25 April 2010

Nakai, you are killing me! by Memory Chirere

Nakai was a simple girl of nine. She was in the fourth grade. Her friends were Nyasha, Tsitsi and Marita. After school they would come out of the gate and begin to sing and run home.

First they would turn right into Nyani Lane. There were houses on both sides of the lane. They were red brick houses with neat lawn beds in front of them for children to play. Towards the end of Nyani Lane, Nyasha would say goodbye to Nakai, Tsitsi and Marita and walk through one of the gates.

The other girls would wave at Nyasha and turn right into Mutamba Circle. They would sing louder and louder as they went and Marita would say goodbye and walk into her home. Nakai and Tsitsi would go on home towards the end of Mutamba Circle. Nakai and Tsitsi stayed next door to each other. They would both walk through the gates to their houses, wailing to each other, “Be-be-be-be a sweet girl!” Only they knew what it meant.

In the morning Nakai and Tsitsi would come out of the gates at the same time! It always happened like that but they had no watches. It was fun, always running out of two different houses at the same time. They would go down Mutamba Circle. They would call out to Marita until she came out. Together they ran on because soon the bell would ring and they must not be late. In Nyani Lane Nyasha would join them. They would run and run! Finally they would turn left and walk into the school gate.

They would go straight to the Grade 4A classroom. Their teacher was Ms. Chirara. She was a pretty lady. Ms. Chirara liked children but everyone knew that she could hit pupils for any silly thing anytime. Silly things like laughing when you should all keep quiet and get to work. Silly things like dropping your ruler loudly onto the floor.

If you did a silly thing Ms. Chirara would ask you to come forward. She would then ask you to bend down and touch the table. Then she would whack your back side with a huge rubber rod which she kept in her drawer. Whack! Wham! Just like that. She would order you to quickly go back and sit down and be quiet. That was not a good thing. That is one thing the pupils did not like about her. But the pupils saw that she was a pretty woman and who liked children.

Nakai was a simple girl of nine and she liked school. She liked Ms. Chirara. She liked to look at her dimples and plaited her and her brown shoes that made her look nice.

One day Nakai dropped her ruler by mistake onto the floor. It clattered onto the floor very loudly. Everyone stopped reading and writing and turned their heads.

“Sorry, madam,” Nakai said.

“Come here,” Ms. Chirara said to Nakai. When she was angry, her dimples disappeared. “Come here, girl.” She said to Nakai. She was very cross with Nakai.

Nakai went to the teacher’s table. “I am sorry,” Nakai repeated.

“You know me, Nakai,” the teacher said. “Bend down and touch the table.”

Nakai was sorry. She was just a girl of nine who had just made a mistake. The teacher was very cross. Nakai bent down and touched the table. Whack! Whack! The rubber rod sang on Nakai’s back. It was not a good thing.

Nakai cried out in pain. The whole class cheered. Nakai looked at the teacher without blinking. She was in so much pain. She continued to look at the teacher without blinking. Teachers do not know how angry their pupils become when they hit them. It is bad to be hit by your teacher when you like her so much.

“My God, fire!” the teacher suddenly cried out. The teacher staggered back from Nakai. She dropped the rubber rod and held her chest, “Fire! Nakai, you are killing me!”

Nakai did not see any fire. She was only angry with Ms. Chirara. All the other students did not see any fire either. They only saw Ms. Chirara holding her chest and crying like a baby.

Nakai was still angry. She looked again straight at the teacher and the teacher cried out again, “Fire! Nakai, stop it! Do not burn me.” Then she pleaded, clapping her hands, “Nakai, Nakai, my dear!” The teacher staggered and rushed out of the room. “I am burning up, Nakai.”

In silence Nakai walked back to her place. There were tears in her eyes. She had dropped the ruler on the floor by mistake. She was just a grade 4 girl who stayed at Number 1890 Mutamba circle. She sat on her desk at and cried. It was not nice to see Nakai crying. Her friends Nyasha, Tsitsi and Marita started crying too.

