When the two teachers had interviewed me enough, they asked me to go back to class.
I walked back to class, deep in thought… how could the seemingly learned teachers interrogate me intensively about such a trivial issue. What if I had brazenly french kissed my beau? Would that have triggered my expulsion?
I was perplexed by the whole scenario. I only hugged my father… and now they were forming a united front against me. By the time I got to class I was bordering on outrage. Girls were asked not to hug or kiss men, to avoid situations where one situation led to another…
But this was my father we were talking about- an innocent father/daughter hug. He would be grossed out- like I was- if he knew what the teachers were insinuating.
Nonetheless, I went back to class…glad they were done with the peeving interrogation.
My classmates were wondering what the fuss was all about… so I briefed them on what was happening. They just sympathized with me. I took out my books and went on with my revision. I bet the teachers didn’t have anything important to do, as minutes later they were pursuing me again… this time round I was supposed to see the principal in her office.
You know, the good thing about knowing you’re innocent is that even when things seem to be getting out of hand, one feels some inexplicable calm, because they know that they will be found blameless eventually. That’s how I was feeling as I walked down the steps from my class and on the corridor to the principal’s office.
When I reached her office I knocked on the door with some trepidation, I couldn’t help wondering if she would suspend me or something of the sought, depending on what she had been told. She asked me to go in. I had been there so many times before (not for mischievousness); when I walked in I felt Zen flow in my veins; I felt calm…as I looked at the principal, seated behind her desk, with all the trophies the school has ever been awarded sitted on shelves, I realized she didn’t look vengeful; she simply wanted me to give her an insight into what had actually transpired.
“Good afternoon Madam,” I greeted her.
“Good afternoon to you,” she replied softly. There wasn’t a hint of anger in her voice. That boosted my courage.
“I was told you called for me?”
“Yes,” she said, almost harshly. “I’m made to understand you kissed a man,” she paused waiting for her words to sink in. “Care to explain? Who was that man I’m told you kissed?”
Confidently, I looked her straight in the eyes as I replied, “That was my father. And I didn’t kiss him; I only pecked him on the cheek.”
“But I’m told you kissed him on the lips”, she looked amused as she said those words.
“I only pecked him on the cheek Madam,” I reiterated firmly.
The principal didn’t know whom to believe; a teacher or a student… “Go call him,” she ordered. Obediently I walked to the staffroom… the two teachers were still seated there, possibly discussing me… I didn’t care…
I knocked on the door then walked in, and went straight to the teacher who had created a storm in a tea cup. “The principal would like to see you in her office”, I told him, feigning humility, because my insides were waging war against him. I have never been one to castigate people, but as I looked at him, I realized he was the diffident type. He was soft spoken too. His personality had everything to do with the matter at hand. I deduced.
I didn’t know him much, as I had never been to any of his classes, and as an individual, he was one of those who were too reserved to be the subject of any scandalous gossip among students. I had never had a one-on-one encounter with him, until then. We had definitely started off on the wrong foot.
Compliantly, he stood and left for the principal’s office. I walked behind him. He sat on one of the guests’ sit while I remained standing.
The three of us were in the principal’s office, the truth would finally out.
The principal set the ball rolling. “She says she didn’t kiss him, she only pecked him on the cheek”. She looked at him quizzically, “So what happened exactly? Did she kiss him or she just pecked him?”
“Madam, I don’t know the difference”, he admitted, almost abashed. Maybe I saw wrong, but the principal smiled amusedly.
“It’s ok, you can leave now”, she dismissed him.
The principal wanted to ensure she was making the right judgment…so she asked for my mom’s number, and she called her as I stood there. “Hello”, she answered when the person on the other end of the line picked up. I assumed it was my mom because that was her number.
I couldn’t make out what she was saying; I could only hear my principal’s side. She asked her if she was my mom and obviously she (mom) affirmed because the conversation went on.
“There’s a man who came here to see your daughter?” she said inquisitively. I didn’t hear what my mom said, but when the principal hang up, she dismissed me too.
“Have a lovely afternoon”, I smiled before leaving her office. It was all over. I had been found innocent.
Even though the principal cleared my name off such preposterous allegations, the matter never died down. Teachers told the story in the classes…I became the principal subject in literature. My friends from other classes would tell me how a teacher in their class told them about me- the girl, who kissed her father. Everyone in school knew me pretty well, as I was a prefect; I was well aware that they wouldn’t have any difficulties putting a face to the despicable, corrupted, version that each teacher told-altered to their liking.
The ensuing week, as I passed by the staffroom, my history teacher asked me to see her later that day… I agreed, but I didn’t go; I assumed she wanted to discuss matters kissing men…I had had enough of the appalling palaver.
My netball coach, who was awfully loquacious, also partook in the lunacy as he spread the gospel; how I kissed my father. Once, he brought up the issue as he conducted our Friday devotion in church. I hadn’t been privileged enough to hear any of the twisted versions, until I heard it from him-one of the horses’ mouth.
Apparently, they had understood that it was my dad I had hugged, but it’s that kinda lifestyle they didn’t seem to agree with; fathers hugging daughters?
As I listened to him speak, my fists clenched tightly as anger welled up in me. They had no right to dishonour my family with such scathing words… how could he? I almost stood from the pew I was sitted on, to lash back at him; to give him a piece of my mind…but at that moment a thought crossed my mind; if I let the words gush out of my mouth, he would feel so emasculated, he would instantly instigate my expulsion. I had only a few months left before I sat my final exam; I wasn’t going to taint my reputation over such trifles…
It hurt me a lot, that people could be so unfeeling… but later on, long after I had cleared from that school, I found it in me to forgive them. It is their values that made them judge me so harshly…I understood that.