Ewurabena knew that the only way to get mama’s attention was to create a scene without it being obvious that she was creating a scene because if mama or papa was able to guess that Ewurabena was creating a scene, they would beat her so hard, she wouldn’t be able to sit still for the rest of the day. Ewurabena also knew that papa and mama were the smartest people in the village and so tricking them was going to be very difficult but she had to try. She had to try because a life depended on it. The life of her friend Kukua.
This whole trouble started three days ago when Kukua asked a question in English class. Ewurabena had no idea why Kukua did that. Nobody asked questions in English class. Not even the dumb boy who had been set back from the upper class and asked questions in every class. Even he knew that they didn’t ask questions in English class, and Kukua was way smarter than him. So yes, Ewurabena was shocked when Kukua asked a question in English class. She was shocked and scared and she had even begun inching away from the front of the class. That was what started this whole thing, Ewurabena was sure. You see, the last time someone asked a question in English class was the first day of class, when the short girl who lived at the end of the river, what was her name? Efia. yes. Efia asked Mr. Acheampong what the meaning of the word ‘seldom’ was and Mr. Acheampong used the rest of the class period to lash the whole class after which they wrote 100 lines of “seldom is a word found in the dictionary”. Nobody asked a question in class after that.
So, nobody asked questions in English class. It was an unspoken rule. A silent taboo and Kukua had broken it. But what was even weirder was that Mr. Acheampong answered Kukua’s question without even turning! Why? They had gone almost a year without questions and then these two decided to spoil everything. Ewurabena saw this as a bad sign and she told Kukua exactly that when they went out for recess. “Don’t be silly Ewurabena.” Kukua replied, “How can it be a bad sign? Mr. Acheampong didn’t even get angry.” “That’s the problem!” Ewurabena retorted. As far as she was concerned Kukua was making a mistake. What was that thing Mr. Acheampong taught them two weeks ago?? ahaa! “Kukua. let sleeping dogs lie ooo! Don’t tickle the sleeping giant” She glanced at Kukua and immediately they both burst into laughter. “At least you’re making good use of what you learn in class now?” Kukua said after she caught her breath. And they turned the conversation to more pleasant things, forgetting the conversation of seconds ago as all children do after they have laughed or cried.
But later that night, as Ewurabena lay on her mat and watched the wind blow the cloth that was their ‘door’, that night, Ewurabena wondered if Mr. Acheampong would punish Kukua tomorrow. If he was keeping her lashings for morning assembly. Or if like a miracle, it would all be forgotten in the morning.