
Allow him to go. He didn’t do what you are charging him for. You are trying to set an example. You are trying to give a message to the rest of the school that as an institution, you don’t condone cheating. I get it! But I don’t get why you would make a scapegoat of an innocent boy.
Don’t cut him down for an offense he didn’t commit. Trust me, he’s innocent, if he wasn’t, I would be the first person to crucify him.
Everyone looked surprised. Usually mothers come there to beg but this woman isn’t following the cliché. We were asked to leave the room. After 30minutes, we were called back.
The assistant headmaster had this to say; after listening to the invigilator who’s a senior tutor in this school, we are left with no doubt that Erskine committed the offense. We hereby suspend him from school activities for two weeks. He should leave the boarding house immediately and when returning from the suspension, he should come with parent to sign a bond of good behaviour.
She looked at me and smiled. Then she told the panel; We are thankful for your time. Your mind was already made up even before we got here. That could be the only reason you didn’t see the need to call the lady involved in this whole scheme. Still we are grateful!
After two weeks
I went back to the school with her. After some minutes of exhortation, the assistant headmaster brought out the form for us to sign. My food seller mom said; “you see, my son doesn’t need to sign a bond before he can be of good behaviour. He’s learnt a lot from this already. He’s already a better man but you will never know.”
We signed the bond and as we stepped out of the office, she looked at me and gave out a loud laughter. then she asked, “was I a good actor” I simply nodded. Then she tapped me and said “it’s over now, go make yourself useful. Come over the weekend and let’s have a good laugh over it. Be a good boy.”
Today, I sit here feeling the burden of guilt for not reciprocating the kind of love this woman showed to me. I left school and never bothered about her. I didn’t go back to look for her. Who knows, she might have needed a a friend, a man to show her kindness in her last days. But where was I?
I sailed off when the tides were good without looking back. Forgetting that someone, a good mum made sure my sails were set at the right direction.
I’m grateful to have known you, Ms Adwoa Enninson. I’m grateful for your love. I will always remember what you said and that your crazy drama. But I’m sorry, for not looking back. Be at peace and in glory.
I’m a bad friend…