You sip on your juice like you do not want it to finish. Normally while you drank this juice you would have been reminiscing on your secondary school days, when it rained mangoes, but right now your mind is as chaotic as a market place.
The reason for this chaos is a 5 year old boy sitting beside you on the dinning table. You look at him and agree that God did a very good job in replicating you. He looks pale, remorseful even. He’s dressed in those banal dull school uniforms that makes you wonder if the school owner was having a migraine while choosing this color. He makes cute slurps while drinking his chocolate drink. You put your hands into your pockets, in one is 50 thousand Naira and in the other is an envelope. A letter of invitation from the headmistress of your son’s school. It’s a weekday; Monday, but you are not going to the office neither is your wife.
“Am ready!” your wife shouts from the sitting room.
“ Junior let’s go” you say to your son.
He drops his little cup at the sink and walks outside. You make long strides behind him and head to the car, as you wife locks up the house. In the car, you eye your wife to put on her seat belt while putting on the air conditioner. The silent humming of the AC is the only sound you notice as you drive your way to school in pent up emotions. On reaching the school, your 5 year old son starts to pack his stuff and before you can say jack, he has jumped out of the car, leaving you and your wife to find your way in this maze of a school to the head mistress office.
You get down, so does your wife. As you stand, it feels like your legs have suddenly turned to jellies and you have liquids racing down your palms. Your wife’s face resembles that of one who has been under the sun and her skin is so pale. As you reach the gate, you try to smile at the gateman but he gives you just a Curt nod unlike him. Then it feels like even him is in on the reason why you are here. It looks like he’s avoiding an eye contact. You stammer a little amidst saying unintelligent words, but manage to ask him the way to the headmistress’s office. He tells you. You and your wife walk like people who are trying not to hurt the ground towards the office. Amidst saying a few excuses and a little shove to children who seem to be glued at a spot or moving in Random motions like gaseous molecules.
When you reach, you take a deep breath and give a quick knock on the door. You are ushered in by a low voice from within. You and your wife are asked to seat. The headmistress greets you and your wife. You reciprocate. She moves a file aside and drops her hands on her now empty table signaling how free she is.
“ Mr Brown, did you find it?”. She asks with a little frown marring her features. You nod. Deeping your hands into your left pocket, you bring out the fifty thousand Naira. Your wife’s eyes are now the size of a watermelon, silently asking where you found it. You ignore her and present the money to the headmistress. The headmistress grabs it from you like you might run with it too.
“We will tell the teacher we have found her money” the headmistress says. You render your apologies again but it is met with silence from the headmistress. She doesn’t say it but you see it in her eyes. She’s pissed at you and your wife for raising a little kleptomaniac. Your mind remembers the last time, you were here. Your son was tearful and he denied it vehemently. You defended him. Only for you to be shamefaced today. Not that you didn’t expect it, because you were once looking for the five thousand Naira you left on the table. You had asked your wife and she stared at you like you were a dullard. When the teacher finally arrives, she is ecstatic for her money while giving you and your wife the sting eye. She goes on to tell the headmistress of how your son’s classmates have complained badly of their missing pencils. Then everything starts to add up. It explains the rainbow of pencils, erasers, and books, you found in your son’s bag with the fifty thousand Naira, tucked neatly inside one of the books.
As you start the car heading home, your wife keeps pressing you on how you found the money, because she not only thrashed her son to find out but also ransacked his room. You turn the ignition and a memory comes to mind. A memory of you in your mother’s room, emptying her purse of naira notes.
“I just found it” you tell your wife scowling, with a tone that says end of discussion.
But then she doesn’t know the first rule of theft because she’s not one. The first rule of theft says:
1. Keep all stolen items in plain sight.
Arueze Chisom Precious, a passionate writer can be reached through email@example.com