A big boy called Hardline asked loudly, “What is the fire about, people? Ms. Chirara talked about fire. Nakai, what was it all about?”

“I do not know anything,” Nakai said, crying. She did not know anything. Nyasha, Tsitsi and Marita knew Nakai very well but they all did not know anything about the fire.”

Just as they were all settling and getting quiet, Ms. Chirara came back into the room with the headmaster. He was called Mr. Pasi. The boys called him Danger because he was short tampered and you did not want to make him angry.

Ms. Chirara kept holding her chest. There were tears in the corners of her eyes. Nobody wanted to see Ms. Chirara crying. She was a pretty woman with nice dimples. Now she looked sad and it was not good.

Ms. Chirara and the headmaster came very hesitantly to Nakai’s desk.

“How are you, girl?” the headmaster said.

“Fine and how are you, sir?” Nakai said.

“What was it about?” the headmaster asked and touched Nakai calmly on the shoulder.

“It was a mistake, sir. I dropped a ruler and she hit me. I said I was sorry but she hit me. I love her but she hit me.” Nakai began to cry.

“What about the fire that burnt Ms. Chirara?” the headmaster asked.

“What fire sir?” Nakai replied. She was surprised. The whole class was surprised.

“You caused the fire that burnt Ms. Chirara, didn’t you?”

Nakai was surprised. She did not know about any fire. She was only allowed to make a fire at home when they had a power-cut. She was not allowed to make fires. Children were not allowed to make fires. She got frightened and began to cry. She liked Ms. Chirara and the headmaster but why were they thinking that she made fires without permission? She burst out crying very loudly.

Then the headmaster who was still holding Nakai’s shoulder suddenly screamed and shot up, “I’m burnt! Oh my God.” He ran towards the door rubbing his hands and looking at them. He looked round and said, “Nakai, come out. Come to my office right now!” He looked at his hands and at Nakai.

There was silence in the classroom and then Ms. Chirara said to the headmaster, “I told you, sir. It is real fire.”

The three walked out. Ms. Chirara followed by Nakai and the headmaster. They went into the headmaster’s office and sat down. They were all very puzzled. Mr. Pasi was a serious big man and nobody wanted to trouble him. Ms. Chirara was a pretty woman. Nakai was a simple grade four girl and now they were talking about a fire that she did not understand.

The headmaster said, “Ms. Chirara, go back to your class. I want to talk to Nakai.”

Ms. Chirara did not want to go. She rose with her arms folded. She looked at Nakai. She did not want to go.

Nakai looked at Ms. Chirara. She had made a mistake with the ruler but Ms. Chirara had whacked her. Nakai was very angry with Ms. Chirara.

Ms. Chirara came close to Nakai. She looked like she wanted to cry. She touched Nakai’s shoulder. “I am sorry, dear. I love you, Nakai.” But then Nakai looked at her teacher angrily. Suddenly Ms. Chirara took away her hand from Nakai’s shoulder crying, “I am burnt! I am burnt again! Nakai do not do that to me.” She danced around the office, shaking her hand and blowing it cold with her breath.

Now as the three of them looked out through the window, the whole school was standing outside gazing into the office. News about the fire must have spread.
Among the people Nakai could see were Nyasha, Tsitsi and Marita. She wanted to be with them. She wanted to run down Nyani Lane with them but how could she go out now when everybody was talking about the fire?”

The headmaster phoned Nakai’s parents, asking them to come to the school immediately. They soon arrived. Nakai’s father was in overalls. He worked as a mechanic. Nakai’s mother was a policewoman. They both could not understand the story about the fire that Nakai was causing.

They took Nakai out of the gate. People pointed at them and talked about them and their girl, Nakai. They went out and turned down Nyani lane and into Mutamba circle. They sat down in the house and talked and talked to Nakai. There was nothing they could do about the fire. They told Nakai that everything would be alright.

