If Tomorrow Never Comes
Then, I saw flashes of my parents coming home with another child, my first sister and I was the proudest brother of all. She was born just a day after my second birthday. She was really beautiful and saw myself standing at the entrance to our room and stopping people from going in to see her. Yes, I was that protective of her even when she was just little.
Next, there was the scene where my second sister was brought in and boy, was she beautiful? She was the prettiest being I have ever seen. She was fairer than all of us and her hair was plenty, curly and very dark. I saw myself telling my mom she was Chinese, my way of saying she was extremely beautiful and making everyone in the room laugh. Later, Chinese became her pet name.
Next, there were scenes of some of my naughty moments like when I used a whole bottle of Nkucream pomade to smear my whole body after my mom had bathed me and asked me to wait in the room so she could bathe my kid sister too.
There was also the moment I climbed a chair just to get at par with my Dad’s record player so I could urinate on it just because I was asked to look after my kid sister and did not think it was right to leave her in the room to go outside and release my bladder.
The screen changed and I saw that I was dressed in cute khaki shorts with a blue and white checked shirt with a school crest on the breast pocket of the shirt. I was about six years old then.
I was hoisted across my Dad’s shoulders and my mom was holding my schoolbag as they walked towards the now Sir Charles Beach area in Winneba. It was my first day at school obviously.
Oh, I had such fun that day. I made new friends, learnt new things and sang my heart out with rhymes and other indigenous songs.
Then, a school compound appeared on the screen. It was the same school I have attended to date just that I was about ten or so now. I find myself, my siblings and other pupils in the headteacher’s office.
The reason was simple, we reported late to school that day. As punishment, each of us was to receive three lashes since it was our first time.
Having had the unpleasant experience of feeling that cane on my buttocks when my whole class was whipped for disturbances during school hours, even though some of us were not part of the noise-making, I knew I could not allow my sisters to go through that pain.
The cane was big and it had been soaked in kerosene and dried for a while. I tried to remember the name we gave to that cane… yes, Asempa Ye Tsia, that was what our headteacher called it.
Then, the headteacher pulled it from behind his chair and asked us to line up.
I was standing close to the entrance to the door and I was quite short at that age so I pushed my way through to the front and raised my hand.
“What is your problem, Henry?” the headteacher asked.
“I was wondering if one can take the lashes on behalf of another, please,” I said.
He looked at me for a little while, as if trying to understand what I was getting at.
“And why that silly question in the first place, boy?”
“Erm, you see, it was my fault my sisters didn’t get here on time. So, I was wondering if I could be whipped in their place instead,” I said hurriedly.
“What? You mean you are willing to take nine strokes of this cane on your buttocks?” the headteacher asked, quite shocked.
“Yes please, if that is possible.”
He looked at me for a long time and then I saw his anger dissipate. He smiled and looked around him. There were about ten of us who were late that morning. He gave us a verbal warning and sent us out of his office without whipping us silly that day.