Her hair swayed graciously as she led the way through the hallway. With majestic steps and charisma she moved. Her captivating smile warmly greeted the students who were making their way to their various classes. I could hear them whisper to one another as we passed by.
Behind her was me, walking in quick short steps making sure that I keep up with her pace. This is my first day in my new school. Mother was transferred to this part of town last week, so I had to continue schooling here. This would be my eighth school in six years. I was even fortunate to have been granted admission by the school.
“We do not usually accept admission into SSS 3,” the principal had said “but because you came with a favourable letter from your former school highlighting your fine conduct and academic prowess, we would open this opportunity to you. “
“Thank you so much Sir, ” mom had replied “we are forever grateful.”
Today happened to be my first day in school and I was expectedly nervous to the kind of reception I might get.
When she got into the classrooms, everyone stood and greeted in the most courteous way I had ever seen, I was flawed into silence. She introduced me to the class, I told them my name and found a seat. There were chuckles and laughter from everyone as expected – I wasn’t new to receiving such treatments.
When I was born, my skin, hairs, and eyes were quite different from that of other babies, mine were pale with loss of melanin pigment. It dawned on my parents that I was a Person With Albinism. It wasn’t fun growing up as I was often mocked, teased and cursed by other children due to the condition of my skin.
“An albino does not eat salt
He only eats a special type of yam”
That was the song usually sung for me by others.
Pregnant women wouldn’t want me to touch them because they believed that if I did, they might also end up giving birth to someone with my skin condition.
When I was 11, a school refused to grant admission to me and even advised that I should be taken to the school for the blind.
I could remember that night when dad left home after an outburst with mom because grandma had advised him to get another wife who would produce a “real child” for him. He left and never returned.
Once, I had been kidnapped by ritualists who said that people like me were in high demand for rituals. I was fortunate to have been saved by policemen at a checkpoint. I had been through a lot already at just 17.
“Wonders shall never end, so we now have an albino in class, very soon we’ll have deities and gods too,” a voice shouted and the whole class roared with laughter.
“Keep quiet Charles, you need to be more reasonable with your choice of words, ” cautioned Miss Angela, the teacher who had brought me in.
“This one is an unfortunate European”
“I heard that they can’t see in the afternoon”
“They don’t eat salt either”
I could hear their jestful words behind me and then I wondered if it was a crime to have been born different.
Mr. Adekunle, the Yoruba teacher taught with so much flair that I wished he could have the entire day. He taught about Proverbs and made practical application of them all.
“Today wasn’t bad afterall,” I thought .
Just then, Charles signalled that he wanted to ask a question.
“I’m sorry that my question is not related to today’s topic but I just needed to ask it” he said.
“No worries Charles, kindly go ahead” Mr. Adekunle replied.
“Albinos are abomination in Yoruba land, aren’t they? ” Charles asked.
The whole class again roared with laughter. After making sure that everywhere was quiet, Mr. Adekunle answered. He did allow some students to speak in English briefly in his class when they are unable to use the right Yoruba words.
“That was a nice question Charles. You see albinos are not considered an abomination. In fact, in Yoruba mythology, it is believed that Obatala was the god with the duty of creation. After creating, he brings the creation to Olodumare to out life in them. But one day, he drank so much palmwine and in that state he made the dwarfs, hunchback, albinos etc. That us why they are considered special property to the deity. Additionally, albinos do eat salt as every other human does because salt is an essential mineral needed in the body,” he said.
I was not a believer of myths but it was clear that the explanation went well with the whole class – excluding Charles.
It was time for lunch and I made my way to the dinning hall. I got my food and decided to find a seat. I got over to an empty seat and was about to sit when Charles suddenly appeared and said that the seat belonged to him.
Lanre, my seat mate in class beckoned on me to come over, as I attempted to move, Charles tripped my leg with his and I landed on the ground with a thud sending my food flying a few metres. I was burning with rage. I just couldn’t fathom why Charles should keep up with bullying someone he just met for the first time just because he was different.
“I can’t stand having someone like you here, ” he shouted. “Can’t you see that you’re different? We don’t want you here and don’t even think of reporting to the principal because nothing would be done. My dad is the PTA chairman and the highest donor in the school, so I am untouchable. My advice is for you to leave this school and go to one with people like you.”
His words were like the stab of a two-edged sword. It seemed foolish to reason that we could trend the Black Lives Matter while still displaying prejudice towards other humans.
I was not going to take it anymore. I knew I should have been calm but I just couldn’t help it. His rants would not stop and I had become livid. I reached for my fork that was lying helplessly on the ground and in one thrust I sent it’s prongs into his left chest. I watched him go down as blood gushed out. He was quickly rushed out by the other students as I went on my knees and wept profusely.