Nakai continued to go to school. In the morning Nakai and Tsitsi would come out of the gates at the same time! It always happened even when they had no watches. It was fun, always running out at the same time. They would go down Mutamba Circle and call out to Marita until she came out. Together they ran on because soon the bell would ring and they must not be late. In Nyani Lane Nyasha would join them. They would run and run and turn left and walk into the school gate.

Now no teacher or boy or girl in the school hit Nakai anymore. No teacher hit any pupil anymore. They had learnt a lot. If a boy or girl misbehaved they now took him to the headmaster. If he or she said, “I am sorry,” they left him or her alone. If the pupil did not say that, the pupil was taken to the school garden by the headmaster. It was a big school garden and the headmaster would ask the pupil to water all the beds until they were overflowing. The headmaster told nice stories as the pupil worked. The headmaster did that because he no longer wanted any pupil to get angry.

Nakai was a simple girl. She sang good tunes with Marita, Nyasha and Tsitsi in the school grounds at break time. She sang her soprano to perfection in the school choir. But some pupils in the school made sure that they put an empty chair between them and Nakai. In the school garden, they made sure that they went to the tap to fetch water when Nakai was far away at her vegetable bed. When Nakai went to the tap with her can, they made sure that they were at their vegetable beds.

On the school track, they made sure that they did not run faster than Nakai. They trailed behind her, pretending to be slower than her. In the school grounds and beyond the school gate they pointed her out and whispered something about her to one another. They liked her but they did not want to do anything that angered her for fear of fire.

Whenever the headmaster came across Nakai on the school grounds, he turned immediately and went the opposite direction. He was always spying on Nakai through the window of his office. He liked Nakai but he did not know what to do about her.

Ms. Chirara, seemed to liked Nakai more and more. She brought Nakai little nice things like sweets and cake. Sometimes Ms. Chirara walked Nakai home together with Marita, Nyasha and Tsitsi. But as soon as she said goodbye to the girls and turned away, Ms. Chirara kept on peeping back at Nakai over her shoulder until she went beyond the bend of the road.

Nakai noticed all these things but continued to sing good tunes with Marita, Nyasha and Tsitsi in the school grounds at break time. She continued to sing her soprano to perfection in the school choir.

One very windy and rainy day, the biggest tree in the school sagged down dangerously. It slowly came down and hung across the roof of the headmaster’s office. It blocked both the doorway and the windows. As a result the headmaster could not come out of his office.

Everybody in the school went outside. The headmaster was trapped inside his office! He could not go out through the doorway. He could not go out through the window. He looked like a monkey in a cage.

Some people said the tree was actually slowly crushing down the whole building and soon the headmaster would be crushed inside his office! People ran in all directions.

Nakai liked the headmaster. She looked at him from outside through the window. He went this way and that. The tree was gradually crushing into the office. Nakai saw that the headmaster was crying. Nakai saw that the headmaster was praying and pleading.

Nakai stepped further and cried out with her arms stretched out. She looked like an eagle in full flight. There were tears in her eyes.

Then to everyone’s amazement, the huge tree trunk rose and heaved sideways away from the office building until it rested on the ground.

The pupils shouted, “Nakai! Nakai! Nakai!”

Soon there was a huge gap in the broken down doorway and the headmaster quickly ran out of his broken down office. He was finally safe. He was not going to die anymore! He could go home to his wife and children. But he picked Nakai and hoisted her on his shoulders and the whole school sang: “Nakai! Nakai! Nakai!” They all wanted to touch Nakai and hug her.

Nakai, you are killing me was written by Memory Chirere.

Copyright © Memory Chirere 2010.

Memory Chirere enjoys reading and writing short stories and some of his are published in Nomore Plastic Balls (1999), A Roof to Repair (2000), Writing Still (2003) and Creatures Great and Small (2005). He has recently published the books; Somewhere in This Country (2006), Tudikidiki (2007), and Toriro and his goats (2010). He lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.


Emmanuel Sigauke said...

Welcome, Chirere. I loved the mystery and magical realism in here...something bordering on both simple & extreme reality.

myers hansen said...

this is simpe, matured writing. impressive

myers hansen said...

this is simpe, matured writing. impressive

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