“This match is compulsory. I said where are you going?” Maths made an obvious effort to pronounce ‘compulsory’ correctly.
Timothy only smiled at this demeaning action.
“See this White-rice. What is funn-”
Before Maths could complete his statement, Timothy lunged at Maths. Matthew fell flat and Timothy restrained him, preventing any movement. Timothy straddled the big boy whose back was flat on the sand and started pounding his face with his fists. The act was so sudden, so unlike Timothy that Lucia and the other spectators could only watch slack jawed.
Maths kicked widely. He tried to shake Timothy off but the struggle was to no avail. Timothy kept bashing his face repeatedly as if the action meant nothing at all, not an act of aggression but a task which he must perform meticulously. There was a smirk on his face: this look of satisfaction as he exerted his energy on Maths face. Then, growing displeased by this mode of attack, he grabbed Matthew’s collar and lifted his head. Repeatedly, he started banging Maths head on the floor as if he wanted crack it open.”
“Timmy…” He heard the distant words but the rhythm of the bang excited him more. It was as though payment for every insult was being made and the humiliation Maths had caused him was going to be washed away by the blood that Timothy was trying so desperately to shed from Maths empty coconut-head.
“Timmy stop!” Lucia still screamed but there was so much he still had to express. He had held it in too long and he had to keep bang-bang-banging until there was no anger left anymore to flow out. Or until Maths skull shattered open. Whichever came first.
As suddenly as he had attacked Maths, someone broke the rhythm of his task. A large hand grabbed him and easily pulled him off Maths. He realised that the person who had stopped him was the games master, a giant of a man.
Oluwa-footballer, as the students usually called him angrily dragged Timothy to the principal’s office. He hurled him at the door and asked him to go in. Timothy obeyed. Shortly after, the Sports Master narrated the happening to the Principal and the Principal summoned Miss Betty, the guidance counselor (or school psychologist as she preferred to be called), Mr Mark, Timothy’s Form Master and the Head Teacher, the enormous Mrs Hauwa.
The five adults talked around Timothy but he was far in thought, he was a little dissatisfied at being interrupted. He thought of Lucia. He remembered that she was calling his name, telling him to stop. Why would she say that? Yes, he acted pretty much out of character. But he thought she would understand. This was a breakthrough for him (no pun intended). She was the one who had advised him to let it out in the first place.
“This boy has never had such an episode before. It’s clearly psychological. Why are you talking about physical punishment Mrs Hauwa? It clearly won’t solve the problem. It might even make it worse. Something obviously made him snap. It’s best to go to the root of such an unexpected violent behaviour.” Miss Betty said. “Let me handle it. I’m sure when he has a session with me, the problem will be identified and rectified.” She sounded conceited.
“Mrs Hauwa, She is right. Timothy is usually very calm; you’d hardly ever notice him in class. It’s a surprise to me too. Before physical punishment, let’s find out what caused him to behave that way. ”His Form teacher added.
Mrs Hauwa who was a known disciplinarian disagreed with Mr Mark and Miss Betty’s proposition. She still demanded that he be flogged publicly in the next assembly. The argument went on for a while until the Principal concluded that Timothy’s punishment was to have a session with Miss Betty every day for the whole of next week. He had phoned Timothy’s parents to come over and at the moment, they were on their way. He would discuss the arrangement with them when they came.
By eight in the evening, Timothy’s parents arrived. They came into the Principal’s office, and then Timothy was asked to wait for them outside. It was dark already outside and a cloud covered the rising crescent moon. He met Lucia sitting on the porch of the Admin block. Her face was in her hands. Seemingly, she had been waiting for him.
“Lucia.” He said sitting beside her.
She looked up at him. Tears were streaming down her face. “Timothy, why did you behave like that?”
He thought hard about her question but he could not give a definite answer. He was only releasing his emotions. Finding a medium as Lucia had advised. But he couldn’t say that. She was upset, she was sad and it was because of what he had done.
He put an arm around Lucia and she shuddered. Immediately, he removed it.
Lucia looked at him. “I’m scared. You scared me today. I never knew that you were capable of such violence.”
Lucia’s withdrawal shook him. “Lucia, I’m sorry.” He suddenly had the strong feeling that Lucia was about to leave him.
“It’s not about being sorry. You really terrified me. I’m not sure if- if it’s safe for me to be around you.”
“No no no. Don’t say that. C’mon Lucia. I got carried away. It’s my emotions but I can fix it. I can.” He pleaded. Tears filled his eyes. He couldn’t lose her. He couldn’t survive without her.
“I need to give you some space Timothy. You need to… fix yourself.” She flinched as she said ‘fix’
“No please Lucia. I don’t need any space. You can help me, we can fix me. You helped me before.”
“I think I caused this. It’s my fault that is why I need to give you space. Timothy. We can’t hang out like we used to anymore.”
Tears were streaming down Timothy’s face now while Lucia’s tears had already dried up. He begged, he held on to her hand. She was the only thing that made sense, if she left; he had nothing, if he thought he felt empty before, without Lucia, he would learn true emptiness. “Lucia, look at me. Lucia.” He looked pitiful. “Lucia, you can’t do this. You are my only friend. I love you. Okay? Don’t do this, I love you.” His voice shook.
Lucia smiled faintly. She brought his quivering hands to her lips and kissed it. They became still at once. “I love you too.” She said as she used one hand to wipe his tears. “But I wrecked you. We just need some time apart. Just a little space. You need to get yourself together, to think things through. It’s not like we are going our separate ways or anything. It is just that what happened this evening is a big deal.”
Timothy nodded. “I don’t want to lose you Lucia.”
“I don’t want you to be afraid of me.”
“I’ll get over it. Hence the space.”
They held hands but Timothy felt that she was shivering just a little bit. He didn’t want to let go. She had told him that she loved him too but he had lost the confidence that she was always going to be by his side.
When his parents finally got out of the principal’s office, they asked Lucia to ride home with them in their car. Lucia rejected their offer nicely.
“I would rather walk.” She said.
To be continued…