Back at the school, Vivian didn’t find my trip to town funny. It dawned on her that she would have to return to the grade-twelve students. Seeing how sad she looked, I thought of calming her nerves.
“I know you can handle them well. You just need some few days to get used to the new topics. You’ll be fine.”
Her eyes turned red as I showed her my ticket. She left me feeling emotional too. But I wasn’t going away right then; I still had a few days left.
The trip to town exhausted me; so I decided to tell the students I won’t be making it to their class later in the day.
“Afternoon classes will no longer hold. What’s left of the syllabus will be covered in the morning classes.”
The students banged on the desks and squealed in all languages. They prattled as if in a market place. The girls thought it was because of the scheduled daily visits to my place. Well, they got that right. I returned home after walking out of their class.
While I waited for my students to show up, the likely consequences of their visits flushed through my mind. Hobnobbing with my landlord’s daughters looked quite different from inviting my students’ home. “What if the principal finds out?”
Maria had already assured me the principal wouldn’t be in the loop of things. She even mentioned that the hut where I stayed had been home to a part-time teacher in the past. Definitely, the girls were used to dating their teachers. That no one had been punished for it meant one could get away scot-free.
For a moment, the whole idea of having them come around to my place sounded funny. Back in my high school days, my female classmates never attempted such; at least not to my knowledge. Things had really changed in high school these days.
I recalled that Andrew and crew had foretold that the girls would come for me. I could still dissuade them from coming here if I wanted to. Or better still, I could walk away to the soccer field. Meeting my absence would give them the notion that I wasn’t up for the game.
But since Andrew and others did it without hassles, there should be no cause for alarm. Even Pumlani did the same far away in his station.
I believe it was part of the benefit of being in Port-Elizabeth. The name of the place even had Elizabeth in it. Why should I not enjoy the ‘Elizabeths’?
They all appreciated my effort in the school, so this one flaw of mine shouldn’t be the reason they will turn against me. After all, I didn’t have to force the girls. They willingly wanted to be with me.
At about 4: p.m., I heard knocks on my door. When I opened up, Maria and Aphiwe stood there smiling.
“Come in, please.”
As soon as they got in, Maria started clearing out the books on my bed. She then straightened the bed sheet, sat on it and encouraged her friend to join her.
No point pretending that I didn’t know what they wanted. Having worked hard for three weeks or so, my rewards (or do I say my booties?) had started coming in.
Shirt off, I dropped my shorts and the girls jumped up in surprise.
What was on display between my legs was of a different dimension from the ones they were used to. Even bold Maria made for the door.
“Why are you running away? Didn’t you say you can handle what a grade-eleven student can take? Come back here.”
With subtle cajoling, seasoned cavorting and cautious caressing, we settled for the business of the evening. One after the other, they got their uniforms off and entered the arena.
Lost in the heat of the moment, Maria screamed all the topics we’d discussed since I arrived at the school. Aphiwe, on her part, sounded strange. “O-n-o-m-a-t-o-p-o-e-i-a,” she yelled.
I wondered who or what that was. Whatever she voiced wasn’t my business. I concentrated on the task, whipping and lashing as if to punish them for being stubborn in class. In fact, I gave it to them in style.
While it lasted, several knocks bounced off my window. My landlord’s daughters lurked around playing tricks.
“Don’t worry about the windows. It must be the goats and pigs walking about,” I assured my guests.
If at all they doubted it, it didn’t show on their faces. They asked for it, and they really enjoyed new concepts in the curriculum.
After forty-five minutes, the lesson wrapped up. The girls picked up their bags, adjusted their uniforms and left the hut after thanking me for being so kind.
As they walked through the gate, they kept looking back as if expecting me to say something. But I rested on the half-door to assess the surroundings. No one was in Madiba’s compound, but a few people walked around neighbouring compounds.
The day after, and indeed for the rest of the week, the routines followed similar patterns. The girls came around about the same time, enjoyed the classes, and left exhausted. I must say they were all well experienced down there, and the CAPS fitted well with no obstacles.
That week’s morning classes were the most peaceful since I joined the school. The students rid the chalkboard of jargons written on it before each lesson. The windows got cleaned as at when due, and the floor remained speckle-free.
They organized themselves in an orderly manner and didn’t gossip much in school. The girls always clasped their legs together and everyone attempted the questions thrown at them.
In the morning classes, they were attentive; in the evening home classes, they were co-operative. The discipline I’d long been trying to instil got entrenched at last. I’d never come across such a dream class!
The students did a marvellous job keeping their mouths sealed. The news didn’t filter into the staffroom that they visited me after school. Even Mrs Avo didn’t accuse me of any imaginary offences like she used to. And Vivian didn’t hint at it. On her part, she sulked that I would be leaving Landmark.
However, a reference to our immoral act only came up during the last lesson I took the students. After I’d exhaustively discussed Probability with them, they came up with innuendoes wrapped around academic matters. But their wits didn’t catch me unguarded.
“Probability that an event will take place is one, but the probability that it won’t is zero,” I explained the subject matter of the topic, and they nodded in agreement. The topic sounded simple and interesting to them all.
During question time, Maria stood up first. “While the visit continues, sir, what is the probability that the bellies of the guests will not be swollen after drinking the sour milk given by the housekeeper?”
“Hhmmm!” her mates gasped.
I’d thought her coded words made sense to me alone, but more than half of the class understood the hidden messages behind her question.
It appeared they had some concerns about their after-school visits to my hut. I didn’t want to create a scene or leave them in a precarious situation when gone; so, I considered her question relevant.
“The probability of swollen bellies is zero. The housekeeper was careful enough not to pour the milk for his guests to drink.”
Maria dropped to her seat looking relieved. But Mduduzi got up to show that he understood what was going on. I’d not even pointed at him when he began to ask.
“What if the milk was mistakenly poured? Is there a probability that the housekeeper will accept it when the sour mild shoots out the bellies of his guests?”
“Sit down there!” I barked at him. “The question has been answered.” He quickly dropped to his seat, smiling.
The debate continued as the student seemed to be having fun. More hands went up and I pointed at one of the girls. “Yes. Yemisi, what question do you have for us?”
“Two students visit the church every day. What is the probability that the preacher will stay beyond Sunday in case new members want to join?” I quickly decoded her message.
“The probability is one. Since the students go to the church regularly and they don’t waste time during service, the preacher will allow new members.”
The girls clapped in joy. “Okay. Thank you, sir.”
Clearly, some of them wouldn’t have the chance to come to my place before Sunday, but that shouldn’t be an issue. It wasn’t necessary that I must tango with them all before leaving. They’d drained me already.
The girls embraced the topic as if I’d only just started for the day. One of them stood up again and asked.
“Two female shepherds milk their tall cow once in a day. What is the probability that they will have a chance of milking him again before the cow is tired?”
I had to stop the class even if it was the last one before my exit from the village. Else, their questions would get ridiculous.
“If you continue milking the cow, the milk will dry up. So milking the cow once should be enough. The probability is zero.”
Their faces turned sad.