hugged father

If I was a conformist, if I did what others expected of me, or what everyone else was doing, I probably wouldn’t get into so much trouble, like I have so far. I believe it’s right to break some rules, if it’s imperative.

The high school I joined was an all-girls Catholic sponsored school. Teachers were strict. The principal and her deputy were zero-tolerant to any form of misbehaviour.  If on closing day any of the two bumped into a student engaging in inappropriate behaviour outside the school precinct, say hanging out with boys, while still in their uniform, the particular girl would receive her punishment when schools opened.

I remember my high school a lot…mostly for all the wrong reasons…

One Saturday afternoon, when I was seventeen, in my last year of high school, I found myself in the principal’s office, in a situation which I thought was pretty awkward.

“Who was that man I’m told you kissed?” The principal asked sternly, her serious gaze fixed on me. She was looking straight into my eyes, I guess to sight any traces of insincerity… I returned her gaze; I had nothing to hide…

Almost two hours earlier I was sitted in class, revising for my final exams. The sun was out, and even though I was sitted in a brick classroom, I couldn’t help feeling the heat. It was making me feel lethargic… I was sleepy.

The mention of my name by the teacher on duty that week as he stood on the doorway alerted my senses. I sat upright, wondering what offences I could have committed. Before I could complete a mental review of my conduct that week, the male teacher asked me to follow him to the office.

“You have a visitor,” he told me before I could ask why I was being summoned to the office. That was quite unexpected. As I walked slightly behind him, my focus shifted to the person who may have deemed it necessary to visit me that hot afternoon. After a meticulous elimination I was left with two options…it was either my dad or mom.

My guess was right, it was my dad. He was standing outside the staffroom. It was a Saturday, so I knew that there were only a few teachers in there, and whoever they were, their eyes would be on us. The thought made me uneasy. They were whizzes at scuttlebutt.

I was so elated to see my father, I couldn’t contain my emotions. I almost hugged him, but then I remembered all the counseling sessions the other first years and I had been taken through three years ago, when we joined the school, cautioning us against hugging and kissing males. When the head of our counseling department had taken us through those sessions, I found them misleading and I knew one day breaking that rule would land me in unmitigated trouble. It was all smooth sailing; my voyage had been uninterrupted by any stormy waves, until now…

With those particular sessions pounding at the back of my head, I realized I didn’t want to get myself in trouble for something I could avoid; I only extended my hand in greeting to my father, who was equally happy to see me. He didn’t pull me into his warm fatherly embrace either, he understood- I had told him about it earlier.

His visit was brief. He had just come to bring me pocket money as the previous term I had used my tuition fee on miscellaneous expenses in retaliation when they failed to show up on visiting day. He didn’t want a repeat of the same, so he opted to check up on me in advance, to see if I needed anything.

Twenty minutes later he was on his way back… When parting with him, I realized I wasn’t going to pass on a tradition-hugging my father- just to please others. It felt like I was turning my back on the essence of who I was; I chose to do the forbidden, and let the chips fall where they may. I threw my arms around my dad, and pecked him on the cheek. He enveloped me in his loving arms, in the perfect father/daughter hug.

I went back to class, reveling in the joy of being with my father. Not everyone admits it I know, but take it from me, being in boarding school is just hellish. The first half of the term is spent nostalgically, reliving memories of the holiday that was, and the last half is spent, with one planning the fun things they’ll do when schools close. That’s pretty much how I felt about the ‘boarding’ issue… Personally, I found life in boarding school almost unbearable because it felt oceans away from home; it was really far, and life there was so different from what I had been used to. It was literally, world’s apart.

When I went back to class I was busy sharing my excitement with my deskmate, who was my bestfriend, when barely five minutes later I was summoned by the same teacher on duty. This time round he didn’t tell me anything; I just followed him silently, waiting for hell to unleash. I didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know it was because I hugged my dad…

He asked me into the office, where he sat beside my chemistry teacher. I was in the grip of ‘don’t give a rat’s ass’ mood. I had hugged my father, and I wasn’t sorry about it. If I was given a second chance, I would still hug him…

As I stood there in front of the two-teacher panel, I laughed in my head…it was just preposterous.

“Who was that man?” “Where does he work?” The questions kept trickling in. If I didn’t know better I’d think they were vetting me for the school’s headgirl’s post.  I answered each one of their questions, unambiguously, leaving nothing to chance.

I couldn’t help wondering why they were asking me all those questions… maybe they just wanted me to clarify what they already knew because I couldn’t fathom how they would let me see him if they didn’t have answers to all those questions they tabled in front of me…


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