Old School Re-Union

From Shai hills to Krobo hills
Akuapem to Togoland.
Afajato, Gambaga, Bantama to Bole lowland.
Kintampo to Koforidua.
Our grandfather’s clock called us for school.
We marched to our classes and promised to keep our cool
We cried over when to see home again
But that was in vain
Gradually, the day was over
And the cry of the many voices was over
The night drew nigh
Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.
And our joy was clothed in one deep sigh
Finally, we will get home
In my crib atop the hill
I remember the thrill.

I remember Kwame.
To him finding the length of a wood
Tangentially placed beside a wall
If the height of the wall
Is ten meters and the length
Between the base of the wall
And the end of the wood on the floor
Is half the length of the wall
Is asking him to mention the colour
Of the rooster that crowed after Peter had denied Jesus
He can’t and won’t kill himself over that
In the morning he will copy
Those whose duty it is
To provide answers for the common good
And we were all on the same plane.

I remember Tontie
He bought the biscuit
Maa Afia received the gift
The biscuit was expensive
The son of a common man cannot buy
Sadly it was Fiifi who got a dance
With Maa Afia and not Tontie
I remember it was ‘our day’
Fiifi was in class six and Tontie class five
Even children understand Class struggles.

And these ones cannot go unnoticed
For us to notice they had new shoes
They came to class late
Walked gorgeously
And hit the floor so hard with their shoes
Until we noticed the sound
Coming from their walk had changed

Those who were quick to tell the time
When they got new wrist watches
Girls who lifted their dresses
While playing Ampe
To show us their new panties
Those who carried big bags
Full of books
and carried Some on their hands
Just for one lesson
That lasted forty minutes
Those who bamboozled
And tormented a whole class
With sentences filled with new words
They had learnt from
The Mac Millan students dictionary
Those who told us all kinds stories
About their parents
Such that the only reason
We kept the friendship was to
Get an opportunity to ascertain
Whether those were real facts
Or alternative facts.

All fingers are not equal
And so are all heads
The sight of some heads however
Raise eye browse
Are breadth-taking
And make the nostrils grow wide
I remember Etornam’s head
Extra-ordinary in shape and size
At first sight I had met a competitor
The name that will remain
On the lips of teachers and students
I had measured his level of intelligence
By the size of his head
Etornam was intelligent logically
Not by measure of the size of his head
I forgot the good old adage
“the taste of the pudding is in the eating”
I tasted it I tried it
And I was wrong.

When the kitchen is too hot
Open the windows and doors
Or get a fan and you will be fine
My parents changed the rules
When the kitchen was too hot they left
I remember the number of times
I had to change schools because
I owed so much the only thing
The headmasters remember
When they saw me was ‘school fees”
Being among their best students
Meant nothing
No one eats laurels

I remember beautiful Mary
Every man’s fantasy
Yet every man assumed
She was my girlfriend my ecstasy
The easy-going slim and smiley hairy fairy
Was only a friend
My stomach was too windy for the butterflies.

Nii Noi wanted to attend St. Augustin’s College
But he found himself in St. Johns Grammar School
How it happened?
You may have to call him for the answer
Our worry?
He would refer to his friends in St. Augustine’s College
And visit them occasionally
His nickname, in fact, was APSU!
Later, the nickname APSU
Got into a keen competition with the name ATUTSE
Mr. Atutse was a retired Librarian of St. Johns Grammar School
It was the school’s 60th Anniversary
And students were engrossed
With discussing and debating
Which old students they knew
Including their social and economic statuses
Here was Atutse mentioned as a good mathematician
Immediately Nii Noi said, “I want to be like Atutse”.
Then on, a circle of his friends nicknamed him ATUTSE.
Nii liked this name and the aura that comes with it
Until Mr Atutse, together with some old students visited the school
Mr Atutse was in his late seventies
The tall and gaunt looking man
At the time had some of his teeth removed
When Nii saw him for the first time
His demeanour was morose
He didn’t like what he saw
Atutse didn’t look like a mathematician
Atutse was only a Liberian, he later learned.
There was no record of him being a mathematician
Immediately, Nii Noi warned not to be referred to as Atutse.
Well, for some of us
We have found a new assignment
To deflate his ego and his quest for status
By calling him Atutse.
A nickname which only the strong and mighty used
He would attack anyone who would call him Atutse.
Those who were not strong but had some courage
Would hide our faces and shout
“Atu”. Add the “Tse”
And you could be hiding from him forever.



This Smile

You are clothed in white lining
So hard to identify your leaning
You wake too early and sleep too late
Draining my blood without leaving a faint
You are a brimstone
You melt my skin and bone
You are hot and dry
Burning my barn leaving not a fly
You come as a whirlwind at night
Listening to tales of our forefathers blight 
You sweep my children away from my sight 
Leaving me ditched without courage to fight

©Daniel Oberko 2017