“ You can guess, tell almost accurately what some of these toddlers would be when they grow up simply by observing them cry, shit, eat, play and sleep”
Jane recalled like yesterday her mother making those statements eleven years ago when her son was only four months old.
“ This one, only heaven can help. He is what I have forgotten it’s name. if he amounts to a half a million before his fiftieth year, it would be miracle of the century." She had continued over and over while cleaning the faeces Jimmy had released for the fifth time within one hour.
Jane had scolded her in anger immediately to cancel what she believed was a curse.
“ How can you be laying such a curse on your own grandson. What type of mother would do that?” She had retorted.
“curse? I am making a statement from experience to your hearing for you to be aware. It is an education not curse. Why would you think I would start cursing my own blood. Since you know me, do you think I am crazy or anything near it?”
“ Please, don’t make such statement on the head of my son again. I don’t need this type of education”
“ Okay, but I have said what I said and I pray it won’t be so. I wish I am totally wrong but it would be playing myself to think otherwise”
Those eleven years exchange with her mother came to her as she sat in her car in the school parking lot after seeing the principal. She was wondering if her mother’s prophecies are inching closer to realities. She was in her office when the principal’s call came through demanding to see her immediately. She had tried to glean the reason from the man voice but he wasn’t releasing any tell tale. She had rushed to the school believing her son was sick only to be hearing what had started in her family she thought she and her husband had handled resurfacing in the school.
“ Are you sure that the papers and the person you brought to us as being one and the same is actually one and the same?”
“ One and the same how? I am confused”
“This your son Jimmy you registered with us last month, is he twins?”
“ Twins?, how? Of course not”
“ And you said that the name in the papers you gave us is his”
“ Of course, Jimmy Okpe”
“ This is second month since he had been here. Whenever he was asked to fill form, he would write Jerry Okpe and insist it is his name not Jimmy. What is going on here?”
“ You mean he is acting that out here too”
“ Acting what out?”
“ I couldn’t believe my ears. He is into that Jerry line in the family too. We thought it was childish pranks he would get over but I can see we were wrong.”
“ Mrs. Jane, that Jimmy or Jerry whichever is a brilliant student from what we have observed so far. So, he can’t be this dumb and still be among the third best in the whole year one students. Tell us exactly what is happening here. Whose documents did you gave us?”
“ Whose documents?, It’s his of course. I thought I gave you his baptismal cards too”
“ Even humans can be forged these days let alone papers. Any kind of papers can be forged in this world”
“ Do I have to get written attestation from his primary school headmaster or my town chief?”
“ Why I called you here is to help if anything is the matter. Papers whether from headmaster or legmaster can be forged. It’s easy. What is little difficult to do away with especially when young is what we are witnessing about that your son. I am convinced that the name of the boy sitting in that class is Jerry not Jimmy. He in many occasions unconsciously answers that name and it takes him minutes to realize he was the one being addressed as Jimmy”
The talk with the principal had gone on for more than three and half hours and when she was able to narrate her own history of Jerry and Jimmy debacle, the principal reluctantly released her. As she sat in her car in the lot, her mother’s words came vividly to her again. She wiped at her face unconsciously and wonders why she was perspiring despite the engine and AC being on. She eyed the car clock and was surprised to noticed it was well after 1pm.
The whole Jerry thing had started like joke from watching one animated movie her husband bought for the kids not long ago. The antagonist in the movie that captured Jimmy’s interest with all the childish pranks he was exhibiting had Jerry as his name. Jimmy had been highly mesmerized by the guy and his antics he see as cool and had been acting out the cool Jerry acts with his siblings and they started calling him Jerry. It caught up in the street, field and the church where Jimmy has friends and that is that.
Within a month, it caught and stuck like glue and he was visibly enjoying the whole Jerry thing.
Red light flashed one Wednesday evening when the catechist called her to narrate almost exactly what the principal had said. He was a prospective member of the mass servants. They had been asked to put down their names in the long note there for the new intakes, he had written Jerry in bold letters there and Catechist had thought it was mistake but when it happened again and again, he decided to have little talk with the mother. Now, it is happening in the school too. It’s evident that the harassment she and her husband gave him for the church incident didn’t work. She decided to consult a psychologist to find out if such behaviors are common with kids of that age for she is seeing red future.
“ What if it were external exam or government documents he was asked to fill out and he put down jerry there, how would they ever believe that he wasn’t fake. Correcting such mistakes in documents like national Identity cards or banks documents is never an easy thing in this country. It takes affidavit and months to achieve such correction. What’s actually wrong with the boy. Jimmy is even far better than this his Jerry.” She mulled as she reversed out of the parking lot in search of a credible psychologist.
It’s always intelligent to take care of behavioral and medical aspect of this kind of problems before resorting to cane and other punishments to let these kids know that one is not joking.
She drove with fear and anger under the scourging sun that her AC was finding difficult to tame as her mother’s eleven years old comment kept hammering at her memory.
What if… became her thought phrase throughout the day. She stopped at the market after leaving the psychologist office where she had spent almost three hours in queue. After hearing the lady talk and spent thousands for ten minutes education, she bought a cane to keep handy in case the lady's suggestions fails.
She finally got home after another one hour on the traffic. She slumped on the Sofa as she wiped unconsciously at her face.
“ What a day ” she murmured as she exhaled a heavy air from the mouth.