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by Florence Madzikatire

The door opened and closed again. My heart began to throb in my chest. Hot beads of sweat dotted my forehead as I lifted myself from the waiting bench. Slowly I walked to the door. I stopped and took a deep breath.

After a moment or two’s delay, I gave two feeble knocks on the door.

       ‘Come in,’ said a muffled voice from  inside.

My heart sank. Slowly I turned the door knob and let myself in. for a minute I stood dumb. Mute. Until he swayed his chair to face me.

        ‘Good morning , Sir,’ I found myself greeting him.

         ‘Afternoon Mr Headboy,’ he said and I realized that it was now afternoon. I felt stupid.

         ‘You said I should see you at the office,’ I muttered.

          ‘For,?’ he said as he looked at me above his spectacles.

           ‘For what happened last night,’ I said.

           ‘ Take a seat,’ he said absent mindedly.

Then there was silence. A silence that was intimidating. I could hear the tick of the clock. It seemed to mock me as it hung on the wall above his head.

            ‘What happened last night ?,’ he inquired.

            ‘ We were having a pillow fight sir,’

             ‘Go on,!’, he seemed to be accumulating anger from question to question.

               ‘It wasn’t me Sir,’ I protested.

                ‘Who said it was?’, he asked looking directly into my eyes. I shifted my gaze from his eyes to the placard on his desk whose letters “Mr Ngarande” seemed to dangle in my teary eyes.

              ‘Do you know what that means?,’ he said pointing on the left side of my blazer.

              ‘I do, Sir.’

              ‘ I was once like you,’ he said employing a fatherly tone. He sat back, swayed from side to side then wore a serious face again.

              ‘Do you know that the left side of my blazer sagged because it was heavy. Badges read headboy, captain, toastmaster, merit, first aid, librarian, a!, God knows what else’ he gave a weak laugh.

                ‘Eh,’ I let out this sound. I did not know what to say.

He had a tendency of digressing into metaphors, fables, and tales which makes it difficult to follow up or link the point with the example. Even on formal occasions, he bombarded his audience with a jungle of verbose, leaving a few to draw lessons on their own. Most of us applauded for the ending of the speech rather than its contents.

       ‘These, Mr. Head boy, are badges of honor,’ he pronounced the word honor with an exaggerated British accent.

     ‘…. Intergrity.,’ he added as if it was an afterthought.

      ‘I am sorry, Sir,’ I said.

       ‘Sorry,?’ he widened his eyes, ‘you should be more than that.’

       ‘I will never do it again,’ I said, this time out of habit than conviction.

   I was bored by the fact that I was going to be in his office for more than I had to. And wondering everywhere else rather than what took place the previous night.

         ‘The doctor said he is going to be fine,’ he said finally. I cursed myself for being involved in such games and disgrace.

         ‘Okay, sir,’ I said and made as if to go.

         ‘ I will not punish you,’ he said. I felt a sudden urge to tell him then and there that it was not me who threw the pillow which resulted in the spilling of hot water on Brendon. I was willing to call the whole dormitory and explain what really happened.

         ‘Thank you, sir,’ this time I rose, determined to remove myself from his imposing presence.

         ‘Call the secretary,’ he said. I closed the door, disappointed that he did not ask me to explain what really happened.

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